Josh Groban's "Noel" refuses to budge for a fifth week at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, selling 757,000. Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige bows in the runner-up slot with her "Growing Pains" effort, shifting 629,000 ... Other debuts in the top 100 this week include new albums from Jaheim, Lupe Fiasco, Kirk Franklin and Chingy, as well as the latest WWE compilation and the "Sweeney Todd" film soundtrack.


FLASH POINTS


• Josh Groban's "Noel" holds at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for a fifth consecutive week, as the holiday album shifts 757,000 (up 13%). Mary J. Blige's "Growing Pains" settles in at No. 2 in its first week, starting with 629,000. The diva's last studio set, "The Breakthrough," began at No. 1 two years ago with 727,000. Don't cry for Blige though. There's a chance that she could move to No. 1 next week, since Groban's album will likely take a tumble after the holiday shopping frenzy has died down.

• Groban's "Noel" is now the Christmas album with the most weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. It is also the first set -- of any genre -- to notch five weeks atop the chart in over two years. The last album to manage the feat was 50 Cent's "The Massacre," which spent six weeks at No. 1 in March and April of 2005 ... In other Groban news, with "Noel's" powerful sales this week, the singer's career Nielsen SoundScan album sales total surpasses 17 million. That pushes him past such acts as Destiny's Child and DMX. With "Noel's" success in the past month, Groban's cumulative album tally has motored him past such pop acts as Sheryl Crow and Nickelback. And to think, Groban's chart career started just six years ago when his self-titled album was released.

• Quick, name the last Mary J. Blige studio album that failed to reach the top two on The Billboard 200. You have to scroll all the way back to 1995's "My Life," which peaked at No. 7. Since then, all six of her studio releases have started in the top two. 1997's "Share My World" bowed at No. 1 with 240,000 while 1999's "Mary" and 2001's "No More Drama" both started at No. 2 (with 239,000 and 294,000, respectively). 2003 saw the release of "Love and Life," which started at No. 1 with 286,000 and then the chart greeted "The Breakthrough" at No. 1 in late 2005 with 727,000 ... Blige's Billboard 200 chart career of course dates back to the debut of "What's the 411?" in 1992. That album ultimately peaked at No. 6.

• Jaheim just misses the top 10 of The Billboard 200 as his "The Makings of a Man" debuts at No. 11 with a career-high sales week of 176,000. It also debuts at No. 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart ... Lupe Fiasco's "The Cool" starts at No. 15 on The Billboard 200 with 143,000 ... Kirk Franklin's "The Fight of My Life" bows at No. 33 while over on Top Gospel Albums it rises to No. 1. It's his ninth chart topper on that list ... the soundtrack to the Johnny Depp film "Sweeney Todd" starts at No. 56 on The Billboard 200 with 47,000 ... the latest WWE compilation album fights its away to a No. 68 start (40,000) while Chingy rounds out the top 100 debuts at No. 84 with "Hate It Or Love It" (31,000).

• Next week, Billboard Chart Alert will be updated on Thursday, Jan. 3 instead of Wednesday, Jan. 2.



The Billboard 200

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




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 25.57 million units
• UP 42% from last issue's charts: 17.98 million units
• DOWN 18.2% from same week, 2006: 31.26 million units
• This week: The top 23 albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Nas' "Hip Hop Is Dead" started at No. 1 with 355,000. Bow Wow's "The Price of Fame" began at No. 6 with 262,000. The next highest debut came from RBD's "Rebels" at No. 40 with 94,000. The top 36 albums each sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES

• The No. 10 album this week, Chris Brown's "Exclusive" (Jive), sold 176,000.
• The No. 10 album for the same week of 2006, Akon's "Konvicted" (Konvict/Upfront/SRC/Universal Motown/UMRG), sold 227,000.
• Average total of the No. 10 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 269,386.



PROGRESS REPORTS

• Progress Reports is on hiatus this week due to the Christmas holiday.



Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New MARY J. BLIGE Growing Pains (Matriarch / Geffen / IGA)
*2 1 ALICIA KEYS As I Am (MBK / J / RMG)
*3 New JAHEIM The Makings Of A Man (Divine Mill / Atlantic / AG)
*4 New LUPE FIASCO Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (1st & 15th / Atlantic / AG)
*5 6 CHRIS BROWN Exclusive (Jive / Zomba)
*6 8 KEYSHIA COLE Just Like You (Confidential / Imani / Geffen / IGA)
*7 New KIRK FRANKLIN The Fight Of My Life (Fo Yo Soul / Gospo Centric / Zomba)
8 2 BOW WOW & OMARION Face Off (T.U.G. / Columbia / Sony Music)
*9 10 JAY-Z American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
*10 12 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 26 (EMI / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group / Universal / Zomba / Capitol)
* 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 3 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carnival Ride (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG/SBN)
*3 2 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
*4 4 GARTH BROOKS The Ultimate Hits (Pearl )
*5 5 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
*6 6 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury / UMGN)
*7 8 REBA MCENTIRE Reba Duets (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
*8 7 ROBERT PLANT / ALISON KRAUSS Raising Sand (Rounder )
*9 9 KEITH URBAN Greatest Hits (Capitol Nashville )
*10 10 GEORGE STRAIT 22 More Hits (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Heatseekers

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New RIVERS CUOMO Alone: The Home Recordings Of Rivers Cuomo (Geffen / IGA)
*2 2 INGRID MICHAELSON Girls And Boys (Cabin 24 / Original Signal)
3 1 LEVON HELM Dirt Farmer (Dirt Farmer / Vanguard)
*4 5 DRAGONFORCE Inhuman Rampage (Sanctuary / Roadrunner)
*5 7 NICK SWARDSON Party (Comedy Central )
*6 6 SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone )
*7 11 FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS The Distant Future (EP) (Sub Pop )
8 4 SLIDAWG AND THE REDNECK RAMBLERS A Redneck Christmas (IMI / Madacy Special Products / Madacy)
9 3 SLIDAWG AND THE REDNECK RAMBLERS A Blue Collar Christmas (IMI / Madacy Special Products / Madacy)
*10 15 BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE The Poison (Trustkill )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA The Lost Christmas Eve (Lava / AG)
2 5 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Christmas Eve And Other Stories (Lava / AG)
3 2 MICHAEL BUBLE Let It Snow! (EP) (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
4 6 VINCE GUARALDI TRIO A Charlie Brown Christmas (Soundtrack) (Fantasy / Concord)
5 4 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW That's What I Call Christmas! 3 (EMI / Universal / Zomba / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group / Sony Music)
6 3 CELTIC WOMAN A Christmas Celebration (Manhattan / BLG)
7 8 THE CHIPMUNKS Christmas With The Chipmunks (Capitol )
8 7 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA The Christmas Attic (Lava / AG)
9 12 JAMES TAYLOR James Taylor At Christmas (Columbia / Sony Music)
10 11 MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: the Original Broadway Cast Album of "Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein" and the "High School Musical 2: Non-Stop Dance Party" compilation.

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2006 when: 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.