Evanescence Butcher The Killers In Battle For Billboard #1

Beck and Monica score high debuts, while Jet's latest fails to land in the top 10.

Was three years just a little too long?

That was the question on the minds of several industry insiders last week when Evanescence released The Open Door, the follow-up to their 2003 breakout Fallen — an album that, to date, has sold close to 6.6 million copies in the U.S. alone. With artists like the Killers, Beck and Monica all releasing new discs on the same day that The Open Door landed in stores, some wondered whether Amy Lee’s goth-rock outfit still had a strong enough fanbase to open up on top.

But the fans were there to clear a path for The Open Door to become the band’s first chart-topping debut. With first-week sales of 447,000 plus, the #1 position on the Billboard albums chart was a lock for Evanescence, who outsold second-place finishers the Killers by more than 133,000 copies. The Open Door stacks up as the band’s biggest debut, as Fallen opened at #7 with 142,000 copies sold, while 2004′s live effort Anywhere But Home bowed at #39 with 54,000 scans.

The Killers second studio offering, Sam’s Town, sold nearly 315,000 copies its first week out, securing the disc the chart’s #2 slot. The Las Vegas rockers’ debut LP, 2004′s Hot Fuss, bowed at #59 with sales of 23,000; Fuss has since sold more than 3 million units.

The chart’s #3 spot belongs to George Strait, whose It Just Comes Natural racked up more than 232,000 sales. Tony Bennett’s Duets: An American Classic slides one spot to #4, with second-week sales reported at 128,000 and then some. Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/ Love Sounds holds #5, racking up another 116,000 scans its fourth week in stores, while Billboard‘s previous #1 — Ludacris’ Release Therapy — drops to #6 its second week out thanks to a 64 percent sales dip.

Beck’s The Information opens at #7 with 99,000 scans. That puts the rocker’s latest disc behind Guero — the 2005 release that opened at #2 with 162,000 sales — but ahead of 2002′s Sea Change, which bowed at #8 with 90,000 copies sold. Monica’s The Makings of Me takes the #8 spot, generating 93,000 in first-week sales. Janet Jackson’s 20 Y.O. slips seven spots to #9, selling 77,000 units — a 74 percent drop in sales — while Hinder’s Extreme Behavior rounds out the top 10 with 76,000 copies sold.

A total of 31 newcomers make the Billboard 200, with 13 cracking the chart’s top 50. Shine On, Jet’s follow-up to 2003′s Get Born, opens at #16 with 51,000 copies sold. Ray Sings, Basie Swings, a mashup pairing vintage Ray Charles with the contemporary Count Basie Orchestra, debuts at #23 with 36,000 sales. The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife opens at #35 with more than 26,000 scans, Robin Thicke’s The Evolution of Robin Thicke follows at #45 with 20,000 copies sold and South Park Mexican open at #46 with When Devils Strike moving nearly 20,000 units.

Outkast associate Sleepy Brown debuts at #53 after selling 18,000 copies of his Mr. Brown. Pillar’s The Reckoning bows at #70 with 14,000 sales, and Amos Lee’s Supply and Demand takes the chart’s #76 opening with 13,200 scans. Lindsey Buckingham’s Under the Skin, finishes its first week with 13,000 sales for a #80 debut. Gladys Knight’s Before Me opens at #93 with 11,000 copies sold. Pepper’s No Shame follows at #96 with nearly 11,000 sales, while former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s Bar 17 bows at #102 with more than 10,000 scans.

Unk’s Beat’n Down Yo Block! sold nearly 10,000 copies, which earns him the #109 spot, while the Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America claims #124 with more than 8,000 copies scanned. Sean Lennon’s latest, Friendly Fire, surfaces at #152 with 7,000 sales, followed at #158 by He Is Legend’s Suck Out the Poison which racked up 6,000 first-week scans.