There's not a whole lot happening on The Billboard 200 this week as a light Sept. 4 release schedule yields only one debut in the top 40: Chiodos' "Bone Palace Ballet" at No. 5 ... "High School Musical 2" spends its fourth straight week at No. 1, the first time an album has managed that feat since 2005 ... Early reports indicate that Kanye West's "Graduation" will be the No. 1 album next week with 50 Cent and Kenny Chesney vying for the runner-up slot ... In other news: What does "Hannah Montana 2" and Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" have in common? Why does Fergie have reason to celebrate? And just how high does Britney Spears' "Gimme More" debut on the CHR/Top 40 airplay chart? Keep reading to find out.



FLASH POINTS



• The "High School Musical 2" soundtrack spends its fourth consecutive week at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, shifting 164,000 (down 22%). The last time an album spent four straight weeks in the top slot was when 50 Cent's "The Massacre" bowed at No. 1 on the chart dated March 19, 2005. It went on to spend six weeks in the pole position. Speaking of 50 Cent, his new album "Curtis" hit stores yesterday, as did Kanye West's "Graduation" and Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates." Who is going to come out on top next week? Last night, Billboard.biz reported that chart prognosticators believed that West would likely come in with anywhere between 575,000-700,000, with 50 Cent and Chesney perhaps battling it out for the No. 2 slot. However, with Nielsen SoundScan's newly available Top 100 Building Charts, we'll soon have a much clearer picture of how next week's chart will shake out.

• In Geoff Mayfield's "Over the Counter" column in last week's edition of Billboard magazine (Sept. 15), he explained how the chart works. "Updated each Wednesday and Friday, the building charts reveal unweighted midweek sales from eight leading music accounts, with more retailers to be added soon. Represented now are rackjobbers Anderson Merchandisers and Handleman Co.; mass merchant Target, retail chains Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Borders and Circuit City; and leading download merchant iTunes. The Wednesday charts reveal tracking-week sales through close of business Tuesday, including critical first-day sales for new titles released each Tuesday. Friday's building chart shows sales through Thursday."

• But let's get back to this week's chart. There's not much happening in the upper portion of The Billboard 200 this week, with only one new entry in the top 40. Chiodos' "Bone Palace Ballet" starts at No. 5 with 39,000. It's the best week ever for the Equal Vision band, whose first album, 2005's "All's Well That Ends Well," topped out at No. 164 with 6,000 units. In its first 110 weeks of release, "All's Well That Ends Well" sold an average of 1,603 a week. Better still, in the past 65 weeks, it hasn't sold less than 1,000 copies a week. So far, the album has shifted 178,000. Chiodos' success story is a familiar one: Indie band tours a lot, collects devoted fans, consistently sells albums, then returns with follow-up album that does big numbers its first week out.

• Also in the top 10 this week, the double CD set from Miley Cyrus, "Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus," hangs out at No. 3 with 47,000. It has spent its first 11 weeks lodged inside the chart's top five. In order to find the last double album that matched such a feat you have to go way back to 1976, when Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" spent its first 32 weeks in the top five. "Songs" was the third album to debut at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, following two Elton John efforts in 1975. Previous to the establishment of Nielsen SoundScan in 1991, high debuts were a rarity on The Billboard 200, so it was unusual for a set to start in the top five, much less at No. 1.




The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical 2 (Walt Disney ) 11 3 YUNG JOC Hustlenomic$ (Block / Bad Boy South / AG)
2 5 FERGIE The Dutchess (will.i.am / A&M / Interscope / IGA) *12 32 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive / Zomba)
3 4 MILEY CYRUS Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus (Walt Disney / Hollywood ) 13 15 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
4 2 CASTING CROWNS The Altar And The Door (Beach Street / Reunion) *14 29 COLBIE CAILLAT Coco (Universal Republic / UMRG)
*5 New CHIODOS Bone Palace Ballet (Equal Vision ) 15 12 T.I. T.I. Vs T.I.P. (Grand Hustle / Atlantic / AG)
6 6 SOUNDTRACK Hairspray (New Line ) 16 14 JONAS BROTHERS Jonas Brothers (Hollywood )
7 7 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 25 (Universal / EMI / Sony BMG / Zomba / UMRG) 17 19 MAROON 5 It Won't Be Soon Before Long (A&M / Octone / IGA)
8 10 NICKELBACK All The Right Reasons (Roadrunner ) *18 22 PLIES The Real Testament (Big Gates / Slip-N-Slide / Atlantic / AG)
*9 13 AMY WINEHOUSE Back To Black (Universal Republic / UMRG) 19 17 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical (Walt Disney )
10 11 LINKIN PARK Minutes To Midnight (Machine Shop / Warner Bros.) 20 21 COMMON Finding Forever (G.O.O.D. / Geffen / IGA)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 7.35 million units
• DOWN 3.8% from last issue's charts: 7.65 million units
• DOWN 22.7% from same week, 2006: 9.52 million units
• This week: only the No. 1 album sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Beyonce celebrated her second No. 1 album with "B'Day" bowing atop the chart with 541,000. Audioslave arrived in second place with "Revelations," starting with 142,000. The top three albums sold more than 100,000 units.



BORDERLINES

• The No. 200 album this week, Evanescence's "The Open Door," (Wind-Up) sold 3,000.
• The No. 200 album for the same week of 2006, Green Day's "American Idiot," (Reprise) sold 4,000.
• Average total of the No. 200 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 5,043.



PROGRESS REPORTS



• Fergie climbs to No. 2 on The Billboard 200 with "The Dutchess," the highest rank yet for the album. Its previous best placing came when it bowed at No. 3 last year. In its 51 weeks on the chart, "The Dutchess" has never fallen below No. 28 nor sold less than 25,000 in a week. Much like Nickelback's "All the Right Reasons," which has spent its first 101 weeks lodged in the chart's top 30. This week the album's at No. 8 ... Fergie's single "Big Girls Don't Cry" spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the CHR/Top 40 airplay chart and is in its third week atop the Hot AC/Adult Top 40 tally.

• Rascal Flatts makes its fastest trip to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart with "Take Me There," the lead single from the trio's "Still Feels Good" album, due Sept. 25. The track rises 3-1 in its 10th chart week, topping the 14 weeks it took "What Hurts the Most" to peak in April 2006. The new track is the eighth Rascal Flatts song to dominate the list. After bowing atop the chart last issue, Garth Brooks' "More Than a Memory" takes an expected tumble, falling 1-8 as first-week airplay indulgence wanes to a level more befitting a new track. Where the song goes from here is dependent on callout research and audience demand. Still, the seven-spot decline is startling for the Country Songs chart, as "You Win My Love" by Shania Twain in May 1996 was the last track to make such a precipitous fall from No. 1 (1-10).

• Britney Spears returns to the CHR/Top 40 chart for the first time in almost three years and posts the second-best debut of her career as "Gimme More" rockets in at No. 25. Spears last graced the survey with "My Prerogative" in the fall of 2004. Her prior best entrance was the No. 24 launch of "Me Against The Music" (featuring Madonna) in Oct. 2003. "Gimme" is Spears' 16th charting title this decade, tying her with fellow former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera for most by a female in that span of time.



Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 YUNG JOC Hustlenomic$ (Block / Bad Boy South / AG)
*2 3 PLIES The Real Testament (Big Gates / Slip-N-Slide / Atlantic / AG)
3 2 UGK Underground Kingz (UGK / Jive / Zomba)
4 5 COMMON Finding Forever (G.O.O.D. / Geffen / IGA)
5 4 T.I. T.I. Vs T.I.P. (Grand Hustle / Atlantic / AG)
*6 13 AMY WINEHOUSE Back To Black (Universal Republic / UMRG)
7 6 TALIB KWELI Eardrum (Blacksmith / Warner Bros.)
*8 11 CHRISETTE MICHELE I Am (Def Jam / IDJMG)
*9 16 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive / Zomba)
10 8 SWIZZ BEATZ One Man Band Man (Universal Motown / UMRG)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Country Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
2 4 BRAD PAISLEY 5th Gear (Arista Nashville / SBN)
3 3 TIM MCGRAW Let It Go (Curb )
4 2 LYLE LOVETT AND HIS LARGE BAND It's Not Big It's Large (Curb / Lost Highway / UMGN)
5 5 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Some Hearts (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG)
*6 9 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury / UMGN)
7 7 TOBY KEITH Big Dog Daddy (Show Dog Nashville )
8 8 RASCAL FLATTS Me And My Gang (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
9 11 BIG & RICH Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace (Warner Bros. / WRN)
10 6 TRAVIS TRITT The Storm (Category 5 )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 TIM MCGRAW Greatest Hits (Curb )
2 2 MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
3 3 GUNS N' ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen / IGA)
*4 7 EAGLES The Very Best Of (Warner Strategic Marketing )
5 4 PINK FLOYD Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol )
6 8 JOURNEY Journey's Greatest Hits (Legacy / Columbia / Sony Music)
7 5 AC/DC Back In Black (Legacy / Epic / Sony Music)
8 10 GENESIS Turn It On Again -- The Hits (Atlantic / Rhino)
9 9 ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING Wicked (Decca Broadway / Universal Classics Group)
10 14 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL Chronicle The 20 Greatest Hits (Fantasy / Concord)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Kanye West's "Graduation," 50 Cent's "Curtis," Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates," the third volume of the "Grey's Anatomy" soundtrack and B5's "Don't Talk Just Listen."
• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2006 when: Justin Timberlake's "FutureSex/LoveSounds" bounded in at No. 1 with 684,000. John Mayer's "Continuum" bowed at No. 3 with 300,000. Bob Seger and Lionel Richie also started at Nos. 4 and 6 with 151,000 and 75,000, respectively. The top four albums sold more than 100,000 units.