He’s been dead for 25 years, but the King rules the album charts this week. Elvis Presley’s new RCA compilation — officially titled ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits — sold more than 500,000 units to top Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200. And after a one-week absence, Diamond Rio ’s “Beautiful Mess” returns to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
Ironically, this marks the first time a Presley album ever debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. The package is an international hit, too, topping the album charts in the U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Spain, Brazil and several other nations.
Travis Tritt ’s Strong Enough had ample strength to debut at No. 4 on the Top Country Albums chart and No. 27 on the Billboard 200. With added media attention surrounding his new album, Steve Earle enters the country chart at No. 7 with Jerusalem. The project contains the controversial “John Walker’s Blues,” Earle’s ballad that was inspired by “the American Taliban,” John Walker Lindh.
Presley knocked the Dixie Chicks ’ Home out of the No. 1 slot on both the Billboard 200 and the Top Country Albums chart. On the country side, the Chicks are at No. 2, followed by Toby Keith ’s Unleashed at No. 3. With Tritt at No. 4, Kenny Chesney ’s No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems lands at No. 5 and the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack weighs in at No. 6. Earle’s seventh place showing is followed by Alan Jackson ’s Drive at No. 8, Martina McBride ’s Greatest Hits at No. 9 and Nickel Creek ’s This Side at No. 10.
New entries on the country albums chart include Delbert McClinton’s Room to Breathe (at No. 12), the all-star Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash (No. 17) and The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt (No. 19). Other debuts include comic Bill Engvall ’s Cheap Drunk: An Autobiography (No. 38), Tanya Tucker ’s Tanya (No. 39) and Nanci Griffith ’s Winter Marquee (No. 45).
Diamond Rio fell one notch to No. 2 on last week’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. “Beautiful Mess” bounces back to No. 1 this week, Keith Urban climbs to No. 2 with “Somebody Like You.” Joe Nichols holds steady at No. 3 with “The Impossible,” with last week’s chart-topper — Tracy Byrd ’s “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo” — slipping to No. 4. Other singles on the rise include McBride’s “Where Would You Be” (No. 5), Jackson’s “Work in Progress” (No. 6) and Phil Vassar ’s “American Child (No. 7). Descending this week are Darryl Worley ’s “I Miss My Friend” (No. 8) and Chesney’s “The Good Stuff” (No. 9). Montgomery Gentry ’s “My Town” rises to No. 10.
Landing at No. 55, Neal McCoy has the week’s Hot Shot Debut with “The Luckiest Man in the World.” As far-fetched as it seems, Kid Rock somehow managed to debut at No. 57 on the country singles chart with “Picture,” a track featuring Sheryl Crow. Brad Martin’s “Rub Me the Right Way” enters the singles chart at No. 58 and Tommy Shane Steiner’s “What We’re Gonna Do About It” — a collaboration with Bridgette Wilson-Sampras — at No. 59. She is the wife of tennis star Pete Sampras. Debuting at No. 60 is newcomer Leland Martin’s “If I Had Long Legs (Like Alan Jackson).”
Many country radio programmers were already playing Tim McGraw ’s “Red Ragtop” before they realized that the lyrical content included a reference to an abortion. The controversy hasn’t adversely affected the song’s overall airplay throughout the U.S. The track gets the week’s Airpower award by climbing from No. 22 to No. 18.