Jay-Z's "The Blueprint 3" holds at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, shifting 298,000 in its second week on the list, down just 37% . . . Whitney Houston's "I Look to You" surges to No. 2 with an "Oprah Winfrey Show"-infused gain . . . Rock trio Muse celebrates with its best sales week ever and highest-charting album as "The Resistance" debuts at No. 3 with 128,000 while four more albums start in the top 10: Kid Cudi's "Man on the Moon," Drake's "So Far Gone" EP, Lil Boosie's "Superbad" and Megadeth's "Endgame" . . . Taylor Swift's "Fearless" takes a big jump in the top 10, likely owed to her MTV Video Music Awards performance and run-in with Kanye West.


FLASH POINTS

• Jay-Z remains in the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 with "The Blueprint 3" shifting 298,000 copies (down 37%) in its second week on the list. The set bowed atop the list last week with 476,000. Traditionally, No. 1-debuting albums that start with monster sales weeks usually have a steeper second-week decline.

• However, Jay-Z's drop was fairly soft for a couple reasons. Last week was the album's first proper week of availability, as the title had its off-cycle Friday, Sept. 11, release pushed up to Tuesday, Sept. 8, But many retailers reportedly didn't have the set until later that week, so its 476,000 start last week could have been much bigger.

• Also, the set likely got some sales traction from its placement in Target's circular last weekend, where it was advertised for $9.98. He also performed on the premiere of NBC's "Jay Leno Show" Monday, Sept. 14, and the residual buzz from his MTV Video Music Awards performance Sunday, Sept. 13, likely bled into the current sales week.

• At No. 2 on the Billboard 200, Whitney Houston's "I Look to You" climbs one spot with 156,000—up 77%. The album makes the great sales gain this week thanks to Houston's much-publicized two-day stand on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Sept. 14-15. In three weeks, the album has sold 548,000 copies.

• Following Houston is the first of five debuts in the top 10: Muse's "The Resistance" at No. 3 with 128,000 copies—a career-high for the act. That figure more than doubles the band's previous best week, when 2006's "Black Holes and Revelations" debuted and peaked at No. 9 with 48,000.

• Kid Cudi is up next with his debut effort, "Man on the Moon: The End of Day," starting at No. 4 with 104,000 sold. The album is powered by two top 50 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Day 'N' Nite' (No. 3) and "Make Her Say" (No. 43). Drake's seven-song EP "So Far Gone" gives the rapper his first taste of the Billboard 200, starting at No. 6 with 73,000. His proper full-length debut should surface in early 2010.

• Rapper Lil Boosie nets his first top 10 set with "Superbad" starting at No. 7 with 49,000 while metal band Megadeth scores its fifth top 10 set with "Endgame," entering at No. 9 with 45,000.

• As for the non-debuts in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, Miley Cyrus' "The Time of Our Lives" EP falls three rungs to No. 5 with 75,000 (down 38%), Taylor Swift's "Fearless" moves up two slots to No. 8 with 46,000 (up 37%), and the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." slips three places to No. 10 with 40,000 (down 8%). You can figure Swift's big gain was a result of her performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in addition to the endless buzz surrounding Kanye West's hijacking of her best female video acceptance speech.

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 20) totaled 6.4 million units, down 4% compared with the sum last week (6.7 million) and down 7% compared with the same sales week of 2008 (6.9 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 250.6 million, down 14% compared with the same total at this point last year (291.4 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 6.4 million units
• DOWN 4% from last week's charts: 6.7 million units
• DOWN 7% from same week, 2008: 6.9 million units
• This week: The top four albums on the Billboard 200 and Top Comprehensive Albums charts sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Metallica's "Death Magnetic" held at No. 1 after its first full week in stores with 337,000 (down just 31%). Ne-Yo's "Year of the Gentleman" started in the runner-up slot with 250,000 while Nelly's "Brass Knuckles" knocked in at No. 3 with 84,000.




PROGRESS REPORTS

• Death Cab for Cutie has its best debut on the Alternative radio airplay chart with "Meet Me on the Equinox," which rises at No. 26. The song is the first single from the "New Moon" soundtrack, due Oct. 20 on Chop Shop/Atlantic. The set will also boast music from Thom Yorke, the Killers, Muse, Bon Iver, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, OK Go and Grizzly Bear.

• Michael Buble scores the fastest climb into the top 15 on the Adult Contemporary chart this year as "Haven't Met You Yet" vaults 17-14 in just its third week on the tally. For the notoriously slow-moving AC chart, this kind of quick ascension is remarkable. Outside of Christmas/holiday singles that always either debut high or zoom up the tally, the last song to post a climb as fast as Buble was "The Time of My Life" by David Cook, which zipped 21-15 in its third week on June 21, 2008.

• The Whitney Houston comeback train rolls onto the Hot Dance Club Songs chart this week as "Million Dollar Bill" parks on the list at No. 28, the highest debut of the week. Likely courtesy of the ace remix by Freemasons, the tune is Houston's best debut on the chart since 2000, when "I Learned From the Best" entered at the same position. The music video for "Million" premiered last week and has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Pearl Jam's "Backspacer," the CD release of Harry Connick Jr.'s "Your Songs," the "Monsters of Folk" album, Sean Kingston's "Tomorrow," David Gray's "Draw the Line" and Five Finger Death Punch's "War Is the Answer."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Metallica's "Death Magnetic" stayed put at No. 1 for a third straight week, shifting 132,000 (down 61%) while Demi Lovato's debut album, "Don't Forget," premiered in the No. 2 slot with 89,000.