Prince Crowned Billboard King, Scoring Very First #1 Debut

B.G., Ben Harper, Teddy Geiger, From First to Last and My Chemical Romance also open big.

The chances are good that Prince is going to party like its 1989 — the last time he hit #1 on the Billboard albums chart — only this time the victory is even sweeter. The musical icon sold 183,000 copies of his 3121 to earn the chart’s crown, marking the first time one of his LPs has hit the top spot its first week in stores.

It’s tough to imagine that Prince hasn’t done it all over the course of a career that’s coming up on its 30th anniversary. There couldn’t be an unattained milestone left for him to shoot for as an artist, right? Wrong. This week Prince’s 3121 became the very first batch of funk-fueled tracks in his entire catalog to debut in Billboard‘s #1 slot, according to the latest SoundScan totals.

It’s his first #1 disc since the “Batman” soundtrack — he also hit the top with 1985′s Around the World in a Day and spent a good chunk of 1984 at #1 with 1984′s Purple Rain — to reach the albums chart’s apex. Musicology, for instance, racked up a higher week-one-sales tally than 3121 — the 2004 album sold 191,000 copies — but failed to climb past the #3 spot.

Perhaps it was the prospect of seeing Prince perform live inside his Minneapolis manse later this year that bolstered album sales. Taking a cue from Willy Wonka, Prince’s label placed purple tickets inside an undisclosed number of 3121 copies, which will admit those fortunate fans to the private gig.

With Prince on top, the soundtrack to the Disney Channel flick “High School Musical” has been unseated, but it only falls one spot to #2, with sales nearing 152,000. James Blunt’s Back to Bedlam follows at #3 with 111,000 units scanned, while the latest effort from Barry Manilow, The Greatest Songs of the Fifties, rockets back into the top 10 thanks to a 140 percent sales spike. Manilow’s appearance last week on “American Idol” helped propel the disc 20 spots to #4, with sales nearing 78,000. Ne-Yo’s In My Own Words slides one space to #5, selling close to 72,000 copies, and The Legend of Johnny Cash hangs tough in the top 10, down two spots to #10 with 53,000 sales.

Prince’s 3121 wasn’t the chart’s sole fresh face. Five new releases manage to penetrate the top 10 this week, while 13 others speckle the rest of the Billboard 200. New Orleans rapper B.G.’s The Heart of Tha Streetz, Vol. 2: I Am What I Am put up Billboard‘s second-best debut showing, opening at #6 with 62,000 plus scans. Both Sides of the Gun, the new one from Ben Harper, claims the #7 opening after selling more than 59,000 copies. Teddy Geiger’s inaugural release, Underage Thinking, is right behind at #8, selling just 200 more copies than country star Alan Jackson’s Precious Memories, which debuts this week at #9 with more than 56,000 sales.

Kenny Rogers’ latest, Water & Bridges, net more than 44,000 scans to grab #14. A little further down the chart is Heroine, the sophomore LP from industrial screamo outfit From First to Last. More than 33,000 copies of the record were bought up — it couldn’t have hurt that the band has been opening for Fall Out Boy for the last few weeks — to hit #25. My Chemical Romance’s new live collection, Life on the Murder Scene, bows at #30 with nearly 31,000 sales — not bad for a DVD package chronicling the band’s mercurial rise to “TRL” stardom.

The first Latin-flavored installment in the ever-popular Now compilation franchise opens at #36 with 27,000 copies sold; Now ¡Esto Es Musica! Latino features tracks from the likes of Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Juanes, Thalia, and Alejandro Fernandez. Chicago’s XXX follows at #41 with 23,000 plus scans, and Christian rockers Kutless take the #45 slot with 22,000 units of their Hearts of the Innocent snatched up. In at #87 is the soulful Slow Motion 2 compilation, which moved nearly 13,000 copies on the strength of tracks from D’Angelo, Ginuwine, Floetry, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men and other R&B hitmakers.

For Blood and Empire, the first major-label offering from political punkers Anti-Flag, debuts at #100 with sales nearing 11,000, while the Sounds’ Dying to Say This to You debuts at #107 with 10,000 plus scans. The Game’s forthcoming Dr. Dre-produced sophomore effort The Dr.’s Advocate, isn’t set to hit stores until June 6, but G.A.M.E., a collection of old Game tracks, appeared on shelves last week and sold more than 6,800 copies to debut at #151. Murs and 9th Wonder’s Murray’s Revenge, occupies the #166 slot with more than 6,000 sales. Kill, the latest from death metallers Cannibal Corpse, checks in at #170 with over 6,000 copies sold, and Vol. 1, the debut disc from Hurt, takes #175 with nearly 6,000 sales.