George Strait's new album, Somewhere Down in Texas, sold 245,000 copies to take the top spot this week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A country star since the early Eighties, Strait has now scored three Number One albums and fourteen Top Ten albums on the pop chart. With Coldplay's X&Y losing some steam, the Brits were relegated to Number Three (140,000), while hip-hop duo the Ying Yang Twins' fourth effort, United State of Atlanta, took Number Two with 201,000 CDs -- not in small part on the strength of their single "Wait (The Whisper Song)."
Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, nearly three months since its release, still has its hooks in the Top Five, selling 131,000 copies to take Number Four, down two from last week. And at Number Five is the other big debut this week, from Cassidy. In the midst of his legal troubles -- the Philadelphia rapper is set to stand trial for murder -- his sophomore album, I'm a Hustla, managed to move 93,000 copies.
At Number Six (90,000), down two spots from last week, is Monkey Business, the latest from California hip-hoppers Black Eyed Peas. And the Foo Fighters' double album, In Your Honor, doesn't look long for the Top Ten: It dropped four places to Number Seven (88,000) in its third week out.
Continually returning to the Top Ten more than seven months since their release are American Idol Kelly Clarkson's sophomore album, Breakaway, and Gwen Stefani's solo debut, Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Clarkson jumped three places this week to Number Eight (63,000), while Stefani climbed threee spots to Nine (61,000). Less than two months out of the gate, country veteran Toby Keith's Honkytonk University also hops back into the Top Ten, moving another 61,000 CDs to take Number Ten.
Unhappy artists this week include the Backstreet Boys, whose comeback, Never Gone, dropped eight places in just its third week to Number Fifteen (51,000). Atlanta MCs (and P. Diddy proteges) Boyz N Da Hood saw their self-titled debut fall from its solid Number Five opening to Sixteen (47,000). And R&B singer Keyshia Cole's The Way It Is, also in its second week, has already plummeted from Number Six to the hinterland of Thirty-Two (30,000).
Next week, expect Strait to continue providing solid competition for Coldplay. And the latest from R. Kelly, TP.3 Reloaded, may prove the embattled R&B legend's still got what it takes -- the first installments of the album's five-part song, "Trapped in the Closet," have been in heavy radio rotation. Missy Elliott's sixth album, The Cookbook, may be Miss E's chance to prove that listeners still want the brand of hip-hop that Timbaland built.
This week's Top Ten: George Strait's Somewhere Down in Texas; Ying Yang Twins' United State of Atlanta; Coldplay's X&Y; Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi; Cassidy's I'm a Hustla; Black Eyed Peas' Monkey Business; Foo Fighters' In Your Honor; Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway; Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby; Toby Keith's Honkytonk University.