As expected, Mariah Carey's "E=MC2" charges in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, giving the singer/songwriter her sixth chart-topping set. With a 463,000 bow, "E=MC2" earns the best sales week for an album this year, Carey's best opening week ever, and the biggest debut for any album since December ... In other news, Miley Cyrus' recent live album rebounds into the top 10, the "Juno" soundtrack zooms back up the chart, new country trio Lady Antebellum makes its mark and rock acts Thrice and Rush enter the top 20 of the big chart.



FLASH POINTS


• Mariah Carey crowns the Billboard 200 for a sixth time as "E=MC2" starts atop the tally with 463,000 -- her biggest opening week. It's also the highest sales week of the year, surpassing the 375,000 start of Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static" in February. Finally, "E=MC2" marks the best opening week for any album since Mary J. Blige's "Growing Pains" started with 629,000.


• Carey is now tied with fellow divas Madonna and Janet Jackson for the second most No. 1 albums among female artists. Only queen bee Barbra Streisand, with eight, is ahead of the pack. There's a good chance Madonna will add another No. 1 to her tally, as her "Hard Candy" set drops next Tuesday (April 29).

• "E=MC2" is the eighth debut at No. 1 in as many weeks on the fast-moving Billboard 200. It follows penthouse-bows from Jackson, Alan Jackson, Rick Ross, Danity Kane, Day26, George Strait and Leona Lewis.

• Carey's last album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," also landed at No. 1 in its premier week, moving 404,000. "Mimi" spent two weeks atop the chart, was the best-selling album in the United States in 2005 and has shifted 5.8 million units total ... This is the first time Carey has scored back-to-back No. 1 albums since "Daydream" and "Butterfly" reached the top in 1995 and 1997.

• Collectively, Carey's albums have sold 50 million copies in the United States since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. She's the third-biggest-selling albums artist in the SoundScan era, trailing only Garth Brooks (67.8 million) and the Beatles (56.2 million).

• In non-Carey news this week, Miley Cyrus makes a big move on the Billboard 200, as her "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert" album vaults from No. 31 to a new peak of No. 3 with 47,000 (a 162% gain). The set became available to all music sellers last week after spending its first five weeks of release as a Wal-Mart exclusive.

• New country group Lady Antebellum charges in at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 with its self-titled debut, shifting 43,000. The trio, which consists of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, also starts at No. 1 on Top Country Albums ... Scott's mother, Linda Davis, charted two albums on the Billboard 200 in the '90s, reaching No. 124 with "Shoot for the Moon." However, she may be best known for her duet with Reba McEntire, "Does He Love You," which hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart in 1993. The tune won Davis a Grammy Award for best country vocal collaboration. Kelley also comes from a musical family, as his brother, singer/songwriter Josh Kelley, has reached numerous charts. His most recent album, "Special Company," hit No. 7 on the Top Heatseekers tally last month.

• The soundtrack to "Juno" rebounds from No. 46 to No. 8 this week as the DVD release of the film spurs a 162% increase for the companion album. A new various-artists compilation titled "Juno - B-Sides: Almost Adopted," consisting of 15 songs originally intended for the film but didn't make the final cut, debuts at No. 8 on the Top Digital Albums chart with 5,000.

• Two rock acts return to the top 20 of the Billboard 200 as Thrice's "The Alchemy Index Vols. III and IV: Air and Earth" starts at No. 17 with 21,000 while Rush's "Snakes and Arrows Live" slithers in at No. 18 with 21,000 ... Thrice first reached the big chart in 2003 with "The Artist in the Ambulance" (No. 16) while Rush's chart history goes back much further. The veteran act debuted on the Billboard 200 in 1974 with its self-titled set, which ultimately peaked at No. 105.




The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New MARIAH CAREY E=MC2 (Island / IDJMG) 11 8 RICK ROSS Trilla (Slip-N-Slide / Def Jam / IDJMG)
2 1 LEONA LEWIS Spirit (SYCO / J / RMG) 12 3 JAMES OTTO Sunset Man (Raybaw / Warner Bros. (Nashville) / WRN)
*3 31 MILEY CYRUS Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best Of Both Worlds Concert (Hollywood / Walt Disney) 13 15 JACK JOHNSON Sleep Through The Static (Brushfire / UMRG)
*4 New LADY ANTEBELLUM Lady Antebellum (Capitol Nashville ) 14 10 DANITY KANE Welcome To The Dollhouse (Bad Boy / AG)
5 4 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 27 (Sony BMG / EMI / Universal / Zomba / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group) 15 16 DAUGHTRY Daughtry (RCA / RMG)
6 2 GEORGE STRAIT Troubadour (MCA Nashville / UMGN) 16 17 JORDIN SPARKS Jordin Sparks (19 / Jive / Zomba)
7 6 SOUNDTRACK Alvin And The Chipmunks (Fox / Razor & Tie) *17 New THRICE The Alchemy Index, Vol. 3 & 4: Air & Earth (Vagrant )
*8 46 SOUNDTRACK Juno (Fox / Rhino / AG) *18 New RUSH Snakes & Arrows: Live (Anthem / Atlantic / AG)
9 5 R.E.M. Accelerate (Warner Bros. ) 19 21 SARA BAREILLES Little Voice (Epic / Sony Music)
*10 13 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine ) *20 27 GNARLS BARKLEY The Odd Couple (Downtown / Atlantic / AG)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 7.50 million units
• UP 1.9% from last issue's charts: 7.36 million units
• DOWN 8.1% from same week, 2007: 8.16 million units
• This week: only the No. 1 album sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Avril Lavigne's "Best Damn Thing" bowed at No. 1 with 286,000 while Nine Inch Nails' "Year Zero" entered in the runner-up slot with 187,000. Only the top two albums sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES

• The No. 50 album this week, Garth Brooks' "The Ultimate Hits" (Pearl), sold 12,000.
• The No. 50 album for the same week of 2007, John Mayer's "Continuum" (Columbia), sold sold 14,000.
• Average total of the No. 50 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1999-2008): 21,541.



PROGRESS REPORTS


• Getting your first No. 1 single is a big deal. But what about your 43rd? Does it start to get old after a while? We'll have to ask George Strait, who celebrates his 43rd No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart this week as "I Saw God Today" climbs into the top spot ... "God" is no stranger to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs tally -- the last No. 1 single to include the word in its title was Keith Urban's "But for the Grace of God" in 2001.

• Carrie Underwood claims her seventh top 10 hit on Hot Country Songs, as "Last Name" rises from No. 12 to No. 10 in its sixth week on the list. It's the follow-up to "All-American Girl," which spent two weeks atop the tally in March. Thus far, the "American Idol" winner has racked up seven top 10 singles -- five of which went all the way to No. 1.

• Seether earns its second consecutive Alternative/Modern Rock chart-topper as "Rise Above This" climbs from No. 2 to No. 1. The band, which first hit the scene in 2002, made it to the top for the first time last December with the eight-week juggernaut "Fake It." The climb to the summit proves a tad easier the second time around: "Rise" makes it in just nine weeks as opposed to the 17-week trek of "Fake It," which included a seven-week wait at No. 2.



A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Flight of the Conchords' "Flight of the Conchords," Ashlee Simpson's "Bittersweet World" and Phil Vassar's "Prayer of a Common Man."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2007 when: Avril Lavigne's "Best Damn Thing" held at No. 1 for a second week, moving 122,000. Joe's "Ain't Nothing Like Me" started at No. 2 with 98,000 while Arctic Monkeys' "Favourite Worst Nightmare" entered at No. 7 with 44,000. Only the No. 1 album sold more than 100,000.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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