"The fact that fans actually are playing it over and over again just makes it so surreal and lives out what the lyrics say, which is a dream come true."
Illinois debuted atop Billboard's Top Country Albums on Oct. 3, 2015, marking his first leader. It has sold 164,000 copies to date. Eldredge's newest LP is the holiday set Glow, which opened on Top Country Albums at its No. 2 high on Nov. 19. On the latest survey, Glow increases 33 percent and climbs 8-5, selling 16,000, its biggest sales week so far.
One of Glow's tracks, an update of the iconic holiday staple "Baby, It's Cold Outside," featuring Meghan Trainor, lifts 35-31 on Hot Country Songs. On Country Airplay, "Baby" debuts at No. 52, increasing 104 percent to 1 million audience impressions. Over on Adult Contemporary, it pushes 3-2.
SUNDANCE'S DAY IN THE SUN: On Dec. 13, Texas native Sundance Head was crowned the winner of season 11 of NBC's The Voice. Competing for Team Blake (Shelton), Head triumphed over runner-up Billy Gilman. We McDonald and Josh Gallagher finished third and fourth, respectively.
Following the episode, all three songs that Head performed that night claim spots in the top four of the Country Digital Song Sales chart. "Darlin' Don't Go," penned by Head for his wife, Misty, starts atop the survey, selling 60,000 downloads in the week ending Dec. 15. On Hot Country Songs, it debuts at No. 4, marking his first top 10.
"At Last," written in 1941 by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and later recorded by the legendary Etta James (who took it to No. 2 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 1961), was also covered during the broadcast by Head. It enters Country Digital Song Sales at No. 2 (44,000) and Hot Country Songs at No. 11.
The other song Head performed on that episode of The Voice was "Treat Her Right," originally recorded by his dad, Roy Head, who reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his version in 1965 (and charted 24 Hot Country Songs entries in 1974-85). Sundance Head's version of the song (which his father wrote with Gene Kurtz), performed on The Voice with Shelton, enters Country Digital Song Sales at No. 4 (26,000) and Hot Country Songs at No. 24.
Meanwhile, Gallagher's original song "Pick Any Small Town" rounds out the Country Digital Song Sales top four, all by finalists from The Voice, launching at No. 3 (31,000); it begins at No. 21 on Hot Country Songs.
Sundance Head's lock on three of the Country Digital Song Sales chart's top four (at Nos. 1, 2 and 4) marks the first time that an artist has logged three of the top four since Luke Bryan on Dec. 14, 2013, with his featured turn on Florida Georgia Line's "This is How We Roll" (No. 1) and his own "That's My Kind of Night" (No. 2) and "Drink a Beer" (No. 4).
The record is held by Taylor Swift, who went four-for-four atop the Country Digital Song Sales chart dated Nov. 13, 2010: "Sparks Fly" (No. 1), "Innocent" (No. 2), "The Story of Us" (No. 3) and "Dear John" (No. 4).
NEW TOP 10s: Billboard's Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts each welcome new top 10s. On Hot Country Songs, Tim McGraw's "How I'll Always Be" hops 12-10. It's his 54th appearance in the region, the most of all artists since he first hit the top 10 with "Indian Outlaw" on March 26, 1994; Kenny Chesney follows with 49 in that span (also encompassing his career total).
On Country Airplay, Dustin Lynch's "Seein' Red" gains 16 percent to 23 million audience impressions and skips 13-10, marking his fifth top 10.