McGraw Holds Off Ray Charles Atop Billboard 200

Tim McGraw is living it up on The Billboard 200, as his Curb set "Live Like You Were Dying" notches a second week in the top slot. Although a 70% decline brings his U.S. sales to 227,000 this week, ac

Tim McGraw is living it up on The Billboard 200, as his Curb set "Live Like You Were Dying" notches a second week in the top slot. Although a 70% decline brings his U.S. sales to 227,000 this week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the total is enough to stave off three acts that make their entrance in the top five.

Three months after his death, Ray Charles debuts at No. 2 with his final studio set, "Genius Loves Company" (Concord/Hear Music). Opening with 202,000 units, the album not only grabs the chart's Hot Shot Debut but is the R&B legend's first top-10 set in 40 years. Charles last reached The Billboard 200 in 1993 with "My World" (Warner Bros.), which peaked at No. 145.

Four years after her introduction, Jill Scott bows at No. 3 with "Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2" (Hidden Beach/A Touch of Jazz). The set opens with 193,000 -- a career best for Scott -- good enough to place it atop Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The neo-soul songstress' debut, "Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1," opened at No. 168 before peaking at No. 17, and has sold 2.3 million to date.

Rap mainstay LL Cool J is back with a No. 4 entry for "The DEFinition" (Def Jam), selling 173,000. He beats the opening week of his 2002 set "10," which started at No. 2 with 154,000 units and has sold 968,000 to date.

With the exception of Prince's "Musicology" (NPG/Columbia), which moves 7-9 despite an 11% increase to 87,000 copies, the rest of the top 10 sees significant sales decreases.

The 16th installment of the "NOW That's What I Call Music" (Universal/EMI/Sony Music/Zomba) series falls 13% to 162,000 units but manages to stay at No. 5 for a second week. R. Kelly's "Happy People/U Saved Me" (Jive/Zomba) slides 2-6 on a 69% decline to 127,000, while Young Buck's "Straight Outta Ca$hville" (Interscope) drops 3-7 on a 56% fall to 114,000. Ashlee Simpson's "Autobiography" (Geffen) slips 6-8 on a 16% drop to 113,000, and Mase's "Welcome Back" (Bad Boy) is down 4-10 on a 58% fall to 79,000.

Just outside of the top tier, metal/rap duo Insane Clown Posse debuts at No. 12 with 73,000 units sold of the CD/DVD set "Hell's Pit" (Psychopathic), which also leads Top Internet Albums and Top Independent Albums. The Detroit act's previous album, "The Wraith: Shangri-La," had a similar opening week in 2002 at No. 15 with 76,000 copies; that set has sold 284,000 to date.

At No. 14 is the latest Elektra effort from Bjork, "Medulla." Boosted by a performance of the single "Oceania" at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Athens, the artist opens with 65,000 copies -- ahead of the No. 19 bow of 2001's "Vespertine," which has sold 372,000 to date.

Papa Roach's "Getting Away With Murder" (El Tonal/Geffen/Interscope) enters at No. 17 with 52,000 copies. The pop/rock group's third studio effort fails to match the sales of its 2002 set, "lovehatetragedy," which opened at No. 2 with 136,000. The group's biggest success so far is its 2000 debut, "Infest," which peaked at No. 5 and has sold 3.3 million to date.

Featuring songs by the likes of Scott Stapp and Lauryn Hill, "Passion of the Christ: Songs" (Lost Keyword) bows at No. 37 with 28,000 units. Last week's release of the movie from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment raked in more than 4.1 million copies on its first day of sales.

With a 46% jump to 32,000 copies, Kanye West's "The College Dropout" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) is the chart's Greatest Gainer. The set, which debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 in February, rebounds 48-29.

Thanks to an Aug. 29 rebroadcast of his appearance on "CBS News Sunday Morning," Michael McDonald's "Motown" (Motown) re-enters the Billboard 200 this week with a 113% increase to No. 103.

Overall U.S. album sales are down about 5.6% from last week to 11.4 million units, 12% ahead of the same week last year. Year-to-date sales are beating 2003 by 7.3%, with 421 million units.


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