Connor Christian & Southern Gothic Enters Top Country Albums, Carrie Underwood Gains Post-Grammys

Country/rock act Connor Christian & Southern Gothic opens atop Heatseekers Albums with 'New Hometown.'

Eclectic country/rock band Connor Christian & Southern Gothic garners its first national chart ink with "New Hometown," which draws double Hot Shot Debut applause, opening atop Heatseekers Albums and at No. 17 on Top Country Albums (5,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan).

Cited as an act "on the verge" of bigger things in Billboard's 2012 "Best Bets" live entertainment issue (Jan. 21, 2012), the band is touring in support of the album's lead single "Sheets Down," which premiered Jan. 16 on CMT.com. The clip was also featured daily during the Feb. 11-17 Nielsen BDS tracking week on CMT Pure.

CARRIE FORTH: Following her performance of both songs in a medley on the Grammy Awards (Feb. 10), Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" vaults 19-10 (after reaching a No. 2 peak in October) and follow-up single "Two Black Cadillacs" sets a new peak (8-4) on Hot Country Songs.

Fellow Grammy performer Taylor Swift sees her "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" rebound 14-9 on the chart after she opened the night's festivities with the song. The track began a 10-week run atop the Oct. 20, 2012, Hot Country Song survey (the week that the ranking converted from a measurement of core country radio audience to a hybrid method encompassing digital and streaming data and an expanded Nielsen BDS-monitored airplay panel).

BIG-GAME HUNTER: Atop Hot Country Songs, Hunter Hayes' "Wanted" benefits similarly from his performance of the ballad on the Grammy Awards (after which he announced Underwood's set), adding Streaming and Digital Gainer nods. The ballad tops Country Digital Songs for the first time (5-1) with a 31% spike to 84,000 in its 47th frame on the chart, marking the longest No. 1 climb since the list launched three years ago.

The previous longest chart-topping ascent on Country Digital Songs was 24 weeks, achieved when the Band Perry's "If I Die Young" reached No. 1 in December 2010 and repeated in October 2011 when Rodney Atkins' "Take a Back Road" reigned in its 24th week.

Hayes also nabs the percentage-based Pacesetter trophy on Top Country Albums with his "Live" EP, which sells 3,000 (up 274%) and shoots 62-30. The set was expanded from its original five-song digital format to eight songs in a physical package for a Valentine's Day campaign exclusively at Wal-Mart.

'COOL' CHANGE: With the chart's second-largest audience spike (2.8 million audience impressions), Blake Shelton logs his second-fastest top 10 climb on Country Airplay with "Sure Be Cool If You Did," which steps 11-10 in its seventh week. It pushes 4-2 on Hot Country Songs.

Shelton made his quickest top 10 ascent on Country Airplay when "Honey Bee" buzzed to the upper tier in its sixth week (May 28, 2011). Four weeks later, "Bee" began a four-week stay at No. 1. Conversely, Shelton's slowest top 10 climb was 28 weeks with "Nobody But Me" seven years ago; it peaked at No. 4 on the May 15, 2006, tally. With a career average of 15 weeks to reach the top 10, "Cool" is Shelton's 16th top 10. A dozen of those songs have reached No. 1, while the lowest peak came courtesy of his cover of Conway Twitty's "Goodbye Time" (No. 10, 2005). Shelton hasn't needed more than 11 weeks to reach the top 10 since "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking" reached the region in its 18th week (2011).

'PIRATE' SAILS: Kenny Chesney's "Pirate Flag" posts the week's biggest overall audience gain for a country title (up 3.3 million), climbing 20-16 on Country Airplay. On Hot Country Songs, it rises 20-19.

The Band Perry, meanwhile, scores a second week atop Country Airplay with "Better Dig Two." The sibling trio also ruled for two weeks with "All Your Life" in February 2012 and for one week with "If I Die Young" in December 2010. "Dig" ranks at No. 3 on Hot Country Songs, which it led for two weeks earlier this month.