Maroon 5 Fight Off The Prince Of Darkness — For Billboard #1

It Won't Be Soon Before Long has second-biggest first-week sales of the year.

Last week, Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight usurped Norah Jones’ Not Too Late as the year’s best-selling first-week performer, with sales clocked at nearly 623,000 — a tough total to top. And this week, although Maroon 5 gave it the old college try, their It Won’t Be Soon Before Long didn’t quite make the grade — although its 429,500 copies sold did top Jones’ first-week total of 405,000, becoming 2007′s second-best-selling debut.

It Won’t Be Soon Before Long is Maroon 5′s second LP and its first to debut at the top of Billboard‘s weekly albums sales chart, according to the latest SoundScan totals. The band’s debut, 2002′s Songs About Jane, failed to chart in its first week in stores, but has sold more than 4.3 million units to date, powered by the group’s relentless touring. Maroon 5 ran away with next week’s coveted title, despite competition from the Prince of Darkness himself (Ozzy) and Young Jeezy’s latest project, USDA, which features partners in crime Slick Pulla and Blood Raw.

Ozzy Osbourne’s Black Rain enters the chart at #3, having sold close to 152,000 copies during its initial week at retail, and is followed at #4 by Young Jeezy Presents USDA: Cold Summer, which scanned around 95,000 units. (Ozzy’s 2001 LP Down to Earth bowed at #4 with 152,500 sold, while 1995′s Ozzmosis sold 127,000 copies to also open at #4.) Another newcomer to this week’s chart — of which there were a total of 19 — closes out the week at #5 on sales of 92,000: the latest from Utah punk outfit the Used, Lies for the Liars (kinda funny to have USDA and the Used right next to each other on the chart).

Sandwiched at #2 between Maroon 5 and Ozzy is last week’s #1, Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight, which suffered from a 68 percent second-week sales slump but still racked up another 197,700 in sales. Climbing four places to #6 this week is the self-titled debut from “American Idol” season-five finalist Chris Daughtry’s eponymous rock troupe, selling more than 74,000 copies; the disc enjoyed a 45 percent spike in sales, probably boosted by the singer’s appearance on the show last week. Michael Bublé’s Call Me Irresponsible falls four spots to #7 with 62,000 copies scanned, while Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts returns to the top 10, climbing four positions to #8, also with an assist from her “Idol” performance. Avril Lavigne’s Best Damn Thing drops to #9 with sales of 48,000, and rounding out the top 10 is Ne-Yo’s Because of You.

With 34,700 copies leaving the nation’s music stores this week, the Hans Zimmer-helmed soundtrack to “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” makes its Billboard debut at #14, while Trill Entertainment Presents: Survival of the Fittest, a compilation album featuring the work of rappers Foxx, Lil’ Boosie and Webbie, bows at #17. The Bravery’s new one, The Sun and the Moon, opens at #24, having scanned around 21,800 copies, and checking in at #40 with 14,500 sold is the Beach Boys’ retrospective set The Warmth of the Sun.

Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong’s solo offering A Poet’s Life claims the chart’s #59 slot with 10,600 units snatched up — which is quite impressive when you consider the entire effort was made available for free download prior to the CD release. Meanwhile, right behind Tim at #60 is the latest from Christian rockers Hillsong United, All of the Above. Amber Pacific’s Truth in Sincerity debuts at #64, selling to the tune of nearly 10,000, and opening at #68 is the National’s Boxer, with around 9,400 sold.

Rapper Ca$his’ County Hound EP bows at #106 on 6,700 copies sold, and coming in at #127 is Erasure’s Light at the End of the World, which scanned more than 5,800 units. Hip Hop Lives, a collaborative album from KRS-One and producer Marley Marl, enters the chart at #140, selling 5,100 and change, while Joan “One of Us” Osbourne’s Breakfast in Bed comes in at #160 on sales of 4,500. At #193, with 3,800 copies scanned, is the third installation in the Ultra Weekend compilation series — a two-disc set featuring the remixed likes of Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Pink, Tiësto and Danity Kane. And lastly, coming in at #195, is the latest from R&B thrush Amel Larrieux, Lovely Standards, which sold 3,700 units in its first week on store shelves.