As expected, pop/rock band Matchbox Twenty scores its first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 as its new "North" album debuts with 95,000 sold according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's the group's first full-length studio album since 2002's "More Than You Think You Are," which debuted and peaked at No. 6 off a 178,000 launch.
Since then, the act released an EP in 2003 (aptly titled "EP") which went to No. 43 and a greatest hits package in 2007 titled "Exile On Mainstream." The latter bowed and peaked at No. 3, starting with 131,000.
The group's breakthrough debut album, 1996's "Yourself Or Someone Like You," topped out at No. 5 on the chart the following year, but spent a whopping 119 weeks on the tally. In 2000, the act issued its second set, "Mad Season," which reached No. 3 and earned its best single sales week -- when it started with 365,000.
The new album was led by the single "She's So Mean," which became the group's 13th top 10 hit on the Adult Pop Songs airplay chart (known as Adult Top 40 on Billboard.biz). This week "Mean" holds for a third straight week at No. 8 -- its so-far peak.
Matchbox Twenty leads a total of four debuts in the top 10, with two of them arriving at Nos. 2 and 3.
Powered by its No. 4 Alternative Songs hit "It's Time," rock band Imagine Dragons debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with its first proper full-length album, "Night Visions" (83,000). Of the set's first week, a full 90% were digital downloads. The album was sale priced last week in the iTunes Store for $7.99 while Amazon MP3 offered it for $5.
A significant chunk of its downloads were owed to iTunes' Complete My Album feature -- which isn't surprising. The band had released the successful six-song EP "Continued Silence" earlier this year, and four of those tracks are found on the new "Night Visions" album. (Consumers who had purchased any four of those tracks could apply them towards the sale of the new set.)
The "Continued Silence" EP peaked at No. 40 in August, but was deleted last week. Thus, it falls completely off the chart this week (from No. 57 last week), taking a 75% dive in sales (moving from 7,000 sold to 2,000).
At No. 3 behind Imagine Dragons is Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae and his "Gravity" set, bowing with a career-high 72,000. Until this week, the artist had never sold more than 27,000 of an album in a single week -- with 2010's "Rehab" (when it debuted at No. 17). Further, Lecrae had never gone higher than No. 15 in 2011, with "Rehab: The Overdose."
Lecrae's success comes hot on the heels of fellow Christian act TobyMac, who debuted at No. 1 last week with "Eye On It." The set became the first Christian album to reach No. 1 since 1997. This week, it slips to No. 8 with 26,000 (down 63%).
The "Now 43" compilation holds at No. 4 with 35,000 (down 14%), Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" skips 8-5 with 29,000 (up 7%) and Maroon 5's "Overexposed" is steady at No. 6 with just over 29,000 (down 5%).
2 Chainz's "Based on a T.R.U. Story" is stationary at No. 7 with 26,000 (down 13%), Trey Songz's "Chapter V" falls 3-9 with 24,000 (down 43%) and Cat Power's new "Sun" debuts at No. 10 with 23,000. For Cat Power, it's the act highest charting album yet, surpassing the No. 12 debut and peak of 2008's "Jukebox." However, "Jukebox" started with a bigger sales figure -- 29,000.
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Taylor Swift tops the list for a fourth week, while also scoring the chart's highest debut at No. 2.
Her "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" stands tall at No. 1 with 284,000 (up 12%) while her charity single "Ronan" launches at No. 2 with 211,000. The latter was released on Friday, Sept. 7 following her performance on the multi-network TV benefit special "Stand Up to Cancer." The former likely gains thanks to her performance of the tune on the "MTV Video Music Awards" on Sept. 6.
With Swift at Nos. 1 and 2 simultaneously, she is the first act to hold the top two slots on the Digital Songs chart since Ke$ha did it on Jan. 23, 2010. She led that week with her debut single "Tik Tok" and bowed in the runner-up slot with "Blah Blah Blah" (featuring 3OH!3).
Maroon 5's "One More Night" is pushed backwards, despite a gain, falling 2-3 with 196,000 (up 2%). fun.'s "Some Nights" slips a spot to No. 4 with 159,000 (down 2%) and Flo Rida's "Whistle" drops 4-5 with 151,000 (down 7%).
Alex Clare's "Too Close" benefits from its use in Fox TV's "So You Think You Can Dance" last week, as it zooms 11-6 with 127,000 (up 50%). It's the song's best sales week yet, and brings its to-date total to 1.48 million.
Justin Bieber's "As Long As You Love Me" (featuring Big Sean) is a non-mover at No. 7 with 114,000 (down less than 1%) while Pink's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" sizzles with a 37% increase (12-8 with 113,000). Pink, like Swift, performed her current single on the annual VMA broadcast.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 9) totaled 4.76 million units, down 3% compared with the sum last week (4.90 million) and down 13% compared with the comparable sales week of 2011 (5.49 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 202.18 million, down 5% compared with the same total at this point last year (212.06 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 23.25 million downloads, up 3% compared with last week (22.59 million) and up 9% stacked next to the comparable week of 2011 (21.26 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 939.56 million, up 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (889.59 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2011 when: Lady Antebellum's "Own the Night" launched at No. 1 with 347,000 while Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" fell from No. 1 to No. 3 in its third week (117,000; down 47%).