Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell in Top 10 Again; LeAnn Rimes Ready for 'Christmas'

sam hunt, men of style 2015
David Needleman

Sam Hunt photographed on Aug. 12, 2015 at Industria in New York City.

Two artists earn milestones on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart (dated Nov. 7), notching their fourth top 10s from their respective debut albums: Sam Hunt, from Montevallo, and Cole Swindell, from his self-titled first set. (Both acts also co-wrote all of their top 10s.)

Hunt's "Break Up in a Small Town" marches 14-7 on Hot Country Songs, following three No. 1s: "Leave the Night On" (one week on top; Nov. 15, 2014), "Take Your Time" (11, beginning Feb. 21) and "House Party" (six, beginning Aug. 22). Meanwhile, Montevallo celebrates a year (52 weeks) on Top Country Albums, upping 7-5 (10,000 sold in the week ending Oct. 22, up 8 percent, according to Nielsen Music; it has sold 810,000 to date).

MCA Nashville vp promotion Katie Dean tells Billboard, "Sam is special because he's different. He writes amazing songs, pushes boundaries and makes music that resonates with both core country listeners and fans of great music in general. The fact that we have four top 10 singles on this project speaks to the album's depth. There are still more songs radio is clamoring for."

Swindell's "Let Me See You Girl" paces 11-9 on Hot Country Songs for, likewise, his fourth top 10 on the tally. His debut single, "Chillin' It," reached No. 1 for two weeks starting March 1, 2014, followed by "Hope You Get Lonely Tonight" (No. 7) and "Ain't Worth the Whiskey" (No. 3). His introductory LP, in its 88th week on Top Country Albums (36-27), has sold 430,000 since its release.

"All I ever wanted to do was get one of my songs heard on country radio," Swindell tells Billboard. "However, to now have my fourth top 10 single is unbelievable to me."

The last solo male artist to pull four Hot Country Songs top 10s from a debut country album? Darius Rucker, whose 2008 Learn to Live (his first country set) spawned three No. 1s ("Don't Think I Don't Think About It," "It Won't Be Like This for Long" and "Alright" and the No. 3-peaking "History in the Making").

Among all acts, Florida Georgia Line most recently churned out four top 10s on the chart from its 2012 debut full-length, Here's to the Good Times: the No. 1s "Cruise" (on top for a record 24 weeks) and "Stay," plus "Get Your Shine On" (No. 5) and "Round Here" (No. 3).

HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS: It might not be Halloween yet, but LeAnn Rimes is ready for Christmas. She sends the first holiday set this season onto Top Country Albums as Today Is Christmas dashes in at No. 18 (2,000). It's Rimes' third charted seasonal set, following What a Wonderful World (No. 13, 2004) and her EP One Christmas: Chapter 1 (No. 20, 2014).

Today includes two new songs, both co-written by Rimes: "I Still Believe in Santa Claus" and the title track. Classics like "Little Drummer Boy," "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Auld Lang Syne" round out the rest. Rimes begins her Today Is Christmas Tour on Dec. 4.

Among other new holiday music this season: Kenny RogersOnce Again It's Christmas, released Oct. 23, and Mickey Guyton's single "Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” originally from Disney's blockbuster Frozen, just sent to radio.

When should country radio start airing seasonal songs? Programming consultant Joel Raab says it depends on the market. "If a market has three all-Christmas stations, the country station may play less than they might otherwise. Listeners tell us they don't want to hear much, if any, Christmas music before Thanksgiving. In most instances, we advise that you play a little more during Thanksgiving weekend when folks are out shopping, especially Black Friday. Then, back off after Thanksgiving and heavy up as it gets closer to Christmas."

This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.


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