Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak" arrives at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 450,000, giving the rapper his third straight chart-topping album. However, his sales start is his lowest since his first album, "The College Dropout," bowed with 441,000 in 2004 . . . The much ballyhooed return of Guns N' Roses doesn't quite fire up the chart as some expected. The band's "Chinese Democracy" starts at No. 3 with 261,000 . . . Also starting high this week: new sets from Ludacris and the Killers, an EP from Coldplay and Barry Manilow's latest "Greatest Songs" release.


FLASH POINTS

• Kanye West scores his third straight No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as his "808s & Heartbreak" arrives atop the tally with 450,000. That's the good news . . . Now, the not-so-good news. That's his lowest debut sales frame since his first album, "The College Dropout," bowed with 441,000 in 2004. His last release, "Graduation," began with 957,000 at No. 1 last year while sophomore set "Late Registration" checked in with 860,000 at No. 1 in 2005.

• In the runner-up slot this week is a surging "Fearless" from Taylor Swift, which basks in post-Thanksgiving sale pricing and a performance from the singer at the Nov. 23 "American Music Awards." The set rises from No. 4 last week with 267,000 -- up 23%.

• At No. 3, we greet the arrival of Guns N' Roses' first studio album of original material since 1991, as "Chinese Democracy" lands with 261,000. The band's last proper studio efforts, the same-day release of "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II," debuted at Nos. 2 and 1, respectively, with 685,000 and 770,000 in 1991. Since then, the act has charted with a covers set (1993's "The Spaghetti Incident?" debuted with 190,000), a live effort (1999's "Live Era '87 - '93;" 60,000) and the 2004 "Greatest Hits" package (169,000).

• Beyonce's "I Am . . . Sasha Fierce" declines by nearly 47% in its second week, dropping to No. 4 with 257,000. Right behind her at No. 5 is Ludacris' new album, "Theater of the Mind," with 213,000. It's Luda's first proper set not to debut at No. 1 since 2001's "Word of Mouf" debuted and peaked at No. 3 . . . The Killers' third studio set, "Day & Age," enters at No. 6 with 193,000. The band's last studio album, 2006's "Sam's Town," bowed at No. 2 with 315,000.

• Other debuts this week include Barry Manilow's "Greatest Songs of the Eighties" (No. 14 with 78,000), Coldplay's "Prospekt's March" (EP) (No. 15 with 77,000), Trace Adkins' "X: Ten" (No. 32 with 37,000), Jeremy Camp's "Speaking Louder Than Before" (No. 38 with 32,000) and Linkin Park's "Road to Revolution" (No. 41 with 31,000).



The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New KANYE WEST 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG) 11 8 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Walt Disney )
*2 4 TAYLOR SWIFT Fearless (Big Machine ) *12 10 AC/DC Black Ice (Columbia / Sony Music)
*3 New GUNS N' ROSES Chinese Democracy (Black Frog / Geffen / IGA) 13 5 IL DIVO The Promise (SYCO / Columbia / Sony Music)
4 1 BEYONCE I Am...Sasha Fierce (Music World / Columbia / Sony Music) *14 New BARRY MANILOW Greatest Songs Of The Eighties (Arista / RMG)
*5 New LUDACRIS Theater Of The Mind (DTP / Def Jam / IDJMG) *15 New COLDPLAY Prospekt's March (EP) (Capitol )
*6 New THE KILLERS Day & Age (Island / IDJMG) *16 14 T.I. Paper Trail (Grand Hustle / Atlantic / AG)
7 2 NICKELBACK Dark Horse (Roadrunner ) *17 16 FAITH HILL Joy To The World (Warner Bros. (Nashville) / WRN)
*8 6 SOUNDTRACK Twilight (Summit / Chop Shop / Atlantic / AG) 18 9 ENYA And Winter Came... (Reprise / Warner Bros.)
*9 7 VARIOUS ARTISTS Now 29 (Universal / EMI / Sony BMG / Zomba / UMe) 19 11 DAVID ARCHULETA David Archuleta (19 / Jive / Zomba)
10 3 DAVID COOK David Cook (19 / RCA / RMG) *20 19 PINK Funhouse (LaFace / Zomba)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 12.2 million units
• UP 29% from last issue's charts: 9.4 million units
• DOWN 0.7% from same week, 2007: 12.2 million units
• This week: The top 10 albums each sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Josh Groban's "Noel" held at No. 1 for a second week, selling 539,000 (up 33%). Eagles' "Long Road out of Eden" was in second place with 313,000 (up 70%) and Alicia Keys' "As I Am" was in third with 257,000 (down 26%). The top debut of the week was at No. 50, where Pitbull's "Boatlift" floated in with 22,000. The top five albums each sold more than 100,000.



BORDERLINES

• The No. 100 album this week, Point of Grace's "How You Live" (Word-Curb/Warner Bros.), sold 10,000.
• The No. 100 album for the same week of 2007, Gary Allan's "Living Hard" (MCA Nashville), sold 11,000.
• Average total of the No. 10 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1999-2008): 18,822.

PROGRESS REPORTS

• Elvis Presley ends a decade's absence from Hot Country Songs, as "I'll Be Home for Christmas," with Carrie Underwood, opens at No. 60. The King last graced the list in January 1998 with his 1957 chestnut "Blue Christmas" (prior to a change in policy that allows only new holiday releases to impact the chart). "Home" and an updated version of "Blue" featuring Martina McBride appear on the new Presley release "Christmas Duets." He last reached Hot Country Songs with a non-seasonal entry when the double-sided remix single "I Was the One/Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" charted for two weeks in May 1983.

• On Hot Country Songs, Alan Jackson nets his 49th top 10 hit as "Country Boy" scoots from No. 12 to No. 10. It's his third straight top 10 single from his current album "Good Time" -- the first two both hit No. 1 ("Small Town Southern Man" and the set's title track). Jackson's first top 10 single came in 1990 with the classic "Here in the Real World."

• After appearing on the Holiday Songs chart each year since the list's 2001 launch, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" finally ascends to its first week at No. 1. Though the 1994 nugget is easily the youngest Christmas classic ever to lead the tally, a look at this week's Holiday chart reveals a fairly even decade-by-decade sample of holiday fare, with a spike in 1970s and 1980s titles. Perhaps understandably, just one title makes the list from the 2000s: "O Holy Night" by Josh Groban.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Britney Spears' "Circus," Akon's "Freedom," Panic at the Disco's "Live in Chicago" and the soundtrack to "Cadillac Records."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2007 when: Josh Groban's "Noel" held firm at No. 1 with 581,000 (up 8%) while Alicia Keys' "As I Am" rose to No. 2 with 234,000, despite a 9% decline in sales. The chart's top debut was the self-titled first album from Blake Lewis at No. 10 with 98,000. The top eight albums each sold more than 100,000.