Britney Spears' Jive set "Britney," one of three top-10 debuts on The Billboard 200, blasts to No. 1 on sales of 746,000 units, according to SoundScan. While that is an amazing number, it still falls

Britney Spears' Jive set "Britney," one of three top-10 debuts on The Billboard 200, blasts to No. 1 on sales of 746,000 units, according to SoundScan. While that is an amazing number, it still falls about a half million short of the first-week sales for last year's "Oops! ... I Did It Again." And yet the young pop star claims the second strongest opening of the year, behind only fellow Jive act 'N Sync, whose "Celebrity" sold 1.88 million in July.

While Spears' latest Neptunes-produced single, "I'm a Slave 4 U," has been noticeably absent at radio -- the cut is No. 40 on The Billboard Hot 100 -- the singer isn't exactly lacking in television exposure, thanks largely to MTV. With an HBO special set to air Sunday (Nov. 18), the album could have a lighter drop-off in its second week than most albums usually experience. The combined sales of her three albums are quickly approaching 20 million copies, falling just short this week at 19.6 million.

Spears' numbers are mind-boggling, considering the fact that her first album was released just three years ago. Yet it remains to be seen whether or not she'll follow in the footsteps of Madonna and Janet Jackson, or even if she'll be able to match the 8.7 million units "Oops!" has sold to date.

Pink Floyd, on the other hand, an act with proven career longevity, glides to No. 2 on The Billboard 200 with its greatest hits set "Echoes" (Capitol). The album sold an impressive 215,000 units, besting the 198,000 units the 1995 live album "Pulse" (Columbia) moved in its first week. Retailers, eager for a runaway hit this holiday season, are hoping "Echoes" will take after last November's Beatles compilation "1" (Capitol), which moved 595,000 units when it arrived at No. 1.

Spears and Pink Floyd send last week's much-hyped No. 1, Michael Jackson's "Invincible" (Epic), down to No. 3 on The Billboard 200 after it experienced a 44% dive to 202,000 units, a typical second-week decline. "Invincible" manages to hold onto No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally, while his single "Butterflies" flutters up one slot to No. 14 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally.

George Strait's "The Road Less Traveled" (MCA Nashville) drives to No. 9 on The Billboard 200, selling 121,000 units, a slight increase over the 107,000 units his self-titled set moved in its first week last October. Last year's album, however, had a higher debut at No. 7. "The Road Less Traveled" also lands at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums tally, while Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me" moves up to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, perhaps a beneficiary of his entertainer of the year win at last week's Country Music Association (CMA) Awards.

Up and coming rapper Petey Pablo makes a powerful impression on The Billboard 200 with his "Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry" (Jive), debuting at No. 13. Pablo's potent first outing was fueled by the success of his single, "Raise Up," which dips 1-3 this week on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart, losing a 10-week reign to Strik 9ine's "Dansin Wit Wolves (Where My Tribe At?)."

Right behind Pablo on The Billboard 200 is Faith Evans' "Faithfully" (Bad Boy), cruising to No. 14 on the strength of 101,000 units, a nice increase over the 85,000 her "Keep the Faith" moved in its first week. That 1998 album, however, had a higher debut at No. 6. Evans outperforms Pablo in urban markets, gliding to No. 4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart while Pablo opens at No. 7. In fact, Angie Stone's sophomore effort, "Mahogany Soul" (J Records), and the soundtrack to "The Wash" (Aftermath/Doggystyle/Interscope), both best Pablo in urban markets, arriving at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

On the Hot 100, Mary J. Blige stands her ground for a fourth-straight week at No. 1 with "Family Affair," holding off a 5-2 jump from Usher's "U Got It Bad," the No. 1 track on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally. Blige is No. 4 on the latter chart.

The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at radio is Nickelback's "How You Remind Me," shooting 9-5. The cut once again commands Billboard's rock airplay charts, entering its 10th week atop the Modern Rock Tracks tally and 11th fronting the Mainstream Rock Tracks count. The group's "Silver Side Up" (Roadrunner) is No. 8 on The Billboard 200.

The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at retail is the patriotic-themed "Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly" from Aaron Tippin, charging 36-27. The track is No. 10 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. The Hot 100's top debut is the No. 62 entry from fellow country comrade Alan Jackson, whose "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," which is also No. 25 on Hot Country Singles & Tracks. He debuted the song during the CMA awards last week.

The Hot 100's other noteworthy debut is Janet Jackson's "Son of a Gun" featuring Missy Elliott, P. Diddy, and Carly Simon, which opens at No. 72.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print