Cole Swindell & Carrie Underwood Take Over Country Songs Charts
Cole Swindell's ode to his late father, William, "You Should Be Here,” climbs 2-1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart (dated March 26). It's his second leader, following his 2014 debut single, "Chillin' It," which led for two weeks. "Here," penned by Swindell and Ashley Gorley, dethrones Thomas Rhett's "Die a Happy Man" (1-2) after 17 weeks on top, the third-longest reign in the chart's history.
"To be sitting at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart makes me so proud," says Swindell. "I know my dad is smiling down on me."
"Here" hops 4-3 on Country Airplay, increasing by 8 percent to 39.4 million in audience, according to Nielsen Music; holds at No. 4 on Country Streaming Songs (2.1 million U.S. streams, up 4 percent); and dips 2-5 on Country Digital Songs (30,000 sold, down 4 percent).
Swindell's new leader is the title track from his sophomore studio album, due May 6.
THE SONG TO 'BEAT': Carrie Underwood scores her first No. 1 on Country Airplay in nearly three-and-a-half years, as "Heartbeat" ascends 2-1 (45.6 million, up 1 percent). The song is her 14th Country Airplay No. 1, widening her lead for the most among women. Reba McEntire ranks second with 11.
From a tour stop in Dublin, where she's headlining the Country to Country Tour, Underwood tells Billboard, "It's always exciting to share my music and stories, but it's extra special when a song I co-wrote seems to connect so wonderfully with radio and my incredible fans."
The ballad marks Underwood's first No. 1 since "Blown Away" in 2012. In between (spanning her longest gap between leaders), she peaked at No. 2 with four singles and added two other top 10s.
What helped "Heartbeat" return Underwood to the summit? "Lyrically, it's a real country song," says Cumulus vp programming Charlie Cook. "When it comes on the radio, it's one that I'm truly comfortable hearing. I believe that the format is taking a slight turn, and 'Heartbeat' fits that direction."
"It seems that she may have taken time before this project to reevaluate where she's headed, to remain as relevant as possible to her existing fans and to widen her mass-appeal to draw in new ones," says WXTU Philadelphia PD Shelly Easton. "This single tested well early on, further proving that she'll likely remain one of country’s superstars."
'SNAP' CHAT: Also on Country Airplay, Old Dominion notches its second top 10, following the two-week No. 1 debut "Break Up With Him," as "Snapback" pushes 11-9. It's up 11 percent to 28.6 million impressions.
BLAKE'S BEST BOW: Blake Shelton's "Came Here to Forget" bounds in atop Country Digital Songs with 53,000 sold in its first week, becoming his fourth No. 1 (and third No. 1 debut). The lead single from his 12th studio album, due May 20, also begins at No. 6 on Hot Country Songs, arriving as both his highest debut and 25th top 10. On Country Airplay, "Forget" launches at No. 18 (16.3 million), tying 2014's eventual No. 1 "Neon Light" for his highest entrance.
'KIND' OF A BIG DEAL: Tim McGraw notches his 52nd Hot Country Songs top 10, as "Humble and Kind" climbs 12-8. The track bullets at No. 4 on Country Digital Songs (33,000, up 9 percent).
SMITH, LYNN LAUNCH: On Top Country Albums, Granger Smith's Remington arrives at a career-high No. 3, selling 24,000 in its release week.
Additionally, Loretta Lynn earns her landmark 40th Top Country Albums top 10, as Full Circle debuts at No. 4 (20,000). On the Billboard 200, it opens at a career-best No. 19. The latter rank surpasses the No. 24 start and peak of her Jack White-produced 2004 album Van Lear Rose (37,000 in its first week, still her best sales frame in the nearly 25-year Nielsen Music era).
In December 2015, Lynn was bestowed Legend honors at Billboard's Women in Music celebration. "I look back and see the artists I'd met when I'd first come to Nashville, and they haven't been on the road in 30 years," she mused. "I'm still hitting that road and doing as much as I always did. I never drank, I never smoked. I always took care of myself like that. I've been singing for a long time. And I haven't quit."
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.