George Strait Stays Solid on Three Music Charts

Martina McBride and Kenny Chesney See Sales Gains Following Oprah Appearance

With his 50 Number Ones compilation and the album track, “I Hate Everything,” George Strait is spending a second week at the top of three Billboard charts. Meanwhile, recent TV appearances on a daytime talk show have caused a sharp sales spike for Martina McBride and Kenny Chesney.

Strait’s two-CD greatest hits collection withstood another week of stiff competition to remain at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart that reflects sales of all styles of music. Top 10 chart debuts for the week included new releases from Celine Dion, Mos Def and Sum 41.

McBride and Chesney both performed on the Oprah Winfrey Show during an episode taped at Fort Campbell, Ky., before an audience of some 640 expectant mothers whose husbands were serving overseas in the Army. The program, promoted as the world’s biggest baby shower, aired Oct. 11. Chesney’s latest album, When the Sun Goes Down, climbed from No. 56 to No. 46 on the Billboard 200, but McBride’s 2003 album, Martina, experienced a 148 percent increase in sales to rocket from No. 154 to No. 61 on the pop chart. Martina also jumps from No. 22 to No. 12 on the Billboard country albums.

The sales increases for McBride and Chesney are not completely unexpected. Performances on late night TV talk shows often have a negligible impact on an artist’s CD sales, country music publicists say, although an Oprah appearance is usually followed by a significant increase in retail traffic.

Strait’s status on the Billboard 200 ensures another week at the top of the country albums chart. Just below, several titles are playing hopscotch. In second through sixth place, respectively, are Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying, Rascal Flatts’ Feels Like Today, Gretchen Wilson’s Here for the Party, Big & Rich’s Horse of a Different Color and Keith Urban’s Be Here. Chesney’s sales increase pushes When the Sun Goes Down back into the Top 10 — to No. 7 — after a week at No. 11. Alan Jackson’s What I Do slips one slot to No. 8, and Jimmy Buffett’s License to Chill also falls one notch to dock at No. 9. Ultimate Alabama: 20 #1 Hits, a new compilation by the country supergroup, debuts at No. 10.

Other albums debuting on the country chart include Trent Willmon’s self-titled debut (arriving at No. 22) and LeAnn Rimes’ What a Wonderful World at No. 24. And while Strait was racking up massive sales for his 50 Number Ones, some fans decided they’d like to hear the live versions of some of his hits. Strait’s 2002 release, For the Last Time: Live From the Astrodome, returns to the chart at No. 67.

For the second week in a row on the country singles chart, Strait remains at No. 1 with “I Hate Everything,” and Sara Evans again follows with “Suds in the Bucket.” Climbing three spaces each to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, are Phil Vassar’s “In a Real Love” and Brooks & Dunn’s “That’s What It’s All About.” Toby Keith’s “Stays in Mexico” stays at No. 5, Gary Allan’s “Nothing On but the Radio” rises two spaces to No. 6 and Urban’s “Days Go By” falls four slots to No. 7. Lonestar’s “Mr. Mom” climbs two levels to No. 8, Chesney’s “The Woman With You” ascends four rungs to No. 9 and Joe Nichols’ “If Nobody Believed in You” rises a notch to round out the Top 10.

Wilson’s “Here for the Party” is on its way off the chart, but her new single, “When I Think About Cheatin’,” makes the highest debut of the week by landing at No. 49. Likewise, Urban’s “Days Go By” will soon leave the chart to make way for his new single, “You’re My Better Half,” that debuts at No. 50. Two honky-tonk veterans also debut new singles this week: Mark Chesnutt’s “I’m a Saint” (No. 58) and David Ball’s “Louisiana Melody” (No. 60).

Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.