Rascal Flatts stormed the chart this week: Their fourth studio effort, Me and My Gang, moved a whopping 722,000 copies in its first week out, according to Nielsen SoundScan, making for the contemporary country trio's second consecutive mainstream Number One. It's been an especially good week for Rascal Flatts: The group took home the Group/Duo Video of the Year Award at the CMT Music Awards for its song "Skin (Sarabeth)" about a teenage girl fighting cancer, and its last chart-topper, 2004's Feels Like Today, sits on the chart at Number Thirty-One (31,000).
In a strong second place, with 334,000 CDs sold, is the twenty-first installment of the blockbuster Now That's What I Call Music! hits compilation, this one featuring singles by Mariah Carey, Gorillaz and All-American Rejects. The chart's other successful compilation, the unflappable soundtrack to the Disney Channel movie High School Musical, dropped only one spot to Number Four, with kids begging their parents to snatch up another 181,000 CDs.
Other major debuts include Pink's fourth album, I'm Not Dead. Pink's crusade against "porno paparazzi girls" (just listen to her sassy single, "Stupid Girls") sold 126,000 copies to bow at Number Six. This is the pop rocker's third consecutive Top Ten album, matching the Number Six peak of her 2002 hit, M!ssundaztood. Southern rapper Bubba Sparxxx also scored his third Top Ten album, with his third effort, The Charm. The Timbaland protege, now with Big Boi's new label, Purple Ribbon, moved 51,000 CDs this week. And Oklahoma experimental pop outfit the Flaming Lips had far and away their highest chart performance ever, with the long-awaited At War With the Mystics selling 48,000 copies to hit Number Eleven.
Country filled in the rest of the chart, with Tim McGraw's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 dropping three spots to Number Five (128,000), and Alan Jackson's slow-burning gospel album, Precious Memories, sticking to Number Ten (49,000).
Meanwhile, rapper and ATL movie star T.I. saw his latest, last week's Number One King, slide two places to Number Three (185,000). Last week's other major hip-hop release, Ghostface Killah's Fishscale, the latest from the super-skilled Wu-Tang Clan MC, also slid -- much farther, from Four to Twenty-Three (37,000).
But the most dramatic drops in sales were experienced by hardcore outfit Atreyu, whose A Death-Grip On Yesterday dropped from Nine to Forty-Six (24,000) in its second week out, and arty rockers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose critically acclaimed Show Your Bones also plummeted, from Eleven to Forty-One (25,000).
Next week, with no new major releases, the shoving match between country and hip-hop continues.
This week's Top Ten: Rascal Flatt's Me & My Gang; Now That's What I Call Music! 21; T.I.'s King; High School Musical: The Original Soundtrack; Tim McGraw's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2; Pink's I'm Not Dead; James Blunt's Back to Bedlam; Shakira's Oral Fixation Vol. 2; Bubba Sparxxx's The Charm; Alan Jackson's Precious Memories.