With Christmas fast approaching, Shania Twain’s “Up!” maintains its grip on top of The Billboard 200 for a fourth-straight week. The Mercury Nashville album saw an 18% increase at retail to sales of 373,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Fellow country act the Dixie Chicks are right behind Twain, as their Monument/Columbia album “Home” makes an impressive 9-2 jump. The move comes thanks to a 105% sales burst to 294,000 copies following the trio’s Dec. 10 TV special on NBC. Released in September, “Home” debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and the Top Country Albums chart.
Aaliyah’s posthumous collection “I Care 4 U” (Blackground/Universal) enters The Billboard 200 at No. 3 on sales of 280,000 units, giving the late R&B singer her second best debut on the chart. In August 2001, her self-titled album arrived at No. 2 on sales 187,000 copies and has gone on to sell 2.5 million. The new album — which also debuts on top of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart — was led by the first single “I Miss You,” which last week reached No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
Despite an 11% gain to sales of 278,000 copies, “Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors” (Curb) drops 2-4 on The Billboard 200, while the Eminem-led soundtrack to “8 Mile” (Shady/Interscope) saw a 23% increase in sales to 272,000 units, and holds at No. 5 on the tally.
Following her show-opening performance on the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, Avril Lavigne’s “Let Go” (Arista) continues to be a top holiday seller. The set received a mighty 55% sales blast to 272,000 copies and holds fast at No. 6 in its 26th week on the chart. Despite a 21% sales gain to 269,000 copies, the 11th edition of the “NOW! That’s What I Call Music” (Sony/Universal/EMI/Zomba) series slides 4-7 on the chart. Similarly, Jennifer Lopez’s “This Is Me … Then” (Epic) saw increased sales of 28% to 219,500 copies, but drops one position to No. 8.
Two new R&B albums round out the top-10, led by Whitney Houston’s “Just Whitney” (Arista). The album sold 205,000 copies to land at No. 9, her best ever week on the tally in the Nielsen SoundScan era. The set also debuts at No. 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Houston’s last studio album, 1998’s “My Love is Your Love” entered The Billboard 200 at No. 13 with 123,000 units; to date, the album has moved 2.7 million copies.
R&B youngsters B2K also earn a career peak, as the group’s Epic set “Pandemonium!” sold 195,000 copies to dock at No. 10. In March, B2K’s self-titled effort sold 109,000 units to debut at No. 2, and has moved 781,000 copies to date. The new album also debuts at No. 4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It features the single “Bump, Bump, Bump” featuring P. Diddy, which is a top-10 hit on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally.
Nas’ “God’s Son” (Ill Will/Columbia), which was rush released on Dec. 13 due to piracy concerns, breaks into The Billboard 200 at No. 18 on an impressive three-day sales total of 156,000 units. In strictly urban stores, the set fared even better, and debuts at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Elsewhere on The Billboard 200, Phish’s “Round Room” arrives at No. 46 on sales of 65,000 units. The band’s last studio album of original material, “Farmhouse,” sold 89,000 units in its first week to enter at No. 5 in June 2000. Common is right behind at No. 47 with his “Electric Circus” (MCA) on sales of 64,500 copies.
The sole album in the top-20 of The Billboard 200 to suffer a sales decrease is last week’s top debut, Mariah Carey’s “Charmbracelet” (MonarC/Island). The set took a 28% hit to sales of 173,000 copies, and nosedives 3-14 on the chart.
The Billboard 200 will be posted tomorrow (Dec. 19) on Billboard.com.