Nothing can stop Toby Keith — not being dropped from ABC’s Independence Day special, not the controversy over the blunt lyrics of his song ”Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” not even appearing in long-distance phone service commercials with ’80s sitcom puppet ALF. In fact the publicity from all these things may have helped push Keith’s ”Unleashed” to the top of the Billboard album chart during its first week in stores.
Keith’s song, a response to Sept. 11, contains the lines, ”You’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A./’Cause we’ll put a boot in your a–/It’s the American way.” When the country singer lost his previously announced opening slot on the July 4 special, he blamed ABC’s Peter Jennings, saying that the Canadian-born host objected to the song. ABC denied the accusation, with the network saying it had dropped Keith over scheduling difficulties. Still, a lot of angry Americans supported Keith this week at the record store, 338,275 of them, according to SoundScan.
Debuting at No. 2 was ”NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 10,” the latest installation in the popular compilation series, this one featuring tracks by Shakira, Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, and others. It sold 288,000 copies. Pushed down one spot to No. 3 was Nelly’s ”Nellyville,” which shifted an additional 270,725 units. Last week’s chart-topping debut, Dave Matthews Band’s ”Busted Stuff,” busted a move down to fourth place on sales of 211,730. Eminem’s ”The Eminem Show” slipped two spots to No. 5 and sold 193,100 copies.
Cash Money rapper Lil’ Wayne debuted at No. 6 with ”500 Degreez,” while young R&B crooner Mario entered the charts at No. 9 with his self-titled debut album. The regrouped Boyz II Men returned to the charts with the aptly titled ”Full Circle” (No. 10). Rounding out the top 10 were holdovers Avril Lavigne’s ”Let Go” (No. 7) and Red Hot Chili Peppers ”By the Way” (No. 8).