Mariah Carey closing on 50 Cent in year-end chart // 10:56 PM EST Updated by Lynn
Pop songbird Mariah Carey, enjoying one of the music industry's biggest comebacks, is giving rap star 50 Cent a run for his money in a year-end, down-to-the-wire race for best-selling U.S. album of 2005.
As of Christmas Day, 50 Cent stood at No. 1 in the United States with 4.8 million copies of sophomore album "The Massacre" sold since March, according to the latest figures from retail sales tracker Nielsen SoundScan.
Carey was closing in rapidly on the rapper with her latest Grammy-nominated collection, "The Emancipation of Mimi," which has tallied sales of 4.6 million since its release in April, Nielsen SoundScan reported.
At current sales rates, Carey would overtake 50 Cent by year's end. On the latest sales chart, "Mimi" ranked at No. 7 with weekly sales of 191,000 copies, compared with just 21,000 for "Massacre."
Both albums topped the charts in their opening weeks but neither has set a sales benchmark for the artists.
The 2003 major-label debut from 50 Cent, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," has sold 7.4 million copies to date. Carey's all-time hottest seller was 1995's "Daydream," which notched 7.5 million U.S. copies.
Still, the success of "Mimi" marks a dramatic turnaround for Carey, 35, whose career hit the skids four years ago.
Music giant EMI Group Plc paid Carey nearly $30 million to buy out her $80 million contract in January 2002 after the commercial flop of "Glitter," the soundtrack to her film debut and her first release from EMI's Virgin Records.
"Charmbracelet," the maiden release under her new record deal with Universal Music's Island Def Jam label, proved a lackluster follow-up.
This year has seen a startling reversal of Carey's fortunes. In addition to robust album sales, "Mimi" garnered Carey eight Grammy Award nominations earlier this month, including nods for album of the year and record of the year for the CD's first single, "We Belong Together."
That ballad ruled the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for 14 weeks, longer than any other song this year.
Last week, "Don't Forget About Us," the first single from a recent "Mimi" reissue, climbed to the top rung of the singles chart to move Carey a step closer to the Beatles' all-time record of 20 No. 1 hits.
She is now tied with Elvis Presley at No. 2 on the all-time Hot 100 list with 17 chart-topping singles.