U2 earns its sixth No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and nearly doubles its previous best sales week, as "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" (Interscope) bursts in with 840,000 units, according to Nielsen Soun

U2 earns its sixth No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and nearly doubles its previous best sales week, as "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" (Interscope) bursts in with 840,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Its predecessor, the Grammy-winning "All That You Can't Leave Behind," entered at No. 3 with 428,000 U.S. copies in 2000. U2, which first went to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with 1987's "The Joshua Tree," has a worldwide sales total of more than 120 million units.

The group ends the two-week reign of Eminem's "Encore" (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope), which drops to No. 2 on a 46% sales decline from last week to 471,000 units.

Another highly anticipated Interscope release lives up to the hype, as Gwen Stefani's "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" scores a bigger opening week than any No Doubt album. Fueled by the Mainstream Top 40 hit "What You Waiting For," the singer's solo debut bows at No. 7 with sales of 309,000.

Thanks to Thanksgiving sales pricing at selected retailers, Shania Twain's Mercury Nashville greatest-hits compilation jumps 5-3 on a 65% boost to 384,000 units, to earn the chart's Greatest Gainer honors. Fellow country star Toby Keith rises 7-5 with his DreamWorks Nashville/Interscope hits set, which jumps 50% to 331,000.

Falling short of fellow "American Idol" finalists, third-season winner Fantasia enters at No. 8 with 240,000 copies of her solo debut, "Free Yourself" (J). First-season winner Kelly Clarkson, second-season winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken each opened in the top slot with bigger sales.

At No. 20 with 96,000 copies, Studdard debuts this week with the contemporary gospel album "I Need An Angel" (J). The sophomore set doesn't fare as well as his urban debut, "Soulful," which entered at No. 1 last year with 417,000 copies and has sold 1.8 million to date.

Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" (Curb) gets a 192% boost to 180,000 on the strength of the Nov. 24 NBC special "Tim McGraw: Here and Now." The set moves 24-13 on the big chart and 5-3 on Billboard's Top Country Albums tally.

Creed's greatest-hits set (Wind-up) opens at No. 15 with 158,000 units. Jessica Simpson snags the second-largest sales week of her career with "ReJoyce: The Christmas album" (Columbia), which opens at No. 16 with 152,000. And at No. 19, the Nirvana boxed set "With the Lights Out" (Geffen) rounds out the top-20 debuts, with sales of 106,000 -- the best sales week for any box since Garth Brooks' "The Limited Series," which started at No. 1 with 372,000 units in 1998.

Additional debuts this week include Alison Krauss & Union Station's "Lonely Runs Both Ways" (Rounder) at No. 29, Evanescence's "Anywhere But Home" (Wind-Up) at No. 39, Kenny G's "At Last ... The Duets Album" (Arista) at No. 40, the Diplomats' "Diplomatic Immunity" (Roc-A-Fella) at No. 46 and the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" soundtrack (Warner Bros.) at No. 50.

Overall U.S. album sales are up 27% over last week at 19.5 million units, but are down about 5% from the same week last year. Sales for 2004 are beating those of last year by about 2.9% with 565 million units.