Music Charts: Garth Brooks Omitted by Technicality

Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley Top This Week's Country List

The big news on this week’s music charts surrounds a country music superstar’s new release that is flying off a retailer’s shelves but isn’t listed anywhere on Billboard‘s charts.

Garth Brooks: The Limited Series, a $25 boxed set containing five CDs and one DVD, was released on Nov. 25 and has already achieved gold status, according to a Wal-Mart press release. However, because Brooks’ collection is only available at Wal-Mart and its Sam’s Club stores, The Limited Series will not appear on the Billboard charts.

Shortly after the music trade publication began compiling its charts from Nielsen SoundScan’s weekly sales reports in 1991, labels and retailers requested that exclusive albums be omitted from most Billboard charts. According to Billboard, albums must be “generally available at retail” to appear on its charts.

But such rules don’t apply to Kenny Chesney’s The Road and the Radio, a CD available almost anywhere you turn. Continued strong sales pushed Chesney back to the top spot on Billboard country albums chart in its fourth week of release. American Idol winner Carrie Underwood slips to second place after debuting at No. 1 last week with her first album, Some Hearts. Reba McEntire has the week’s highest-debuting country album. Reba #1′s enters the chart at No. 3. Big & Rich slip one notch to No. 4 during the second week out for their latest album, Comin’ to Your City.

Thanks to the popularity of the film biography, Walk the Line, Johnny Cash is well-represented on the country charts. The single-disc compilation, The Legend of Johnny Cash, climbs three rungs to No. 5. And with Joaquin Phoenix singing the Cash hits in the movie, the Walk the Line jumps from No. 17 to No. 10 on the country charts. Farther down the chart, the multi-disc Cash compilation, The Legend rises five slots to No. 43, and a new package of his early recordings, The Complete Sun Recordings, 1955-1958 debuts at No. 62.

Between Cash and Phoenix on the chart are Rascal Flatts’ Feels Like Today (at No. 6), Faith Hill’s Fireflies (fluttering up three positions to No. 7), Martina McBride’s Timeless (at No. 8) and Keith Urban’s Be Here (at No. 9).

The only other album debut is an impressive entry from newcomer Ray Scott, whose My Kind of Music arrives at No. 39.

On the country singles list, Dierks Bentley spends a second week at No. 1 with “Come a Little Closer.” Still holding on in second and third place, respectively, are Chesney’s “Who You’d Be Today” and Joe Nichols’ “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” Brooks’ “Good Ride Cowboy” remains solidly in the saddle, rising one level to No. 4, taking over the position previously held by Toby Keith’s “Big Blue Note,” which settles at No. 5. Climbing three spaces each and landing in sixth and seventh place, respectively, are Billy Currington’s “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” and George Strait’s “She Let Herself Go.” Urban’s recent chart-topper, “Better Life,” falls to No. 8, Gary Allan’s “Best I Ever Had” slips slightly to No. 9 and Hill’s “Like We Never Loved at All” enjoys its first week in the Top 10.

Kenny Rogers claims the hottest debut single of the week. “I Can’t Unlove You,” a track produced by Dann Huff, enters the chart at No. 57. Other new titles charting this week include Jo Dee Messina’s “I’m Not Going Down” (No. 58) and Craig Morgan’s “I Got You” (No. 59). Rhett Akins, who scored a No. 1 single in 1996 with “Don’t Get Me Started,” returns with “Kiss My Country Ass” (No. 60).

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