Newcomer Kip Moore becomes the fourth artist this year to reach No. 1 for the first time on Country Songs, as "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" (MCA Nashville) rises 3-1 in its 33rd chart week. Meanwhile new songs by Kenny Chesney and a new album by Willie Nelson make impressive debuts.
Moore's slow climb is not the slowest of the four first-time chart toppers during the first five months of 2012. David Nail's "Let It Rain" capped the January 21 chart in its 49th week. The other two songs are Eric Church's "Drink in My Hand, which reigned in its 23rd chart week (January 28), and Lee Brice's "A Woman Like You," which reached the summit in 27 weeks (April 21).
The 3rd Annual Billboard Country Music Summit -- featuring in-depth artist Q&As with Luke Bryan and Willie Nelson and two days of country music business programming -- takes place June 4 and 5 in Nashville. Head here to register and get more information, and Billboard.biz readers can get a 15% discount by using promo code BIZ12.
No artist has reached No. 1 with their first charted title since Brantley Gilbert's "Country Must Be Country Wide" led the Dec. 3, 2011 chart. Moore's first chart appearance was "Mary Was the Marrying Kind," which peaked at No. 45 last summer.
Thompson Square's "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" (April 9, 2011) was the only first-time leader during the first five months of 2011, and there were only four such songs all year. That list includes Jake Owen's "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" (Sept. 17, two weeks), Eli Young Band's "Crazy Girl" (Nov. 19) and Gilbert's aforementioned "Country Must Be Country Wide." Eli Young Band logs its second top 10 this week with "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" (Republic Nashville), which advances 12-10.
Top local audience penetration for "Truck" during the May 14-20 Nielsen BDS tracking week is noted at KKGO Los Angeles (1.1 million impressions), KILT Houston (965,000), WUSN Chicago (939,000), WYCD Detroit (789,000) and KMNB Minneapolis (746,000). In terms of the most spins during the song's climb to No. 1, WSOC Charlotte, N.C. leads with 1,106 plays since Sept. 19, 2011, followed by WQMX Akron, Ohio (1,070 since Sept. 23, 2011) and WUBE Cincinnati (1,040 since Oct. 5, 2011).
The accompanying videoclip has also been an important driver for the song since its Oct. 18, 2011 premiere on Great American Country (GAC). Nielsen BDS reports that the cable channel has aired the clip 401 times since then. It has also played 473 times since November 17 on CMT Prime, and 222 times since December 13 on CMT. "Truck" ranks at No. 5 in its 21st chart week on Country Digital Songs, with 50,000 downloads.
Although he's debuted higher five times on Country Songs, Kenny Chesney posts an impressive No. 24 start with "Come Over" (BNA), the second single from his upcoming "Welcome to the Fishbowl" album, due June 19. "Over" also starts at No. 3 on Country Digital Songs with 60,000 downloads.
Lead single "Feel Like a Rock Star" (duet with Tim McGraw) ranks at No. 18 following a No. 11 peak two weeks ago, marking the first time Chesney has stopped short of the top 10 as a lead artist with a promoted single since "The Tin Man" peaked at No. 19 in 2001.
The song is just one of three top 30 debuts in the Nielsen BDS era (since January 1990) to fall short of the top 10; Hank Williams Jr. opened at No. 28 in September 1990 with the Gulf War anthem "Don't Give Us a Reason," which peaked at No. 27 the following week. Likewise, Garth Brooks' "The Fever" opened at No. 27 in November 1995 and rose to No. 23 the following month.
Country Music Hall of Famer Willie Nelson claims his highest charting album on the Billboard 200 since 1982, as "Heroes" (Legacy/Columbia) debuts at No. 18 with 17,000 sold. The new set includes guests like Snoop Dogg and Sheryl Crow and posts his best rank since 1982's No. 2 "Always on My Mind." Nelson's new set opens at No. 4 on Country Albums, his best rank since "Country Music" opened at No. 4 two years ago. A collection of covers titled "Remember Me" peaked on opening week at No. 40 last December.
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield in Los Angeles.