Madonna Returns To One Of Her Favorite Positions: On Top

American Life debuts at #1 as 50 Cent creeps up to #2.

Although she ditched her "Material Girl" philosophy after two decades in the game, Madonna's bow at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart is proof that she hasn't lost her knack for converting controversy into commerce.

Madge's 11th album, American Life, fueled by the title track and its edited, re-edited, then completely pulled and re-shot video (see "Madonna Yanks Controversial 'American Life' Video"), sold more than 240,000 copies, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday.

Despite the top-notch placing, Madonna's status seems to be waning. American Life, her first album in three years, sold around 178,000 fewer copies than 2000's Music and 129,000 less than 1998's Ray of Light in their opening weeks.

50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' creeps back toward the top of the chart from #5, the lowest position it's held since being released in early February. The LP, whose single "21 Questions" is now a radio staple, sold more than 141,000 copies last week to take the #2 slot. 50's other release, The New Breed, wasn't so fortunate. Following its #2 debut, the DVD/CD hybrid falls eight spots thanks to a 170,000-copy drop in weekly sales.

"American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson's Thankful falls from #1 to #3 after selling more than 133,000 copies last week.

The remainder of the top 10 finds Linkin Park's Meteora moving up two spots to #4 (110,000); The Very Best of Cher continuing to move more than 100,000 per week and advancing five spots to #5 (106,000); Norah Jones' Come Away With Me climbing two places to #6 (98,000); Evanescence's Fallen up five to #7 (89,000); Fleetwood Mac's Say You Will sliding down five to #8 (86,000); and Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 12 slipping a couple of notches to #9 (77,000).

The soundtrack to "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," one of only a few chart debuts, comes in at #18. The 14-track LP — featuring contributions from Vitamin C, the Beu Sisters and the film's star, Hilary Duff — sold more than 50,000 copies last week. It's followed by Mobb Deep's Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape at #21. With appearances by Noyd, 50 Cent, and Cormega, the LP sold more than 46,000 copies.

Nearly every album on the chart experienced a sales slump the week following Easter, which is traditionally a fruitful sales period. Only one album in the top 100, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz's Kings of Crunk, sold more than it had the previous week.

All the buzz surrounding the White Stripes helped resurrect their last album, White Blood Cells, onto the chart at #162. The duo's latest, Elephant, moves up six spots to #15, though sales fell by nearly 8,000 copies.

Other notable chart debuts include Blessed Hellride by Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society at #50; the Blue Man Group's Complex, featuring a Dave Matthews-voiced single, at #60; the Flaming Lips' Flight Test EP, which flaunts covers of Radiohead, Beck and Kylie Minogue songs, at #93; the "Dysfunktional Family" soundtrack at #95; singer Chantal Kreviazuk's What If It All Means Something at #119; Ozzfest second-stagers Nothingface's Skeletons at #125; producer Daniel Lanois' Shine at #143; the soundtrack to "Holes" at #182; and prog metalheads Opeth's Damnation at #192.