Simpson Stays Steady With No. 1 Album

For a third, non-consecutive week, MTV chanteuse Ashlee Simpson finds her debut Geffen album atop The Billboard 200. Despite an 8% decline in sales to 263,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen

For a third, non-consecutive week, MTV chanteuse Ashlee Simpson finds her debut Geffen album atop The Billboard 200. Despite an 8% decline in sales to 263,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, "Autobiography" remains at No. 1 for a second week in a row.

Simpson's closing performance of the single "Pieces of Me" on last week's Fox broadcast of the Teen Choice Awards -- from which she walked away with the song of the summer and Fresh Face honors -- provided a boost in retail traffic. Expect to see more of Simpson in the coming weeks, with appearances Sept. 21 on "Live With Regis & Kelly" (syndicated) and the following night on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (NBC) already scheduled.

The 16th installment of the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" series holds the No. 2 slot for the second week. Even with a 10% slide, sales of 247,000 copies sets the Universal/EMI/Sony Music/Zomba compilation -- along with Simpson -- far apart from the rest of the chart.

Scoring The Billboard 200's top debut is rapper Shyne's "Godfather Buried Alive," which bows at No. 3. Despite the fact that the artist (real name: Jamal Barrow) is in the midst of a 10-year prison sentence for his involvement in a 1999 New York nightclub shooting, his sophomore studio set and first for Gangland/Def Jam/IDJMG sold 158,000 copies.

The former protégé of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs bowed at No. 5 with his self-titled 2000 debut on the rap mogul's Bad Boy Records with 160,000 copies; the set has sold 917,000 copies to date.

Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep's latest Loud set "Amerikaz Nightmare" sold 109,000 copies to debut at No. 4, just shy of the No. 3 entry of 1999's "Murda Muzik," but well ahead of 2001's "Infamy," which bowed at No. 22.

Alter Bridge -- the new band formed by former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti, drummer Scott Phillips, original bassist Brian Marshall and former Mayfield Four vocalist Myles Kennedy -- begins its career with a No. 5 chart placing for its their Wind-Up debut, "One Day Remains." The group will kick off a North American tour next month in support of the set, which sold 95,000 copies in its first week.

Usher drops two slots to No. 6 with his latest LaFace/Zomba set "Confessions," sales of which fell 8% to 88,000 copies. Fellow former chart-topper Jimmy Buffett saw as 24% slide to 77,000 copies for his Mailboat/RCA album "License to Chill," which falls 3-7.

Slipping 5-8, Gretchen Wilson's party on the big chart is winding down with a 14% decline to sales of 77,000 copies of her Epic debut, "Here for the Party." A slight 0.3% boost in sales to 73,000 copies was not enough to up Prince's NPG/Columbia set "Musicology," which slides 7-9.

Rounding out the top 10 is Avril Lavigne's "Under My Skin" (Arista), which takes a 6-10 tumble on a 4% drop to 70,000 copies.

Former Los Angeles street performer Houston enters the chart at No. 14 with his debut, "It's Already Written." The Capitol set opened with sales of 49,000 copies, fueled by the hit single "I Like That," which reached to No. 11 on Billboard's Hot 100.

The sixth installment of Razor & Tie's "Kidz Bop" franchise grabs the No. 23 slot with opening week sales of 37,000 copies. The set beats the first week of the previous "Kidz Bop 5," which entered at No. 34 on sales of 35,000 units.

Also debuting this week are Fat Wreck Chords' "Rock Against Bush Vol. Two" (No. 45), Andy Griggs' "This I Gotta See" (RCA, No. 59), Rachel Proctor's "Where I Belong" (BNA, No. 66), the Irish Tenors' "Heritage" (Razor & Tie, No. 69) and Sammy Hagar's "The Essential Red Collection" (Hip-O, No. 75).

A rush release to limited retailers landed 2Pac's "Live" (Koch) album at No. 185 last week. This week, the rapper posthumously earns The Billboard 200's greatest gainer honors as first full week of sales reflect a 255% jump to 23,000 copies, moving the set to No. 54.

Carly Simon's "Reflections: Carly Simon" (BMG Heritage) also makes a notable 130-80 gain as sales were up 58% to 150,000 copies. The songstress' music is featured in the new film "Little Black Book."

Overall album sales were up just 0.5% from the previous week at 11.5 million units, but 7.2% over the same week last year. Sales for the year are beating 2003 by about 7.5%.

The Billboard 200 and all of the magazine's charts for issue dated Aug. 28, will be posted tomorrow (Aug. 19) on