Carrie Underwood Has An Easy Ride To First Billboard #1

LPs from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, System of a Down's Serj Tankian, Coheed and Cambria also crack chart's top 10.

Everyone’s an underdog when pitted against the sales might of someone like Carrie Underwood, who stole the “American Idol” title during the Fox series’ fourth season.

After all, the bubbly blonde’s debut album, 2005′s Some Hearts, has been certified six-times platinum by the RIAA and remains the fastest-selling debut country album in the history of SoundScan. Not only that, but it’s one of the best-selling LPs of the last two years. Some Hearts, which eventually yielded five #1 singles, debuted at #2 on Billboard‘s top 200 with 314,600 copies sold and has sold close to 6 million copies in the U.S. alone. It hasn’t fallen out of the top 200 once since its initial release.

So let’s face it — no one in the music business awoke this morning and was shocked to learn that Underwood’s sophomore LP, Carnival Ride, opens at #1 on next week’s albums sales chart with an impressive 527,000 in week-one scans.

Carnival Ride becomes the artist’s first chart-topping bow, and she walked away with the win. Raising Sand, a collaborative offering from Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and bluegrass pioneer Alison Krauss, came closest to Underwood, opening at #2 with 112,300 sold, according to the latest SoundScan totals. That’s a margin of nearly 415,000 albums separating #1 from #2.

Carnival Ride is now one of the best-selling debuts of 2007, following Linkin Park‘s Minutes to Midnight (with 623,000 scans), 50 Cent‘s Curtis (691,000) and Kanye West‘s Graduation (957,000).

All told, 27 new releases enter next week’s chart, with six finishing in the top 10. Right behind Plant and Krauss at #3 is the latest from country stud Gary Allan, Living Hard, which sold 69,200 copies. The politically charged debut solo album from System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, Elect the Dead, opens at #4, having sold 66,000 units. When asked during a recent MTV News interview about the prospect of debuting in the chart’s top 10, Tankian said, “I’d be happy, but I just made the record I was meant to make — whatever it’s going to do, it’s going to do.”

Coming in at #6, with sales reported at 61,900, is Coheed and Cambria‘s new one, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. Two: No World for Tomorrow. It marks the band’s highest career debut, as well as its highest chart position. And returning to the chart at #9, thanks to sales of close to 56,900, is Seether‘s latest, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces.

The rest of the top 10 is filled out by the usual assortment of artists: Josh Groban‘s Noel finishes at #5 with 65,400 sold, while Kid Rock‘s Rock N Roll Jesus slides five spots to #7, selling another 61,000 units. Rascal FlattsStill Feels Good follows at #8 with 57,000 scans, and coming in at #10 with 56,500 sold is the soundtrack to the Disney Channel flick “High School Musical 2.”

Neil Young‘s Chrome Dreams II enters the chart at #11, having generated nearly 53,700 first-week sales, while La Vida … Es un Ratico, the new one from Colombian singer/songwriter Juanes, comes in at #13 with 46,700 scans. Rapper Hurricane Chris51/50 Ratchet enters the top 200 at #24 with 26,200 units leaving store shelves, and with 24,800 copies sold, Say Anything‘s In Defense of the Genre debuts at #27. Ryan Adams and the CardinalsFollow the Lights EP claims the chart’s #40 spot with sales of 18,500, while Dwight Yoakam‘s Dwight Sings Buck finishes at #42 with 18,200 sold.

Steven Curtis Chapman‘s This Moment opens at #47 with 16,700 copies sold, and at #52, with 15,400 scans, is Shooter JenningsThe Wolf. Rob Zombie‘s Zombie Live comes in at #57 with 14,200 copies snatched up, and Ween‘s La Cucaracha sold 11,600 units to claim the #69 slot. Meanwhile, Cobra Starship‘s Viva La Cobra! enters at #80 with 10,600 scans, and at #89 with 9,500 copies sold is Little Brother‘s Getback. Rapper Trae‘s Life Goes On sold more than 7,500 copies its first week in stores, landing the album at #104, while the TemptationsBack to Front opens at #108 with 7,300 scans.

The soundtrack to the forthcoming video game “Guitar Hero 3” enters the top 200 at #147 with sales of 5,000-plus, just in front of Swedish metallers Soilwork and their latest, Sworn to a Great Divide, which sold just under 5,000 copies to take the #148 position. Relient K‘s second Christmas album, Let It Snow Baby … Let It Reindeer, enters at #149 with 4,900 scans, and comedian Nick Swardson‘s Party finishes at #156 with 4,800 copies sold. Lastly, just making the cut at #200, is La Arrolladora Banda El Limón‘s Y Que Quede Claro, which generated a first-week total of 3,800.