Following a No. 1 debut in the U.K., Madonna's "American Life" opens on top of The Billboard 200. The Maverick/Warner Bros. album sold 241,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week, according to Nielse

Following a No. 1 debut in the U.K., Madonna's "American Life" opens on top of The Billboard 200. The Maverick/Warner Bros. album sold 241,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and is the only set on the big chart to have sold more than 200,000 copies.

Nonetheless, "American Life" fell short of the 420,000 copies sold by Madonna's 2000 effort, "Music," in its first week. Incidentally, that set was the artist's strongest debut week since SoundScan was initiated in 1991.

"American Life" has an easy lead over 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" (Shady/Interscope), which rebounds 5-2 on the chart this week despite a 31% dip in sales to 142,000 copies. Last week, 50 Cent's CD/DVD hybrid "The New Breed" entered at No. 2, but it falls to No. 10 in its sophomore week on a 69% slide to sales of 76,000 copies. "Get Rich" and "The New Breed" are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

In a slow week for releases, only two albums land inside the top-20 of The Billboard 200, while the other 18 each saw a drop in sales. Last week's No. 1, Kelly Clarkson's RCA debut "Thankful," slips to No. 3 in its second week. Sales of the set were down 55% to 134,000 copies.

Linkin Park's "Meteora" (Warner Bros.) is up 6-4, even though it endured a 43% drop in sales to 111,000 copies. "The Very Best of Cher" (Geffen/MCA/Warner Bros.) earns a 10-5 boost on a relatively tame 12% sales decline to 106,000 copies.

Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" (Blue Note/Capitol) sold 99,000 copies, a 31% drop from the previous week. Despite the loss, the album moves up 8-6 on The Billboard 200. Evanescence's Wind-Up debut "Fallen" returns to the top-10 with a 12-7 boost, a feat it manages in spite of a 19% decrease in sales to 89,000 units.

Fleetwood Mac's "Say You Will" (Warner Bros.) suffered a 60% sales loss to 87,000 copies in its second week, sending the album on a 3-8 slide. The 12th edition in the "NOW! That's What I Call Music" compilation series (Universal/EMI/Zomba/Sony) drops 7-9 on a 60% sales slip to 77,000 copies.

A weeklong stint on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" helped raise the profile of the White Stripes even further. The critical darlings' latest V2 album, "Elephant," rebounds 21-15 in its fourth week, withstanding a small 12% dip to sales of 57,000 copies.

Also rebounding this week is the Dixie Chicks' "Home" (Monument/Columbia), which climbs 33-23 despite a tiny 10% drop in sales to 39,000 copies. The country trio embarked on a publicity campaign last week to regain favor with fans who were upset after negative comments about U.S. President George Bush made by singer Natalie Maines in London. In addition to sitting down for an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, the Chicks posed nude for the cover of "Entertainment Weekly."

Notable newcomers on The Billboard 200 this week include Disney's soundtrack to "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," which sold 51,000 copies to enter at No. 18, Mobb Deep's "Free Agents: Murda Mix Tape" (Landspeed/Koch), which moved 46,000 copies to land at No. 21, and "The Blessed Hellride" (Spitfire) from Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society, which pierces the chart at No. 50 on sales of 19,000 copies.