Call it the ‘Boxxx-ing Ring. The upper reaches of the Billboard album chart were a melee this week, with a three-way brawl resulting in a near tie for first place among OutKast, Rod Stewart, and Clay Aiken. In the end, OutKast won, returning to No. 1 after a two-week absence and selling another 142,000 copies of ”Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Stewart held on to second place with ”As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook Part II,” shifting another 141,100 units, just 200 ahead of Aiken’s ”Measure of a Man,” which fell from first to third place in its third week on the chart.
The highest-charting debut was the Strokes’ sophomore effort ”Room on Fire,” debuting at No. 4 on sales of 126,100. It was a good week to have the word ”stroke” on your album cover; R&B singer Gerald Levert’s ”Stroke of Genius” debuted at No. 6 (97,000 sold). R.E.M.’s two-disc ”In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1993-2003” entered the chart at No. 8 on sales of 75,500, while a single-disc version debuted at No. 16 and sold 51,100; combined, the anthology’s sales of 126,600 would have been enough to beat the Strokes at No. 4.
Ludacris’ ”Chicken & Beer” held at No. 5. ”Eagles — The Very Best Of” slipped four slots to No. 7. Dido’s ”Life for Rent” slid two spots to No. 9. Up from No. 15 to No. 10 was 3 Doors Down’s ”Away From the Sun.” Look for a chart shakeup next week with the releases of Ja Rule’s ”Blood in My Eye,” P.O.D.’s ”Payable on Death,” and Sarah McLachlan’s ”Afterglow.”