Chart Beat

Blake Shelton Tops Billboard's Country Airplay Chart for the 20th Time

Blake Shelton
Courtesy Photo

Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton steps to the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Country Airplay chart (dated July 11) as "Sangria" (Warner Bros./Warner Music Nashville) rises 2-1. The coronation marks Shelton's record-extending 15th consecutive No. 1 on the chart (counting only non-seasonal, promoted singles). "Sangria" leads the list with a 5 percent increase to 47 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen Music.

The song marks another milestone: It's Shelton's 20th Country Airplay No. 1.

Shelton's chart-topping Country Airplay streak began with "Hillbilly Bone" (featuring Trace Adkins), which topped the tally dated March 27, 2010. "Lonely Tonight" (featuring Ashley Monroe), Shelton's single directly before "Sangria," became his 14th No. 1 in a row (March 14). (He's posted 15 of his 20 No. 1s this decade after logging his first five in 2001-09.)

"Simply put, Blake keeps delivering the hits," says Warner Bros./WMN vp promotion Kristen Williams. "He continues to reinvent himself and release music that resonates deeply with fans."

Shelton's record run of 15 straight Country Airplay No. 1s should stand for quite a while, as three in a row is the next-best active string. The acts who have hit No. 1 with each of their last three entries (as lead acts on officially promoted singles): Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Brett Eldredge and Florida Georgia Line.

Notably, Shelton has crowned Country Airplay with every officially promoted single he has released this decade. His last non-No. 1 was "I'll Just Hold On," which reached No. 8 in September 2009.

Shelton additionally becomes only the seventh artist to have notched 20 or more No. 1s dating back to the Country Airplay chart's Jan. 20, 1990 launch. Tim McGraw leads with 27, followed by Alan Jackson, George Strait (26 each), Chesney (25), Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith and Shelton (20 each).

As Shelton stirs up his latest No. 1 with "Sangria," the song dethrones Kelsea Ballerini's "Love Me Like You Mean It" (Black River) after a week on top (1-6; 38 million, down 19 percent). Still, Ballerini's ascent to No. 1 on the July 4 chart is noteworthy, as her trip to the summit ended the longest dry spell among female solo artists (in lead roles) in the No. 1 position in the chart's 25-year history. Before "Love" reached the top, Carrie Underwood had been the last lead solo female to reign, when "Blown Away" spent two weeks at No. 1 beginning Oct. 27, 2012. That two-year, eight-month break between lead women at the apex topped the prior drought: two years, one month and three weeks, between Martina McBride's "Blessed" (2002) and Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" (2004).

Moving from a rookie female to a first-time-charting male, Michael Ray's debut entry, "Kiss You in the Morning" (Warner Bros./WEA), reaches the Country Airplay top 10 (12-10), up by 11 percent to 29.1 million. The song marks the fourth debut chart single to hit that region of the chart in 2015, following Chase Bryant's "Take It On Back" (Red Bow), which rose to No. 9 on Feb. 21; A Thousand Horses' "Smoke" (Republic Nashville) (No. 1, June 13); and Ballerini's "Love."

The sum of artists reaching Country Airplay's top 10 on their first tries in 2015 is double the amount of acts that did so at this point in 2014. Through charts dated the second week of July 2014, Cassadee Pope climbed to No. 10 with "Wasting All These Tears" (Republic Nashville) (Feb. 1, 2014) and Cole Swindell soared to No. 2 with "Chillin' It" (Warner Bros./WMN) (March 8, 2014).