NEW YORK (Billboard) - Danity Kane, a prefabricated MTV girl group, scored its second consecutive No. 1 on the U.S. album chart Wednesday, while pop-soul duo Gnarls Barkley's latest release entered at a disappointing No. 18 after being rushed out three weeks ahead of schedule.
Danity Kane's "Welcome to the Dollhouse" sold 236,192 copies in the week ended March 23, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It ranks as the second-biggest opening of the year, behind the 375,000-unit start for Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static" in February.
Perhaps more incredibly, at a time when most artists are routinely suffering big sales drops amid a decadelong slump in the music industry, "Welcome to the Dollhouse" managed to sell about 2,000 copies more than Danity Kane's 2006 self-titled debut. The debut has sold 926,000 copies to date.
The MTV "Making the Band 3" troupe is signed to Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy imprint. It's a good day for Combs. The Los Angeles Times said it is reviewing a recent story linking the hip-hop mogul to the 1994 shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur, amid an online report that the paper may have relied on forged FBI documents. Combs strongly denied any involvement in the shooting.
The Grammy-winning Gnarls Barkley's second album, "The Odd Couple," sold 31,000 copies for its No. 18 start. Its 2006 debut, "St. Elsewhere," opened at No. 20 and peaked at No. 4 as the single "Crazy" turned into a monster hit. "St. Elsewhere" has sold 1.4 million copies to date.
"The Odd Couple" was rushed out last Tuesday, three weeks earlier than planned, likely because of an early leak on the Internet; online buyers accounted for 85% of the sales. A spokeswoman from the group's Atlantic Records label did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Elsewhere, the multi-artist "NOW 27" compilation held steady at No. 2 with 170,000 copies in its second week. Last week's champ, Rick Ross' "Trilla," fell to No. 3 with 90,000.
Rookie rapper Flo Rida may have recently topped Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart for a massive 10 weeks with "Low," but his debut album "Mail on Sunday" bowed at No. 4 with a relatively modest 86,000 copies. By contrast, "Low" has sold 3.3 million downloads since its November release, the biggest selling digital download of all time.
Johnson's "Static" slipped one to No. 5 with 67,000 in its seventh week. Sales to date stand at 939,000 copies.
Miley Cyrus' Disney double-disc "Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus" soared 10 to No. 6 with 61,000. Additionally, her "The Best of Both Worlds Concert" set held at No. 10 with 51,000.
Snoop Dogg's "Ego Trippin"' slid four to No. 7 with 57,000. Blender magazine cover girl Taylor Swift's self-titled album jumped four to No. 8, also with 57,000.
Three weeks after it debuted at No. 1, Janet Jackson's "Discipline" now resides at No. 17. Its sales to date stand at about 310,000 copies; at the same point in its cycle, her previous release "20 Y.O." had sold 443,000 copies. The 2006 disc was considered a big disappointment.
Album sales, boosted by the Easter holiday, rose 11.3% over the prior week to 8.83 million units, but were down 1.1% compared to the same week in 2007.