Creed's "Weathered" (Wind-Up) and the eighth volume in the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" series (EMI/Zomba/Sony/Universal) once again lead the pack on The Billboard 200 following a bulging holiday s

Creed's "Weathered" (Wind-Up) and the eighth volume in the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" series (EMI/Zomba/Sony/Universal) once again lead the pack on The Billboard 200 following a bulging holiday sales week. "Weathered" expanded its lead with a 22% sales hike to 555,000 units in the U.S., according to SoundScan, and becomes the first album released in 2001 to hold onto the No. 1 spot on the chart for four consecutive weeks. Similarly, "NOW 8" is in its fourth week at No. 2.

It's likely "Weathered" will ride out the year at No. 1, even though a slew of high profile rap albums are set to debut on next week's chart. Among the titles released this week are the Wu-Tang Clan's "Iron Flag" (Loud), Jay-Z's "Unplugged" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), Mystikal's "Tarantula" (Jive), and Nas' "Stillmatic" (Ill Will/Columbia), yet none are expected to have the strength to topple Creed. The band's "My Sacrifice" is also No. 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks tally for a third straight week.

As shoppers rushed for last-minute Christmas items, each album in the top-10 of The Billboard 200 saw sales of more than 200,000 units. The chart's top debut this week comes from California rockers No Doubt, whose "Rock Steady" (Interscope) sold 254,000 copies to shimmy its way to No. 9. While the band's "Return of Saturn" had a higher opening chart position at No. 2, that 2000 release didn't have to contend with the Christmas rush. It reached its peak with lower sales numbers at 202,000 units. The group's "Hey Baby" featuring Bounty Killer is No. 27 on The Billboard Hot 100, and is the chart's fastest-growing track at radio.

Albums from a number of R&B/hip-hop artists also debut on The Billboard 200 this week, led by Mobb Deep's "Infamy" (Loud/Columbia) at No. 22. Others include Joe's "Better Days" (Jive) at No. 32, the Def Jam soundtrack to "How High" at No. 43, and Warren G's "The Return of the Regulator" (Universal) at No. 89.

Considering only pure urban markets, each of the above albums has a much better showing on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums count, where Mobb Deep's "Infamy" blasts its way to No. 1. The album had appeared on the chart last week at No. 80 due to street date violations. Joe's set arrives at No. 3, and the "How High" soundtrack smokes most of the competition to land at No. 6.

The holiday season continues to bring strong sales performances by a number of artists. Britney Spears' "Britney" (Jive) was the beneficiary of a 13% sales boost, and ups the album one slot to No. 3. Enya's "A Day Without Rain" (Reprise), which falls one spot to No. 8, surged 31%, while Linkin Park's "[Hybrid Theory]" (Warner Bros.), slides up one and back into the top-10 at No. 10 on a 39% sales burst. The group's current single, "In the End," is No. 1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart for a second straight week.

Nickelback's "Silver Side Up" (Roadrunner/IDJMG) has another tremendous week on The Billboard 200, thanks to a 45% sales increase that pushes the set up two positions to No. 7. Meanwhile, the group's single, "How You Remind Me," hangs on for a second straight week at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100.

Country superstar Garth Brooks rebounds 6-4 on The Billboard 200 with "Scarecrow" (Capitol). The set, ruling Billboard's Top Country Albums tally for a fifth straight week, nets a 17% sales increase. On Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" ousts Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me" to take command of the pole position.

Usher's "U Got It Bad" cruises to its seventh straight week atop Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. The cut is No. 2 on The Billboard Hot 100, and his "8701" (Arista) is No. 11 on The Billboard 200. Master P's "Ooohhhwee" rockets 58-19 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally, and enters the Hot 100 at No. 63.

Ja Rule manages to score a second week with two top-10 songs on the Hot 100. His "Livin' It Up" featuring Case drifts down from No. 8 to No. 10, but "Always on Time" featuring Ashanti skips 9-7.

The top debut on the Hot 100 is R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest" at No. 59, from the Interscope soundtrack to "Ali." Other notable debuts on that chart include Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris' "Welcome to Atlanta" at No. 70, Jennifer Lopez's "Ain't it Funny" featuring Ja Rule at No. 74, and Mariah Carey's "Never Too Far/Hero (Medley)" at No. 81.

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