Though he began charting albums on The Billboard 200 in 1999 -- and started his recording career well before that -- Kid Rock finally notches his first No. 1 album on The Billboard 200 this week. His "Rock N' Roll Jesus" debuts atop the chart with 172,000 ... A pair of country singers -- LeAnn Rimes and Sara Evans -- also start in the top 10 of the big chart ... Josh Groban's holiday album "Noel" arrives high on The Billboard 200, reminding us that it's never too early to release a Christmas album -- even if you haven't even carved your Halloween pumpkin yet ... Jennifer Lopez makes an under-the-radar debut with her new album "Brave" ... In Progress Reports: Kenny Chesney earns his third No. 1 on Hot Country Songs this year, Billy Ray Cyrus looks to his daughter Miley for support, and Feist becomes only the second solo woman to chart on the Alternative/Modern Rock airplay chart this year.



FLASH POINTS



• Good things come to those who wait. And Kid Rock has waited quite a while to get his first No. 1 album. This week his "Rock N' Roll Jesus" bows atop The Billboard 200 with 172,000, giving the Detroit rocker the first chart-topper of his career. He's reached the chart five times previously, with four of those releases hitting the top 10. Yet he never got any higher than No. 2, when 2000's "The History of Rock" bowed in the runner-up slot (457,000). His breakthrough album, "Devil Without a Cause," spent 95 weeks on the chart, and is the 26th-biggest-selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era (8.9 million and counting), but it didn't reach any higher than No. 4. As for his 2001 set "Cocky," it bowed at No. 7 late that year (228,000), but hit the comeback trail in spring 2003 once his "Picture" duet with Sheryl Crow took off. Ultimately, "Cocky" rose to No. 3 and spent 104 weeks on the chart ... To hype the new album, Rock chatted with Larry King on the latter's CNN program Oct. 5, and he performed on "Late Show With David Letterman" Oct. 8.

• Last week's No. 1, Bruce Springsteen's "Magic," slips to No. 2, selling 133,000 (down 60%). Rascal Flatts' "Still Feels Good" is No. 3 this week with 96,000. LeAnn Rimes' "Family" starts at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and at No. 2 on Top Country Albums, shifting 74,000 in its first week. It's the singer's 12th charting set on both charts, stretching back to her 1996 "Blue" debut. The new effort is led by the single "Nothin' Better to Do," which bullets at No. 20 on the Hot Country Songs chart this week. Rimes played the "Today" show Oct. 10 ... Sara Evans claims her second consecutive top 10 bow on The Billboard 200 as her "Greatest Hits" starts at No. 8 with 66,000. Her last set, 2005's "Real Fine Place," debuted at No. 3 with 126,000. The new album's first single, "As If," climbs two positions with a bullet to No. 16 on Hot Country Songs this week.

• Though it's not even Halloween, the Christmas season is upon us. Josh Groban's holiday set, "Noel," bows at No. 10 on The Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top Holiday Albums, selling 64,000. It's the singer's first seasonal offering. Considering his track record on the charts, we suspect this title will be one of this year's biggest-selling Christmas efforts. Groban's album isn't the only Yuletide set to debut this week. Mannheim Steamroller's "Christmas Song" bows at No. 48 on The Billboard 200 and at No. 2 on Top Holiday Albums (17,000). "Christmas Song" is Mannheim's first new Christmas album since 2001's "Christmas Extraordinaire." Overall, it's the eighth Christmas album from the act to reach The Billboard 200


• Jennifer Lopez's "Brave" makes a low-key debut at No. 12 with 53,000. All six of her previous studio albums, including this year's Spanish-language "Como Ama Una Mujer," debuted in the top 10 -- and four of those peaked in the top two slots. Her sterling chart history was first blemished when her last English-language album, 2005's "Rebirth," failed to click with consumers. Though it debuted at No. 2 with 261,000, it quickly left the chart after only 17 weeks. A short stay, compared with the 40 weeks that her 2002 album, "This Is Me ... Then," spent on the chart. Her new album's first single, "Do It Well," has so far peaked at No. 37 on the CHR/Top 40 airplay chart. She last hit the top 10 on the CHR/Top 40 chart in 2003 when "All I Have" spent four weeks at No. 1.

• Alter Bridge's "Blackbird" starts at No. 13 on The Billboard 200 with 47,000. The band's 2004 debut, "One Day Remains," began at No. 5 with 95,000 ... Other debuts on The Billboard 200 this week include Eric Clapton's "Complete Clapton" (No. 14; 45,000), Naked Brothers Band's self-titled album (No. 23; 34,000), Puddle of Mudd's "Famous" (No. 27; 31,000), Band of Horses' "Cease to Begin" (No. 35; 21,000), Vanessa Carlton's "Heroes & Thieves" (No. 44; 18,000), Van Zant's "My Kind of Country" (No. 57; 15,000) and She Wants Revenge's "This Is Forever" (No. 58; 15,000).




The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New KID ROCK Rock N Roll Jesus (Top Dog / Atlantic / AG) 11 6 KEYSHIA COLE Just Like You (Confidential / Imani / Geffen / IGA)
2 1 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN Magic (Columbia / Sony Music) *12 New JENNIFER LOPEZ Brave (Epic / Sony Music)
3 2 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood) *13 New ALTER BRIDGE Blackbird (Universal Republic / UMRG)
*4 New LEANN RIMES Family (Curb ) *14 New ERIC CLAPTON Clapton: Complete Clapton (Duck / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
5 3 MATCHBOX TWENTY Exile On Mainstream (Melisma / Atlantic / AG) 15 4 SOULJA BOY TELL'EM souljaboytellem.com (ColliPark / Interscope / IGA)
6 7 KANYE WEST Graduation (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG) *16 23 COLBIE CAILLAT Coco (Universal Republic / UMRG)
7 8 REBA MCENTIRE Reba Duets (MCA Nashville / UMGN) 17 16 FOO FIGHTERS Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (Roswell / RCA / RMG)
*8 New SARA EVANS Greatest Hits (RCA Nashville / SBN) 18 15 JILL SCOTT The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3 (Hidden Beach )
9 10 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical 2 (Walt Disney ) 19 17 50 CENT Curtis (Shady / Aftermath / Interscope / IGA)
*10 New JOSH GROBAN Noel (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.) 20 5 J. HOLIDAY Back Of My Lac' (Music Line / Capitol)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 8.34 million units
• DOWN 6.3% from last issue's charts: 8.9 million units
• DOWN 17.4% from same week, 2006: 10.1 million units
• This week: the top two albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Rod Stewart's "Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics of Our Time" started at No. 1 with 184,000 while Evanescence's "The Open Door" slipped from No. 1 to No. 2, shifting 164,000. Lloyd Banks' "Rotten Apple" bowed at No. 3 with 143,000 while Jimmy Buffett's "Take the Weather With You" started at No. 4 with 122,000. The top six albums sold more than 100,000 units.



BORDERLINES

• The No. 20 album this week, J. Holiday's "Back of My Lac" (Music Line/Capitol), sold 37,000.
• The No. 20 album for the same week of 2006, Beyonce's "B'Day" (Columbia), sold 42,000.
• Average total of the No. 20 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 47,130.



PROGRESS REPORTS



• Kenny Chesney snares his third Hot Country Songs chart-topper this year, as "Don't Blink" steps from No. 2 to No. 1. Chesney led for three weeks with "Beer in Mexico" in March and for five weeks in the summer with "Never Wanted Nothing More." He is the second artist this year, following Brad Paisley, to top the chart with three tracks. The last time a pair of lead artists achieved the feat was in 2001 when Tim McGraw and Toby Keith each collected a trio of No. 1s. "Blink" is the 22nd song to hit No. 1 on the Country list this calendar year, a turnover rate the top slot has not experienced since 24 titles led the way at this same point in 1996.

• Exposure from its inclusion in Apple's iPod Nano TV commercial helps Feist's "1,2,3,4" enter the Alternative/Modern Rock airplay chart at No. 39. The track also reaches a new Triple A chart peak as it moves No. 12 to No. 11 in its 22nd chart week. The song had topped out at No. 13 during its initial 18-week Triple A chart stay that ended with the Sept. 15 issue. "1,2,3,4" re-entered at No. 21 two weeks later after the Apple spots began airing around Labor Day. "1,2,3,4" is the first Alternative/Modern Rock chart appearance for the Canadian singer/songwriter, who is just the second female solo artist, after Amy Winehouse, to reach the Alternative/Modern Rock chart in 2007.

• Billy Ray Cyrus returns to the Hot Country Songs chart's top 40 for the first time since December 2000, as "Ready, Set, Don't Go" vaults from No. 48 to No. 33. The song makes its hefty improvement in its 12th chart week on the heels of a live performance of the ballad with daughter Miley on the Oct. 9 episode of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." The track, originally a solo version on Billy Ray Cyrus' new "Home at Last" set, has been rereleased to radio as a duet. His album will be rereleased Oct. 22 with the duet version added to its track list.



Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 3 KEYSHIA COLE Just Like You (Confidential / Imani / Geffen / IGA)
2 5 KANYE WEST Graduation (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG)
3 6 JILL SCOTT The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3 (Hidden Beach )
4 1 J. HOLIDAY Back Of My Lac' (Music Line / Capitol)
5 4 SOULJA BOY TELL'EM souljaboytellem.com (ColliPark / Interscope / IGA)
6 2 TREY SONGZ Trey Day (Song Book / Atlantic / AG)
*7 New JENNIFER LOPEZ Brave (Epic / Sony Music)
8 8 50 CENT Curtis (Shady / Aftermath / Interscope / IGA)
9 7 JAGGED EDGE Baby Makin' Project (So So Def / Island Urban / IDJMG)
*10 13 SOUNDTRACK Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? (Atlantic / AG)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Country Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 RASCAL FLATTS Still Feels Good (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
*2 New LEANN RIMES Family (Curb )
3 2 REBA MCENTIRE Reba Duets (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
*4 New SARA EVANS Greatest Hits (RCA / SBN)
5 5 KENNY CHESNEY Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (BNA / SBN)
6 4 BROOKS & DUNN Cowboy Town (Arista Nashville / SBN)
7 3 FAITH HILL The Hits (Warner Bros. / WRN)
8 7 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
9 8 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury / UMGN)
*10 New VAN ZANT My Kind Of Country (Columbia / SBN)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 EAGLES The Very Best Of (Warner Strategic Marketing )
*2 3 MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
*3 New GEORGE HARRISON All Things Must Pass (gnome / Capitol)
4 4 TIM MCGRAW Greatest Hits (Curb )
*5 5 JOHN ST. JOHN Sounds Of Horror (Madacy Special Products / Madacy)
6 2 BEE GEES Greatest (Reprise / Warner Strategic Marketing)
7 6 GUNS N' ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen / IGA)
8 7 PINK FLOYD Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol )
*9 9 ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING Wicked (Decca Broadway / Universal Classics Group)
10 8 JOURNEY Journey's Greatest Hits (Legacy / Columbia / 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: Jimmy Eat World's "Chase This Light," Angie Stone's "The Art of Love and War," Toby Keith's "A Classic Christmas," Thrice's "The Alchemy Index, Vols. 1-2," Gov't Mule's "Mighty High" and The Fray's "The Reason (EP)."
• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2006 when: Diddy debuted at No. 1 with "Press Play," selling 170,000. JoJo's "The High Road" started high at No. 3 with 108,000 while Dierks Bentley and Ruben Studdard bowed at Nos. 5 and 8, respectively. The top three albums sold more than 100,000 units.