Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Neil Diamond Dominates Billboard 200 With First No. 1 pushing Madonna out of top spot.

Neil Diamond is one of pop music's most enduring and successful singer-songwriters. As a successful pop music performer, Diamond scored a number of hits worldwide in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, but has finally scored his first #1 album on the Billboard chart.

In another busy week in the top tier of The Billboard 200, Neil Diamond's "Home Before Dark" zooms in at No. 1, becoming his first chart-topping album. The Columbia set got a big plug when Diamond appeared on "American Idol" two weeks ago, bolstering its 146,000 first-week U.S. sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Rick Rubin-produced "Home" is Diamond's biggest debut sales week since SoundScan began tracking in 1991. He first appeared on Billboard's charts in 1966 with "The Feel of Neil Diamond"; the closest he ever got to No. 1 was with the 1973 soundtrack to "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," which reached No. 2.

With 103,000 units, Toby Keith's double-disc collection "35 Biggest Hits" (Show Dog Nashville) bows at No. 2. The country star has scored three prior No. 1 albums and two No. 2s.

Meanwhile, Madonna's "Hard Candy" (Warner Bros.) falls from the top slot to No. 3, moving 94,000 with a 66% slip. "American Idol" star Clay Aiken debuts at No. 4 with "On My Way Here" (RCA), with a slightly less total than "Hard Candy." Aiken's last studio album, 2006's "A Thousand Different Ways," started at No. 2 with the much larger sum of 211,000.

Mariah Carey's Island Def Jam album "E=MC2" continues its decline 2-5 with 87,000 (-9%), and Leona Lewis' "Spirit" (Syco/J) slips 3-6 with 76,000 (-10%).

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