Linkin Park beats out pop acts for No. 1 album of 2001

In a year that saw new studio releases from both Britney Spears and 'NSync, the top-selling album of 2001 is Linkin Park 's sleeper success, "Hybrid Theory."

Released in October 2000, "Hybrid Theory" (Warner Bros.) sold about 4.8 million copies in the U.S. during 2001, according to year-end figures compiled by SoundScan, the music industry's data information system that tracks point-of-purchase album sales. Propelling the Southern California quintet's debut was its trio of hit singles: "One Step Closer," "Crawling" and "In the End."

Last year's No. 2 top-selling album is Shaggy's "Hotshot" (MCA), another 2000 release that stretched its legs in 2001. The breakout hits "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel," as well as Shaggy's opening stint on Backstreet Boys' summer tour, helped push the album to a 2001 sales total of about 4.5 million copies.

'NSync scores the No. 3 slot with "Celebrity" (Jive) which sold about 4.4 million copies in 2001. 'NSync's 2000 release, "No Strings Attached," was the top-selling album of 2000, selling about 9.9 million copies that year.

Staind, whose No. 1 hit "It's Been Awhile" dominated alt-rock radio for much of 2001, takes the No. 5 slot with "Break the Cycle" (Flip/Elektra), which sold about 4.2 million copies between its May 2001 release and the end of the year.

"Songs in A Minor" (J Records), R&B singer-songwriter Alicia Keys' debut, comes in at No. 6 for the year with a 2001 sales total of about 4.1 million copies, due largely to the album's No. 1 hit, "Falling."

Destiny's Child's hits "Independent Woman Part I," "Survivor" and "Bootylicious" helped the soul-singing trio to move about 3.7 million copies of its May 2001 release, "Survivor" (Columbia), which puts the album at No. 7 for the year.

Pop-metal act Creed's Nov. 20 release, "Weathered" (Wind-Up), takes the No. 8 spot on the year-end chart after selling about 3.6 million copies in a mere six weeks, while the late-2000 "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Mercury Nashville) soundtrack--a collection of blues, bluegrass, folk, country and gospel tunes used in the film--is the unlikely No. 9 top-selling album of 2001.

Closing out the list of 2001's Top 10 best-selling albums is the "Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 6" (Epic) compilation. The collection of previously released hits from artists such as Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 'NSync, Destiny's Child, Creed and U2 sold a total of about 3.1 million copies last year.

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Overall album sales for 2001, which totaled about 762.8 million, showed about a 3% drop--or 23 million copies--from 2000's total of about 785.1 million. Sales totals for the 2001 holiday season, meanwhile (Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve) were down about 5.1% from 2000's holiday-season total.

In contrast to this year's Top 10 total-sales range, which spans from about 4.8 million to about 3.1 million copies, last year's Top 10 best-selling albums' total sales figures ranged from about 9.9 million ('NSync's "No Strings Attached") to about 3.8 million (Destiny's Child's "Writing's on the Wall"), with albums from Eminem ("The Marshall Mathers LP"), Britney Spears ("Oops! � I Did It Again"), Creed ("Human Clay"), Santana ("Supernatural"), the Beatles ("1") and Nelly ("Country Grammar") each racking up end-of-2000 sales figures higher than Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory."

The five major record labels continue to dominate the market, accounting for a combined share of about 83% of all albums sold in the U.S. last year, a figure that mirrors the previous year's major-label total.

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