Avril Lavigne takes "The Best Damn Thing" straight in at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, selling 286,000 copies. It's her second chart-topper, following 2004's "Under My Skin" ... Nine Inch Nails notches its fourth straight top two studio album, as "Year Zero" bows at No. 2 on the big chart ... "American Idol's" Bucky Covington starts in the top five on The Billboard 200 and at No. 1 on Top Country Albums while Clay Walker and Lumidee also score debuts within the top 50 ... The CMT Awards push gains for many acts on the chart, including winners Carrie Underwood, Sugarland and Taylor Swift ... In Progress Reports, Kelly Clarkson returns to the radio charts with her new single "Never Again," Justin Timberlake's latest hit "loves" the CHR/Top 40 chart and Daddy Yankee zooms up Hot Latin Songs.




FLASH POINTS



• Avril Lavigne's "The Best Damn Thing" debuts at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with 286,000 units -- down from the 381,000 that greeted her last set, "Under My Skin," when it bowed at No. 1 in 2004. The new album's current single "Girlfriend" is already a top 10 hit on both the CHR/Top 40 radio airplay chart and The Billboard Hot 100. It's actually the second track from the album to hit the charts. Late last year, "Keep Holding On" (from the film "Eragon") was released and hit No. 3 on the Hot AC/Adult Top 40 chart ... Lavigne promoted the new set by performing on a bevy of TV shows during release week, including "Saturday Night Live" (April 14), "Good Morning America," "The Late Show With David Letterman" (both April 17), "Live With Regis & Kelly" (April 18) and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (April 20) ... "The Best Damn Thing" was sale priced for $10 at Target, Circuit City and Kmart. Additionally, a limited edition version of the set, which comes with a DVD featuring a 40-minute documentary about the making of the album, was priced under $14 at Target and Best Buy.

• Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails begins at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 with "Year Zero," selling 187,000. The act's last set, 2005's "With Teeth," started at No. 1 with 272,000 -- its biggest sales week ever. The new album's lead single, "Survivalism," already peaked at No. 1 on the Alternative/Modern Rock chart and this week slips 6-7 in its 10th week on the chart. Conversely, upon "With Teeth's" bow at No. 1, its lead single, "The Hand That Feeds," was still climbing the Alternative/Modern Rock chart at No. 2. It eventually went on to become the band's first No. 1 single and logged five weeks atop the chart ... "Year Zero's" arrival was publicized via an intricate multi-media awareness campaign that rivals story lines on "Lost." The concept album illegally leaked to the Internet a few weeks ago and subsequently, the official Nine Inch Nails Web site began streaming the album in its entirely. Perhaps the album's leak, combined with the lukewarm response of its first single, played a part in the lower debut sales week.

• "American Idol" finalist Bucky Covington debuts at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 -- and at No. 1 on Top Country Albums -- with his self-titled set. The album sold 61,000 copies in its first week, thanks partially to his hit single "A Different World." The tune rises 24-22 on Hot Country Songs this week. Covington's debut is the biggest on Top Country Albums by a new male artist since Billy Ray Cyrus' "Some Gave All" started with 90,000 in 1992. Covington joins Jason Michael Carroll as the second new artist to bow at No. 1 on Top Country Albums this year ... Speaking of country, Clay Walker, whose Billboard chart history dates back to 1993, scores his highest charting album ever on The Billboard 200 as "Fall" bows at No. 15. The set starts with 32,000 -- though that's not his best sales week. On Top Country Albums, it's the singer's eighth top 10 album, stretching back to his 1993 self-titled set, which entered the top 10 in early 1994.

• The CMT Awards, which aired on April 16, prove potent on the chart, as nearly every winner or performer with an album on The Billboard 200 chart this week sees an increase. They include those acts that both won and performed -- Carrie Underwood (No. 9, up 24%), Rascal Flatts (No. 28, up 16%), Sugarland (No. 36, up 79%) and Kenny Chesney (No. 148, up 23%) -- as well as just those who sang on the show. The latter category includes Martina McBride (who also benefits from her stint on "American Idol" last week, up 10% at No. 5), Keith Urban (No. 66, up 18%), Dierks Bentley (No. 72, up 18%) and Hank Williams, Jr. (No. 194, up 2%). Taylor Swift, who won an award but did not perform on the show, also perks up (No. 22, up 13%).



The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New AVRIL LAVIGNE The Best Damn Thing (RCA / RMG) *11 19 ROBIN THICKE The Evolution Of Robin Thicke (Star Trak / Interscope)
*2 New NINE INCH NAILS Year Zero (Nothing / Interscope) *12 21 FERGIE The Dutchess (will.i.am / A&M / Interscope)
3 1 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 24 (EMI / Sony BMG / Universal / Zomba / Capitol) 13 7 BEYONCE B'Day (Columbia / Sony Music)
*4 New BUCKY COVINGTON Bucky Covington (Lyric Street / Hollywood) 14 12 AMY WINEHOUSE Back To Black (Universal Republic / UMRG)
*5 8 MARTINA MCBRIDE Waking Up Laughing (RCA Nashville / SBN) *15 New CLAY WALKER Fall (Curb )
6 3 AKON Konvicted (Konvict / Upfront / SRC / Universal Motown / UMRG) 16 10 ALISON KRAUSS A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection (Rounder )
7 6 DAUGHTRY Daughtry (RCA / RMG) 17 11 HILARY DUFF Dignity (Hollywood )
8 2 TIM MCGRAW Let It Go (Curb ) 18 17 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive / Zomba)
*9 14 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Some Hearts (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG) 19 18 GWEN STEFANI The Sweet Escape (Interscope )
10 5 TIMBALAND Timbaland Presents Shock Value (Mosley / Blackground / Interscope) 20 13 PAUL WALL Get Money Stay True (Swishahouse / Asylum / Atlantic / AG)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 8.16 million units
• UP 1.3% from last issue's charts: 8.05 million units
• DOWN 10.7% from same week, 2006: 9.14 million units
• This week: The top two albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Rascal Flatts' "Me and My Gang" was steady at No. 1 for a third week, selling 143,000. No new albums bowed in the top 40 -- the Hot Shot Debut belonged to the Dresden Dolls' "Yes, Virginia..." at No. 42 (19,000). The top four albums sold more than 100,000 units.



BORDERLINES

• The No. 100 album this week, Chayanne's "Mi Tiempo," (Sony BMG Norte) sold 7,000.
• The No. 100 album for the same week of 2006, Staind's "Chapter V," (Flip/Atlantic/AG) sold 9,000.
• Average total of the No. 100 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 11,772.



PROGRESS REPORTS

• Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again" debuts at No. 24 on the CHR/Top 40 chart and is the highest debut since Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man" bowed at No. 21 on the chart dated June 16, 2006. "Never" also starts at No. 21 on the Hot AC chart, tying the recent entry of Maroon5's "Makes Me Wonder" for the fourth-best start in the chart's history ... Also on the CHR/Top 40 chart, Justin Timberlake's "Summer Love" rises 27-20 in its third chart week, giving him his 10th top 20 CHR/Top 40 hit. As part of NSYNC, he also scored another 10 top 20 hits. No other act has managed a similar feat in the nearly 15 year history of the CHR/Top 40 chart.

• Nickelback's "If Everyone Cared" rises 2-1 on the Hot AC/Adult Top 40 radio chart, giving the band its fourth career chart-topper and placing it in a tie with Matchbox Twenty for most No. 1s by an artist in the chart's history. Nickelback's latest set, "All the Right Reasons," also becomes the first album to produce three Hot AC No. 1 hits. Previously, "Photograph" led for 18 weeks in 2005-2006 and "Far Away" perched on top for five weeks last fall.

• In just its second chart week, Daddy Yankee's "Impacto" (featuring Fergie) zooms 34-11 on Hot Latin Songs instantly becoming his fourth-highest charting single as a lead artist. All told, in under three years, Daddy Yankee has racked up 16 entries on Hot Latin Songs since he bowed with "Gasolina" (Oct. 30, 2004). "Impacto" is the first single from Daddy Yankee's forthcoming album "El Cartel: The Big Boss," due June 5 on Interscope ... As an aside, this is Fergie's second appearance on Hot Latin Songs. The first came when the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" spent two weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 46 on Jan. 28, 2006. Meanwhile, her new single, "Big Girls Don't Cry," is bubbling under the CHR/Top 40 chart.




Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 7 MUSIQ SOULCHILD Luvanmusiq (Atlantic / AG)
*2 6 ROBIN THICKE The Evolution Of Robin Thicke (Star Trak / Interscope)
3 2 AKON Konvicted (Konvict / Upfront / SRC / Universal Motown / UMRG)
4 1 YOUNG BUCK Buck The World (G-Unit / Interscope)
5 3 BEYONCE B'Day (Columbia / Sony Music)
6 4 PAUL WALL Get Money Stay True (Swishahouse / Asylum / Atlantic / AG)
*7 8 LLOYD Street Love (The Inc. / Universal Motown / UMRG)
8 5 TIMBALAND Timbaland Presents Shock Value (Mosley / Blackground / Interscope)
9 9 RICH BOY Rich Boy (Zone 4 / Interscope)
10 10 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 24 (EMI / Sony BMG / Universal / Zomba / Capitol)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Country Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 New BUCKY COVINGTON Bucky Covington (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
*2 2 MARTINA MCBRIDE Waking Up Laughing (RCA / SBN)
3 1 TIM MCGRAW Let It Go (Curb )
*4 4 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Some Hearts (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG)
*5 New CLAY WALKER Fall (Curb )
6 3 ALISON KRAUSS A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection (Rounder )
*7 7 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
*8 8 RASCAL FLATTS Me And My Gang (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
9 5 LARRY THE CABLE GUY Morning Constitutions (Jack / Warner Bros. / WRN)
*10 11 SUGARLAND Enjoy The Ride (Mercury / UMGN)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 2 PINK FLOYD Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol )
2 1 GUNS N' ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen / Interscope)
3 3 ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING Wicked (Decca Broadway / Universal Classics Group)
*4 4 MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
*5 5 NORAH JONES Come Away With Me (Blue Note / BLG)
*6 12 RASCAL FLATTS Feels Like Today (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
7 7 AC/DC Back In Black (Legacy / Epic / Sony Music)
8 8 TIM MCGRAW Greatest Hits (Curb )
9 6 CREED Greatest Hits (Wind-up )
10 9 EVANESCENCE Fallen (Wind-up )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Arctic Monkeys' "Favourite Worst Nightmare," Joe's "Ain't Nothing Like Me" and Calle 13's "Residente O Visitante."
• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2006 when: six albums debuted in the top 10, including five bows in the top five. Godsmack's "IV" started at No. 1 with 211,000 while Taking Back Sunday, Bruce Springsteen, Avant and Rihanna opened at Nos. 2-5. The top seven albums sold more than 100,000 units.