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Holiday Shoppers Return Eminem to No. 1 on Charts

Los Angeles – Eminem was the top-seller among last-minute holiday shoppers as “Encore” returned to No. 1 on the U.S. album charts last week after a month-long absence.

The rapper’s latest Shady/Aftermath/Interscope set jumped two places after selling 430,000 copies in the week ended Dec. 26, a 36% increase, according to Nielsen SoundScan data issued Wednesday.

“Encore” now has three non-consecutive weeks atop the chart, including a two-week stay at No. 1 in November. It took over the top spot from 2Pac’s posthumous “Loyal to the Game” (Amaru/Interscope), which slid to No. 13 with 219,000 copies.

Holiday shopping also saw sales of all titles in the top tier of The Billboard 200 rise 10% or more.

The 17th installment of “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” (Sony BMG/Universal/EMI/Zomba/Capitol) held the No. 2 slot for a second week with 356,000 copies.

U2’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” (Interscope) jumped two to No. 3 with 350,000. Destiny’s Child’s “Destiny Fulfilled” (Sony Urban/Columbia) also jumped two, to No. 4, with sales just shy of U2’s “Bomb.”

Shania Twain’s Mercury Nashville greatest hits set dropped one to No. 5 with 347,000 copies. Usher’s “Confessions” (LaFace/Zomba) jumped three to No. 6 with 316,000, pushing past Toby Keith, who moved up one to No. 7 with sales of 289,000 copies for his DreamWorks Nashville/Interscope hits set.

After falling to No. 10 on the previous week’s chart, Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s “Collision Course” (Machine Shop/Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) rebounded to No. 8 with 283,000 copies. Green Day’s “American Idiot” (Reprise/Warner Bros.) was readmitted to the chart’s upper echelon, jumping four to No. 9 after selling 282,000 copies.

After last week’s 1-12 spiral, Ludacris’ “The Red Light District” (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South) rose two to No. 10 with sales of 258,000 copies.

Mannie Fresh posted The Billboard 200’s top debut with his solo debut, “The Mind of Mannie Fresh” (Cash Money/Universal), which entered at No. 59 with 70,000 units.

Overall U.S. album sales were up 17.5% from the previous week at 32.7 million units, a 4.4% lead over the same week last year. Sales for 2004 were ahead of 2003 by about 1.4% at 665 million units.

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