Madonna's "Hard Candy" album makes a sweet entrance at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 280,000, giving the diva her seventh chart-topper and the third biggest sales week of the year. A whopping 26% of the album's first week sales were downloads sold through digital retailers ... Other high debuts this week come from Lyfe Jennings, the Roots, Def Leppard, Portishead, Mudcrutch and Tim McGraw ... In Progress Reports, we've got news on Coldplay, James Otto and Weezer.


FLASH POINTS


• Madonna's "Hard Candy" takes its expected bow atop the Billboard 200 albums chart, giving the queen of pop her seventh No. 1 -- the second-most among all female artists. Only Barbra Streisand, with eight, has more. "Candy" earns the third biggest sales week of the year as well, with 280,000 sold in its first week. That's a bigger number than the 225,000-250,000 range that Billboard projected last week based on the set's first-day sales figures. (Digital downloads accounted for a whopping 26% -- 73,000 -- of the album's overall first-week, easily making it No. 1 the Top Digital Albums chart.)

• Madonna's last studio effort, 2005's "Confessions on a Dance Floor" started with 350,000 when it bowed at No. 1. However, that discofied album was released on Nov. 15, just as the Christmas shopping season was kicking into high gear, which partially explains its bigger opening. Each of the top seven albums that week on the Billboard 200 sold more than 100,000. Even the No. 2 album, the debuting "Some Hearts" by Carrie Underwood, started with more than 300,000.

• So far in 2008, there has yet to be a week that busy. The last time the chart housed seven or more albums that each sold at least 100,000 was -- no surprise -- the sales week ending Dec. 23, 2007, when the top 23 all did more than 100,000. Ho, ho, ho!

• For those chart watchers (and diva enthusiasts) who are trying to draw comparisons between "Hard Candy's" 280,000 bow and Mariah Carey's 463,000 start with her new "E=MC2," hold your horses. During "E=MC2's" release week, Carey pulled out all the stops and performed on "American Idol," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Good Morning America." During "Hard Candy's" release week, Madonna did not perform on TV. In fact, she has yet to perform on American TV to promote this album. Last week, the only chat show she visited was BET's "106 and Park" (May 2).

• Madonna did, however, stage a well-publicized club show at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on April 30, which was streamed online via MSN. But a club show -- no matter how hot -- can't compare with the impact "American Idol" and Oprah Winfrey has. And, keep in mind that Carey was returning with her first album since her comeback set, "The Emancipation of Mimi," which also happens to be the biggest selling album of 2005.

• Besides, with an album loaded with singles that seem ripe for American radio, "Hard Candy" may have a healthy shelf life. The set was led by the unqualified hit single "4 Minutes" (featuring Justin Timberlake). It's her biggest radio hit since 2001's "Don't Tell Me" and it spent multiple weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Digital Songs chart. Madonna's had a tough time getting her new music heard on U.S. radio in the past six or so years, so securing American airplay with "4 Minutes" was key in the promotion of "Hard Candy." The diva is in Europe now, focusing on the promotion of the album there. Last night (May 6) she staged her second club show supporting the album, this time at the Olympia Hall in Paris.

• Madonna, of course, isn't the only artist to debut on the Billboard 200 this week. A bevy of other acts strut onto the chart, including Lyfe Jennings, the Roots, Def Leppard, Portishead, Mudcrutch and Tim McGraw. And those are just the artists that debut in the top 10 this week. It's the first time the top 10 has greeted seven new entries since the chart dated April 14, 2007.

• Jennings' "Lyfe Change" starts with 80,000 at No. 4. His last set, 2006's "The Phoenix," began at No. 2 with 136,000 ... Def Leppard scores its 11th consecutive top 20 album with the bow of "Songs From the Sparkle Lounge" this week (No. 5; 55,000 units) ... The band started its top 20 streak on The Billboard 200 back with 1983's "Pyromania" when it peaked at No. 2. Since "Pyromania," every Def Leppard album has reached the top 20: "Hysteria" (No. 1, 1987), "Adrenalize" (No. 1, 1992), "Retro Active" (No. 9, 1993), "Vault: Greatest Hits 1980-1995" (No. 15, 1995), "Slang" (No. 14, 1996), "Euphoria" (No. 11, 1999), "X" (No. 11, 2002), "Rock of Ages: The Definitive Def Leppard" (No. 10, 2005) and "Yeah!" (No. 16, 2006) ... (In 1984, Mercury Records reissued 1981's "High 'n' Dry," and it re-entered and peaked at No. 72. The original release peaked at No. 38. We did not include the reissue of "High" when we determined the length of Def Lep's streak.)

• The Roots' "Rising Down" enters at No. 6 off of a 54,000 start. The hip-hop act's last release, 2006's "Game Theory," started at No. 9 with 61,000 ... Portishead returns with its first studio album in over 10 years as "Third" bows with 53,000 at No. 7 -- a new chart high for the U.K. act. The aptly titled set is the third studio release for the group. Its last studio effort, 1997's "Portishead," debuted and peaked at No. 21 ... The Tom Petty side project Mudcrutch rocks at No. 8 with 38,000. Petty's last release, 2006's "Highway Companion," started at No. 4 with 112,000. Tim McGraw bows at No. 10 with the Wal-Mart exclusive set "Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2" with 29,000. The 2-CD set carries a list price of $11.88 and combines the singer's 2000 "Greatest Hits" with his 2006 "Greatest Hits Vol. 2: Reflected." It also enters at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, the artist's 10th chart-topper on that tally.



The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New MADONNA Hard Candy (Warner Bros. ) 11 9 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
2 1 MARIAH CAREY E=MC2 (Island / IDJMG) *12 New STEVE WINWOOD Nine Lives (Wincraft / Columbia / Sony Music)
3 2 LEONA LEWIS Spirit (SYCO / J / RMG) 13 7 SOUNDTRACK Juno (Fox / Rhino / AG)
*4 New LYFE JENNINGS Lyfe Change (Columbia / Sony Music) 14 12 SOUNDTRACK Alvin And The Chipmunks (Fox / Razor & Tie)
*5 New DEF LEPPARD Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (Bludgeon Riffola / Island / UMe) *15 New CARLY SIMON This Kind Of Love (Hear / Concord)
*6 New THE ROOTS Rising Down (Def Jam / IDJMG) 16 14 JACK JOHNSON Sleep Through The Static (Brushfire / UMRG)
*7 New PORTISHEAD Third (GO! Discs / Mercury / IDJMG) 17 3 FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS Flight Of The Conchords (Soundtrack) (HBO / Sub Pop)
*8 New MUDCRUTCH Mudcrutch (Reprise / Warner Bros.) 18 8 GEORGE STRAIT Troubadour (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
9 6 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 27 (Sony BMG / EMI / Universal / Zomba / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group) *19 22 COLBIE CAILLAT Coco (Universal Republic / UMRG)
*10 New TIM MCGRAW Greatest Hits: Limited Edition (Curb ) 20 11 MILEY CYRUS Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best Of Both Worlds Concert (Hollywood / Walt Disney)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 7.55 million units
• UP 10% from last issue's charts: 6.86 million units
• DOWN 10.4% from same week, 2007: 8.43 million units
• This week: only the No. 1 album sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Ne-Yo led a busy week on the chart when his "Because of You" set bowed atop the list with 251,000. Michael Buble's "Call Me Irresponsible" started in the runner-up slot with 212,000 while new efforts from Rush, Tori Amos, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton started at Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 8, respectively. Only the top two albums sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES

• The No. 100 album this week, Robyn's "Robyn" (Cherrytree/Interscope), sold 7,000.
• The No. 100 album for the same week of 2007, Pretty Ricky's "Late Night Special" (BlueStar/Atlantic/AG), sold sold 8,000.
• Average total of the No. 10 album for the same week of the year during the past 100 years (1999-2008): 10,751.



PROGRESS REPORTS


• Almost six years after his first appearance on the Hot Country Songs chart, James Otto hits No. 1 for the first time, as the soulful "Just Got Started Lovin' You" ascends 2-1. Otto drew his first chart ink when "The Ball" debuted in June 2002, but didn't grab his first No. 1 until this week. That makes his almost six-year wait for No. 1 the chart's longest since Jack Ingram hit the top with "Wherever You Are" in May 2006 after first charting in July 1997.

• Radio continues to devour Weezer's "Pork and Beans," the band's third No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart. "Pork" is the first title to ascend to the top in three weeks or less since Foo Fighters' "The Pretender" in September. Weezer previously hit the summit in June 2005 with "Beverly Hills" and again in January 2006 with "Perfect Situation."


• Also on the Modern Rock chart, Coldplay returns with "Violet Hill" at No. 17, the first offering from the band's forthcoming album "Viva La Vida ," due June 17. The act's last release, 2005's "X&Y," bowed atop the Billboard 200 with 737,000.



A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Clay Aiken's "On My Way Here," Neil Diamond's "Home Before Dark," Luis Miguel's "Complices," Toby Keith's "35 Biggest Hits," Josh Groban's "Awake Live," Dierks Bentley's "Greatest Hits" and Barenaked Ladies' "Snack Time."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2007 when: Michael Buble managed the rare feat of going to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with an album that did not debut there, as "Call Me Irresponsible" skipped from No. 2 to No. 1 in its second week on the chart (145,000). Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Strength and Loyalty" entered at No. 2 with 119,000 while Bobby Valentino's "Special Occasion" bowed at No. 3 (92,000). Only the top two albums sold more than 100,000.