'High School Musical 2' makes grade

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NEW YORK -- With the second biggest first-week sales tally of the year, the soundtrack to Disney's "High School Musical 2" bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The set sold 615,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, only a few thousand short of the 623,000 that Linkin Park's "Minutes to Midnight" moved in June. Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991, only three other soundtracks have ever moved more than 615,000 in a week: Eminem's "8 Mile," "Titanic" and "The Bodyguard."

The first "High School Musical" soundtrack topped the chart numerous times last year and has sold 4.1 million copies to date. The Disney Channel's premiere of "HSM2" on Aug. 17 scored 17.24 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the most-watched basic cable telecast of all time.

"I think we definitely knew it was going to do well, just because the first one did so well and there were so many fans," said Corbin Bleu, who plays amiable jock Chad Danforth. "We knew all the people that enjoyed the first movie were gonna want to see the second movie. (But) we didn't know it was gonna become as much of a phenomenon."

A new episode of "Hannah Montana" aired directly after "HSM2," helping Miley Cyrus' Disney double-disc set "Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus" rise 4-2 with 83,000, a 10% increase in sales.

Another double-disc set enters right behind, as Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds' RCA effort "Live at Radio City" enters at No. 3 with 70,000. The set also crowns the Top Rock Albums, Top Alternative Albums and Top Internet Albums charts. It is the second collaboration between Matthews and Reynolds to earn Billboard 200 ink, following "Live at Luther College," which debuted and peaked at No. 2 with 187,000 in the February 1999.

The "Now 25" hits compilation slips from No. 3 to No. 4 with 66,000 (a 24% decline), while the New Line soundtrack to "Hairspray" climbs from sixth to fifth with 63,000 (an 8% drop). After debuting at No. 1 last week, UGK's Jive set "Underground Kingz" slips to No. 6 with a 62% sales decline to 60,000. In its 48th week on the chart, Fergie's "The Dutchess" (will.i.am/A&M/Interscope) climbs from No. 8 to No. 7 with 53,000 (a 3% increase).

The Jonas Brothers' self-titled sophomore effort falls from fifth to eighth, taking a 41% hit with 41,000. Plies' Slip-N-Slide debut "Real Testament" descends from No. 2 to No. 9 with 39,000, a 60% decrease, while Common's "Finding Forever" (Geffen) moves from No. 7 to No. 10, also with 39,000 (a drop of 33%).

AFI side project Blaqk Audio debuts at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 with "Cexcells" (Interscope), shifting 29,000. Other big debuts this week all come from Capitol Records: country newcomer Luke Bryan's "I'll Stay Me" at No. 24 (25,000), Dean Martin's "Forever Cool" at No. 39 (17,000) and Mae's "Singularity" at No. 40 (17,000).
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