Francesca Battistelli Unwraps Fifth Christian Airplay No. 1

Francesca Battistelli performs onstage at the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards at The Fox Theatre on April 20, 2011 in Atlanta City.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for GMA

Francesca Battistelli performs onstage at the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards at The Fox Theatre on April 20, 2011 in Atlanta City. 

"Messiah" makes the biggest jump to No. 1 in 12 years. Plus, five Christmas songs enter the top 10.

Singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli scores her fifth No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Airplay chart and her first leader since 2015, as her new Christmas song "Messiah" vaults 13-1. The jump is the biggest to No. 1 for a song's first week on top in the chart's 14-year history.

"Messiah" surges 59 percent to 4 million audience impressions in the tracking week ending Dec. 24, according to Nielsen Music.

(The song tops the tally dated Jan. 3, marking a rare Wednesday-dated chart, instead of the usual Saturday, as Billboard is adjusting how it dates its charts and magazine issues.)

"Messiah," co-written by Battistelli with Molly Reed and Jeff Pardo, matches the biggest leap to No. 1 on Christian Airplay. Third Day's "Cry Out to Jesus" also roared 13-1, on the chart dated Jan. 14, 2006. "Cry" had already spent four previous weeks on top starting on Nov. 19, 2005, and then fell 3-13 on the Jan. 7, 2006-dated list, as radio stations filled their playlists with Christmas music. Once regular programming resumed, "Cry" bounded back to the penthouse the next week for an additional six frames.

"Messiah" is one of two new songs on Battistelli's Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years (along with "There Is No Other Name.") The set reached No. 35 on Top Christian Albums on Dec. 9.

The 32-year old Battistelli, originally from New York City, notches her first Christian Airplay No. 1 since "Holy Spirit" climbed 2-1 for its first of five weeks at No. 1 on the chart dated July 4, 2015.

Battistelli first led Christian Airplay on April 4, 2009, when "Free to Be Me" pushed 2-1 (for four weeks at the summit). She reigned again with "Write Your Story" (2014, one week) and "He Knows My Name" (2015, five weeks).

Battistelli's debut Christian Airplay appearance (of 27 to date) became her first top 10 (of 11), the No. 3-peaking "I'm Letting Go" in 2008.

STOCKING STUFFERS: Meanwhile, five additional holiday tracks jingle into the Christian Airplay top 10. Marc Martel's cover of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," featuring Plumb, jumps 14-2 (3.5 million in audience, up 46 percent). Martel earns his first Christian Airplay top 10 and Plumb posts her fourth, as well as her highest-charting; having first appeared on the chart in 2003, she previously reached a No. 3 high with her own "Need You Now (How Many Times)" in 2013.

The group Carrollton collects its first Christian Airplay top 10 as its version of "Go Tell It on the Mountain," featuring Jason Gray, climbs 16-3 (3.3 million, up 61 percent). Gray earns his fourth, and, like Plumb, highest-peaking, top 10.

We Are Messengers' "From Heaven to Earth (Joy to the World)" becomes the group's fourth Christian Airplay top 10, zooming 21-7 (2.9 million, up 76 percent). The Irish worship band's song reimagines "Joy to the World," with a new chorus.

Singer-songwriter Ryan Stevenson banks his third Christian Airplay top 10 as "This Christmas Eve," an original track that he co-wrote, romps 18-9 (2.7 million, up 65 percent).

Finally, Jasmine Murray's new holiday song, "For God So Loved," which she co-authored, dashes 20-10, up 72 percent to 2.7 million. Murray tallies her second Christian Airplay top 10 in as many appearances. Her debut single "Fearless" peaked at No. 9 (May 27).


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