Garth's 'Scarecrow' Shoots Straight To No. 1

Garth Brooks' "Scarecrow" (Capitol) thunders its way to the top of The Billboard 200 this week on sales of 466,000 units, according to SoundScan, leading a charge of five top-10 debuts. "Scarecrow," w

Garth Brooks' "Scarecrow" (Capitol) thunders its way to the top of The Billboard 200 this week on sales of 466,000 units, according to SoundScan, leading a charge of five top-10 debuts. "Scarecrow," which also debuts at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums tally, is Brooks' best opening since 1998's "Double Live," which sold a then-record of 1.01 million units in its first week.

The new set's first-week numbers lag far behind those of Brooks' last non-Christmas set of original country material, "Sevens," which moved 897,000 copies in 1997. Yet "Scarecrow" still tops his ill-fated "In .. the Life of Chris Gaines" project that appeared on the chart in 1999 with 262,000 units before rapidly disappearing from the top of the tally.

Retailers say "Scarecrow," more than any other Brooks release, will depend on a hit single to maintain a place in the upper reaches of The Billboard 200. Currently, his "Wrapped up in You" is No. 9 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks tally, where Toby Keith glides into a second-week at No. 1 with "I Wanna Talk About Me." Brooks' more novelty-like number, "Beer Run" featuring George Jones, is No. 24.

Brooks' debut sends Britney Spears' "Britney" (Jive) down to No. 2 on a 55% decline. Yet the teen queen had such a high entry last week-- 746,000 units -- that, even with the drop, she remained within striking distance of the top slot with sales of 337,000 units. The single "I'm a Slave 4 U" is finally showing a life of its own, flying 40-27 on The Billboard Hot 100.

Perhaps the biggest surprise this week on The Billboard 200 is Shakira, whose English language debut "Laundry Service" (Epic) spins to No. 3 on sales of 202,000 units. The singer, a superstar in Spanish-speaking parts of the world, has already bested the to-date total in the U.S. for 1998's "Los Donde Estan Los Ladrones?" Shakira has also benefited greatly from the crossover airplay of the single "Whenever, Wherever," which blasts 37-21 on The Billboard Hot 100.

Dancing its way to No. 7 on The Billboard 200 is the third hits compilation from Madonna, "GHV2" (Maverick). The 150,000 units sold by the album tops the 113,000 first-week total of 1995's "Something to Remember," a collection of ballads. The Madonna set is one of three high profile greatest hits albums making debuts this week. Barenaked Ladies' "Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits (1991-2001)" (Reprise) breaks in at No. 38, while Green Day's "International Superhits!" (Warner Bros.) pierces the chart at No. 40.

Rob Zombie's "Sinister Urge" (Geffen/Interscope) scores the hard rock veteran the best week of his career, opening at No. 8 on The Billboard 200 on sales of 150,000 units, an increase over the 121,000 first-week units moved by 1998's "Hellbilly Deluxe." That set went on to sell 2.5 million copies. Right behind Zombie is pop balladeer Jewel with "This Way" (Atlantic). The set drives to No. 9 with 140,000 units, a sizable decrease from 368,000 units sold by 1998's "Spirit," which went on to sell 3.5 million.

Southern rap group U.G.K. has its best entry on The Billboard 200, selling 98,000 units of the set "Dirty Money" (Ruff Ryders/Def Jam) to debut at No. 18. The album has a better showing in urban markets, rocketing to No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally, where Michael Jackson's "Invincible" easily holds on for a third week at No. 1. U.KG.'s last, "Riding Dirty," arrived with 67,000 units and has sold 627,000 to date.

Paul McCartney's "Driving Rain" (Capitol) cruises to No. 26 on The Billboard 200 after selling 66,000 units, a bit of a boost over 1999's "Run Devil Run." That covers-heavy album sold 49,000 units in its first week and landed at No. 27. Other notable debuts on The Billboard 200 include Sevendust's "Animosity" (TVT) at No. 28, Natalie Merchant's "Motherland" (Elektra) at No. 30, and Radiohead's live set "I Might Be Wrong" at No. 44.

Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair" controls the Hot 100 for a fifth straight week, once again garnering a hefty amount of radio play in crossover markets. On Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks count, the cut is at No. 5, where Usher's "U Got It Bad" leads for the third straight week.

The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at radio is Pink's "Get the Party Started," scooting 15-13. The chart's fastest-growing track at retail is Toya's "I Do!!," which received a hefty sales boost, but stays put at No. 18 due to consistent performances from the tracks ahead of it. The Hot 100's top debut is Steve Holy's "Good Morning Beautiful" at No. 70.

Nickelback's "How Your Remind Me" continues to inch up the Hot 100, moving 5-4. The cut once again commands Billboard's rock airplay charts, entering its 11th week atop the Modern Rock Tracks tally and 12th fronting the Mainstream Rock Tracks count. The group's "Silver Side Up" (Roadrunner) is No. 10 on The Billboard 200.