Congrats to country queen Reba McEntire for notching her second #1 country album debut with Keep on Loving You, which will take the top spot on the Billboard 200 next week, thanks to sales of 96,000, according to figures provided by Nielsen SoundScan.
But the real story is down a few spots at #3, where 1990s alterna-pop forgotten souls Third Eye Blind will stage a triumphant return to the upper echelons of the charts with their first album in six years, Ursa Major. In fact, this bow is the highest any Third Eye Blind album has ever placed on the charts, and while the reappearance from the once multi-platinum hitmakers might seem surprising, if you've been to one of their shows lately, you might have noticed that a whole new generation of young fans have discovered their sugar-buzz pop bombs, and they appear to have gone out to their local megamart and actually plunked down money for a CD. Then again, a bargain $3.99 price at the Amazon.com MP3 store probably helped downloads, which accounted for more than half of the album's 49,000 first-week sales.
Other than 3EB's triumph, next week's chart is in a virtual holding pattern. Last week's #1, country king George Strait's Twang, shed 61 percent of its business to drop to #2 on sales of 61,000, while the Kings of Leon continued their strong showing, easing up a spot to #4 (45,000) as the one-year anniversary of Only by the Night approaches. Elsewhere in the top 10: the Black Eyed Peas slip a pair to #5 with The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies) (41,000); Neil Diamond's Hot August Night NYC live album moves down four spots from its debut last week to #6 (39,000); and the "Hannah Montana" movie soundtrack storms up seven to #7 (38,000), thanks to a 41 percent increase in business following the DVD release of the movie. Taylor Swift's relentless Fearless bumps up one spot to #8 (34,000), switching places with Daughtry's Leave This Town (#9, 33,000), and the Now That's What I Call Music! 31 compilation rounds out the top 10 (33,000).
Just outside to top 10, Sean Paul's Imperial Blaze drops in at #12 (28,000), and Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi hits #14 with Turn Me Loose (27,000). New Orleans keyboard rockers Mutemath have a decent showing at #18 for their latest, Armistice (18,000). Comedian Patton Oswalt, current star of the sports-themed flick "Big Fan," rolls into the #67 spot with his in-concert album My Weakness Is Strong (7,000). Costumed metallers Gwar make it to #96 with Lust in Space (5,000), and Raconteurs singer/guitarist Brendan Benson squeaked in at #110 with his truly excellent, '70s-splashed solo album, My Old, Familiar Friend (4,000).
Further down the list, the mixtape-like soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's #1 movie, "Inglourious Basterds," limps in at #132 (3,000). Mind-numbingly catchy "Evacuate the Dancefloor" act Cascada is just behind at #155 with the album of the same name (3,000), and prolific indie punk Jay Reatard lands at #182 with his Watch Me Fall (2,000).
Next week could bring some new names in the top 10, with releases from Colbie Caillat, Arctic Monkeys, Queen Latifah and Ingrid Michaelson.