Although sales amounted to less than half of the previous week, enough copies of 50 Cent's "The Massacre" made their way into the hands of consumers to keep the title at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for

Although sales amounted to less than half of the previous week, enough copies of 50 Cent's "The Massacre" made their way into the hands of consumers to keep the title at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for a third straight week. The numbers for the Shady/Aftermath/Interscope were down 53% at 364,000 copies sold in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, sharply decreasing its lead over the field it has held at bay since its release.

Last week, "The Massacre" -- which has sold 2.275 million copies to date -- was ahead of the No. 2 title by more than half a million. This week there is a mere 25,000 units between it and the debut of the latest installment of the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" hit compilation series.

The 18th "NOW" volume, which sold 339,000 copies to open at No. 2, features such top 10 Billboard Hot 100 tracks as Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" and Nelly's "Over and Over" featuring Tim McGraw. The franchise's 17th installment debuted at No. 1 last year with 407,000 and has sold 2.8 million copies to date.

Jack Johnson's "In Between Dreams" (Brushfire) falls 2-3 this week on a 16% drop to 99,000 copies, while Green Day's "American Idiot" (Reprise), in its 26th week on the chart, moves up one to No. 4 despite a 2% slide to 76,000.

The Game's "The Documentary" (Aftermath/G-Unit/Interscope) slips 3-5 on a 22% fall to 68,000 copies, while at No. 6 for the second week is Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway," which gained 12% to 67,000 copies.

Jennifer Lopez's "Rebirth" (Epic) tumbles 4-7 on a 30% decline to 60,000 copies, while the Killers' "Hot Fuss" (Island) hangs on at No. 8 for the second week on a 7% rise to 58,000.

Rounding out the top tier, John Legend's "Get Lifted" (Columbia) stays at No. 9 for a second week with 51,000 copies (-3%) and Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company" (Concord/Hear Music) dips 7-10 with 49,000 units (-14%).

Just missing a top 10 entry, Latin rapper Baby Bash scores his highest Billboard 200 chart position with "Super Saucy" (Universal), which opens at No. 11 on the strength of 48,000 copies sold. His 2003 set, "Tha Smokin' Nephew," reached No. 48 has sold 531,000 to date.

R&B newcomer Brooke Valentine enters at No. 16 with her Virgin debut, "Chain Letter." The album, which includes the top 30 R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks hit "Girl Fight" featuring Lil' Jon and Big Boi, moved 42,000 copies in its first week.

Miranda Lambert comes in at No. 18 with her Epic debut "Kerosene," with sales of 40,000. The set also tops the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, making the 2003 "Nashville Star" finalist the fourth debut female country artist in history to bow in that chart's top slot after Gretchen Wilson, LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna Judd.

Crosby Stills & Nash earns its highest-charting album since 1989 with Rhino/Atlantic's "Greatest Hits," which opens at No. 24 with 33,000 units. Previously, the veteran rock trio went as high as No. 16 with Atlantic's "American Dream" in 1988.

With his highest charting set in 30 years, the Rev. Al Green pulls in at No. 50 with "Everything's OK," which sold 20,000 copies. His sophomore effort for Blue Note is also his highest charting since 1975's "Al Green Is Love" (Hi), which went to No. 28. Green's 2003 Blue Note debut, "I Can't Stop," started at No. 53 with 34,000 copies and has sold 272,000 to date.

Overall U.S. album sales were up 1% over the previous week at 10.9 million units, about 3.5% down from the same week last year. 2005 sales are 8.5% lower than 2004 at 123 million units.