It's a happy holiday for Josh Groban, as the singer nabs his second No. 1 album on The Billboard 200 with "Noel" ... It ascends to the chart's top slot with a career-high 405,000 -- thanks partially to his surprise performance on the favorite-things edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last week ... It's the first Christmas album to crown The Billboard 200 since Kenny G's "Miracles" in 1994 ... With a big bump, the "High School Musical 2" soundtrack runs back into the top 10 and surpasses Daughtry's "Daughtry" as 2007's top-selling album ... This year's "American Idol" winner, Jordin Sparks, sees her self-titled album bow at No. 10, while Keith Urban's first greatest-hits set lands right behind her at No. 11.


FLASH POINTS


• Josh Groban's "Noel" rises to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with an 81% increase, selling 405,000. Credit part of the handsome increase to his surprise performance on last week's favorite-things edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (Nov. 20). And, figure that post-Thanksgiving shopping and sale tags at Target and Wal-Mart helped out too. Winfrey's always-popular giveaway show helps give the singer his second No. 1 album, following 2003's "Closer." Both of his No. 1s were earned not by debuting in the penthouse, but by doing something essentially unheard-of these days -- moving to No. 1 after having debuted lower on the chart. In 2007, there have been five albums that grew their way to No. 1. Aside from "Noel," the others were Michael Buble's "Call Me Irresponsible," the "Now 24" collection, Daughtry's self-titled set and the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack ... "Noel" is the first Christmas album to top The Billboard 200 since Kenny G's "Miracles - The Holiday Album," did the trick for three weeks at the end of 1994. Kenny G would go on to release three more Christmas albums in 2000, 2002 and 2005 ... "Noel's" 405,000 not only represents Groban's best sales week ever, but it's also the best sales week for a Christmas album since Celine Dion's "These Are Special Times" powered through 461,000 during Christmas week of 1998.

• Last week's No. 1, Alicia Keys' "As I Am," drops a relatively mild 53% in its second week, moving to No. 2 with 349,000. In two weeks the album has motored through 1,091,000 ... At No. 6, the soundtrack to "High School Musical 2" zips from No. 14 to No. 6 with a 130% gain, selling 183,000. This week, the album eclipses Daughtry's "Daughtry" as 2007's top-selling album. "High School Musical 2" stands at 2,301,000 sold this year as compared with "Daughtry's" 2,211,000. With the DVD of "High School Musical 2" due out Dec. 11, expect more big sales for the album in the coming weeks ... Of course, 2006's top-selling album was the first "High School Musical" soundtrack. Can Disney and its "Musical" franchise make it two for two?

• Speaking of franchises, the "American Idol" train keeps a rollin', as this year's winner, Jordin Sparks, bows at No. 10 with her self-titled debut for Jive. The album, preceded by the single "Tattoo," sold 119,000 in its first week. 2006's "Idol" winner, Taylor Hicks, saw his self-titled debut start at No. 2 with 298,000 late last year. 2005's champ, Carrie Underwood, began at No. 2 as well with her "Some Hearts" bow, but with 315,000. All told, this is the lowest debut sales week for an "American Idol" winner. Kelly Clarkson's "Thankful" started with 297,000 at No. 1, Ruben Studdard saw his "Soulful" bow at No. 1 with 417,000, and Fantasia opened at No. 8 with 240,000 for "Free Yourself."

• One step below Sparks' debut is Keith Urban's first best-of collection, "Greatest Hits." It starts with 117,000 at No. 11 and at No. 4 on Top Country Albums. It's his fourth straight album to start in the top 11 of The Billboard 200, dating back to 2002's "Golden Road," which also bowed at No. 11 ... MercyMe's "All That Is Within Me" lands at No. 15 on The Billboard 200 with 84,000 and also gives the act its fourth No. 1 on Top Christian Albums. On top of that, it's the biggest sales week for the group, surpassing its previous high of 59,000 when "Coming Up to Breathe" started at No. 13 last year ... OneRepublic, powered by the success of its single "Apologize" (with Timbaland), sees its debut album "Dreaming Out Loud" enter The Billboard 200 at No. 17 with 75,000.

• Other debuts on The Billboard 200 this week include Freeway's "Free at Last" (No. 42 with 36,000), the soundtrack to "Enchanted" (No. 48 with 31,000), RBD's "Empezar Desde Cero" (No. 60 with 22,000), Amy Winehouse's archival release "Frank" (No. 61 with 22,000), the soundtrack to "This Christmas" (No. 65 with 21,000), AC/DC's Wal-Mart-exclusive set "Sight and Sound" (No. 73 with 18,000), Nine Inch Nails' "Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3" (No. 77 with 17,000), the collector's edition of the "Hairspray" soundtrack (No. 89 with 15,000) and Mary J. Blige's Circuit City-exclusive charity album "Mary and Friends" (No. 94 with 14,000).



The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 2 JOSH GROBAN Noel (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.) *11 New KEITH URBAN Greatest Hits (Capitol Nashville )
2 1 ALICIA KEYS As I Am (MBK / J / RMG) *12 15 MILEY CYRUS Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus (Walt Disney / Hollywood )
*3 4 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 26 (EMI / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group / Universal / Zomba / Capitol) *13 16 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
4 5 GARTH BROOKS The Ultimate Hits (Pearl ) 14 8 JAY-Z American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
5 6 EAGLES Long Road Out Of Eden (ERC ) *15 New MERCYME All That Is Within Me (INO / Columbia / Sony Music)
*6 14 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical 2 (Walt Disney ) 16 7 LED ZEPPELIN Mothership (Swan Song / Atlantic)
*7 9 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carnival Ride (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG/SBN) *17 New ONEREPUBLIC Dreaming Out Loud (Mosley / Interscope / IGA)
8 3 CELINE DION Taking Chances (Columbia / Sony Music) *18 18 COLBIE CAILLAT Coco (Universal Republic / UMRG)
9 10 CHRIS BROWN Exclusive (Jive / Zomba) *19 New BEYONCE B'Day (Columbia / Sony Music)
*10 New JORDIN SPARKS Jordin Sparks (19 / Jive / Zomba) *20 21 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 13.94 million units
• UP 19% from last issue's charts: 11.72 million units
• DOWN 18.1% from same week, 2006: 17.02 million units
• This week: The top 11 albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Jay-Z's "Kingdom Come" bowed at No. 1 with 680,000 while new albums from Daughtry, the Beatles, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac debuted at Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 9, respectively. The top 19 albums each sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES

• The No. 20 album this week, Rascal Flatts' "Still Feels Good" (Lyric Street), sold 65,000.
• The No. 20 album for the same week of 2006, Sugarland's "Enjoy the Ride" (Mercury Nashville), sold 95,000.
• Average total of the No. 20 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 94,995.



PROGRESS REPORTS



• With more than three-quarters of the Adult Contemporary chart's panel of radio stations (81 of 107 reporters) playing all-holiday music as of Sunday (Nov. 25), three titles, all seasonal songs, debut in the chart's top 20. Josh Groban charges in at No. 15 with "I'll Be Home for Christmas," a new studio recording from his album "Noel." Last year he took a live version of the song to No. 4. At No. 17, Jim Brickman begins with "Coming Home for Christmas," featuring vocals from former Lonestar frontman Richie McDonald. Wynonna completes the holiday trifecta at No. 19 with "Winter Wonderland."


• Two carols that debuted last week also soar like Santa's sleigh: Kimberley Locke's "Frosty the Snowman" moves up from No. 22 to No. 10, and Carrie Underwood's "Do You Hear What I Hear," which races from No. 29 to No. 13. Underwood's track is also one of three yuletide debuts on the Hot Country Songs chart (where she reigns for a second week with "So Small"), entering at No. 53. Taylor Swift scores the Hot Shot Debut at No. 48 with a cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas." A notch below, Kellie Pickler arrives with her rendition of "Santa Baby."



Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 ALICIA KEYS As I Am (MBK / J / RMG)
2 2 JAY-Z American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
3 3 CHRIS BROWN Exclusive (Jive / Zomba)
*4 5 KEYSHIA COLE Just Like You (Confidential / Imani / Geffen / IGA)
*5 New FREEWAY Free At Last (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
6 4 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 26 (EMI / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group / Universal / Zomba / Capitol)
*7 9 KANYE WEST Graduation (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
*8 New MARY J. BLIGE Mary And Friends (Matriarch / Geffen)
*9 59 BEYONCE B'Day (Columbia / Sony Music)
10 6 BOYZ II MEN Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (Decca )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Country Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 GARTH BROOKS The Ultimate Hits (Pearl )
2 2 EAGLES Long Road Out Of Eden (ERC )
*3 3 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carnival Ride (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG/SBN)
*4 New KEITH URBAN Greatest Hits (Capitol Nashville )
*5 5 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
*6 7 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
*7 6 REBA MCENTIRE Reba Duets (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
*8 8 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury / UMGN)
9 4 GEORGE STRAIT 22 More Hits (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
10 9 ROBERT PLANT / ALISON KRAUSS Raising Sand (Rounder )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 20 GUNS N' ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen / IGA)
*2 2 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW That's What I Call Christmas! 3 (EMI / Universal / Zomba / Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group / Sony Music)
*3 New QUEEN Greatest Hits (Hollywood )
4 1 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA The Lost Christmas Eve (Lava / AG)
*5 42 BON JOVI Cross Road (Mercury / UMe)
6 3 MICHAEL BUBLE Let It Snow! (EP) (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
*7 44 ELVIS PRESLEY Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits (RCA / RMG)
*8 32 PINK FLOYD Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol )
*9 46 BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND Greatest Hits (Capitol )
*10 New MICHAEL JACKSON Number Ones (MJJ / Epic / Sony Music)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Mudvayne's "By the People, for the People" and Pitbull's "The Boatlift."
• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2006 when: Incubus' "Light Grenades" bowed at No. 1 with 165,000 while Clipse's long-delayed "Hell Hath No Fury" was the next-highest debut at No. 14 with 78,000. The top 10 albums each sold more than 100,000.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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