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Published: 5/15/2008

Neil Diamond Dominates Billboard 200 With First No. 1

Neil Diamond

May 14, 2008 - Retail
By Katie Hasty, N.Y.

Neil Diamond 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%).

Gavin DeGraw's self-titled sophomore effort from J Records climbs on board at No. 7 with 66,000. Interest was spurred by the single "In Love with a Girl," which has peaked at No. 34 thus far on the Hot 100. "Gavin DeGraw" easily trumps the No. 103 peak of 2004's "Chariot" and the subsequent entry of "Chariot -- Stripped" at No. 56.

Josh Groban's concert CD/DVD "Awake Live" (Reprise) starts at No. 8 with 58,000, his seventh album to chart on The Billboard 200. Another country mainstay scores a top 10 spot with a hits collection, as Dierks Bentley's "Greatest Hits: Every Mile a Memory" (Capitol Nashville) opens at No. 9 with 43,000. His most recent studio album, "Long Trip Home," peaked at No. 5 in 2006.

Latin superstar Luis Miguel claims his highest charting album ever, as "Complices" takes a bow at No. 10 with 32,000. "Complices" (Warner Music Latina) also gives Miguel his eighth No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart -- the most of any artist in the history of the list.

Back on the 200, Tye Tribbett & G.A.'s "Stand Out" (Columbia) stands out with a No. 16 debut (26,000), and German rock troupe Tokio Hotel's "Scream" (Interscope) enters at No. 39 with 16,000.

Album sales this week are up 6.9% from last week's sum with 8.12 million units and down 4.6% from the same week last year.