Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan & Brett Eldredge Add New No. 1s on Country Charts
Kenny Chesney scores his 26th No. 1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart (dated Oct. 3) as "Save It for a Rainy Day" jumps 4-1 in its 14th week with 48 million audience impressions (up 10 percent), according to Nielsen Music. Chesney ties Alan Jackson and George Strait for the second-most leaders in the chart's 25-year history. Tim McGraw leads with 27 No. 1s.
The midtempo "Day" is Chesney's fourth Country Airplay leader from his album The Big Revival. Story-song "American Kids" led the Sept. 20, 2014 list, followed by pop-rocker "Til It's Gone" (Jan. 31) and the folky "Wild Child" with Grace Potter (June 27). The set has sold 419,000 copies to date. Chesney last notched four Country Airplay No. 1s from an LP with 2010's Hemingway's Whiskey: "The Boys of Fall," "Somewhere With You," "Live a Little" and "Reality."
"The Big Revival represents a big risk for me as an artist," Chesney tells Billboard. "To reinvent oneself without losing your roots requires a lot of focus, time and creative commitment. The response from both country radio and the fans makes me feel like the year I spent writing, listening to songs, recording and rethinking everything about how we do it was worth it.
"I'm blessed to have [producer] Buddy Cannon, Nashville's writing community and the incredible musicians on this album to realize what we were trying to do," he says. "It amazes me and inspires me to start thinking about the next record ... and where we're going to try to take it."
"Having worked Kenny's first No. 1, 'She's Got It All,' I am proud to be involved in his latest," says Sony Music Nashville chairman/CEO Randy Goodman. "It is rare for an artist to have this kind of success in this marketplace, but Kenny's commitment to the music and speaking to his fans has always set him apart."
'DOWN' IS UP: Luke Bryan scores his 11th No. 1 on Hot Country Songs as "Strip It Down" soars 5-1. The sultry track is the second single, and second No. 1, from his album Kill the Lights. "Kick the Dust Up" spent two weeks on top starting Aug. 8.
"Strip" spends a third week atop Country Digital Songs (42,000 downloads sold, up 1 percent) and darts 8-4 on Country Streaming Songs (1.9 million U.S. streams, up 7 percent) and 8-6 on Country Airplay (36.8 million, up 17 percent).
STATELY START: Brett Eldredge posts his first Top Country Albums No. 1 as second studio set Illinois opens with 43,000 sold in the week ending Sept. 17. His 2013 debut opened at its No. 2 peak on the list (with 21,000 in its first week).
Eldredge co-wrote all 12 songs on the new album, including lead single "Lose My Mind" (up 6-5 on Hot Country Songs). He also co-produced the project with Ross Copperman. "This album is something that I really wanted to get right, so it's a big weight off my shoulders to complete it," Eldredge tells Billboard. "I've always felt like songs need to be real. I need to believe it and live it before I can sell myself."
The Paris, Illinois native (hence the album title) will hit the road this fall on a co-headlining tour with Thomas Rhett; it kicks off Oct. 27 in New York. "My most important relationship is with my fans," says Eldredge. "I love playing live. There's no better feeling than knowing that the people you're playing for like what you do."
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.