Country music continues it’s stronghold on the Billboard album charts this week. For the third consecutive week, the genre scores a chart-topping debut. This week’s chart-topper is the latest record from Toby Keith. Everyone’s favorite Dixie Chick-basher scores the #1 album with “Bullets in the Gun”. Unfortunately, it also starts with what’s probably the lowest total for a chart-topper in October EVER, scanning just under 71,000 units. Nevertheless, Toby follows Kenny Chesney (now #2) and Zac Brown Band (#5) to the chart summit.

There are only three debuts in the Top Ten this week. Newcomer Bruno Mars parlays a chart-topping hit and a “Saturday Night Live” appearance into a #3 debut with “Doo-Wops and Hooligans”, while “rapper” Waka Flocka Flame starts at #6 with “Flockaveli”. .

The remainder of the Top 20 remains pretty static. Both David Archuleta and Faith Evans must be wondering where their fans went after their first week scan totals were in. While the former “Idol” runner-up’s debut effort sold over 3/4 of a million copies, his latest effort, “The Other Side of Down”, starts at unlucky #13 with a paltry 24,000 units sold. Meanwhile, R&B singer Evans starts two spots behind with her latest, “Something About Faith”. Her previous studio album, “The First Lady” (released five LONG years ago), started at #2 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. I hope they’ve saved their money, ’cause it doesn’t look like they’re going to repeat those sales figures anytime soon.

It’s amazing when you look at how much the industry has shrunk even since Evans’ last album came out in 2005. In that year, about 100 albums sold 500,000 or more copies. With 12 weeks left in the year, we’ll be lucky if we get to half that total. As of this past Monday, only 23 albums have crossed the 500,000 mark. Another two (Rihanna’s “Rated R” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”) will likely cross that threshold next week. Unless people start rolling out in droves to buy albums, we’ll be looking at quite the disappointing year from a sales perspective. A shame, too, since there’s been quite a bit of noteworthy music released so far in 2010.

Next week, expect Lil Wayne (who drops from 2-16 this week with “I Am Not a Human Being”) to crown the chart as “Being” is finally released physically. Country will fall short this week, although not by much, as Darius Rucker is scheduled for a Top 5 debut as well. Thankfully, the October 19th release schedule contains four albums that could potentially score 6-figure debut sums: the new albums by Kings of Leon and Sugarland will certainly make it there, with the wild cards being another Rod Stewart standards album and a new Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana soundtrack.

This week’s Top 20 after the jump.

1) “Bullets in the Gun” Toby Keith
2) “Hemingway’s Whiskey” Kenny Chesney
3) “Doo Wops & Hooligans” Bruno Mars
4) “Recovery” Eminem
5) “You Get What You Give” Zac Brown Band
6) “Flockaveli” Waka Flocka Flame
7) “A Thousand Suns” Linkin Park
8) “Teenage Dream” Katy Perry
9) “Passion, Pain & Pleasure” Trey Songz
10) “A Year Without Rain” Selena Gomez & the Scene
11) “Hands All Over” Maroon 5
12) “My World 2.0” Justin Bieber
13) “The Other Side of Down” David Archuleta
14) “Now That’s What I Call Music” Various Artists
15) “Something About Faith” Faith Evans
16) “I Am Not a Human Being” Lil Wayne
17) “There is a Hell; Believe Me, I’ve Seen It…” Bring Me the Horizon
18) “Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted” Gucci Mane
19) “Clapton” Eric Clapton
20) “Guitar Heaven” Santana

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