The fan backlash and radio airplay woes of the Dixie Chicks have taken their toll -- sales of the country trio's hit album "Home" sagged more than 40% last week, according to figures released Wednesday by Nielsen SoundScan.
Although rock and pop stars have spoken out against the war without big commercial consequences, a disparaging stage comment about President Bush made by Chicks member Natalie Maines has created a furor among country music fans. Some top radio stations have backed off or even banned the group's music, and the most embittered fans have railed against Maines at rallies, most in heartland or Southern communities near military bases.
Maines has apologized for saying that the group is "ashamed" that President Bush is a fellow Texan, but sales of "Home" dropped below 72,000 copies, down from 124,000 the previous week. The Chicks, the bestselling female group of the album era, also are coming off a post-Grammy spike three weeks ago when sales of "Home" jumped 60% -- to 202,350 -- following the national telecast. "Home" has sold 5 million copies since its release in August.
The bestselling album of the week was "Get Rich or Die Trying," the debut effort from rapper 50 Cent, which sold 234,000 copies last week. The Top 5 was rounded out by albums from Norah Jones, R. Kelly, the film "Chicago" and Arkansas melodic-rock quartet Evanescence.
The "8 Mile" soundtrack, meanwhile, sold 55,000 copies in the week, enough to jump 19 spots to No. 10 on the chart. The renewed interest was probably stirred by the heavily promoted DVD release last week of the hit movie starring Eminem, as well as by attention from his Oscar nomination for best song for the film's "Lose Yourself."
On the singles chart, country singer Allison Moorer and Detroit rap-rocker Kid Rock had the top spot with their version of "Picture," the same tune that Rock performs with Sheryl Crow on his latest album.