No surprise here: Usher's "Here I Stand" starts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the year's second-biggest sales week -- 443,000. Only Mariah Carey's "E=MC2" notched a bigger week, when it launched with 463,000 in April ... At No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the "Sex and the City" film soundtrack claims the highest debut for a multi-artist theatrical film soundtrack since 2005 ... Al Green earns his highest debut ever on the Billboard 200 as "Lay it Down" bows at No. 9 ... In Progress Reports, we've got updates on Jessica Simpson's country debut and another big hit for Foo Fighters.

FLASH POINTS


• Was there any doubt that Usher's "Here I Stand" would debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with a huge number? It was only a question of "How big will it be?" Turns out, "Here I Stand" launches with the second-biggest sales week of the year: 443,000. Only Mariah Carey's "E=MC2" owns a bigger week, when it bowed with 463,000 in April ... Usher is of course returning with his first album since 2004's "Confessions," which bowed atop the Billboard 200 with 1.1 million copies in its first week and spent nine weeks in the penthouse. That album finished 2004 as the year's best seller ... Food for thought: With 9.5 million sold in the United States, "Confessions" is the 20th-best-selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era (1991-present). It is the second-biggest among male solo singers -- only Garth Brooks is ahead, as his "Ropin' the Wind" has shifted 9.6 million.

• Usher's new album was preceded by the single "Love in This Club," which spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was his eighth chart-topper on the nearly 50 year-old chart ... Last week, Usher stopped by MTV's "TRL" and BET's "106 and Park" on Tuesday and played "Good Morning America" on Friday. The week previous, he performed on the finale of "Dancing With the Stars."

• The "Sex and the City" film soundtrack sashays onto the Billboard 200 with 66,000 at No. 2. That's the highest debut for a multi-artist theatrical film soundtrack since "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" also started at No. 2 in November 2005. "Sex and the City" bowed in theaters last Friday and earned $57 at the U.S. and Canada box offices during the three-day weekend, making it the top-grossing film of the frame. The soundtrack boasts tunes from India.Arie, Nina Simone and the film's Jennifer Hudson. Also onboard is Al Green, who coincidentally debuts with his own new album this week at No. 9. The soundtrack's most notable tune is likely Fergie's new "Labels or Love," which plays under the film's opening credits.

• Fergie Ferg is all over the Billboard 200 this week. In addition to adding some luster to the "Sex and the City" album at No. 2, she also zooms 104-28 with "The Dutchess" (up 131%) and bows at No. 46 with "The Dutchess Deluxe EP" (11,000). The original "Dutchess" album was re-issued with four additional tracks last week -- including "Labels or Love" -- hence the big increase. Meanwhile, all of the additional tracks were also conveniently compiled into a digital-exclusive "Dutchess Deluxe EP," which charts separately.

• Last week's Billboard 200 champ, 3 Doors Down's self-titled album, slips to No. 3 this week, shifting 63,000 (down 59%). Bun B's "II Trill" moves 2-4 in its second week (40,000; down 59%) while Julianne Hough's self-titled debut album slides in its sophomore frame, falling 3-16 (24,000; down 64%).

• Al Green's "Lay It Down" arrives at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 with 34,000. It is Green's best debut ever and his highest-charting album since "I'm Still in Love With You" reached No. 4 in 1972. He was profiled on two NPR programs last week ("All Things Considered" and "News and Notes") and drew coverage from the likes of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal ... Also debuting this week is Cyndi Lauper's "Bring Ya to the Brink" at No. 41 with 12,000. It's the singer's first U.S. pop album since 1996's "Sisters of Avalon."




The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New USHER Here I Stand (LaFace / Zomba) 11 9 MADONNA Hard Candy (Warner Bros. )
*2 New SOUNDTRACK Sex And The City (New Line ) 12 12 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
3 1 3 DOORS DOWN 3 Doors Down (Universal Republic / UMRG) 13 11 JASON MRAZ We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. (Atlantic / AG)
4 2 BUN-B II Trill (J Prince / Trill / Rap-A-Lot 4 Life / Asylum) 14 13 TOBY KEITH 35 Biggest Hits (Show Dog Nashville / UMe)
5 6 LEONA LEWIS Spirit (SYCO / J / RMG) 15 10 NEIL DIAMOND Home Before Dark (Columbia / Sony Music)
6 4 FRANK SINATRA Nothing But The Best (Reprise / Warner Bros.) 16 3 JULIANNE HOUGH Julianne Hough (Mercury Nashville / UMGN)
7 8 DUFFY Rockferry (Mercury / IDJMG) 17 18 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 27 (Sony BMG / EMI / Universal / Zomba / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group)
8 7 MARIAH CAREY E=MC2 (Island / IDJMG) 18 15 FLOBOTS Fight With Tools (Universal Republic / UMRG)
*9 New AL GREEN Lay It Down (Blue Note / BLG) 19 16 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carnival Ride (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG/SBN)
10 5 DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Narrow Stairs (Barsuk / Atlantic / AG) *20 26 KID ROCK Rock N Roll Jesus (Top Dog / Atlantic / AG)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 7.24 million units
• UP 0.44% from last issue's charts: 7.21 million units
• DOWN 13% from same week, 2007: 8.31 million units
• This week: Only the No. 1 album sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: R. Kelly bowed at No. 1 with "Double Up," shifting 386,000. The previous week's No. 1, Maroon 5's "It Won't Be Soon Before Long," slipped to the runner-up slot with 172,000 (down 60%). The second and final debut in the top 10 was Jason Aldean's "Relentless" (No. 4 with 98,000). Each of the top three albums sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES

• The No. 50 album this week, the soundtrack to "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (Walt Disney), sold 10,000.
• The No. 50 album for the same week of 2007, Miranda Lambert's "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" (Columbia), sold sold 12,000.
• Average total of the No. 50 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1999-2008): 21,596.



PROGRESS REPORTS


• Jessica Simpson's debut country single, "Come On Over," arrives at an eye-popping No. 41 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Considering only solo artists with no prior history on the chart, it's the highest debut since the tally began using Nielsen BDS data in 1990 ... Previously, the highest Nielsen BDS-era starts by solo newcomers occurred when Brad Cotter's "I Meant To" (May 2004) and Miranda Lambert's "Me and Charlie Talking" (October 2004) posted No. 42 debuts. Cotter and Lambert gained initial notice as competitors on the reality TV show "Nashville Star," where Lambert was a finalist in the 2003 season and Cotter won in 2004.

• Foo Fighters earn their sixth consecutive top five on the Modern Rock chart as "Let It Die" climbs 6-5. The quartet becomes the fifth act in the chart's nearly 20-year history to land at least six straight top five tracks. Linkin Park holds the chart record with its current string of nine straight top five singles.






A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Disturbed's "Indestructible," the "Now 28" compilation, Jewel's "Perfectly Clear," Weezer's "Weezer," Ashanti's "The Declaration," Gavin Rossdale's "Wanderlust," Radiohead's "The Best Of" and Aimee Mann's "Smilers."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2007 when: T-Pain's "Epiphany" started in the top slot with 171,000 while Rihanna's "Good Girl Gone Bad" bowed at No. 2 with 162,000. Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full" debuted at No. 3 with 161,000 while the previous week's chart-topper, R. Kelly's "Double Up," slipped to No. 4 with 121,000 (down 69%). Each of the top six albums sold more than 100,000.