It's all about Carrie Underwood this week as the former "American Idol" champ earns the best sales week for an album by a woman in 2009 as her new "Play On" bows atop the Billboard 200 . . . Underwood's latest leads a total of five debuts in the top 10, including a handsome bow from Andrea Bocelli, the first "Glee" TV soundtrack, the latest "Now" compilation and Weezer's "Raditude" . . . In Progress Reports, we have more news about Underwood, along with Death Cab for Cutie.


FLASH POINTS

• As expected, Carrie Underwood's "Play On" bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, shifting 318,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

• It's her second album to top the tally, after her sophomore set, "Carnival Ride," bowed in the penthouse with 527,000 in 2007. Her debut effort, "Some Hearts," started at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 2005 and at No. 1 on Top Country Albums (315,000).

• The 318,000 starting sum for "Play On" is the largest sales week for an album by a woman in 2009 and the second-best frame for a country release. Among country efforts this year, only Rascal Flatts' "Unstoppable" netted a bigger week, when it started at No. 1 with 351,000.

• All three of Underwood's albums have also opened at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart. She is just the fourth artist—all of which happen to be female—since SoundScan began powering our sales charts in 1991 to bow at No. 1 on Top Country Albums with their first three chart entries. Only LeAnn Rimes, Gretchen Wilson and Miranda Lambert have also managed the feat.

• Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas" arrives on the Billboard 200 at No. 3 with 149,000 copies, marking the singer's fifth top 10 effort and best sales week since "Cieli Di Toscana" blew through 177,000 during Christmas week of 2001. "Christmas" also marks the singer's second-best debut sales week—only the bow of "Songo" in 1999 with just a couple hundred more copies pulled in a better first-week number.

• One step below Bocelli is the first "Glee" TV soundtrack, which enters with 113,000 copies. The second installment of the "Glee" soundtracks is due Dec. 8 . . . Next up, the "Now 32" hits compilation starts at No. 5 with 102,000. The last regular "Now" release, Vol. 31, moved 169,000 when it bowed at No. 1 earlier this year . . . The final debut in the top 10 this week is Weezer's "Raditude," which starts at No. 7 with 66,000. The rock band's last studio effort, its self-titled 2008 release, moved 126,000 upon its arrival at No. 4.

• Last week's No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Michael Jackson's "This Is It," falls to No. 2 with 196,000 (down 48%). Taylor Swift's "Fearless" marks its one-year anniversary on the chart as it drops three spots to No. 6 with 70,000 (down 36%) while Michael Buble's "Crazy Love" falls one rung to No. 8 with 59,000 (down 17%). Sting's "If on a Winter's Night" slides three places to No. 9 in its second week, selling 59,000 (down 26%). The "New Moon" soundtrack rounds out the top 10, dropping two slots to No. 10 with 52,000 (down 24%).

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Nov. 8) totaled 6.9 million units, UP 9% compared with the sum last week (6.3 million) and DOWN 2% compared with the same sales week of 2008 (7 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 294.4 million, DOWN 13% compared with the same total at this point last year (339.3 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 6.9 million units
• UP 9% from last week's charts: 6.3 million units
• DOWN 2% from same week, 2008: 7 million units
• This week: The top five albums on both the Billboard 200 and Top Comprehensive Albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: The soundtrack to the first "Twilight" flim debuted atop the chart with 165,000 copies while Hinder's "Take It to the Limit" entered at No. 4 with 81,000. The previous week's chart-topper, AC/DC's "Black Ice," fell to No. 2 with 160,000 (down 41%).




PROGRESS REPORTS

• Fittingly, in the same week Carrie Underwood hits No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums with "Play On," the set's first single, "Cowboy Casanova," rises to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It's the leading lady's eighth topper in just a little more than four years since her debut on the list. Out of her 10 official singles worked to country radio, only two have missed the top slot ("Don't Forget to Remember Me" and "I Told You So"); they both peaked at No. 2.

• Death Cab for Cutie notches its fifth top 10 single on the Alternative radio chart as "Meet Me on the Equinox" rises 11-10 in its eighth week on the tally. It joins the band's previous top 10s: "Soul Meets Body" (No. 5), "Crooked Teeth" (No. 10), "I Will Possess Your Heart" (No. 6) and "Cath" (No. 10).



A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Bon Jovi's "The Circle," Dashboard Confessional's "After the Ending," Britney Spears' "The Singles Collection," Tori Amos' "Midwinter Graces," Flyleaf's "Memento Mori," Alejandro Sanz's "Paraiso Express," AC/DC's "Backtracks," Switchfoot's "Hello Hurricane" and Jason Mraz's "Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Taylor Swift's "Fearless" flew in with 592,000 copies at No. 1 while David Archuleta's self-titled debut started at No. 2 with 183,000. The "Now 29" compilation began at No. 3 with 172,000 while T-Pain's "Thr33 Ringz" started at No. 4 with 167,000. The previous week's No. 1, the soundtrack to "Twilight," fell to No. 5 with 107,000 (down 35%).