There's no stopping the Sade party at No. 1 as the group's "Soldier of Love" retains the top slot on the Billboard 200 for a third straight week ... Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" spends its third week at No. 2 -- and fifth week in the top two altogether ... The tally's highest new entry comes in at No. 3 from Johnny Cash with his "American VI: Ain't No Grave."


FLASH POINTS

• Sade's "Soldier of Love" sits tight for a third week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 as it sells 127,000 (down 34%). In the runner-up slot, Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" holds down No. 2 position for a third week as well, shifting 118,000 (down 18%).

• Unlike last week, where the chart was so sleepy you had to scroll all the way down to No. 42 to find the highest debut, this week there are a pair of new entries in the top 15.

• First up is Johnny Cash's "American VI: Ain't No Grave," starting at No. 3 with 54,000. It's late legend's final installment in his American Recordings series with producer Rick Rubin. The last one, "American V: A Hundred Highways," debuted at No. 1 with 88,000 in July of 2006.

• Just outside the top 10 is the tally's second-best debut, where Alkaline Trio's "This Addiction" bows at No. 11 with 26,000. It's the second top 20 album for the band -- and its highest charting set. The act's previous high-water mark came with "Agony and Irony" in 2008, which debuted and peaked at No. 13 off a 36,000 start.

• Ke$ha's "Animal" roars back into the top 10 this week, climbing seven rungs to No. 7 with 32,000 (up 7%), likely partially owed to a $7.99 sale tag it carried at Best Buy last week. Meanwhile, the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." slips one spot to No. 4 (50,000; down 23%), Lady Gaga's "The Fame" is also down one to No. 5 (48,000; down 23%) and Lil Wayne's "Rebirth" falls one position to No. 6 (37,000; down 36%). Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" descends two spot to No. 8 (30,000; down 41%), Taylor Swift's "Fearless" climbs one to No. 9 (28,000; down 13%) and Justin Bieber's "My World" returns to the top 10 for the first time since January, as it rises two slots to No. 10 (just under 26,000; down 20%).

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Feb. 28) totaled 5.99 million units, down 8% compared to the sum last week (6.53 million) and down 13% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (6.91 million).

• A LOOK AHEAD:

• The highest debut on the Billboard 200 next week will likely come from country singer Blake Shelton, as industry observers suggest his new "Hillbilly Bone" may sell in the range of 60,000 to 75,000 by week's end on Sunday, March 7. That figure will probably place the album somewhere in the top five of next week's chart, depending on how the rest of the week shakes out.

• Shelton's album is an experimental release of sorts, containing just six songs and offered for a very attractive low price. Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon are currently selling the album for a sale price of $4.99, while Best Buy has it for $6.99. Surprisingly, both the iTunes and Amazon MP3 stores are selling it for a higher price than their physical competitors, as the etailers have it listed for $5.99.

• Shelton's plan is to release at least one or two more six-song sets before the end of the year.

• The Billboard 200's top 20 is already playing host to a pair of shorter-than-usual albums: Justin Bieber's seven-song "My World" and Lady Gaga's eight-track "The Fame Monster." The latter titles, both economically priced, have sold 971,000 and 827,000, respectively.

• As for the rest of the albums aiming for a high debut on next week's Billboard 200 -- "American Idol" fans, rejoice! Last year's third-place finisher, Danny Gokey, could be the tally's second-highest new entry, as his "My Best Days" should bow in the top 10. Also looking for a nice start: Jason Derulo's self-titled debut, the "Almost Alice" companion album/soundtrack to the film "Alice in Wonderland" and Raheem Devaughn's "The Love and War Masterpeace."



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 5.99 million units
• Down 8% from last week's charts: 6.53 million units
• Down 13% from the comparable week in 2009: 6.91 million units
• This week: the top two albums on the Billboard 200 sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Taylor Swift's "Fearless" closed out its 11th and final frame at No. 1, selling 73,000 (up 18%). Nos. 2 and 3 were debuts, coming from Lamb of God' "Wrath" (68,000) and the Jonas Brothers' "3D Concert Experience" (50,000).



A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: DJ Khaled's "Victory," Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone," Lifehouse's "Smoke and Mirrors," Peter Gabriel's "Scratch My Back," Jamie Cullum's "The Pursuit," Danny Gokey's "My Best Days," Jason Derulo's "Jason Derulo," the "Almost Alice" soundtrack/compilation and Point of Grace's "No Changin' Us."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: U2's "No Line On The Horizon" blasted in at No. 1 with 484,000 -- outselling the titles at Nos. 2 through 18 combined. The previous week's No. 1, Taylor Swift's "Fearless," fell to No. 2 with 52,000 (down 29%) while the second-highest debut arrived at No. 3 from Neko Case's "Middle Cyclone" (44,000).