Chris Stapleton Logs 12th Week Atop Country Albums Chart; Next Up: Grammys
Twelve weeks into his reign at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, Chris Stapleton maintains his thundering momentum ahead of the 58th annual Grammy Awards.
Action began to pick up for Stapleton after the Country Music Association Awards (CMAs) on Nov. 4, 2015, when he won triple honors: male vocalist, new artist and album of the year, the lattermost for his first set, Traveller.
He and Justin Timberlake also gave what many consider to be the definitive performance of the night with Traveller track "Tennessee Whiskey" and Timberlake's "Drink You Away" (from the latter's The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2).
Now, Stapleton boasts four nominations for the Grammy Awards, which CBS will broadcast live on Feb. 15 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Traveller is competing in the all-genre album of the year category, as well as for best country album, while Stapleton is also up for best country solo performance and best country song for the set's title track.
After debuting on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart dated May 23, 2015, at No. 2 with 27,000 sold, according to Nielsen Music, Traveller remained in the list's top 40 for its first six months (26 weeks) before vaulting 25-1 after the CMAs, on the chart dated Nov. 21 (153,000; up a whopping 6,412 percent). Additionally, the set became the first ever to re-enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1. To date the album has sold 830,000 copies. The LP logs its 12th week at No. 1 on Top Country Albums (dated Feb. 20) (27,000, down 3 percent).
On Country Airplay, Traveller single "Nobody to Blame" lifts 19-17 (20 million audience impressions, up 10 percent).
Mercury vp promotion Damon Moberly believes that much of Stapleton's success is due to a continuing build-out since the CMAs. "His performance was obviously a watershed moment that we needed to take advantage of," he tells Billboard. "He was unknown to many until the show. Since then, there's just been an ongoing discovery. He's also been presenting his album as a complete body of work when he makes media appearances, so he won't perform just the single. For instance, he played 'Parachute' on Saturday Night Live [on Jan. 16]. With radio, I think a lot of programmers wanted to play him previously and just felt a little more confident after the CMAs."
"Stapleton's talent is undeniable," adds WXTU Philadelphia PD Shelly Easton. "His voice resonates, which is what music is intended to do for the listener. It's like the music actually flows through him and, in turn, it draws us in."
OH 'MAN' On Hot Country Songs, Thomas Rhett's love song "Die a Happy Man" continues its reign, ranking at the summit for a 13th week (and seventh consecutively). "Man" moves into a tie for seventh place for the most weeks at No. 1 on the survey with Ray Price's 1958 smash "City Lights" and Little Big Town's "Girl Crush," which reached No. 1 on the May 9, 2015, chart.
Speaking of "Crush," the song is nominated for three Grammy Awards, including the song of the year. It's also up for best country song and best country duo/group performance, and its parent album, Pain Killer, is nominated for best country album.
GO, 'HOME' Luke Bryan's "Home Alone Tonight" (Capitol Nashville), featuring Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild, tops Country Airplay for a second week, growing by 3 percent to 49.6 million audience impressions. On Hot Country Songs, the track places at its No. 3 high for a fifth week.
ZAC ZOOMS Lastly, Country Airplay welcomes a new top 10 as Zac Brown Band's "Beautiful Drug" pushes 11-9 (32 million in audience, up 12 percent). "Drug" is the third country single from Jekyll + Hyde, following "Homegrown" (No. 1 for three weeks beginning April 11, 2015) and "Loving You Easy" (No. 1, Aug. 29).
ZBB scores its 16th Country Airplay top 10. In the chart's 26-year history, among groups of at least three members, its top 10 count trails only those of Rascal Flatts (29), Alabama (24), Diamond Rio (19) and Lonestar (18).
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.