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Madonna's 'Hard Candy' hard sell pays off at No. 1

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About 280,000 Madonna fans got sweet on Hard Candy during its first week in stores. That hard figure is considerably softer than the 463,000 copies that Mariah Carey debuted with two weeks ago. Also, it is no match for the 351,000 that Madonna’s last album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, entered with in 2005 — though it does handily beat the 241,000 that her least popular disc, American Life, bowed with in 2003.

Seven of the top 10 discs on this week’s Billboard/Soundscan chart are debuting albums, although none (besides Madonna’s) look like a real hit. R&B singer Lyfe Jennings comes in at No. 4, with sales of 80,000 for his third album, Lyfe Change. Nos. 5 to 7 are tightly bunched: 55,000 copies for Def Leppard’s first album of original material in six years, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge; 54,000 for the Roots’ Rising Down; and 53,000 for Portishead’s aptly titled Third. No. 8 belongs to a newcomer, too, the self-titled album by Mudcrutch, Tom Petty’s newly reunited old band; it sold 38,0000. And in at No. 10 is Tim McGraw’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2, with sales of 29,000. If you’re thinking that’s a little low for an artist of McGraw’s commercial stature, that’s because this was a Wal-Mart-exclusive bundling of the country star’s two already existing best-ofs.

Other entries of note: Steve Winwood (No. 12), with 26,000 units; Carly Simon (No. 15), selling 23,000; Augustana (No. 21), with 21,000; Lil Mama, selling 19,000 to debut at No. 25; Mindless Self-Indulgence (No. 27) with 18,000; and Mana, entering at No. 30 with 17,000 copies. Highly touted European favorite Robyn had to settle for No. 100 and first-week sales of 7,000.

On the digital songs front, Leona Lewis held onto that chart’s top spot with “Bleeding Love,” adding 217,000 singles for total sales of almost 1.8 million. Back on the album chart, Lewis’ CD dropped one slot to No. 3, selling 84,000 this week, trailing Mariah, who sold 95,000 albums her third week out and fell to No. 2. Will Carey regain the top spot in the next few weeks and make everyone want to be a Mariah wanna-be instead of Madonna aspirant? We’ll see. But next week, at least, all these divas will be stepping aside for a dude, Neil Diamond, whose new one is expected to bow atop the album chart after his attention-getting Idol mentoring stint.

Other entries of note: Steve Winwood (No. 12), with 26,000 units; Carly Simon (No. 15), selling 23,000; Augustana (No. 21), with 21,000; Lil Mama, selling 19,000 to debut at No. 25; Mindless Self-Indulgence (No. 27) with 18,000; and Mana, entering at No. 30 with 17,000 copies. Highly touted European favorite Robyn had to settle for No. 100 and first-week sales of 7,000.

On the digital songs front, Leona Lewis held onto that chart’s top spot with “Bleeding Love,” adding 217,000 singles for total sales of almost 1.8 million. Back on the album chart, Lewis’ CD dropped one slot to No. 3, selling 84,000 this week, trailing Mariah, who sold 95,000 albums her third week out and fell to No. 2. Will Carey regain the top spot in the next few weeks and make everyone want to be a Mariah wanna-be instead of Madonna aspirant? We’ll see. But next week, at least, all these divas will be stepping aside for a dude, Neil Diamond, whose new one is expected to bow atop the album chart after his attention-getting Idol mentoring stint.