T-Pain Takes Down Rihanna, Paul McCartney In Billboard Slugfest

Week also sees big debuts from Big & Rich, Marilyn Manson, Daddy Yankee.

It was a tight race for the top of Billboard's albums chart this week, with Rihanna, Paul McCartney, and T-Pain considered the early favorites. And as expected, the trio led the rest of the herd for much of the race, galloping neck-and-neck as they came down to a photo finish.

With more than 171,000 sold, T-Pain's Epiphany took the title, selling just 8,600 more copies than second-place finisher Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad, which sold 162,500 during its first week of commercial release. For Florida rapper T-Pain, it marks his first trip to the winner's circle in only his second attempt: 2005's Rappa Ternt Sanga debuted at #40, selling nearly 47,000 copies.

The prolific Rihanna, who's released three albums in two years, will have to wait till next time for another shot at a chart-topping opener. The sultry singer's 2006 outing A Girl Like Me bowed at #5 on 115,000 units, while 2005's Music of the Sun opened at #10, scanning 68,500. Meanwhile, Sir Paul's Starbucks-issued Memory Almost Full placed third, with 160,500-plus copies of his LP flying off store shelves (often accompanied by a latte).

But T-Pain, Rihanna, and McCartney weren't this week's sole newcomers to Billboard's top 200: In all, there were 25 new releases making an impact on next week's albums sales chart, including shock rocker Marilyn Manson's latest, Eat Me, Drink Me, which claims the #8 spot with 87,500 copies sold. Previously, Manson has had two albums open at #1: 1998's Mechanical Animals (which netted sales of 223,000), and 2003's Golden Age of Grotesque (with 118,200 scans). Following Manson at #9 was the new one from Daddy Yankee, El Cartel: The Big Boss, with sales falling just short of 81,800, according to the latest SoundScan figures, which were released Wednesday morning (June 13).

Debuting at #6 with 103,000 scans is Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, the new set from country duo Big & Rich. The rest of the top 10 is teeming with familiar faces.

Falling three spots to #4 is last week's chart-topper, R. Kelly's Double Up, which sold another 120,500 copies. Sliding three spots to #5 is Maroon 5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long, which scanned to the tune of 112,000, for a three-week sales total of 714,000 and change. Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight slips four places to #7, cracking the 1-million-sold mark with an additional 95,600 copies snatched up — not too shabby for an album that's been in stores just four weeks. Slipping four spots to round out the top 10 is Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, generating 66,600 scans.

Just missing the top 10 this week is the self-titled, two-disc greatest-hits set from the reunited Police — a companion piece to the band's successful reunion tour. The 28-track collection sold more than 57,700 copies to debut at #11. Bowing at #17 with 37,000 scans is the sophomore solo offering from former Soundgarden/ Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, Carry On, followed at #19 by Dream Theater's Systematic Chaos, having sold 35,700 units. With nearly 31,000 sold, Bruce Springsteen With the Sessions Band: Live in Dublin claims the #23 slot, followed at #25 by R&B crooner Carl Thomas' So Much Better, which scanned close to 28,400 copies.

The Warped Tour: 2007 Compilation, a double-disc set featuring tracks from Bad Religion, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, the Used, Poison the Well and others, opens at #31 with sales of 22,500, followed at #32 by Poison's Poison'd!, the seventh studio LP from the glam metallers, which sold 21,400 units. Rapper Lil Wyte's The One and Only pops up at #46, with 15,600 copies scanned, while Tesla's Real to Reel follows at #48 with little more than 14,500 sold. Tiger Army's Music From Regions Beyond debuts at #49 with just under 14,500 grabbed up.

The Perfect Melody, the solo debut from reggaetón artist Zion, opens at #53, selling 13,500-plus copies, while Monterey Pop Festival — a two-CD set recorded at the festival that took place 40 years ago this week and boasts contributions from the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, the Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience — claims the chart's #58 opening, with 11,800 units scanned. O.A.R.'s Live From Madison Square Garden outing opens at #69, with 10,300 copies sold, followed at #105 by We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song, a collection of Ella Fitzgerald covers from artists like Natalie Cole, Linda Ronstadt, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Bublé, which sold close to 7,300 copies.