George Strait proves once again why he's the King of Country as his new "Twang" album was the top-selling set in the United States last week with 155,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. All told, it's the legend's 23rd No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, extending his lead as the artist with the most toppers on the list . . . Strait is also No. 1 on the Billboard 200, which additionally welcomes high entries from Neil Diamond's Wal-Mart-exclusive CD/DVD "Hot August Night/NYC," Cobra Starship's "Hot Mess" and Justin Moore's self-titled set . . . In Progress Reports we have news on Vanessa Williams, Jason Mraz and Toby Keith.


• As 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 tops both the all-encompassing Top Comprehensive Albums chart and the currents-based Billboard 200 tally. On the former list, Jackson had reigned for six nonconsecutive weeks.

• "Twang," which starts with 155,000, is Strait's fifth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, following 1997's "Carrying Your Love With Me," 2004's "50 Number Ones," 2005's "Somewhere Down in Texas" and 2008's "Troubadour." Strait is a very consistent seller, too. The last time one of his studio albums opened with fewer than 100,000 was way back in 1994, when "Lead On" started with 56,000.

• On Top Country Albums, "Twang" is Strait's 23rd No. 1 set, stretching back to the 1983 release "Right or Wrong," which hit the top slot for the first of five weeks Feb. 18, 1984. He's also been on an incredible run for quite a while—his last seven studio sets have all hit No. 1. The last one to miss the penthouse was 1999's "Always Never the Same," which peaked at No. 2.

• As for Jackson, his "Number Ones" is still doing quite well, thank you very much. You can find it at No. 2 on the Top Comprehensive Albums chart, shifting 80,000 (down 19%). That chart 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. Again, this is why Jackson's 2003 "Number Ones" album is found on the Comprehensive Albums chart, but not on the Billboard 200.

• Returning to the Billboard 200, the second-highest 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). The package was released Friday, Aug. 14, the same day that CBS aired the singer's TV special of the same name. It's the veteran's third straight top five set, following 2005's "12 Songs" (No. 4) and "Home Before Dark" (No. 1). All told, the new "Hot August Night" is Diamond's 16th top 10 album on the Billboard 200. (And for you chart watchers, this is the third live "Hot August" album Diamond has released. The first, simply titled "Hot August Night," peaked at No. 5 in 1973 while 1987's "Hot August Night II" reached No. 59 in early 1988.)

• After Diamond's "Hot" debut, the chart's next-best entry comes from Cobra Starship. The band's third album, "Hot Mess," powered by the hit single "Good Girls Go Bad," arrives at a career-high No. 4 with a best-ever sales week of 42,000. Previously, the group notched a No. 125 debut and peak in 2006 with its first album, "While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets" and a No. 80 peak with its sophomore effort, "Viva La Cobra," in 2007.

• The Billboard 200 also greets a high bow from new country singer Justin Moore, whose full-length self-titled debut enters at No. 10 with 34,000.

• And now a recap of the rest of the top 10 on the Billboard 200 ... 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 slightly more than 38,000 (down 12%), and Daughtry's "Leave This Town" falls two places to No. 8 with nearly 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 Aug. 16) totaled 5.9 million units, down 2.3% compared with the sum last week (6 million) and down 19.6% compared with the same sales week of 2008 (7.3 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 219.7 million, down 14.4% compared with the same total at this point last year (256.7 million).


• Album units, current chart week: 5.9 million units
• DOWN 2.3% from last week's charts: 6 million units
• DOWN 19.6% from same week, 2008: 7.3 million units
• This week: Only the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and Top Comprehensive Albums sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Jonas Brothers' "A Little Bit Longer" crashed in at No. 1 with 525,000, giving the brother trio its first chart-topper. The previous week's No. 1, the soundtrack to "Mamma Mia!," fell to No. 2 with 110,000 (down 16%).


• Jason Mraz's multiformat radio success with "I'm Yours" continues this week as the track makes a No. 40 debut on the Rhythmic airplay chart. The tune first graced a Billboard airplay list March 15, 2008, when it bowed at No. 26 on the Triple A tally. Since then it has charted on the Mainstream Top 40/Pop Songs, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, Latin Pop and Smooth Jazz radio lists.

• On the Hot Country Songs chart, Toby Keith ropes his 38th top 10 single as "American Ride" drives 12-9 in its seventh chart week. It's his third top 10 of the year, following the No. 1 single "God Love Her" and the No. 10 hit "Lost You Anyway."

• Vanessa Williams returns to the Hot Dance Club Songs chart after a four-year absence as remixes of "The Real Thing" push the single onto the chart at No. 42. Williams was last seen on the list July 2, 2005, when "You Are Everything" spent its final frame on the tally, after earlier peaking at No. 5. Williams has five top 10 Club hits to her name, including one No. 1—her first Club hit, 1988's "The Right Stuff."


• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Reba McEntire's "Keep on Loving You," Ledisi's "Turn Me Loose," Sean Paul's "Imperial Blaze," Cascada's "Evacuate the Dancefloor" and Third Eye Blind's "Ursa Major."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: 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.