Linkin Park's "Minutes to Midnight" crashes in at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in a big way this week, its 623,000 copies the highest first-week total of 2007, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's the biggest debut week number since Jay-Z's "Kingdome Come" moved 680,000 last December; only five other titles have moved more than 600,000 in a week in the past two years. Linkin Park's last album, 2003's "Meteora," began at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with 810,000.
R&B singer Tank rolls in at No. 2 with his third album "Sex, Love & Pain," selling 103,000 units, a sales and charting best for the artist. His last album, "One Man," debuted and peaked at No. 20 in 2002 with 58,000, while his 2001 debut "Force of Nature," opened at No. 7 with 98,000. His current single, "Please Don't Go," is a top-three hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and is still rising on the Hot 100.
After topping the chart last week, Michael Buble's 143/Reprise set "Call Me Irresponsible" slips to No. 3 with 88,000, a 39% sales slide.
Wilco earns its biggest charting and sales week yet, as "Sky Blue Sky" (Nonesuch) bows at No. 4 with 87,000 copies. It's the Chicago-based rock group's second top 10 album and surpasses the No. 8 entry that greeted 2004's "A Ghost Is Born," which sold 81,000. Nearly a quarter of its sales this week were snapped up via digital retailers.
Country singer Gretchen Wilson is three for three in the top five on the char,t as her third effort "One of the Boys" jumps on at No. 5. The Columbia set moved 73,000 copies, short of the 227,000 that greeted 2004's "Here for the Party" and the 264,000 for 2005's "All Jacked Up." "One of the Boys" also tops the Hot Country Albums tally, her third No. 1 on that chart.
Avril Lavigne's "The Best Damn Thing" (RCA) falls 5-6 after a 21% decrease to 56,000, while Ne-Yo's Def Jam album "Because of You" descends 4-7 with 55,000, a 39% drop.
Veteran metal troupe Megadeth scores its first top 10 album in 13 years, as "United Abominations" (Roadrunner) debuts at No. 8 with 54,000. The group's 1994 set "Youthanasia" debuted and peaked at No. 4. This week is also tge best sales week for the band since "The World Needs a Hero" began with 61,000 at No. 16 in 2001.
Elsewhere, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Strength & Loyalty" (Full Surface/Interscope) slides 2-9 with 53,000 copies (-56%), while Daughtry's self-titled RCA debut falls 6-10 with 51,000 (-24%).
Other big debuts this week include Rufus Wainwright's Geffen set "Release the Stars," which earns him his best charting and sales week ever with 24,000 at No. 23, and Pink Martini's Heinz effort "Hey Eugene!," which scores the same accolades on its way to 19,000 and a No. 30 debut.
Album sales are up 1% from last week's total at 8.59 million units and down 7% compared to the same week last year. Overall sales are down 16.6% compared to last year at 177.1 million units.