After winning the 10th season of "American Idol" Wednesday, Scotty McCreery blasts onto Billboard's Nielsen BDS-based Hot Country Songs chart at No. 32 with coronation track "I Love You This Big."
McCreery performed the song after hearing host Ryan Seacrest announce his victory, as well as the night before (May 24), on "Idol."
The bow marks the highest for a brand new artist's first single since the chart converted to BDS data the week of Jan. 20, 1990.
Among new artists (unaccompanied by established acts), another musical reality program champion previously held the mark for highest Hot Country Songs launch on an initial try. Brad Cotter, winner of the second season of "Nashville Star," charged in at No. 42 with "I Meant To" the week of May 22, 2004. The song peaked at No. 35 that August.
(Counting new artists arriving with previously-charted acts, Toby Keith's daughter Krystal debuted at No. 41 with her father on their duet "Mockingbird" on the Nov. 27, 2004, chart. The song reached No. 27. Like McCreery, the younger Keith was 17 at the time of her bow).
"Big" begins with 3.2 million audience impressions on 76 of the 127 stations that report to Hot Country Songs. Unsurprisingly, WQDR in Raleigh, N.C. - six miles north of McCreery's hometown of Garner, N.C. - led all panelists with 24 plays in the chart's tracking week. In the aftermath of its local hero's victory, the station has dubbed itself "Scotty 94.7" (complete with an "Idol"-inspired logo).
McCreery isn't the only "Idol" finalist from this season to translate four months of exposure on the series to a Hot Country Songs appearance. Runner-up Lauren Alaina likewise bows at No. 49 with "Like My Mother Does." The 16-year-old also premiered her ballad on last Tuesday's finale showdown against McCreery.
The airplay for "Big" and "Like" will further fuel the songs' expected debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 to be released Thursday (June 2) on Billboard.biz. As previously reported, McCreery's song could flirt with a top 10 entrance, while Alaina's could arrive in the top 20, thanks primarily to strong first-week digital sales sums.
All charts will be refreshed Thursday (June 2) on Billboard.biz.