She sold that many?!?!

Britney Rules the Pop Charts, But Where’s Michael?
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop princess Britney Spears, aided by a publicity blitzkrieg, steamrollered to number one on the music charts on Wednesday, while a new album by scandal-plagued Michael Jackson failed to make the Top 10, the Nielsen Soundscan sales tracking service said.
The release of Spears’ new album, “In the Zone,” has been carefully aided by a publicity barrage which helped foster Spears’ fourth consecutive No. 1 debut. But the album’s sales fell short of the pop star’s previous efforts, continuing her downward sales trajectory in recent years.
To promote the album, the 21-year-old Spears has seemed omnipresent recently, posing scantily clad for magazine covers, appearing in several television interviews and causing a major stir by kissing Madonna during the MTV Video Music Awards.
For the week ended Nov 23, “In the Zone,” released by Jive, a unit of Bertelsmann AG’s BMG, sold an estimated 609,000 units, the fourth highest opening in 2003, behind efforts by rapper 50 Cent, Linkin Park and Clay Aiken.
It fell below earlier CDs like “Britney,” which debuted in 2001 with 746,000 units, and “Oops!…I Did It Again,” which sold 1.3 million units in its opening week in 2000.
Nevertheless, retailers said they expected the star to have staying power in coming weeks, helped by holiday shopping.
“Everybody’s buying Britney. Certainly the TV blitz helped to get greater exposure and I think Britney will sustain the sales pace in her second week,” said Sue Bryan, general manager for J&R Music Store in lower Manhattan.
Meanwhile, publicity of a different nature haunted Jackson. His “Number Ones” album was rolled out to stores last Tuesday as police combed the pop star’s Neverland Ranch in response to child sexual molestation charges.
The album ranked at No. 13 on the sales charts, selling nearly 122,000 units, a far cry from Jackson’s superstardom days, but better than the 100,000 units that was forecast.
Jackson flew from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara, California last Thursday just long enough to be arrested on suspicion of molesting a young boy, before posting $3 million bail and leaving town again.
When the scandal broke, Jackson claimed the allegations were timed just as his album was being released.
Retailers this week said the publicity may have helped stir interest in the album.
Coming in at No. 2 on the top album charts this past week was G-Unit’s “Beg For Mercy,” which sold 327,000 units, while another big-selling new release was Blink 182’s “Blink 182,” ranking No. 3, selling 313,000 units.
Rapper Jay-Z’s “Black Album,” fell to fourth from No. 1, selling 288,000 units, while The Beatles’ newly released and reworked “Let It Be…Naked,” ranked No. 5 with 280,000 units, Nielsen Soundscan said.
Total album sales were 16.6 million, compared with 15.1 million a year ago. A spokeswoman for Nielsen Soundscan said that 10 out of the last 11 weeks have shown sales gains.
The uptick has prompted analysts and industry insiders to conclude CD sales will top last year’s fourth quarter sales of 221 million units, which is welcome news for an industry that has been driven to cost-cutting and consolidation after suffering three years of slumping sales.