HAN NYC Debuts at #2 on album chart!

s expected, the King of Pop steps aside for the King of Country as George Strait’s “Twang” replaces Michael Jackson’s enduring “Number Ones” as the best selling album in the country.

Strait’s new set sold 155,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan, earning the country legend his fifth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. “Twang” follows in the footsteps of Strait’s 1997 album “Carrying Your Love With Me,” 2004’s “50 Number Ones,” 2005’s “Somewhere Down In Texas” and 2008’s “Troubadour.”

The last time one of Strait’s studio albums opened with less than 100,000 was in 1994, when “Lead On” started with 56,000. It’s also his 23rd No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart — extending his lead as the act with the most toppers on the list.

Strait also tops the all-encompassing Top Comprehensive Albums chart, where Jackson had reigned for six non-consecutive weeks. The King of Pop’s “Number Ones” falls to No. 2, shifting 80,000 copies (down 19%).

The Top Comprehensive Albums chart houses both older and current albums (the latter are generally those that are 18 months old or less). Over on the Billboard 200 chart, only current or new albums are ranked. This is why Jackson’s 2003 “Number Ones” album is found on the Comprehensive Albums chart, but not on the Billboard 200.

The second-highest Billboard 200 debut of the week comes from Neil Diamond, who arrives at No. 2 with his Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club exclusive live CD/DVD set “Hot August Night/NYC” (57,000). It’s Diamond’s third straight top five set, following 2005’s “12 Songs” (No. 4) and “Home Before Dark” (No. 1), and his 16th top 10 album on the 
Billboard 200.

Cobra Starship’s third album “Hot Mess,” powered by the hit single “Good Girls Go Bad,” arrives at a career-high No. 4 with 42,000 copies. The group previously notched a No. 125 debut and peak in 2006 with its first album, “While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets.” Its sophomore effort “Viva La Cobra” peaked at No. 80 in 2007.

The Billboard 200 also greets a high bow from new country singer Justin Moore, who sees his self-titled debut enter at No. 10 with 34,000.

The Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.” climbs one spot to No. 3 with 45,000 (up 2%) while Kings of Leon’s “Only By the Night” holds at No. 5 with 42,000 (down 6%). The “Now 31” compilation falls four rungs to No. 6 with 38,000 (down
14%), Maxwell’s “BLACKsummers’night” is steady at No. 7 with just over 38,000 (down 12%) and Daughtry’s “Leave This Town” falls two places to No. 8 with just under 38,000 (down 14%). Finally, Taylor Swift’s long-running “Fearless” is a non-mover at No. 9 with 37,000 (down less than 1%).

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending August 16) totaled 5.91 million units, down 2.3% compared to the sum last week (6.04 million) and down 19.6% compared to the same sales week of 2008 (7.34 million). Year to date album sales stand at 219.7 million, down 14.4% compared to the same total at this point last year (256.7 million).

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