Jimmy Buffett proves he isn’t “wasting away” anywhere as he tops The Billboard 200 for the first time a career that has spanned more than three decades. The laid-back singer/songwriter’s latest effort, “License to Chill” (RCA), debuts at No. 1 on first week U.S. sales of 239,000 copies, according the Nielsen SoundScan.
Buffett made his first appearance on the Billboard charts in 1974 with “Living and Dying in 3/4 Time” — recorded for the long-gone Dunhill/ABC — which peaked at No. 176 on The Billboard 200. The artist has done a bit better since. His last studio set, 2002’s “Far Side of the World” — released on his own Mailboat Records label — went to No. 5 on a 78,500-copy opening week; it has sold 384,000 to date.
“License to Chill” finds Buffett leaning a bit more country than Key West, and features his remake of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin'” with Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait. The cut is a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Top Country Singles & Tracks chart.
With sales declining just 4% to 125,000 copies, Usher’s “Confessions” (LaFace/Zomba) remains steadfast in The Billboard 200’s No. 2 slot for a sixth week. Right behind him is Lloyd Banks, whose solo debut “The Hunger for More” (G Unit/Interscope) held the top spot for two consecutive weeks, but slips to No. 3 on a 32% sales slide to 111,000 copies.
The Roots debut in the chart’s fourth position with “The Tipping Point” (Geffen), which opens on the strength of 109,000 copies sold. The positioning ties that of the Philadelphia-based rap act’s 1999 MCA set “Things Fall Apart” as its highest career placement on the tally. The group’s last album, “Phrenology,” came in at No. 28 in 2002 with an opening of 90,000 copies; it has sold 683,000 copies to date.
Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party” (Epic) falls 3-5 as sales increased about 1% to 89,000, while Avril Lavigne’s “Under My Skin” (Arista) slides one to No. 6 despite seeing a 5% sales spike to 80,000 copies. Similarly, country duo Big & Rich’s Warner Bros. debut, “Horse of a Different Color,” dips one slot to No. 7 on a 4% increase to 79,000 copies.
Following a three-night stint at New York’s Madison Square Garden, sales of Prince’s “Musicology” soared 289% to 74,000 copies. The NPG/Columbia artist’s strategy of including a copy of the set with each concert ticket sparks a 64-8 jump to return to the top 10 of The Billboard 200 this week.
Fueled by a hit video for a remake of the Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” by Duff sisters Haylie and Hilary, Hollywood Records’ “A Cinderella Story” soundtrack enters the chart at No. 9 with 73,000 copies. The project also features songs by Josh Kelley, Goo Goo Dolls and Edwin McCain.
Rounding out the top 10 for a second week is Los Lonely Boys’ Or/Epic self-titled debut, which saw a 3% jump to sales of 67,000 copies.
An EP accompanying the Metallica documentary “Some Kind of Monster” enters The Billboard 200 at No. 37 with 30,000 copies. Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, the project follows the metal band during the recording of its 2003 Elektra album “St. Anger.”
Funnyman Adam Sandler isn’t far behind at No. 47 with his latest Warner Bros. effort “Shhh…Don’t Tell.” A first week sales total of 24,000 copies falls short of his previous album, “Stan and Judy’s Kid,” which opened at No. 16 with 81,000 copies in 1999 and has sold 584,000 copies to date. Sandler’s best-selling album remains 1996’s “What the Hell Happened to Me?” which features the holiday radio favorite single “Chanukah”; the set has racked up sales of more than 2 million copies.
Other notable Billboard 200 debuts include Beenie Man’s “Back to Basics” (Virgin, No. 51), Devin The Dude’s “To Tha X-Treme” (Rap-A-Lot, No. 55) and Sparta’s “Porcelain” (Geffen, No. 60).
Overall U.S. album sales were up 2.4% to 11.3 million, about 6.7% ahead of the comparable week last year. Sales for the year are surpassing those of 2003 by about 7%.