Underwood rides to top Big No. 1 bow for 'Carnival'

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In a Billboard 200 first, country debuts occupied the top three slots on the chart, led by Carrie Underwood's "Carnival Ride." The 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville set sold 527,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, and earned the artist her first No. 1.

Underwood's latest much improves on the 315,000 that greeted her 2005 debut, "Some Hearts," which opened at No. 2. It also marked the best sales week for a female solo country artist since Shania Twain's "Greatest Hits" started with 530,000 in November 2004.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' "Raising Sand" (Rounder) opened at No. 2, selling 112,000. It's the highest-charting album for both as solo artists and marked Krauss' first time in the top 10.

Country singer Gary Allan's MCA Nashville set "Living Hard" entered at No. 3 with sales of 69,000. His "Greatest Hits" debuted at No. 5 in March. "Tough All Over," his album from 2005, also achieved a No. 3 entry.

System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian's solo debut, "Elect the Dead" (Serjical Strike/Reprise), also bowed with 69,000, a couple hundred short of Allen's sum, at No. 4. The band's previous album, 2005's "Hypnotize," bowed at No. 1 with 320,000.

Josh Groban's holiday album "Noel" (143/Reprise) slipped a spot to No. 5 with 65,000, a 2% sales increase. Moving 62,000, rock act Coheed & Cambria's "No World for Tomorrow" (Columbia) started at No. 6, a charting best. The group's 2005 album, "Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV," debuted at No. 7 but moved 84,000 in its first week.

Kid Rock's Top Dog/Atlantic set, "Rock N Roll Jesus," fell from No. 2 to No. 7 with 61,000 (a 21% drop), while Rascal Flatts' Lyric Street album "Still Feels Good" descended five places to No. 8 with 57,000 (a decline of 19%).

Rock combo Seether's "Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces" (Wind-Up) bowed at No. 9 with 57,000. The band's previous studio set, 2005's "Karma and Effect," entered at No. 8 with 82,000. Disney's soundtrack to "High School Musical 2" rounded out the top tier, slipping from No. 7 to No. 10 with 57,000 (a 1% drop).

Neil Young's Reprise set "Chrome Dreams II" drove in at No. 11 with 54,000. Young also resided in the top 10 this year with "Live at Massey Hall 1971," which bowed at No. 6.

Latin artist Juanes starts at No. 13 with "La Vida … Es Un Ratico." The Universal Latino album moved 47,000, which bested the No. 33, 34,000 start of 2004's "Mi Sangre."

Katie Hasty is an online editor at Billboard.com.
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