OutKast shows its staying power

Times Staff Writer

OutKast, the veteran Atlanta hip-hop duo, reclaimed the No. 1 spot on the nation's pop chart, showing impressive strength during a bumpy time in the record business when few albums remain in the top 10 for more than three or four weeks.

The duo's album, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," sold 142,000 copies last week to bring its six-week total to 1.4 million copies. The album, one of the year's most acclaimed works, entered the chart at No. 1 on Oct. 1 and has never been lower than No. 4.

The OutKast victory this week was narrow. Rod Stewart's "The Great American Songbook: Volume II" finished No. 2, trailing the rap duo by just 538 copies, while "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken's "Measure of a Man" was No. 3, trailing OutKast by only 741 copies.

The highest new arrival on the chart was the Strokes' "Room on Fire," the second release from the New York quintet. The Strokes' sparse, heavily melodic style helped open a door over the last two years for a new wave of passionate rock bands, including the White Stripes and the Hives, that draw on rock's classic 1960s and '70s songwriting and performance values.

"Room on Fire" sold 126,000 copies last week to rank No. 4, the highest entry of any of the bands in the movement. The White Stripes' "Elephant" also sold 126,000 copies when it entered the chart at No. 6 in April. "Elephant" has now passed the one-million mark, according to Nielsen SoundScan.The other newcomers in the top 10 were Gerald Levert's "Stroke of Genius," which is No. 6 after selling 97,000 copies, and an R.E.M. greatest-hits package, "In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003," which ranks No. 8 with sales of 76,000.

A special edition of the R.E.M. package, which contains a second disc devoted to rarities and B-sides compiled by the band, entered the chart at No. 16, selling 51,000 copies. It's the first time two versions of the same album title have entered the top 20 the same week, Warner Bros. Records said.

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