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Mariah stays at No. 1, enjoys calm before the Madonna storm

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The “2” in E=MC2 stands for the two weeks that Mariah Carey was guaranteed at the top with her new album. It earned a second week at No. 1 on the Billboard/Soundscan chart by selling 182,000 copies, down 61% from its opening sales. Carey’s album may come back to enjoy more weeks in the top position, but next week won’t be one of them, since Madonna’s debuting Hard Candy will be a lock for that slot when we next bring you the chart news.

The week’s most surprising debut was the No. 3 entry for Flight of the Conchords, releasing their first full-length disc after finding fame on HBO. It sold a not-so-wacky 52,000. That’s only the second time the Sub Pop label out of Seattle has had a debut in the top 10 (the first was last year, when the Shins bowed at No. 2). It’s the highest ranking comedy album since Steve Martin hit No. 2 in 1978.

Ashlee Simpson may be feeling more bitter than sweet about sales for her third album. Bittersweet debuted at No. 4 with sales of 47,000. In contrast, both of her previous albums entered on top, with her freshman effort selling 398,000 in 2004 and her second one opening with 220,000 the following year. Maybe Ashlee, like sister Jessica, will soon announce that she’s rediscovered her country roots and take up shop in Nashville.

Other debuts of note: Indie hip-hop duo Atmosphere entered the Billboard chart’s atmosphere at No. 5 with 36,000 copies sold of When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S— Gold. (Their best chart position prior to this: No. 66.) Slick country balladeer Phil Vassar debuted at No. 10 with Prayer of a Common Man, equaling his highest position to date, on sales of 27,000. And Story of the Year came in at No. 18, selling 21,000 units.

On the digital songs front, Leona Lewis retook the top spot with “Bleeding Love,” thanks to a guest slot on American Idol. Sales for the download were up 30%, as she sold another 236,000 to add to the single’s 1.6 million total. Madonna’s “Four Minutes” fell back into the No. 2 slot. The highest entry among digital songs was Chris Brown’s “Forever,” in at No. 6 with first-week sales of 113,000.

Other debuts of note: Indie hip-hop duo Atmosphere entered the Billboard chart’s atmosphere at No. 5 with 36,000 copies sold of When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S— Gold. (Their best chart position prior to this: No. 66.) Slick country balladeer Phil Vassar debuted at No. 10 with Prayer of a Common Man, equaling his highest position to date, on sales of 27,000. And Story of the Year came in at No. 18, selling 21,000 units.

On the digital songs front, Leona Lewis retook the top spot with “Bleeding Love,” thanks to a guest slot on American Idol. Sales for the download were up 30%, as she sold another 236,000 to add to the single’s 1.6 million total. Madonna’s “Four Minutes” fell back into the No. 2 slot. The highest entry among digital songs was Chris Brown’s “Forever,” in at No. 6 with first-week sales of 113,000.

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