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the take

Kanye West Wins Sales Race, 50 Cent Inadvertently Saves Music Business

...and Kenny Chesney's hat is wholly inappropriate for the 50-meter dash.Photo: Getty Images

The results are in and, as predicted, Kanye wins. According to Nielson SoundScan, his Graduation is the No. 1 album in the country, topping the inordinately crappy Curtis by 50 Cent, who had promised to retire if he were outsold (he will probably break this promise). Something no one expected, though, are the numbers — Curtis moved a still-impressive 691,304 copies in the six days since its release last Tuesday, but Graduation sold an amazing 956,936, giving Kanye the best first-week album sales in more than two years. (Country star Kenny Chesney proved to be a nonfactor, placing third and selling a measly 387,000. Ouch! Better luck next time, Kenny!)

How — in 2007, a year in which album sales are down 20 percent and many top record-company executives are eating interns just to survive — can anyone possibly sell that many records? Well, it's pretty obvious — people wanted to see 50 Cent retire (or weasel out of his promise, at least). And, completely by accident, 50 just might have found a way to save the ailing music business.

The solution is clear: If a record label wants to sell one artist's albums, it needs to promise to make another similar, more loathsome artist pay a serious and/or hilarious price. If Jive Records (owned by parent label Sony BMG) wants Britney Spears's terrible new album to sell in November, it should promise never to release or promote another album by Avril Lavigne (another Sony artist) ever again if Britney goes platinum in her first week. Hell, we'd buy her album. Want Usher's next CD to sell 5 million copies? Say you'll make R. Kelly plead guilty to his child-pornography charges (although please don't, since we're dying to find out what happens in the next 50 chapters of Trapped in the Closet). Be creative! If the Strokes go gold, the White Stripes have to hire a bass player. We can't think of any reason why this wouldn't work. Problem solved.

Kanye Crushes 50 Cent In Huge Album Sales Week [Billboard]