Most of the 29th floor (that's MTV News HQ) is seriously in denial of the country genre -- except when co-opted ironically by Jack White, or tweaked into hipster Americana by Conor Oberst. You know, Pitchfork country! That's why it's particularly painful to deal with this industry touchstone called "SoundScan" week in and week out: it's just hard evidence of how much the rest of the USA disagrees with us.
This is a wordy setup for the news that country has yet again kicked rock to the curb in sales, with that punk George Strait (who?) selling 166,300 copies to beat out R.E.M. The alt-rock legends' latest, Accelerate, comes in at #2 with 115,500 scans.
To salute R.E.M. -- and, basically, to put up a SoundScan fight -- we've posted this excellent interview with the band shot just before the new album's release. And if you're a believer in numbers, check out the rest of this week's chart writeup after the jump.