Colbie Caillat's "Breakthrough" opens at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 as expected, but Miley Cyrus crashes the party at No. 3. The latter's Wal-Mart-exclusive EP "The Time of Our Lives" enters early, as the set's release date moved up by three days to Friday, Aug. 28 . . . After Caillat and Cyrus, three more albums bow in the top 10, including best-ever weeks for rock band Skillet and singer/songwriter Imogen Heap . . . In Progress Reports we have updates on AFI, Creed and Taylor Swift's latest hit singles.


FLASH POINTS

• As predicted, Colbie Caillat's "Breakthrough" breaks on through to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in its first week with 106,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, giving the "Bubbly" singer/songwriter her first topper.

• Now, the surprise chart news is that the Billboard 200 also greets an early debut from Miley Cyrus at No. 3 with her "The Time of Our Lives" Wal-Mart-exclusive EP. The seven-song set's release date moved up three days to Friday, Aug. 28, and it enters the chart with 62,000.

• Coincidentally, Cyrus played NBC's "Today" show Aug. 28. The performance likely goosed sales for the set, which enters with just three days in the market. All told, it's the eighth top 10 album for Cyrus—including sets by her "Hannah Montana" alter-ego.

• How will Cyrus' EP fair next week, when it nets its first full week of sales? Early prognostications suggest it could shift between 120,000 and 140,000, which should keep it near the top of the Billboard 200 on next week's chart. However, Cyrus will play second (or third) fiddle to Whitney Houston's "I Look to You," which dropped Aug. 31. Industry gurus estimate that the diva's ballyhooed comeback could sell 200,000 to 250,000 copies—or more—which should easily enable it to debut at No. 1.

• Of course, Houston isn't the only artist with an album that bowed Aug. 31: The release date also greeted new sets from the Used, Trey Songz, Pitbull, Chevelle and John Fogerty.

• But let's refocus on this week's chart, where Caillat and Cyrus aren't the only artists making waves. Christian-leaning rock band Skillet makes a mighty debut at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with "Awake," selling 68,000. That is the group's best sales week yet and highest chart position. The act has two singles at radio: "Hero" is No. 30 on Hot Christian Songs while "Monster" rises to No. 23 on the Active Rock tally. The group's last album, 2006's "Comatose," has quietly sold 462,000 to date.

• Two steps below Skillet is another record high, this time from Imogen Heap. Her "Ellipse" enters with 48,000 at No. 5, easily giving the singer her best week yet. Heap's last album, 2005's "Speak For Yourself," never went higher than No. 145 nor sold more than 7,000 copies in one week. Yet, it has steadily remained a draw to consumers, as its cumulative total stands at 431,000.

• And now a recap of the rest of the top 10 on the Billboard 200 . . . Kings of Leon's "Only by the Night" spends its 49th week on the chart, holding at No. 4 with 52,000 (up 15%), while Reba McEntire's "Keep On Loving You" slides from No. 1 to No. 6 in its second week on the list, selling 42,000 (down 56%). George Strait's "Twang" slips five slots to No. 7 with 41,000 (down 33%), the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." falls three rungs to No. 8 with 36,000 (down 13%) and Taylor Swift's "Fearless" moves down one position to No. 9 with 34,000 (up less than 1%). Rounding out the top 10 at No. 10 is the "Now That's What I Call Country Vol. 2" compilation, which enters with 33,000.

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Aug. 30) totaled 5.8 million units, up 2% compared with the sum last week (5.7 million) and down 19% compared with the same sales week of 2008 (7.2 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 231.1 million, down 15% compared to the same total at this point last year (270.8 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 5.8 million units
• UP 2% from last week's charts: 5.7 million units
• DOWN 19% from same week, 2008: 7.2 million units
• This week: Only the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and Top Comprehensive Albums sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Slipknot's "All Hope Is Gone" started at No. 1 with 240,000, just ahead of a No. 2 debut from the Game's "L.A.X." (238,000). The previous week's topper, Jonas Brothers' "A Little Bit Longer," fell to No. 4 in its third frame, selling 80,000 (down 45%).



PROGRESS REPORTS

• AFI ushers in its upcoming "Crash Love" album, due Sept. 29, with the set's first single, "Medicate," debuting at No. 21 on the Alternative Airplay chart. It's the band's best bow on the tally in seven tries. Its previous best entry was in 2006 when "Miss Murder" started at No. 22 on its way to a five-week stay at No. 1.

• Also on the Alternative chart, Creed finds itself on the list for the first time in nearly seven years as "Overcome" debuts at No. 28. The recently reunited act was last seen on the Alternative chart Feb. 8, 2003, when "Weathered" spent its final week on the survey.

• Taylor Swift notches her 16th hit on the Hot Country Songs chart with the almost-appropriately named single "Fifteen." It enters at No. 41 and is the follow-up to "You Belong With Me," which spent two weeks atop the list last month.




A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: the Used's "Artwork," Trey Songz's "Ready," Pitbull's "Rebelution," John Fogerty's "The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again" and Chevelle's "Sci-Fi Crimes."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Young Jeezy's aptly titled "The Recession" debuted at No. 1 with 260,000 while New Kids on the Block returned at No. 2 with "The Block" (95,000). The previous week's topper, Slipknot's "All Hope Is Gone," fell to No. 5 in its second frame with 73,000 (down 69%).