Editor: Keith Caulfield; Contributors: Anthony Colombo, Wade Jessen, Gary Trust, Alex Vitoulis; Editorial Director: Geoff Mayfield


Easter Bunny Hops Onto Charts

Nine albums debut in the top 25 of The Billboard 200 this week, with Martina McBride, Hilary Duff, Timbaland, Paul Wall and Alison Krauss leading the charge in the top 10 ... Beyonce's deluxe version of "B'Day" pushes her album back into the top 10 with a 903% gain ... The Easter bunny helps a basketful of albums fly up the chart, including efforts from Ashley Tisdale and the soundtracks to "High School Musical" and "Jump In!" ... In Progress Reports, we've got the third debut at No. 1 on the Alternative/Modern Rock radio chart and a third Hot Country Songs No. 1 for Carrie Underwood. (PLEASE NOTE: Chart Alert was updated on April 12 to reflect new sales charts released by Nielsen SoundScan.)




FLASH POINTS



• Did the Easter bunny leave us a chart full of goodies? Or just a bunch of rotten eggs? Overall album sales for the week ending Easter Sunday, April 8, are up 15.6% compared with last week (see Market Watch, below), but down 5.1% when stacked next to the same week of last year. However, Easter arrived a week later last year (April 16). So, if we compare Easter week to Easter week, we're actually down by 10.2% ... Perhaps unsurprisingly, the "Now 24" album rises to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with 213,000 units (even though its sales dropped 7%). The various-artists compilation was likely an ideal Easter basket gift item, as was Hilary Duff, who starts at No. 3 with her new studio album "Dignity" (140,000 units). Duff's last album, the hits compilation "Most Wanted," bowed at No. 1 with 208,000 in 2005. The new set represents a continued evolution in sound and image for the singer -- which may have resulted in her losing some of her much younger fans. That said, this is still Duff's fourth straight top three debut, following "Wanted" in 2005, "Hilary Duff" (No. 2 in 2004) and "Metamorphosis" (No. 2 in 2003 before rising to No. 1 in its second week)

• Another Easter-friendly artist, Martina McBride, bows at No. 4 with "Waking Up Laughing" (139,000). She also starts at No. 2 on Top Country Albums -- her fifth straight top three album. McBride's last set, the covers collection "Timeless," began at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 last year with 185,000 units. Her last studio effort, 2003's "Martina," climbed in at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 with 123,000. The new album's lead single, "Anyway," became her 19th top 10 hit on Hot Country Songs in February ... A bevy of albums that lend themselves to the Easter holiday (say, anything Christian or gospel, or a family- or child-focused title) perk up this week on The Billboard 200. They include the "Hannah Montana" soundtrack (No. 14, up 76%), the "Disneymania 5" compilation (No. 15, up 28%), "Kidz Bop 11" (No. 27, up 162%), the "Jump In!" soundtrack (No. 31, up 131%), Ashley Tisdale's "Headstrong" (No. 53, up 113%), the "Radio Disney Jams 9" set (No. 55, up 61%), the "High School Musical" soundtrack (No. 63, up 84%), Vanessa Hudgens' "V" (No. 71, up 82%), TobyMac's "Portable Sounds" (No. 78, up 40%), Josh Groban's "Awake" (No. 96, up 43%), "Wow Hits 2007" (No. 120, up 42%), "Wow Hymns" (No. 137, up 32%), Alan Jackson's "Precious Memories" (No. 148, up 58%) and Casting Crowns' "Lifesong" (No. 193, up 31%) ... Pretend to be shocked: Every album on the 25-position Top Kid Audio chart has an increase.

• Timbaland notches his highest-charting album and his best sales week ever, as his star-studded "Shock Value" bows at No. 5 with 138,000. Previously, he never got any higher than No. 29 when "Indecent Proposal" (with Magoo) debuted in 2001 with 79,000 (his previous best sales week). "Shock Value" boasts guest stars on nearly every song, including turns from Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Dr. Dre, Elton John, the Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger and Fall Out Boy. Timbaland's profile increased dramatically after his production work with Timberlake and Furtado. Just in the past year, he has produced eight top 30 Billboard Hot 100 hits for Timberlake, Furtado, the Pussycat Dolls and Omarion -- and five of those hit No. 1 ... The reissue of Beyonce's "B'Day" album with six new songs and a handful of remixes pushes the set 69-6 with a 903% gain, selling 126,000. The effort now boasts two discs with 23 tracks in all, including her new single with Shakira, "Beautiful Liar."

• Paul Wall enters at No. 8 on The Billboard 200 with "Get Money, Stay True," shifting 92,000 copies. His last set, 2005's "The Peoples Champ," launched at No. 1 with a much larger 176,000. On Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, "Get Money" cashes in at No. 2 ... Alison Krauss claims her highest-charting album as "A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection," bows at No. 3 on Top Country Albums and at No. 10 on The Billboard 200 with 73,000 units. Her previous high on The Billboard 200 came in 1995, when "Now That I've Found You: A Collection," climbed to No. 13. "A Hundred Miles or More" is a compilation of stray tracks that Krauss recorded through the years along with a handful of previously unreleased songs. The album includes her No. 3 Hot Country Songs hit "Whiskey Lullaby" (with Brad Paisley) and three songs from film soundtracks: "The Scarlet Tide" and "You Will Be My Ain True Love" (from "Cold Mountain"), plus "Down to the River to Pray" (from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"). The album's first single, a cover of "Missing You" with John Waite, rose to No. 34 on Hot Country Songs in February. That's the highest rank for a single where Krauss was the lead artist since "When You Say Nothing at All" (billed as Alison Krauss + Union Station) hit No. 3 in 1995.

• At No. 11 on The Billboard 200, the trio of Alan Jackson, George Strait and Jimmy Buffett join forces for "Live at Texas Stadium," a 15-song live album culled from a 2004 Dallas concert. The set opens with 67,000 units ... Rock band Chevelle enters at No. 12 with its fourth studio set, "Vena Sera" (62,000 units). The act's last release, 2004's "This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In)," started at No. 8 with 89,000. The album's lead radio track, "Well Enough," has seemingly already peaked at No. 15 on the Alternative/Modern Rock chart. That's the lowest placing for any of the group's six singles ... Comedian Larry the Cable Guy returns with "Morning Constitutions" at No. 16 (56,000 units). It also unsurprisingly enters at No. 1 on Top Comedy Albums and enters at No. 5 on Top Country Albums. His last solo set, "The Right to Bare Arms," started at No. 7 in in 2005 with 92,000 ... Kings of Leon debut at No. 25 on The Billboard 200 with 42,000, easily besting the No. 55 debut and peak of 2005's "Aha Shake Heartbreak" and more than doubling the band's previous best sales week. The group played "Late Show With David Letterman" March 26 ... Twenty-eight albums debut on The Billboard 200 this week, including new offerings from the Academy Is (No. 32; 33,000), Static X (No. 36; 30,000), Almost (No. 39; 29,000), Shadows Fall (No. 46; 24,000), Black Sabbath (No. 54; 21,000), Brandi Carlile (No. 76; 15,000), J Moss (No. 84; 13,000), Anthony Hamilton (No. 90; 13,000) and Fountains of Wayne (No. 97; 12,000).




The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 2 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 24 (EMI / Sony BMG / Universal / Zomba / Capitol) *11 New ALAN JACKSON/GEORGE STRAIT/JIMMY BUFFETT Live At Texas Stadium (MCA Nashville )
2 1 TIM MCGRAW Let It Go (Curb ) *12 New CHEVELLE Vena Sera (Epic / Sony Music)
*3 New MARTINA MCBRIDE Waking Up Laughing (RCA Nashville / SBN) *13 16 GWEN STEFANI The Sweet Escape (Interscope )
*4 New HILARY DUFF Dignity (Hollywood ) *14 24 SOUNDTRACK Hannah Montana (Walt Disney )
*5 New TIMBALAND Timbaland Presents Shock Value (Mosley / Blackground / Interscope) *15 14 VARIOUS ARTISTS Disneymania 5: Music Stars Sing Disney... Their Way! (Walt Disney )
*6 69 BEYONCE B'Day (Columbia / Sony Music) *16 New LARRY THE CABLE GUY Morning Constitutions (Jack / Warner Bros. (Nashville) / WRN)
*7 6 DAUGHTRY Daughtry (RCA / RMG) 17 3 YOUNG BUCK Buck The World (G-Unit / Interscope)
*8 New PAUL WALL Get Money Stay True (Swishahouse / Asylum / Atlantic / AG) *18 17 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Some Hearts (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG)
*9 5 AKON Konvicted (Konvict / Upfront / SRC / Universal Motown / UMRG) *19 18 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive / Zomba)
*10 New ALISON KRAUSS A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection (Rounder ) 20 8 JOSS STONE Introducing Joss Stone (Virgin )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week





MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 10.58 million units
• UP 15.6% from last issue's charts: 9.15 million units
• DOWN 5.1% from same week, 2006: 11.15 million units
• This week: The top six albums sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Rascal Flatts' "Me and My Gang" bowed at No. 1 with 722,000 and the "Now 21" set opened at No. 2 (334,000). Pink and Bubba Sparxxx also started in the top 10. The top six albums sold more than 100,000 units.



BORDERLINES

• The No. 50 album this week, Gary Allan's "Greatest Hits" (MCA Nashville), sold 21,000.
• The No. 50 album for the same week of 2006, E-40's "My Ghetto Report Card" (Sick Wid' It/BMG/Warner Bros.), sold 20,000.
• Average total of the No. 50 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1998-2007): 23,263.



PROGRESS REPORTS

• In the nearly 19-year history of the Alternative/Modern Rock radio chart, only three singles have debuted at No. 1. Lucky No. 3 this week is Linkin Park's "What I've Done," which also becomes the band's sixth consecutive chart-topper. It's the first single from the group's third studio set, "Minutes to Midnight," which will be released May 15 ... All three debuts at No. 1 on the Alternative/Modern Rock chart have come from Warner Bros. acts. The first single to bow at No. 1 was R.E.M.'s "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" on Sept. 24, 1994. The second was Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California" on April 22, 2006 ... "What I've Done" also opens at No. 3 on the Active Rock chart, which is that list's highest entry since Tool's "Vicarious" launched at No. 2 last April.

• Carrie Underwood earns her third No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart as "Wasted" amasses 35.2 million impressions and jumps 2-1. The song follows previous 2006 chart-toppers "Jesus, Take the Wheel" (six weeks) and "Before He Cheats" (five weeks). Underwood's "Don't Forget to Remember Me" peaked at No. 2 last July ... The new No. 1 makes Underwood the first artist to score three chart-toppers from a major-label debut album since the Dixie Chicks' 1998 "Wide Open Spaces" spawned "There's Your Trouble," "Wide Open Spaces" and "You Were Mine." Underwood is now just one chart-topper shy of matching the four No. 1s Brooks & Dunn collected from their 1991 inaugural album, "Brand New Man."

• "How to Save a Life" by the Fray takes over at the top of the AC/Adult Contemporary chart, rising 2-1. The song has now crowned three of radio lists, having topped the Triple A chart for a week and the Hot AC chart for a 15-week reign. With this week's ascension, "Life" becomes the first shared No. 1 between AC and Hot AC/Adult Top 40 since Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" led AC for 19 weeks and Hot AC for 12 a year ago ... The Killers earn their first Triple A chart-topper as "Read My Mind" supplants Norah Jones' three-week reign with "Thinking About You." It's the first No. 1 at Triple A for the Island Def Jam Music Group since Melissa Etheridge's "Breathe" reached that spot in the Feb. 27, 2004, issue when it similarly nudged a Jones track -- "Sunrise" -- from the throne.





Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
*1 32 BEYONCE B'Day (Columbia / Sony Music)
*2 New PAUL WALL Get Money Stay True (Swishahouse / Asylum / Atlantic / AG)
*3 New TIMBALAND Timbaland Presents Shock Value (Mosley / Blackground / Interscope)
4 1 YOUNG BUCK Buck The World (G-Unit / Interscope)
5 3 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW 24 (EMI / Sony BMG / Universal / Zomba / Capitol)
*6 8 LLOYD Street Love (The Inc. / Universal Motown / UMRG)
*7 7 AKON Konvicted (Konvict / Upfront / SRC / Universal Motown / UMRG)
8 6 MUSIQ SOULCHILD Luvanmusiq (Atlantic / AG)
9 2 MIMS Music Is My Savior (Capitol )
10 10 RICH BOY Rich Boy (Zone 4 / Interscope)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Country Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 TIM MCGRAW Let It Go (Curb )
*2 New MARTINA MCBRIDE Waking Up Laughing (RCA / SBN)
*3 New ALISON KRAUSS A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection (Rounder )
*4 New ALAN JACKSON/GEORGE STRAIT/JIMMY BUFFETT Live At Texas Stadium (MCA Nashville )
*5 New LARRY THE CABLE GUY Morning Constitutions (Jack / Warner Bros. / WRN)
*6 2 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Some Hearts (Arista / Arista Nashville / RMG)
*7 5 TAYLOR SWIFT Taylor Swift (Big Machine )
*8 6 RASCAL FLATTS Me And My Gang (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
9 7 GARY ALLAN Greatest Hits (MCA Nashville / UMGN)
*10 8 DIXIE CHICKS Taking The Long Way (Columbia / Sony Music)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week
Top Pop Catalog Albums

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 GUNS N' ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen / Interscope)
*2 4 SELAH Hiding Place (Curb )
*3 6 ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING Wicked (Decca Broadway / Universal Classics Group)
4 2 PINK FLOYD Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol )
*5 7 TIM MCGRAW Greatest Hits (Curb )
*6 10 RASCAL FLATTS Feels Like Today (Lyric Street / Hollywood)
*7 20 MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (143 / Reprise / Warner Bros.)
8 3 CELTIC WOMAN Celtic Woman (Manhattan / BLG)
9 5 NORAH JONES Come Away With Me (Blue Note / BLG)
10 8 SOUNDTRACK Grease (Polydor / Universal / UMe)
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the titles released this week, due on next week's charts: Bright Eyes' "Cassadaga" and Hell Yeah's "Hell Yeah."
• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2006 when: Rascal Flatts' "Me and My Gang" held at No. 1 for a second week, selling 345,000. Toby Keith's "White Trash With Money" bowed at No. 2 (330,000), LL Cool J started at No. 6 with "Todd Smith" (116,000) and Daniel Powter entered at No. 9 (89,000). The top seven albums sold more than 100,000 units.