Chesney Gallops Straight To No. 1

Country star Kenny Chesney bows on top of The Billboard 200 with his latest BNA album, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," which moved a hardy 235,000 copies in its first week of release, according to

Country star Kenny Chesney bows on top of The Billboard 200 with his latest BNA album, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," which moved a hardy 235,000 copies in its first week of release, according to SoundScan. Chesney's career best sales week also leads to the end of Ashanti's three-week reign with her self-titled Murder Inc./Def Jam debut, which slides to No. 2 on the chart. "No Shirt," which leads a charge of four new top-20 Billboard 200 debuts, also lands at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums tally.

Chesney's last set, "Everywhere We Go," opened with 30,000 units in 1999, and his 2000 "Greatest Hits" compilation sold 85,000 units in its opening week. The new album's numbers more than double his previous one-week high of 103,000 units sold by the hits package during Christmas week 2000. That set is still on The Billboard 200 at No. 101.

Fueling the huge growth in Chesney's sales is the new album's first single, "Young," which peaked at No. 2 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks tally. The cut is currently No. 4 on that chart, and at No. 45 on Billboard's Hot 100. Chesney was also helped by strong video play, including a weekend dedicated to the artist on CMT and constant touring as part of his first major-venue headlining tour.

Also arriving in the top-10 of The Billboard 200 is the soundtrack to "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (Sony Classical), which debuts at No. 6 on sales of 73,000 units. The set is also No. 1 on both the Top Soundtracks chart and the Top Classical Crossover tally. The last "Star Wars" soundtrack opened with 173,000 units in 1999.

The new set is one of three soundtracks in the top-10: "The Scorpion King" (Universal), which falls 5-7 with sales down 7% to 62,000, and the durable "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Lost Highway/Mercury), which slides one slot to No. 8 in its 70th week on The Billboard 200 after sales slip 5% to 59,000 copies.

Although last week's chart-topper, "Ashanti," slips to No. 2 on a 25% decline to 143,000 units, the album holds on for its fourth-straight week at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally. Likewise, her single "Foolish" clings to the top of both the Hot 100 -- for the fourth-straight week -- and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks -- for the seventh.

Former Goodie Mob rapper Cee-Lo lands at No. 11 with his solo debut, "Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections" (Arista). The set, which sold 57,000 units, is No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and his cut "Trouble" rests at No. 59 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally. Goodie Mob's last album, 1999's "World Party" (LaFace), sold 92,000 units in its first week at retail.

Ambitious Chicago rock outfit Wilco scores this week's biggest surprise, checking in at No. 13 with "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (Nonesuch). The 55,000 units the album moved were a little more than a third of what the band's 1999 set "Summerteeth" has sold to date: 166,000 copies. Wilco's previous peak chart position came with the No. 73 arrival of 1996's "Being There."

The high debut is a victory of sorts for Wilco, as "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was rejected by Reprise last summer, leading to the band's exit from the label. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that Wilco had essentially been giving away the album for free on its Web site prior to signing with Nonesuch. Credit Internet buzz, Wilco's rabid fan base, unanimous critical adoration, persistent touring, and heavy play on NPR for the chart achievement.

Another impressive entry comes from veteran artist Elvis Costello, whose Island/Def Jam debut, "When I Was Cruel," coasts to No. 20 on the strength of 39,000 units. This is Costello's best showing on the chart since his "Get Happy!!" peaked at No. 11 in 1980. His last set, the Burt Bacharach collaboration "Painted from Memory," sold 20,000 units in its first week and arrived at No. 78. Costello has also received a bevy of critical acclaim, and recently appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" amidst a heavy promotional schedule.

Other notable debuts on The Billboard 200 include Big Moe's "Purple World" (Wreckshop/Priority/Capitol) at No. 29, Michael Bolton's "Only a Woman Like You" (Jive/Zomba) at No 36, RL's "RLEments" (J) at No. 53, Pet Shop Boys' "Release" (Sanctuary) at No. 73, and Paul Westerberg's "Stereo" (Vagrant) at No. 81.

System Of A Down garners a hefty jump, blasting 30-14 with "Toxicity" (American/Columbia). The title track from the L.A. band's sophomore album holds at No. 5 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks roundup, but gets a 76-70 bump on the Hot 100.

Celine Dion's "A New Day Has Come" (Epic) holds at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 despite a 30% drop to sales of 114,000 copies. Sales of Sheryl Crow's "C'mon, C'mon" (A&M) slid 40% to 111,000 in its second week, and the title falls 2-4 on the chart. The ninth volume in the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" compilation (Universal/EMI/Zomba/Sony) rounds out the top-5, down one spot on a 12% decline to 109,000.

On the singles chart, P. Diddy's "I Need a Girl (Part One)" is making gains with listeners and is the Hot 100's fastest-growing track at radio, but it can't penetrate the Ashanti blockade. In addition to her Hot 100 No. 1 "Foolish," the R&B singer makes an appearance on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?," which is once again No. 2 on the chart. The P. Diddy cut is also No. 3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at retail is the Calling's "Wherever You Will Go" at No. 15, and the chart's top debut is Eminem's "Without Me" at No. 44. The rapper performed better in crossover markets than in purely urban markets and lands a little behind at No. 53 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

Other notable newcomers on the Hot 100 include Ruff Endz's "Someone to Love You" at No. 69, Carolyn Dawn Johnson's "I Don't Want You to Go" at No. 71, Lonestar's "Not a Day Goes By" at No. 72, Joe's "What if a Woman" at No. 76, and Dirty Vegas' "Days Go By" at No. 84.

Unwritten Law tops Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks tally for the first time with "Seein' Red," displacing Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle." There's no change, however, on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where Nickelback's "Too Bad" earns its third week in a row at No. 1.

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.