Simon Cowell’s Creation Beats Foxx And Blige For Billboard #1

Il Divo sit on top while new LPs from Yellowcard and P.O.D. open in the top 10.

For more than a month, only two names have appeared at the top of Billboard‘s weekly albums sales chart: Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige. It was merely a matter of time before an LP emerged to challenge Foxx and Blige’s back-and-forth handoff of the chart’s #1 spot — but who would’ve guessed it’d be from Il Divo?

The Simon Cowell-concocted, Oprah Winfrey-endorsed classical crossover quartet’s third album in less than a year, Ancora, put an end to the reigning champs’ battle, debuting at #1 with sales of more than 156,000, according to the latest SoundScan figures. Il Divo’s triumph must taste even sweeter considering Ancora‘s sales outshined the opening-week totals generated by the group’s self-titled debut, which reached #4 with 147,000 scans in April — and is in at #74 on the latest chart, climbing 66 spots thanks to a 111 percent sales boost.

But Il Divo weren’t the only act that rained on Foxx and Blige’s parade. Your Man, the latest from country star Josh Turner, also sucked some of the wind from their sails, taking the chart’s #2 spot with a first-week total of nearly 102,000. Foxx’s Unpredictable — last week’s #1 — slips to third place with close to 100,000 copies sold. Blige’s The Breakthrough scores #4 after selling 98,000 plus.

For the first time this year, Billboard‘s top 200 welcomes a fresh batch of chart newcomers. In addition to new LPs from Il Divo and Turner, Yellowcard’s Lights and Sounds opens in the top 10, capturing #5 with more than 90,000 scans. Sales of the band’s 1.7 million-selling 2003 release Ocean Avenue were clocked at 11,000 plus, earning the band an additional spot at #99. In at #6 is the latest entrant in the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation franchise. Now #1′s — which features tracks from Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Britney Spears, Nickelback and Ashlee Simpson — sold nearly 90,000 copies. Testify, the latest from rockers P.O.D., opens at #9 with more than 58,000 scans. The band’s 2003 release, Payable on Death, also took #9 (with 106,000 copies sold) when it opened, while 2001′s Satellite debuted at #5 with 133,000 copies sold.

Carrie Underwood and Eminem stay in the top 10 despite the influx of debuts. Underwood’s Some Hearts falls three spots to #7 with 74,000 copies sold, and Em’s Curtain Call: The Hits follows at #8, racking up 73,000 in sales. One of the chart’s fastest climbers rounds out the top 10: the soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie “High School Musical.” In just three weeks, the album has jumped from #143 to #58, and now reaches #10. Sales of the disc, which features a track from B5, were reported at nearly 53,000, an increase of 232 percent. James Blunt’s Back to Bedlam continues to pick up its sales pace, surging 19 percent this week for an #11 finish. The disc, which spent last week at #9, sold close to 49,000.

There were several other notable debuts this week that didn’t crack the top 10. The Grammy Nominees 2006 collection — featuring contributions from Mariah Carey, Green Day, Gorillaz, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, U2, Coldplay and Beck — opened at #14 with 43,000 copies sold. Cat Power’s latest, The Greatest, checks in at #34 with 23,000 copies sold, while Marty Casey & Lovehammers, the self-titled second LP from the “Rock Star: INXS” runner-up and his band, claims the #67 slot with more than 14,000 copies sold. Rosanne Cash’s Black Cadillac finishes at #84 with 12,000 sales, and Rabbit Fur Coat from Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins follows at #88 with more than 10,000 scans.

See “The Metamorphosis Of Jamie Foxx” for a feature on the actor’s move to music. Check out “What’s the 411, Mary” for Blige’s answers to star questions. And read “Yellowcard: Split Decision” for more on the band’s new beginning.