U2's 'Bomb' Explodes At No. 1

U2 earns its sixth No. 1 on The Billboard 200 this week with "How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The Interscope set nearly doubled the band's previous best SoundScan era sales week (1991-present), movi

U2 earns its sixth No. 1 on The Billboard 200 this week with "How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The Interscope set nearly doubled the band's previous best SoundScan era sales week (1991-present), moving 840,000 U.S. copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In 2000, the Irish quartet's Grammy-winning "All That You Can't Leave Behind" entered at No. 3 on sales of 428,000 copies; the set has a to-date total of 4.2 million.

U2 ends the two-week chart reign of labelmate Eminem's "Encore" (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope), which drops to No. 2 on a 46% tilt to sales of 471,000 copies. As previously reported, U2 also terminated the rapper's three-week stint at the top of the U.K. album chart, where "Atomic Bomb" landed at No. 1 after an international Nov. 22 release on Island.

The album's arrival was heralded by first single "Vertigo," which is featured in Apple Computer's iPod/iTunes TV commercial. The track spent four weeks atop Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks list, where it holds this week at No. 3. Additionally, the band made a series of high profile appearances in the week leading up to the album's release, including a performance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and an unannounced free outdoor show in New York.

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, according to Interscope.

Another highly anticipated Interscope release lives up to the hype this week as Gwen Stefani's "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" scores a bigger opening week than any No Doubt record ever has. Fueled by the pop radio hit "What You Waiting For?," the singer's solo debut bows at No. 7 on sales of 309,000 copies.

Thanksgiving week sales pricing by selected retailers fueled a 65% boost for Shania Twain's Mercury Nashville greatest hits compilation to sales of 384,000 copies and a 5-3 jump. Fellow country star Toby Keith also makes a two position leap to No. 5 with his DreamWorks Nashville/Interscope greatest hits set on a 50% increase to 331,000 units.

Destiny's Child slips in between them with a two-slot drop to No. 4 as sales of "Destiny Fulfilled" (Sony Urban Music/Columbia) slid 32% to 337,000 copies.

The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season also give the 17th installment of "NOW That's What I Call Music!" (Sony BMG/Universal/EMI/Zomba/Capitol) a push, as a 68% sales gain to 319,000 prompts an 8-6 move on the chart.

Falling short of prior "American Idol" stars, third season winner Fantasia's solo J debut, "Free Yourself," enters at No. 8 on sales of 240,000 copies. First season winner Kelly Clarkson, as well as second season winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken, opened in the top slot with larger sales weeks.

Studdard's second album, contemporary gospel album "I Need An Angel" (J) also debuts this week, taking the No. 20 position with 96,000 copies. His debut set, "Soulful," entered at No. 1 with 417,000 copies last year and has sold 1.8 million to date.

Rounding out the top 10, Snoop Dogg's ""R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece" (Doggystyle/Geffen/Star Trax) falls 6-9 on a 9% decline to 203,000, while Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz' "Crunk Juice" (TVT) plummets 3-10 on a 46% fall to 196,000.

Boosted by his Nov. 24 NBC prime time concert special "Tim McGraw: Here and Now," the country superstar's "Live Like You Were Dying" (Curb) saw a 192% sales spike to 180,000 copies The set moves 24-13 on The Billboard 200 and 5-3 on the Top Country Albums tally.

Creed's "Greatest Hits," the first Wind-Up release from the band following its breakup earlier this year, opens at No. 15 on sales of 158,000. The band's final studio album, 2001's "Weathered," debuted at No. 1 with 887,000 and has sold 6.3 million to date.

Jessica Simpson snares the second largest Nielsen SoundScan week of her career with "Rejoyce: The Christmas album" (Columbia) moving 152,000 copies to open at No. 16. While the singer's "In This Skin" opened with 64,000 copies in 2003, a special edition release this year posted a 159,000-unit week and boosted the set to a No. 2 peak on The Billboard 200. A Thanksgiving week sales increase of 178% to 31,000 for the same release prompts a 125-64 rebound on the chart.

At No. 19, the Nirvana boxed set "With the Lights Out" (Geffen) rounds out the top 20 debuts. With 106,000 copies, the set notched the biggest sales week for any box since Garth Brooks' "The Limited Series," which opened at No. 1 with 372,000 units in 1998.

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

Overall U.S. album sales were up 27% over the previous week at 19.5 million units, but 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.