Country’s Chesney Ends Ashanti’s Three-Week Billboard Streak

'Star Wars' score bows at #6; Reprise refugees Wilco debut at #13.

Country singer Kenny Chesney has knocked Ashanti from the top of next week’s Billboard 200 albums chart, ending the R&B diva’s three-week reign at #1.

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, the sixth album from the rocking cowboy, sold more than 235,000 copies in its first week, trumping Ashanti’s weekly total by nearly 100,000, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (May 1).

Ashanti’s self-titled debut slips to #2 after moving more than 143,000 copies last week, bringing its four-week total to more than 1,083,000. Celine Dion’s A New Day Has Come maintains its #3 slot with more than 114,000 copies sold; Sheryl Crow’s C’Mon, C’Mon drops two to #4 with more than 110,000 in weekly sales; and Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 9 will take one step back to round out the top five by selling more than 109,000 copies last week.

More than 72,000 “Star Wars” fans anxious to get their hands on anything “Episode II”-related gave John Williams’ score for “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” enough sales to debut at #6. The instrumental LP from a galaxy far, far away is directly trailed by two other soundtracks: “The Scorpion King” at #7 and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” which celebrates its 70th week on the chart at #8.

Contemporary classical vocalist Josh Groban’s self-titled debut, which drops a notch from last week’s position, and Pink’s Missundazstood, which will do the same, bring up the rear of the top 10 at #9 and #10, respectively.

Goodie Mob rapper Cee-Lo’s solo debut, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, touches down at #11 in its first week out, with help from the single “Closet Freak.” Wilco’s fourth album (not counting the group’s collaborations with Billy Bragg), the critically acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, debuts at #13, giving the Chicago group its highest chart debut ever. This despite the fact that many of Wilco’s fans already heard the disc when the group streamed it on their Web site in the wake of being dropped by Reprise (see “Wilco Stream New Album Online While Shopping For Label” ). And lastly among top 20 debuts is When I Was Cruel, Elvis Costello’s return to rock, at #20.

The only major leap occurring in the upper region of the chart comes courtesy of System of a Down’s Toxicity, which moves from #30 to #14 with a weekly sales increase of 20,000 copies. Although the band’s second album was initially released in September, a new version containing bonus DVD footage hit stores April 23, which would explain the chart bump. Toxicity is also the only album in the top 20 to see an increase in its weekly totals.

In opposition to System’s rise, Tweet’s one-week fall is almost equally dramatic. Southern Hummingbird drops nine notches to #15 after selling 13,000 fewer copies than the week prior.

Other notable debuts on next week’s chart include Big Moe’s slo-mo jam Purple World at #29; RL’s RL:ements, featuring “Got Me a Model,” a collaboration between the Next frontman and Erick Sermon, at #53; the Pet Shop Boys’ first album in nearly three years, Release, at #73; former Replacements singer Paul Westerberg’s double LP Stereo at #81; the self-titled debut by Creed labelmates and expected tourmates (see “Scott Stapp In Car Accident; Creed Tour Canceled” ) 12 Stones at #164; Dishwalla’s fourth album, Opaline at #193; and the Warner Bros. re-release of Swedish garage band the Hives’ 2000 album, Veni Vidi Vicious, at #194.