Blake Shelton's Double-Take: No. 1 on Top Country Albums, Country Airplay
Blake Shelton has turned in one of the best weeks of his career. Shelton, who just wrapped up his 10th season as a coach on NBC's The Voice, concurrently crowns Billboard's Top Country Albums and Country Airplay charts (dated June 11). He lands his 10th and 22nd leader on each list, respectively.
Shelton's If I'm Honest, produced by Scott Hendricks, sold 153,000 copies in its launch sales week (ending May 26), according to Nielsen Music. Meanwhile, the set's lead single, "Came Here to Forget," jumps 4-1 on Country Airplay in its 12th week, increasing by 9 percent to 44.9 million audience impressions. Shelton leads both charts simultaneously for the second time -- and for the first time with a full LP and a single. On Aug. 28, 2010, he debuted at No. 1 on Top Country Albums with his All About Tonight EP; the same week, its title track began a three-week reign on Country Airplay.
"At almost 40 years old and after 15 years in this business, who would have ever thought that I would have the biggest week of my career now?" Shelton muses to Billboard. "After hearing the news that I have the No. 1 album and No. 1 [radio] song, I am beside myself, my friends. Thank you for this incredible journey."
If I'm Honest's sum is the biggest for a country album in 2016 and the largest since Chris Stapleton's Traveller sold 153,000 (it actually moved slightly more than Shelton's total before its sales figure was rounded) following the 2015 Country Music Assn. Awards (Nov. 4), reflected on the chart dated Nov. 21. Shelton scores the best debut sales week since Carrie Underwood's Storyteller (164,000, Nov. 14, 2015).
Shelton additionally earns his second-largest album sales week. His last No. 1, 2013's Based on a True Story, arrived with 199,000; all five of his Top Country Albums toppers have bowed at No. 1.
On the all-genre, consumption-based Billboard 200, If I'm Honest arrives at No. 3 with 170,000 equivalent album units, below Drake's Views (No. 1; 189,000) and Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman (No. 2; 175,000). However, Shelton's set rules in pure album sales (and debuts at No. 1 on Top Album Sales), as his 153,000 sold bests Grande's 129,000.
As for "Forget," Shelton achieves not only his 22nd Country Airplay No. 1 but also his record 17th consecutive hit (counting only officially promoted, non-seasonal singles). The run, which began with 2010's "Hillbilly Bone" (featuring Trace Adkins), is the longest active streak by a wide margin; Luke Bryan follows with six (it's seven counting only lead billings).
"What an amazing ride this has been," says Warner Music Nashville chairman/CEO John Esposito. "I sincerely feel that, with If I'm Honest, Blake has made his best album ever."
What makes Shelton so consistently successful at radio? "Forget" has researched strongly, "as most of his singles do," says Cumulus Media director of Nash programming John Shomby. "His music is real, but it's also pretty simple. You hear the song, and most of us can identify with the feeling. The story of the song requires no interpretation, kind of like Blake himself."
"Blake is a superstar because he has this incredible gift for finding meaningful music," echoes iHeartMedia senior vp programming Gator Harrison. "If I'm Honest goes even deeper because it's his life's diary, song by song. It's seriously none of our business, but we all want to know, and there's no way not to listen."
Shelton's next single from the new set will be "She's Got a Way With Words," which is going for adds on June 6.
'CHURCH' MUSIC On Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, which blends airplay, sales and streaming data, Carrie Underwood's "Church Bells" vaults 13-10, marking her 24th top 10. She has yet to miss the top 10 with any song that has been promoted as a non-seasonal country single. "Church" rises 14-12 on Country Airplay (24.3 million, up 11 percent) and 15-13 on Country Streaming Songs (2 million, up 3 percent).
'LIGHTS' UP Jason Aldean's "Lights On" shines in the top 10 on Country Airplay, (12-10; 27.8 million, up 10 percent), becoming his 23rd top 10.
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.