Chris Stapleton Travels Back Up the Charts; Thomas Rhett Scores Again at Country Radio

Becky Fluke
Chris Stapleton

Plus, Cam and Maddie & Tae hit the Hot Country Songs top 10.

Thomas Rhett's single "Crash and Burn" steps 2-1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart (dated Sept. 26), drawing 47.2 audience impressions (up 1 percent), according to Nielsen Music.

The first single from Rhett's second studio album, Tangled Up, due Sept. 25, is his fourth Country Airplay No. 1, following "It Goes Like This" (three weeks on top in October-November 2013); "Get Me Some of That" (one, May 2014); and "Make Me Wanna" (one, March 2015). "Burn" marks Rhett's fastest trip to No. 1, reaching the summit in 23 weeks. His other chart-toppers took 29, 28 and 32 weeks, respectively.

"Burn," co-written by Jesse Frasure and Chris Stapleton, boasts an R&B/pop influence that Rhett felt was a bit of a reach for country radio. "I seriously can't believe this is my fourth No. 1 in a row. [In between "That" and "Wanna," Brantley Gilbert's "Small Town Throwdown," featuring Rhett and Justin Moore, reached No. 8.] This one is my favorite, though, because it was a gutsy call to release as a single," Rhett tells Billboard. "It's so fun when you try something different and it works in a big way. I feel very blessed to be celebrating today."

Country radio has clearly embraced the vibe of "Crash." "This one was an instant hit," says WYCD Detroit PD Tim Roberts. "Yeah, so it's not the countriest record. It has a fun, soulful groove that sticks in your head. Listeners love it; that's all that matters." Roberts adds that country has traditionally been somewhat of a melting pot, anyway. "Respectfully, I think that some well-meaning musicologists tend to overthink things. Our job has always been to serve music up listeners love, and they truly do with this song."

Echoes WKLB Boston PD Mike Brophey of "Crash," "It's just a great song. It's relatable, has solid tempo and is in heavy rotation, so that's a great 

performance story. As far as it being unique, it certainly did not offend WKLB listeners; it had the opposite effect. We are enjoying an eclectic format with a lot of different sounds, so this song fits right in."

On Sept. 23, two days prior to the release of Tangled Up, Rhett will perform in concert at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. As part of the event, billed as Tangled Up in Texas, attendees (who, beforehand, would be wise to get in a good hamstring stretch) will attempt the world record for the largest-ever game of Twister.

Meanwhile, Stapleton continues his resurgence on Top Country Albums, following the recent relaunch of his album Traveller. Bolstered by three Country Music Association Award nominations (album, new artist and male vocalist of the year), the set gains by 45 percent to 4,000 sold, claiming Greatest Gainer honors as it rises 20-13 in its 19th week.

NEW TOP 10s: Cam collects her first top 10 on Hot Country Songs, as "Burning House" climbs 11-8. The ballad lifts 22-19 on Country Airplay (18.9 million audience impressions, up with 11 percent). Maddie & Tae, whose Start Here debuted at No. 2 on the Sept. 19 Top Country Albums chart, achieve their second top 10 on Hot Country Songs, as "Fly" floats 12-9; it bullets at No. 10 on Country Airplay (28.2 million, up 6 percent). With the duo's debut hit, "Girl in a Country Song," having peaked at No. 3 on Hot Country Songs (and No. 1 on Country Airplay) in December 2014, the pair is the first female twosome to reach the Hot Country Songs top 10 on its first two tries since the Wreckers (Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp) with "Leave the Pieces" (No. 1) and "My, Oh My" (No. 9) in 2006-07.

'CRAZY' TALK: Dylan Scott's "Crazy Over Me" doesn't go for adds at country radio until Oct. 19, but the track, boosted by support from SiriusXM's The Highway, bows at No. 14 on Country Digital Songs. It starts with 16,000 first-week downloads sold.  

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