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NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - The King of Pop stepped aside for the King of Country on Wednesday, when George Strait's "Twang" replaced Michael Jackson's enduring "Number Ones" as the best-selling album in the country.
Strait's new set sold 155,000 copies during the week ended August 16, 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. "Twang" is 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 topped the all-encompassing Top Comprehensive Albums chart -- which includes new releases and older titles, and where Jackson had reigned for six nonconsecutive weeks. The King of Pop's "Number Ones" fell to No. 2 on that list, shifting 80,000 copies.
The second-highest Billboard 200 debut of the week was from Neil Diamond, who arrived 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, after 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," arrived at a career-high No. 4 with 42,000 copies.
The Billboard 200 also greeted a high bow from new country singer Justin Moore, whose his self-titled debut entered at No. 10 with sales of 34,000.
The Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." climbed one spot to No. 3 with 45,000 while Kings of Leon's "Only by the Night" held at No. 5 with 42,000. The "Now 31" compilation fell four rungs to No. 6 with 38,000, Maxwell's "BLACKsummers'night" was steady at No. 7 with just over 38,000, and Daughtry's "Leave This Town" slipped two places to No. 8 with just under 38,000. Taylor Swift's long-running "Fearless" remained at No. 9 with 37,000.
Overall album sales for the week totaled 5.91 million units, down 2.3 percent from the previous week and down 19.6 percent from the year-earlier period. Year-to-date album sales stood at 219.7 million, down 14.4 percent from the comparable point in 2008.
(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)
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