In the red corner, an upstart country band who won the 2009 Grammy for Best New Artist. Representing for the peeps who like a little bit of Jack Johnson with their Kenny Chesney, we have…the Zac Brown Band!

In the blue corner, a group of funk/rock pros whose lead singer has finely chiseled cheekbones and unbelievably sculpted hair! The Grammy winner for Best New Artist of 2004…Maroon 5!!

It was a close race for the top of the Billboard charts this week, but Zac Brown Band clawed their way to their first chart-topping album, as “You Get What You Give” started with 153,000 copies. Maroon 5 had to settle for second place with 142,000 copies. It was the second straight close race for the top, following last week’s fingernail-size gap between Linkin Park at #1 and Trey Songz at #2. With that said, both numbers have to be a little disappointing in light of both bands’ previous success. We’re still looking for that first blockbuster of the fall season, folks.

Another five albums debut in the Top 20, starting with teen pop star Selena Gomez in a distant fourth place with 70,000. Santana’s reimagining of guitar classics is right behind with 66K. The John Legend and The Roots collaboration album scores 63K at #8, while country singer Billy Currington charts at #9 and Michael Franti scores his highest charting album ever with “The Sound of Sunshine” at #17.

The rest of the chart is pretty depressing. Sales for each week are running around 15% below the same week last year, and it’s hard to imagine the trend reversing anytime soon, even with Kanye West and Taylor Swift on the way. Next week’s chart topper will be country-hued again, as Kenny Chesney’s “Hemingway’s Whiskey” is scheduled to bow with about 200K sold.

Since this week’s charts are a little boring and depressing, let’s slide into the time machine and roll back to 1980. In the last week of September, things were a lot different. Ronald Reagan was two months away from being elected president, John Lennon was still alive (and gearing up to release “Double Fantasy”, his first album in five years), and I…well, I was 4, so I don’t remember much. On the back of two massive #1 singles, Queen held the top spot on the album charts (for the first and only time in their career) with “The Game”. Back in those pre-Soundscan days, albums actually had to climb up the charts until they reached their peak, so the youngest album in the Top 20 was The Cars’ “Panorama”-then in it’s 4th chart week. A little further down the chart, in it’s sixth week, was AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, a little album that would go on to become the best-selling hard rock album in history. See how many of these albums you own.

1-“The Game” Queen
2-“Hold Out” Jackson Browne
3-“Diana” Diana Ross
4-“Emotional Rescue” Rolling Stones
5-“Panorama” The Cars
6-“Give Me the Night” George Benson
7-“Xanadu Soundtrack” Various Artists
8-“Urban Cowboy Soundtrack” Various Artists
9-“Crimes of Passion” Pat Benatar
10-“Christopher Cross” Christopher Cross
11-“Fame Soundtrack” Various Artists
12-“Back in Black” AC/DC
13-“Anytime Anyplace Anywhere” Rossington-Collins Band
14-“Honeysuckle Rose Soundtrack” Various Artists
15-“TP” Teddy Pendergrass
16-“Glass Houses” Billy Joel
17-“One Trick Pony” Paul Simon
18-“Full Moon” Charlie Daniels Band
19-“Drama” Yes
20-“Against the Wind” Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

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