Tim McGraw has competed 46 times in the top 10 on Country Songs, and nearly made it a two-fer this week, as his current solo single "Better Than I Used to Be" enters the upper tier (11-10), and a new duet with Kenny Chesney barely misses a top 10 start. With 21.6 million audience impressions, "Feel Like a Rock Star" opens at No. 13, the second-highest debut since the chart adopted Nielsen BDS-based rankings in January 1990. Over that 22-year span, here is a look at the list's highest entrances. Notably, Chesney boasts three of the select nine top 20 arrivals (as does Garth Brooks):
• No. 1, "More Than a Memory," Garth Brooks, Sept. 15, 2007
• No. 13, "Feel Like a Rock Star," Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw, April 21, 2012
• No. 16, "Don't Blink," Kenny Chesney, Sept. 8, 2007
• No. 17, "The Boys of Fall," Kenny Chesney, July 31, 2010
• No. 17, "Once in a Lifetime," Keith Urban, Sept. 2, 2006
• No. 18, "Good Ride Cowboy," Garth Brooks, Oct. 22, 2005
• No. 19, "I Saw God Today," George Strait, Feb. 23, 2008
• No. 19, "The Thunder Rolls," Garth Brooks, May 18, 1991
• No. 20, "So Small," Carrie Underwood, Aug. 18, 2007
As for a potential predictor of future success after such a lofty launch, all of the songs above peaked at No. 1 on Country Songs except for Urban's "Lifetime" (No. 6) and Brooks' "Cowboy" (No. 3). "Rock Star" additionally arrives as the highest-bowing duet between two co-lead artists in the chart's BDS-era history, besting the No. 31 starts of Brad Paisley and Urban's "Start a Band" the week of Sept. 27, 2008, and Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett's "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" (June 21, 2003). Both songs eventually reached No. 1, while the latter track went on to spend eight weeks at the summit, a reign that tied the song with Lonestar's "Amazed" (1999) for the chart's longest command since 1966.
Chesney and McGraw premiered "Rock Star" on CBS' April 1 telecast of the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Chesney's label serviced the song to country radio stations during the festivities. The handsome debut was driven partially by coordinated hourly play on Monday, April 1 at Clear Channel-owned stations, 40 of which are represented on the Country Songs panel.
"Rock Star" previews Chesney's 15th studio album, "Welcome to the Fishbowl," due June 19. The song was released digitally at midnight April 2 and debuts on Country Digital Songs at No. 3 with 93,000 downloads sold. It enters the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 40.
LEAD 'WOMAN': In addition to Chesney and McGraw's grand chart entrance, Lee Brice ascends to his first Country Songs No. 1, as "A Woman Like You" rises 2-1. Brice had previously peaked as high as No. 3 with "Love Like Crazy" in 2010. The song set the record for the longest stay (56 weeks) in the chart's 68-year history.
BIG RASCALS: Rascal Flatts pads its lead as the group with the most No. 1 debuts on Country Albums in the 21 year-old Nielsen SoundScan era, as "Changed" becomes the trio's sixth set to open at the summit. Lady Antebellum follows with three top starts, while the Dixie Chicks have a pair of No. 1 debuts during that time frame.
Rascal Flatts' new album arrives with 130,000 copies sold, good for a No. 2 start on the Billboard 200. The trio's biggest opening week was noted when "Me and My Gang" stated with 722,000 copies six years ago. "Banjo" is the lead track from the new album; it bullets at No. 6 on Country Songs and No. 15 on Country Digital Songs (35,000 downloads).
Additional reporting by Gary Trust.