Eagles Land Billboard #1 Over Britney Spears; Avenged Sevenfold, Backstreet Boys Also Crack Top 10

SoundScan rule change allows Eagles' first studio LP in 28 years, sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, to be included on albums chart.

Ouch. She couldn’t do it again.

Despite early projections — which, based on first-day sales figures, had beleaguered pop star Britney Spears’ first studio LP in four years opening at #1 on next week’s Billboard albums chart — it simply wasn’t meant to be. That’s thanks to an 11th-hour reversal of Billboard’s policy to not include albums sold exclusively through one retailer in the top 200 (see “Britney Spears’ Blackout Denied #1 Debut On Billboard Chart After Last-Minute Rule Change” ).

Instead, the Eagles’ first studio LP in 28 years, Long Road Out of Eden, will take the chart’s peak position, with sales of nearly 711,000 copies, despite only being sold in Wal-Mart. That more than doubles the 290,000 scans generated by Spears’ Blackout, which fell more than 40,000 short of experts’ earliest sales estimates. Eden is the Eagles’ first release — apart from a few compilations — to debut at #1 since the mostly live Hell Freezes Over, which also entered on top back in 1994, with 266,700 copies sold. Eden is the band’s sixth release to bow at #1, and one of 2007’s best debuts, joining Carrie Underwood’s Carnival Ride, which racked up 527,000 in its first week; Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight (with 623,000 scans); 50 Cent’s Curtis (691,000); and Kanye West’s Graduation (957,000).

So rather than score the fifth #1 debut of her career, Spears finds herself in a position she’s never been in before: second place. Before Blackout’s release, all four of Brit’s previous outings debuted at #1: 1999’s … Baby One More Time (with 120,600 sold), 2000’s Oops! … I Did It Again (with 1.3 million), 2001’s Britney (with 745,700) and 2003’s In the Zone (609,400).

But Brit and the Eagles weren’t the only newcomers to next week’s chart. In fact, four other new albums will enter the top 10, and in all, 22 LPs will enter this latest chart, during what was a rather strong week for record sales, according to the latest SoundScan totals.

Following Britney at #4, with 93,800 copies snatched up during week one, is the latest eponymous offering from California rockers Avenged Sevenfold. The band’s previous outing, 2005’s City of Evil, opened at #30 with 33,000 sold. Coming in at #5 with 83,600 scans is Josh Turner’s Everything Is Fine, and bowing at #7, thanks to sales of 81,100, is the sixth studio LP from the Backstreet Boys, Unbreakable. The band’s previous offerings fared better, for the most part. While 1997’s Backstreet Boys debuted at #29 with 40,000 scanned, 1999’s Millennium took the #1 spot with 1.2 million sold, and 2000’s Black and Blue also opened at #1, selling 1.6 million. The band’s 2005 LP, Never Gone, entered at #3 with 291,000 sold.

Underwood’s Carnival Ride is wedged between Brit and Avenged Sevenfold at #3, with sales of 170,100, and at #6, it’s Raising Sand, a collaborative offering from Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and bluegrass revivalist Alison Krauss, selling another 81,200 units in its second week. Josh Groban’s Noël drops three spots to #8, with 76,100 sold. Meanwhile, Italian singer Andrea Bocelli takes the chart’s #9 position, having scanned 67,500 copies of his retrospective The Best of Andrea Bocelli: Vivere release. Rascal FlattsStill Feels Good rounds things out at #10, with 53,200 copies flying off store shelves.

Elsewhere on the chart, V Is for Vagina, the long-awaited debut album from Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan’s side project, Puscifer, debuts at #25, with sales reported at more than 26,500. Rappers Playaz Circle follow at #27, having sold 26,100 copies of their new one, Supply and Demand, while Baby Bash’s Cyclone enters at #30, with 25,800 scans. R&B stalwart Will Downing’s After Tonight fills the #37 slot, with 21,500 in week-one sales, and rapper Project Pat’s Walkin’ Bank Roll checks in at #47, with 17,200 copies grabbed up.

After months of delays, Otep’s The Ascension finally makes its debut on the top 200, entering at #81 after selling more than 10,200 copies. Armor for Sleep’s Smile for Them follows at #93 with 9,400 scans, while the various-artists soundtrack to the Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” opens at #95, with 9,200 copies sold. Levon Helm’s Dirt Farmer takes over the #102 position, with more than 8,600 copies scanned, and Thursday’s Kill the House Lights enters the chart at #113, with 7,700 in sales.

Saves the Day return to the chart at #119, with their latest, Under the Boards, selling 6,700 copies, while the Insane Clown Posse’s Jugganauts: The Best of ICP takes the #124 spot with 6,300 scans. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s EP — which, like the Eagles’ new release, is being sold exclusively at Wal-Mart — follows at #132 with 5,800 copies sold, while Taking Back Sunday’s Notes From the Past enters at #141 with 5,600 scans. Lastly, opening at #153 with nearly 5,100 copies sold, is Graham Colton’s Here Right Now.