Mariah Can't Top Shania On Billboard Albums Chart

Carey's new Charmbracelet debuts at #3.

For a third straight week, Shania Twain tops the Billboard 200 albums chart with her fourth LP, Up!

By selling more than 317,000 copies last week, Twain's first album in five years beat out Mariah Carey's Charmbracelet, which sold more than 241,000 copies to debut at #3, and Tim McGraw, who held on to #2 after selling another 250,000 copies of Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (December 11).

Chartwise, Twain just gets better with age. The five years between the twang-touched troubadour's last album, Come on Over, and her new one, Up!, have only served to strengthen her fan base. Where Up! debuted on top and stayed put, amassing a three-week total of more than 1.8 million copies, Come on Over entered at #2 in November 1997 and held the position another week before falling to #5. Its three-week total fell just shy of a half-million copies.

Although she couldn't dethrone the country queen, Carey has nothing to pout over. Fronted by the single "Through the Rain," Charmbracelet (see "Mariah Remakes Cam'ron Song, Drops Timberlake From New LP") is one the singer's biggest chart debuts, falling behind 1999's Rainbow, which sold more than 322,000 copies its first week. Her first album for Island Records after severing ties with Virgin is also a huge rebound from last year's Glitter, which debuted at #7 with a disappointing 116,000 copies sold.

The Dixie Chicks return to roost in the top 10 with Home, which was reissued late last month in hardbound-book packaging with an alternate cover, a DVD and one new song, a Sheryl Crow-remix of "Landslide." Home, originally released in August, jumps eight places to #9 despite a slight dip in weekly sales.

Other top albums suffered bigger sales declines, with some in the top 20 dropping by as many as 200,000 copies, as was the case with Tupac's Better Dayz. Still, the late rapper's fifth posthumous album slips only three places to #8 after its second week in stores.

Avril Lavigne will make a bit of chart headway. The year's best-selling debut album climbs three places to #6 while shedding about 50,000 copies from last week's sum.

The rest of the top 10 includes: Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 11 keeping the #4 spot warm (222,000 copies sold); the "8 Mile" soundtrack down two to #5 (220,000); Jennifer Lopez's This Is Me ... Then down one to #7 (171,000); and Faith Hill's Cry down three to #10 (132,000).

Safeguarding against a blue Christmas for Elvis Presley fans, Elvis 30 No. 1 Hits holds onto #11, reinforcing its "makes a great gift!" appeal. Just how mighty is the King's reign? Consider that after 11 weeks on the chart, more copies of Presley's best-of set are floating out there than are copies of Justin Timberlake's Justified (129,000 last week; 1 million total after five weeks) and Nirvana's greatest hits (56,000 this week; 634,000 total after six weeks). Dead, but not forgotten, indeed.

Also poised to be popular under wrapping paper, perhaps because of so many "best of 2002" accolades, are albums by classical crooner Josh Groban and jazzy songstress Norah Jones. Groban's eponymous debut saw a weekly sales increase of nearly 40,000 copies and moves from #27 to #12; Jones' Come Away With Me added only 5,000 more copies, but that was enough to push it from #26 to #17. Groban also surfaces at #35 with his new In Concert LP.

Two big hip-hop records saw big dips in sales. Ja Rule's Last Temptation tempted less than half as many people this past week, and thus falls from #13 to #24, while Snoop Dogg's Paid Tha Cost to Be Bo$$ drops 16 places to #28 after falling nearly 100,000 copies short of its previous weekly total.

As the year winds down and new releases dry up, the only other notable debut on the new chart is the soundtrack LP More Music From "8 Mile." Featuring cuts from Outkast ("Player's Ball"), Ol' Dirty Bastard ("Shimmy Shimmy Ya") and Notorious B.I.G. ("Juicy"), the 12-track LP bows at #152.