Carrie Underwood's 'Smoke' Rises, Sam Hunt Parties His Way to Another No. 1
Carrie Underwood's "Smoke Break" leaps 36-5 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart (dated Sept. 12). The first single from her fifth studio album, Storyteller (Oct. 23), is her 22nd top 10 on the survey, a total that encompasses all of her (non-seasonal) singles promoted to country radio. "Smoke" debuts on Country Digital Songs at No. 1 with 56,000 sold in the week ending Aug. 27, according to Nielsen Music. It's her fourth No. 1 debut on the list and fifth leader overall.
"'Smoke Break' is essentially an anthem for hardworking people," Underwood tells Billboard. "There are times in all of our lives when we're just stressed out and tired and we need a break, so it's just about having that moment to be able to step away from whatever it is that's stressing you out and just have a moment for yourself."
Given Underwood's sterling radio track record, programmers are, unsurprisingly, approving of her latest single. " 'Smoke Break' gets Underwood right back into the mainstream of country music," says WSM-FM and WKDF Nashville PD Charlie Cook. "The lyrics address the hectic lives everyone now lives, and the production stands out as a testament that she is willing to take chances, yet play within what her fans expect."
The song is "an anthem for the overwhelmed, something we can all relate to, and amen," says iHeartMedia senior vp programming Gator Harrison. "It's a smash."
Big 'House': Sam Hunt registers his third Country Airplay No. 1 in as many chart visits as "House Party" rallies 2-1 in its 30th week (47.3 million, up 2 percent). Hunt's debut single, "Leave the Night On," topped the Nov. 15, 2014 list and "Take Your Time" led May 2.
Hunt is the first artist to take three introductory Country Airplay entries (promoted to radio and excluding holiday fare) to No. 1 since 2008 to 2009, when Darius Rucker pulled off the hat trick with "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," "It Won't Be Like This for Long" and "Alright."
Back for Moore: Kip Moore's second album, Wild Ones, bounds onto Top Country Albums at No. 2 with 35,000 sold. Moore bests the rank of his first set, Up All Night, which debuted and peaked at No. 2 in May 2012, although that album scanned a slightly higher first-week sum (37,000). The new release's lead single, "I'm to Blame" (co-written by Moore, who co-penned all 13 songs on the set), holds at No. 21 (a notch below its No. 20 high) on Country Airplay and pushes 27-24 on Hot Country Songs.
Moore had finished his second album months ago, but scrapped it and started over. "I'm finally understanding the purpose of the delay," Moore explains. "I've always been a spiritual person and, with that, I knew there was a lesson in all of this. I can rest knowing I made the record that I wanted to make."
Meanwhile, Luke Bryan's Kill the Lights rules Top Country Albums for a third week (54,000 units, down 35 percent). It has sold 458,000 during its first three weeks.
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.