Rick Ross claims his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as "God Forgives, I Don't" bows atop the list with 218,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
That gives the Maybach Music Group mogul his best sales week yet, topping the 198,000 that Trilla opened with at No. 1 in 2008. Ross previously led the chart with 2006's "Port of Miami," 2008's Trilla and 2009's "Deeper Than Rap."
Ross has now collected more No. 1 albums than some rappers with longer histories on the Billboard 200: Like Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion), who both have three No. 1s. (But Ross is still far behind the man with the most No. 1s among all rap acts: Jay-Z, who has 12 chart-toppers.)
The first-week sales of "God Forgives, I Don't" were also buoyed by Amazon MP3, which has priced the title for $5 for the month of August. The set sold 90,000 downloads last week and easily arrives at No. 1 on the Digital Albums chart.
'Sparkle' Shines: The late Whitney Houston returns to the Billboard 200 by way of the soundtrack to her final film, "Sparkle." The set, which includes two cuts by the diva, debuts at No. 26 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Soundtrack Albums, selling 12,000 in its first week. The effort could see a sales gain in the coming weeks, following the film's theatrical release on Aug. 17.
"Sparkle" is the first of two Houston-related albums due this year. The second is an authoritative greatest-hits set, coming this fall on RCA. Though there is already one best-of on the market from Houston, it's a marred set that looks to be improved upon with the coming compilation. (The track list and release date for the new album haven't been announced.)
Houston's sole greatest-hits album available in the United States is "Whitney: The Greatest Hits," which is the year's fourth-biggest-selling album (836,000). The problem is that the 36-track Arista album offers dance remixes of her best-known uptempo numbers, instead of the familiar versions that scaled the Billboard Hot 100. (Houston notched 39 hits on the Hot 100, with 23 top 10s and 11 No. 1s.) "Whitney" is split down the middle, with half consisting of her ballads and the other chock-full of remixes.
When Arista founder Clive Davis described the set to Billboard in April 2000, he called the remix portion of the album "the party to end all parties." While it's certainly a fun addition to a die-hard fan's collection, for casual consumers, it's likely not what they were seeking.
Outside of America, Houston issued "The Ultimate Collection" in 2007, which is a more traditional hits set and features 18 songs (the bulk of which weren't remixed). It peaked at No. 3 on the Official U.K. Albums chart.
Gee Whiz!: Bee Gees make a stunning re-entry at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, as "Number Ones" returns with 32,000 (up 3,049%). Credit the wild gain in sales to Amazon MP3, which priced the 20-song set for 99 cents Aug. 3-5, thus sparking its increase. (Ninety-seven percent of the set's sales last week were downloads, and likely nearly all were from Amazon.)
The re-entry gives the iconic pop trio its highest-charting album since January 1980, when "Bee Gees Greatest" hit No. 1. It's also the group's first top 10 since the "Staying Alive" soundtrack reached No. 6 in 1983, and its ninth top 10 overall.
One "Left Behind": Right outside the top 10 is country trio Gloriana, whose second album, "A Thousand Miles Left Behind," debuts at No. 11 with 23,000. Stating the obvious: Had Amazon MP3 not opted to sale-price "Bee Gees' Number Ones" last week, Gloriana could have nabbed its second top 10 set. The group's first top 10 was its self-titled debut, which bowed and peaked at No. 3 in 2009 off a 44,000 start. Meanwhile, the group is riding high on the Hot Country Songs chart with its biggest hit yet, "(Kissed You) Good Night." The single reached No. 2 last week, and is pushed down to No. 3 this issue-though it maintains a bullet.
Bits and Pieces: Believe it or not, the Grateful Dead has its highest-charting album on the Billboard 200 in almost 23 years. "Dave's Picks: Volume 3 -- Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL -- 10/22/71" arrives at No. 34, the rock band's best rank since 1989's "Built to Last" was No. 34 on Dec. 9 of that year. (It earlier peaked at No. 27.) The group is also now tied for the second-most top 10s on the Internet Albums chart, as the "Dave's Picks" set debuts at No. 1. The band matches Kidz Bop Kids and is surpassed by only Pearl Jam (19).