Sweet 16: Luke Combs Breaks Hot Country Songs Chart Record Held for Two Decades

Jim Wright
Luke Combs

Combs claims an unprecedented 16 titles on the Nov. 23 survey.

Add another honor to Luke Combs' record-breaking week, as he rewrites a mark that has stood on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for nearly 22 years.

As Combs' second full-length, What You See Is What You Get, launches as his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and third leader on Top Country Albums (dated Nov. 23), he charts 16 songs from the set on Hot Country Songs -- the most ever in a week for a single artist.

Combs surpasses Garth Brooks, who posted 12 titles on the Hot Country Songs chart dated Dec. 6, 1997.

Here's a look at all 16 of Combs' entries on the latest Hot Country Songs ranking. Ten are debuts, while the others' chart arcs are noted:

Rank, Title
No. 2, "Even Though I'm Leaving" (up from No. 3, new peak)
No. 14, "Better Together"
No. 24, "1, 2 Many" (feat. Brooks & Dunn; re-entry, reached No. 20 in September)
No. 30, "What You See Is What You Get" (re-entry, new peak)
No. 31, "Refrigerator Door" (re-entry, reached No. 20 in June)
No. 32, "Does to Me" (feat. Eric Church)
No. 33, "Lovin' on You" (re-entry, reached No. 19 in June)
No. 36, "Moon Over Mexico" (re-entry, reached No. 21 in June)
No. 38, "All Over Again"
No. 39, "Reasons"
No. 41, "Nothing Like You"
No. 42, "Blue Collar Boys"
No. 43, "Dear Today"
No. 45, "New Every Day"
No. 47, "Every Little Bit Helps"
No. 49, "Angels Workin' Overtime"

With Combs' latest haul, all 17 songs from the new album have reached Hot Country Songs; lead single "Beer Never Broke My Heart" hit No. 2 in August before departing the chart earlier this month.

Meanwhile, five of the set's songs ("Beer," "Refrigerator," "Even," "Lovin' " and "Moon") first appeared on Combs' EP The Prequel, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart dated June 22, when four of the tunes bowed on Hot Country Songs, joining "Beer," which had debuted in May.

The Prequel also sparked Hot Country Songs highlights for Combs, who on the June 22-dated survey became the first artist to place five songs in the top 25 in the same week since Johnny Cash 60 years earlier.

Combs claims the mark for the most simultaneous Hot Country Songs entries overall from Brooks, whose 12 titles on the Dec. 6, 1997, chart stood as a record for just shy of 22 years. Of those songs, 11 (including 10 debuts that week) are from his album Sevens, which debuted atop the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums a week later, on Dec. 13, 1997.

(Why did Brooks' songs chart a week before the album's chart arrival? As Billboard wrote in the Dec. 6, 1997, issue, Capitol Nashville's then-vp of national promotion, Terry Stevens, cited "an unfortunate and unauthorized leak" of Sevens to country radio stations. Stevens went on to note, "Our initial concern after learning of the leak would be that perception might dictate that this was some sort of marketing or advertising ploy by the Brooks camp. That is absolutely untrue, and we followed his wishes to rush-ship the album to radio.")

As for a similarity between Combs and Brooks' sets, beyond each's impressive blanketing of Hot Country Songs? "Beer"-flavored lead singles. Of Brooks' dozen entries on Dec. 6, 1997, Sevens' "Long Neck Bottle" led the way at No. 4, two weeks before beginning a three-week reign.

Notably, the methodology of Hot Country Songs differed in 1997 from its current incarnation. Then, the chart was purely airplay-based and 75 positions deep. Now, airplay, streaming and sales data blend on the 50-position list.

As previously reported, What You See Is What You Get logged 58,000 in streaming equivalent albums (SEA) in its opening week, according to Nielsen Music, a total that translates to 74 million on-demand audio streams for the album's 17 songs during the tracking week, a new one-week streaming record for a country album.

Combs concurrently banks his record-extending seventh straight career-opening No. 1 single on Country Airplay with "Even," while he scores his first week at No. 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart.

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