As 2007 comes to a close, the queen of hip-hop/soul, Mary J. Blige, rises to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with "Growing Pains," selling 205,000 in its second week of release. It debuted at No. 2 with 629,000 last week. Blige ascends to the Billboard 200 throne thanks to Josh Groban's "Noel" vacating the top slot. His Christmas set takes the inevitable post-holiday tumble as it falls to No. 3 with 176,000 (a 77% decline) ... Groban's album, which spent five straight weeks at No. 1, finishes 2007 as the year's top-selling album, having sold 3.7 million. It can claim the dubious honor of being the only album that sold 3 million or more this past year.

FLASH POINTS


• Josh Groban's loss is Mary J. Blige's gain, as the latter's "Growing Pains" moves to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 while Groban slips down the chart. Blige sells 204,000 copies this week, a drop of 68% following her debut of 629,000. However, with Groban's Christmas album "Noel" taking its predicted post-holiday tumble (it falls to No. 3 with 176,000 -- a drop of 77%), Blige celebrates her fourth No. 1 on the Billboard 200. (This week's sales charts reflect activity tracked during the week ending Dec. 30, the closing Nielsen SoundScan frame of 2007.) "Growing Pains" is the 36th and final No. 1 album of 2007. There were 42 No. 1 albums in 2006.

• The post-Christmas shopping week occasionally shakes up the top of the Billboard 200. In the final week of 2006, Omarion took advantage of a soft release schedule to debut at No. 1 with "21," selling 119,000. At the end of 2005, Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable" moved to No. 1 in its second week with 200,000 despite its 67% decline in sales. Who did he bump out of the top slot? Why, Mary J. Blige, who had started at No. 1 the week previous with "The Breakthrough," shifting 727,000, but dropped to No. 2 with 193,000 (down 74%).

• Shifting back to the present day, few major albums were released last week, and in turn the highest new entry on the Billboard 200 this week is the "High School Musical 2: Non-Stop Dance Party" compilation at No. 68 with 22,000. This past Tuesday's (Jan. 1) most notable new release, Radiohead's "In Rainbows," won't even make a grand entrance on next week's charts. Why? Because it enters the tally early this week at No. 156 courtesy of street-date violation sales. The set sold nearly 9,000 last week.

• With Christmas having passed, a number of perfect-for-the-holiday albums start sliding down the chart this week. Witness Andrea Bocelli's "The Best of Andrea Bocelli: Vivere" (25-37, down 60%), Mannheim Steamroller's "Christmas Song" (14-41, down 76%), George Strait's "22 More Hits" (34-62, down 67%), Blake Lewis' "Audio Day Dream" (44-76, down 64) and Chris Botti's "Italia" (58-92, down 65%). All of the albums are perceived to appeal to a broad base of consumers -- especially those difficult-to-shop-for aunts or grandmothers.

• In turn, acts that skew young leap up the chart. Blame it on the kids -- and their just-redeemed gift cards. See Keyshia Cole's "Just Like You" (31-16, down a relatively small 32%), Kanye West's "Graduation" (46-30, down 21%), OneRepublic's "Dreaming Out Loud" (49-31, down 23%), Birdman's "5 * Stunna" (52-36, down 23%) and Sara Bareilles' "Little Voice" (98-45, up 19%) ... Another common theory is that teens will take their freshly unwrapped (and unwanted) CDs back to the store and exchange then for what they really wanted. Say, giving back that Celine Dion album that the uninformed grandmother thought would be just perfect for her 13-year-old granddaughter in exchange for Paramore's "RIOT!" (which moves 45-25 this week with a minor 16% decline).

• Next week, Billboard Chart Alert returns to its normal schedule and will be updated Wednesday, Jan. 9.



The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 2 MARY J. BLIGE Growing Pains (Matriarch / Geffen / IGA) 11 7 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carnival Ride (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG/SBN)
2 3 ALICIA KEYS As I Am (MBK / J / RMG) 12 9 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical 2 (Walt Disney )
3 1 JOSH GROBAN Noel (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.) 13 16 LED ZEPPELIN Mothership (Swan Song / Atlantic)
4 6 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 26 (EMI / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group / Universal / Zomba / Capitol) 14 15 LUPE FIASCO Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (1st & 15th / Atlantic / AG)
5 10 CHRIS BROWN Exclusive (Jive / Zomba) 15 13 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
6 4 EAGLES Long Road Out Of Eden (ERC ) 16 31 KEYSHIA COLE Just Like You (Confidential / Imani / Geffen / IGA)
7 12 GARTH BROOKS The Ultimate Hits (Pearl ) 17 11 JAHEIM The Makings Of A Man (Divine Mill / Atlantic / AG)
8 8 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine ) 18 23 ROBERT PLANT / ALISON KRAUSS Raising Sand (Rounder )
9 5 MILEY CYRUS Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus (Walt Disney / Hollywood ) 19 19 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury Nashville / UMGN)
10 17 COLBIE CAILLAT Coco (Universal Republic / UMRG) 20 18 CELINE DION Taking Chances (Columbia / Sony Music)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 14.51 million units
• DOWN 43.2% from last issue's charts: 25.57 million units
• UP 2.4% from same week, 2006: 14.16 million units
• This week: The top three albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Omarion started at No. 1 with "21," shifting 119,000 in the post-Christmas sales week. Only two other albums debuted in the top 100 -- Switchfoot's "Oh! Gravity" bowed at No. 15 with 63,000 while the "15 Years on Death Row" compilation began at No. 100 with 14,000. The top four albums each sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES

• The No. 100 album this week, LeAnn Rimes' "Family" (Curb), sold 14,000.
• The No. 100 album for the same week of 2006, the various-artists compilation "15 Years on Death Row" (Death Row), sold 14,000.
• Average total of the No. 100 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 23,921.



PROGRESS REPORTS

• Progress Reports is on hiatus this week due to the New Year's holiday.



Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 MARY J. BLIGE Growing Pains (Matriarch / Geffen / IGA)
2 2 ALICIA KEYS As I Am (MBK / J / RMG)
3 5 CHRIS BROWN Exclusive (Jive / Zomba)
4 3 JAHEIM The Makings Of A Man (Divine Mill / Atlantic / AG)
5 6 KEYSHIA COLE Just Like You (Confidential / Imani / Geffen / IGA)
6 4 LUPE FIASCO Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (1st & 15th / Atlantic / AG)
7 9 JAY-Z American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
8 8 BOW WOW & OMARION Face Off (T.U.G. / Columbia / Sony Music)
9 7 KIRK FRANKLIN The Fight Of My Life (Fo Yo Soul / Gospo Centric / Zomba)
10 13 BIRDMAN 5*Stunna (Cash Money / Universal Motown / UMRG)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Country Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 EAGLES Long Road Out Of Eden (ERC )
2 4 GARTH BROOKS The Ultimate Hits (Pearl )
3 3 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
4 2 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carnival Ride (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG/SBN)
5 5 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
*6 8 ROBERT PLANT / ALISON KRAUSS Raising Sand (Rounder )
7 6 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury / UMGN)
8 7 REBA MCENTIRE Reba Duets (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
9 9 KEITH URBAN Greatest Hits (Capitol Nashville )
10 11 KENNY CHESNEY Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (BNA / SBN)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Heatseekers

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 2 INGRID MICHAELSON Girls And Boys (Cabin 24 / Original Signal)
*2 4 DRAGONFORCE Inhuman Rampage (Sanctuary / Roadrunner)
*3 5 NICK SWARDSON Party (Comedy Central )
4 1 RIVERS CUOMO Alone: The Home Recordings Of Rivers Cuomo (Geffen / IGA)
*5 10 BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE The Poison (Trustkill )
6 3 LEVON HELM Dirt Farmer (Dirt Farmer / Vanguard)
7 6 SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone )
8 11 FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH The Way Of The Fist (Firm )
*9 39 JOHN C. REILLY Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Soundtrack) (Sony Music Soundtrax / Columbia / Sony Music)
*10 27 MAYDAY PARADE A Lesson In Romantics (Fearless )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 4 VINCE GUARALDI TRIO A Charlie Brown Christmas (Soundtrack) (Fantasy / Concord)
2 1 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA The Lost Christmas Eve (Lava / AG)
3 3 MICHAEL BUBLE Let It Snow! (EP) (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
4 2 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Christmas Eve And Other Stories (Lava / AG)
5 16 GUNS N' ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen / IGA)
6 9 JAMES TAYLOR James Taylor At Christmas (Columbia / Sony Music)
*7 23 BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley And The Wailers (Tuff Gong / Island / UMe)
8 10 MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
9 12 JOSH GROBAN Closer (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
*10 24 PINK FLOYD Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Radiohead's "In Rainbows" and the soundtrack to the 2007 ABC TV documentary "Elvis: Viva Las Vegas," featuring performances by Bruce Springsteen, Daughtry, Toby Keith and Faith Hill, among others. The release schedule picks back up on Jan. 8 with the release of the soundtrack to "Juno"; the original Broadway cast recording of "Xanadu"; Kate Nash's debut set, "Made of Bricks"; and Sia's "Some People Have Real Problems."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2007 when: the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack celebrated its first week at No. 1 as it ascended to the top spot in its fifth week on the chart, selling 66,000. The previous week's No. 1, Omarion's "21," dropped to No. 10 with a 65% decline, selling 42,000. The top debut on the chart was Carly Simon's "Into White" at No. 15 with 40,000. No albums sold more than 100,000.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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