Jackson's 'This Is It' hits No. 1

Creed, Taylor Swift round out the top three spots

To the surprise of probably nobody, Michael Jackson's "This Is It" will debut atop the Billboard 200 albums chart released Wednesday with an eye-popping 373,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan -- the fifth-best sales week for an album in the U.S. this year.

The companion album to the musical documentary film of the same name is Jackson's sixth No. 1 on the tally and it arrives with his best sales frame for an album since 1995's "HIStory" started atop the Billboard 200 with 391,000 copies.

Jackson collected his first No. 1 with "Thriller" in 1983 and later notched toppers with "Bad," "Dangerous," "HIStory" and "Invincible." Earlier this year, Jackson also notched a No. 1 on the Top Comprehensive Albums and Top Pop Catalog Albums charts with the 2003 greatest hits set "Number Ones."

The "This Is It" film bowed with late-night showings on Tuesday, Oct. 27, before rolling out wide the following day. Through Monday, Nov. 2, the film had collected $36.9 million at the box office in the U.S. and Canada. It's already the second-highest grossing musical concert film in the U.S. and Canada behind "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" ($65.3 million).

"This Is It" is one of five albums to arrive in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week. The second-best debut comes from a reunited Creed, which sees its "Full Circle" enter at No. 2 with 110,000 copies. It's the band's first studio release since way back in 2001, when its "Weathered" started at No. 1 with 887,000 in its first week.

Taylor Swift's "Fearless" flies from No. 7 last week to No. 3 this week with 109,000 and a big 225% gain. The set was reissued in a "platinum" deluxe edition last week, with numerous additional bonus tracks and a DVD.

Rod Stewart's latest covers set, "Soulbook," sings out at No. 4 in its first week, starting with 84,000 while Trans-Siberian Orchestra bows at a career-high No. 5 with its new effort, "Night Castle." Sting's holiday-esque album "If On A Winter's Night" rings in the season at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 with 80,000 copies. It also reaches No. 1 on our Top Holiday Albums chart.

Last week's Billboard 200 No. 1, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" soundtrack slips to No. 8 with 69,000 copies (down 55%), while Michael Buble's "Crazy Love" falls from No. 3 to No. 7 with 71,000 (down 30%). Last week's biggest debut, Tim McGraw's "Southern Voice," falls from No. 2 to No. 9 with 59,000 (down 57%). Rounding out the top 10 is Jay-Z's "The Blueprint 3," which slides six places to No. 10 with 41,000 (down 5%).

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Nov. 1) totaled 6.31 million units, up 10% compared to the sum last week (5.72 million) and down 9% compared to the same sales week of 2008 (6.96 million). Year to date album sales stand at 287.6 million, down 13% compared to the same total at this point last year (332.3 million).