Linkin Park claims its fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with "A Thousand Suns" opening atop the list with 241,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The rock band beats out R&B singer Trey Songz, as his "Passion, Pain & Pleasure" debuts at No. 2 with 240,000. Jamey Johnson, Robert Plant, Weezer and Brandon Flowers also start in the top 10 . . . On the Digital Songs chart, a new No. 1 is crowned, with Rihanna's "Only Girl (In the World)" debuting in the penthouse with 249,000.


FLASH POINTS

• Linkin Park notches its fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as its "A Thousand Suns" debuts atop the list with 241,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The rock band beats out R&B singer Trey Songz, as the latter's fourth album, "Passion, Pain & Pleasure," arrives at No. 2 with 240,000 copies.

• For Linkin, its "Suns" opener is far less than the 623,000 that greeted its last studio album, 2007's "Minutes to Midnight," when it debuted at No. 1. However for Songz, "Passion" represents his best sales week yet and his highest-charting album. His previous high-water marks came when last year's "Ready" started at No. 3 with 131,000.

• The first single from "Suns," "The Catalyst," rises to a new peak of No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. The first offering from "Passion," "Bottoms Up" (featuring Nicki Minaj), also hits a new high, as it rises four rungs to a new peak of No. 13. The new Hot 100 chart will be refreshed on billboard.com on Thursday (Sept. 23).

• Last week's Billboard 200 No. 1, Sara Bareilles' "Kaleidoscope Heart," slides to No. 12 in its second week with 28,000 (down 69%). It's the second No. 1-debuting set to tumble out of the top 10 in its sophomore week this year, following B.o.B's "The Adventures of Bobby Ray," which fell from No. 1 to No. 12.

• As predicted last week, the Sept. 12 MTV "Video Music Awards" goosed sales both on last week's chart and this week's. Eminem, who opened the show with a medley of "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie," sees his "Recovery" album post a gain of 10%, though it slips one rung to No. 3 (89,000). Another VMA performer earns a gain in the top 10: Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" at No. 10 (down two slots with 36,000; up 3%).

• The chart's largest unit gain comes from a VMA performer's album that earned last week's biggest percentage increase: Florence and the Machine's "Lungs." It vaults from No. 44 to No. 14 with its best sales week: 21,000 (up 13,000 units and 165%).

• Over on the Digital Songs chart, beleaguered singer Bruno Mars, who also performed on the VMA show, falls from No. 1 to No. 2 with "Just the Way You Are" (194,000; down 7%). He's bumped from the top slot by fellow VMA performer Rihanna, who debuts atop the list with "Only Girl (In the World)," selling 249,000. It's her eighth No. 1 on the tally and sixth to debut atop the list.

• Back on the Billboard 200, four more albums—in addition to the aforementioned sets from Linkin Park and Trey Songz—arrive in the top 10.

• Country singer Jamey Johnson notches his best sales week as "The Guitar Song" opens at No. 4 with 63,000. It's also his highest-charting set, as 2006's "The Dollar" cashed in at No. 87, while 2008's "That Lonesome Song" warbled its best week at No. 28. Johnson's latest also crowns the Country Albums chart—his first No. 1 on that tally.

• Rock titan Robert Plant starts at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 with his latest, "Band of Joy," selling 49,000. It ties with Plant's 1982 solo debut, "Pictures at Eleven," as his highest-charting solo set. Plant has gone higher with collaboration albums with his Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page on "No Quarter" (No. 4 in 1994) and the Grammy Award winner for album of the year, "Raising Sand," with Alison Krauss (No. 2 in 2007).

• Weezer grabs its sixth top 10 set with "Hurley" debuting at No. 6 with 45,000. The album is the band's Epitaph Records debut, and the act's sixth studio set in a row to debut in the top 10 as well. Its last release, 2009's "Raditude," was its last for DGC/Interscope, and it arrived at No. 7 with 66,000.

• Plant isn't the only famous rock frontman to debut in the top 10 this week, as the Killers' Brandon Flowers' flies in with "Flamingo" at No. 8 with 41,000.

• Finally, the "Now 35" compilation descends four slots to No. 7 with 41,000 (down 35%) while Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" drops from No. 4 to No. 9 with 40,000 (down 31%).

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 19) totaled 5.4 million units, up 11% compared with the sum last week (4.8 million) and down 17% compared with the comparable sales week of 2009 (6.4 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 210.7 million, down 13% compared with the same total at this point last year (242.1 million).

• Digital track sales this past week totaled 19.9 million downloads, down 1% compared with last week (20 million) and up less than 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2009 (19.9 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 821.7 million, down less than 1% compared with the same total at this point last year (827.6 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 5.4 million units
• Up 11% from last week's charts: 4.8 million units
• Down 17% from the comparable week in 2009: 6.4 million units
• This week: The top two albums each sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Jay-Z's "The Blueprint 3" held atop the list for a second week with 298,000 (down 37%). Muse's "The Resistance" was the highest new entry, bowing at No. 3 with 128,000.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Zac Brown Band's "You Get What You Give," Maroon 5's "Hands All Over," Santana's "Guitar Heaven," John Legend and the Roots' "Wake Up!," Selena Gomez & the Scene's "A Year Without Rain" and Billy Currington's "Enjoy Yourself."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" opened at No. 1 with 189,000 while the previous week's chart-topper, Jay-Z's "The Blueprint 3," fell to No. 2 with 134,000 (down 55%).