George Strait to No. 1 With New Album

Somewhere Down in Texas Is His 20th Album to Debut at Top of Country Chart

When it comes to aggressively promoting his new albums, George Strait seldom breaks a sweat. And why should he? His new album, Somewhere Down in Texas, just became his 20th release to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.

Oh, and his new project is also debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, a list otherwise regarded as the pop chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Somewhere Down in Texas, the 33rd album of Strait’s career, sold 245,000 copies in its first week of release to end a three-week reign by Coldplay’s new album, X&Y.

Strait’s presence on the country chart bumped other top sellers down one position. In second through fifth place, respectively, are Toby Keith’s Honkytonk University, Rascal Flatts’ Feels Like Today, Keith Urban’s Be Here and Sugarland’s Twice the Speed of Life. The self-titled album by Hot Apple Pie, the new band featuring former Little Texas member Brady Seals, made an impressive debut by entering the chart at No. 6. The new albums from Strait and Hot Apple Pie moved two titles down two slots each: Keith’s Greatest Hits 2 (to No. 7) and Kenny Chesney’s When the Sun Goes Down (to No. 8). With Big & Rich’s Horse of a Different Color at No. 9, their MuzikMafia accomplice, Gretchen Wilson, rounds out the Top 10 with Here for the Party.

The only other album hitting the country charts this week is Gettin’ More Rowdy, a compilation of time-tested classics from Dwight Yoakam, Travis Tritt, Hank Williams Jr. and others.

On Billboard’s country singles chart, Rascal Flatts’ “Fast Cars and Freedom” stays at No. 1 for a third week, but Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was” continues to flex its muscle at No. 2 with a significant increase in radio airplay. At No. 3, Sugarland continues to show momentum by climbing one notch with “Something More.” Strait’s “You’ll Be There” also rises one rung to No. 4. Urban’s recent No. 1, “Making Memories of Us,” slips to No. 5, while Faith Hill’s “Mississippi Girl” climbs to No. 6 and Chesney’s “Keg in the Closet” is still flowing with a jump to No. 7. If you’re into predicting future No. 1 singles, keep an eye on Keith Anderson’s “Pickin’ Wildflowers” (blooming upward four spaces to No. 8) and Brooks & Dunn’s “Play Something Country” (ascending four slots to No. 9). Darryl Worley’s “If Something Should Happen” is at No. 10.

The hottest chart debut of the week is “Our America.” The patriotic recording featuring Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy arrives at No. 44. Other debuts include Dwight Yoakam’s “International Heartache” (No. 55), all-girl band Cowboy Crush’s “Nobody Ever Died of a Broken Heart” (No. 56) and newcomer Jace Everett’s “That’s the Kind of Love I’m In.”

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