George Strait hands off the Billboard 200's top spot to fellow country veteran Reba McEntire as the diva lands her second No. 1 on the chart. Her "Keep On Loving You" concurrently debuts at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart—her 11th topper on that list . . . Third Eye Blind returns from out of the blue with its new "Ursa Major" set, its first studio album since 2003. "Ursa" also wows as the band's first top 10 album . . . And, Michael Jackson's "Number Ones" becomes the top-selling album of 2009 . . . In Progress Reports, we have updates on Daughtry, Madonna, Jason Aldean and Kristine W.


FLASH POINTS

• It's all about country music on top of the Billboard 200 for the third week in a row as country icon Reba McEntire scores her second topper on the list. Her new "Keep On Loving You" enters at No. 1 on the chart with 96,000. She last visited the penthouse with 2007's star-studded "Reba Duets" set.

• McEntire is also the champ on the all-encompassing Top Comprehensive Albums chart. It houses both older and current albums (the latter are generally those that are 18 months old or less). On the Billboard 200, only current or new albums are ranked.

• On the Billboard 200, the country queen replaces the King of Country, as last week's No. 1, George Strait's "Twang," slides to No. 2 in its second frame with 61,000 (down 61%). Over on the Top Country Albums chart, "Keep On Loving You" is McEntire's 11th No. 1, giving her sole possession of the record for the most No. 1 Country albums among female artists. She was previously tied with Loretta Lynn.

• Third Eye Blind's "Ursa Major" also makes an eye-popping entrance on the Billboard 200 at No. 3 with 49,000, giving the band its first top 10 album. It's the group's first studio release since 2003's "Out of the Vein," which was, until now, its highest-charting album. It debuted and peaked at No. 12 on May 31, 2003.

• Weirdly, the one album from the band that you would have thought had charted higher, its self-titled 1997 set, actually peaked at No. 25. That effort—which contained the top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles "Semi-Charmed Life," "How's It Going to Be" and "Jumper"—ultimately spent 104 weeks on the Billboard 200. Digital downloads of the new Third Eye Blind album accounted for 52% of its first-week sales, no doubt helped by a "deal of the day" $3.99 sale tag at Amazon's MP3 Store.

• And now a recap of the rest of the top 10 on the Billboard 200 ... Kings of Leon's "Only by the Night" climbs to a new peak, moving up one notch to No. 4 with 45,000 (up 8%) while the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." slides two spots to No. 5 with 41,000 (down 10%). Neil Diamond's Wal-Mart exclusive CD/DVD set "Hot August Night/NYC" slips four rungs to No. 6 with 39,000 (down 32%) while the "Hannah Montana: The Movie" soundtrack surges 14-7 on the heels of the film's Aug. 18 DVD release. The soundtrack sold 38,000—an increase of 41%. Rounding out the top 10 are Taylor Swift's "Fearless" at No. 8, up one slot, with 34,000 (down 8%); Daughtry's "Leave This Town" at No. 9, down one position, with 33,000 (down 12%); and the "Now 31" compilation at No. 10, falling four rungs, with almost 33,000 (down 14%).

• While Michael Jackson's catalog albums—those older than 18 months—are not charting on the Billboard 200, they are still all over our Comprehensive Albums chart. And, this week, his 2003 hits compilation "Number Ones" sells another 68,000 (down 15%) and ranks at No. 2 on the tally. With the latest week's 68,000 tally, that brings the set's 2009 total up to 1.62 million—pulling it ahead of Swift's "Fearless" as the year's top-selling album. "Fearless" has shifted 1.61 million. Will "Number Ones" maintain the title for the duration of 2009?

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Aug. 23) totaled 5.7 million units, down 3.1% compared with the sum last week (5.9 million) and down 18.4% compared with the same sales week of 2008 (7 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 225.3 million, down 14.5% compared with the same total at this point last year (263.7 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 5.7 million units
• DOWN 3.1% from last week's charts: 5.9 million units
• DOWN 18.4% from same week, 2008: 7 million units
• This week: No album sold at least 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Jonas Brothers' "A Little Bit Longer" lingered at No. 1 for a second week, shifting 147,000 (down 72%) while Staind's "Illusion of Progress" was the chart's highest debut at No. 3 with 92,000.



PROGRESS REPORTS

• Jason Aldean ropes his third No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart as "Big Green Tractor" jumps 3-1 on the tally this week. The rise gives Aldean back-to-back toppers, following "She's Country," which spent one week at No. 1 on May 16 . . . Last week's Country Songs No. 1, Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me," slips to No. 6 this week.

• Kristine W. notches her 14th No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play Songs chart with "Be Alright." The pop/dance diva has an incredible track record on the tally—14 of her 15 chart entries have hit the top. Only "I'll Be Your Light" missed the No. 1 spot, when it peaked at No. 2 on Feb. 25, 2006. Kristine W. is now tied with Mariah Carey for the third-most Club No. 1s among women. In the lead is Madonna with 39; Janet Jackson is in second place with 18.

• Speaking of Madonna, she grabs her 17th hit on the Adult Top 40 chart with "Celebration" this week, as it debuts at No. 36. The entry pads her lead as the artist with the most hits on this chart since it launched March 16, 1996. Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow are tied in second place with 15 hits apiece . . . In other Adult Top 40 news, Daughtry grabs its fourth No. 1 hit with "No Surprise," tying Matchbox Twenty for the second-most No. 1s on the list. They both trail Nickelback, with five.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Colbie Caillat's "Breakthrough," Imogen Heap's "Ellipse," Willie Nelson's "American Classic," Collective Soul's "Collective Soul" and Arctic Monkeys' "Humbug."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Slipknot's "All Hope Is Gone" started at No. 1 with 240,000, just ahead of at No. 2 debut from the Game's "L.A.X." (238,0000). The previous week's topper, Jonas Brothers' "A Little Bit Longer," fell to No. 4 in its third frame, selling 80,000 (down 45%).