Shania Twain’s latest Mercury release “Up!” soars straight to the top of The Billboard 200 this week on sales of 874,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The total is the second-largest opening of the year, behind rapper Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” (Shady/Interscope), which moved 1.3 million copies in its first week in May. Along with her Billboard 200 No. 1, Twain achieves the same position on Billboard’s Top Country Albums tally, where her 1997 album “Come on Over” logged 50 weeks at the top.
Although “Come on Over” never rose above No. 2 on The Billboard 200, the set has sold 14.4 million copies to date, more than any album tracked since SoundScan began tallying sales in 1991. The new set was led by Twain’s latest single, “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!,” which became a top-10 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in less than seven weeks.
Back on The Billboard 200, the 11th edition of the multi-label “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” (Sony/Universal/EMI/Zomba) series opens at No. 2 on sales of 316,000 copies, up from the 288,000 units moved of 10th volume in during its first week in August. The sixth volume in the “NOW” series still holds the record at 621,500 first week copies sold in April 2001.
Sales of the Eminem-heavy soundtrack to “8 Mile” dipped 30% in its fourth-week to 281,000 units, causing the set to fall one slot to No. 3, while fellow rapper Ja Rule’s “The Last Temptation” (Murder Inc./Def Jam) enters at No. 4 with 238,000 copies sold. His “Pain Is Love” opened at No. 1 last October with 361,000 units and has sold 3.5 million to date.
Last week’s No. 1, Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse” (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam), suffered a sales 66% hit to 187,000 units in its second week and falls to No. 5. Nonetheless, the damage wasn’t enough to knock the album from the top of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally.
Landing at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 is the latest from Atlantic act matchbox twenty, “More Than You Think You Are,” which sold 178,000 copies, less than half of the 367,000 units sold by the group’s “Mad Season” in its June 2000 debut week. To date, that album has moved 3.7 million copies.
The eponymous first album from Epic’s Audioslave, a group comprised of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and former Rage Against The Machine members, enters at No. 7 after selling 162,000 copies. Soundgarden’s final studio release for A&M, 1996’s “Down on the Upside,” opened at No. 2 on sales of 176,000 units, while Rage Against the Machine’s “The Battle of Los Angeles” shot to No. 1 after moving 430,000 copies in November 1999.
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott’s “Under Construction” (The Gold Mine/Elektra) took a 50% sales hit in its second week to 129,000 copies, and slides 3-8 on The Billboard 200, while Avril Lavigne’s Arista debut “Let Go” jumps 11-9 on a 7% sales boost to 113,000 units. Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” (Jive) withstands a 41% hit to 111,000 units to round out the top-10.
Three high-profile albums land outside the top-10, led by Toni Braxton’s “More Than a Woman” (LaFace/Arista) at No. 13. The set sold 98,000 copies, a hefty decline from the 199,000 units sold by “The Heat,” her last non-Christmas-themed release, in May 2000.
Hard rock act Mudvayne has its best debut week with its latest, “The End of All Things to Come” (No Name/Epic), arriving at No. 17 on sales of 79,000 copies. The band’s “L.D. 50” debuted at No. 113 in September 2000, but has since sold 564,000 copies.
Former Beatle George Harrison’s posthumous release “Brainwashed” (Capitol) bows at No. 18 on sales of 74,000 copies. His last album of original material, “Cloud Nine,” entered at No. 77 in November 1987. Other notable entries include Talib Kweli’s “Quality” (MCA) at No. 21, and Craig David’s “Slicker Than Your Average” (Atlantic) at No. 32.
Overall albums sales are up 8.85% this week to 15.1 million. However, year-to-date sales are still down 11%.