"Invincible," co-written by Skillet's lead vocalist/bassist John Cooper, is the group's first leader among 25 Hot Christian Songs appearances. One had previously hit the top 10: Skillet's first entry, the No. 9-peaking "Rebirthing" in 2007. "We are thrilled to have our first No. 1 on Hot Christian Songs," Cooper tells Billboard. "It's so cool to see the dedication of the fans and awesome to see a Christian rock song cross some huge boundaries."
The coronation of "Invincible" is driven primarily by streaming. It lifts 7-6 on Christian Streaming Songs (968,000 U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music), while also climbing 13-9 on Christian Digital Song Sales (2,000 sold, up 15 percent).
Helping boost the profile of "Invincible," the track found a synch with the Atlantic Coast Conference for the entire 2016 football season, serving as the soundtrack for the opening video montage for each week's syndicated game and reaching more than 90 million households, according to the ACC.com. It also scored synchs with the WWE, TBS and Nickelodeon, among others, while becoming the first Christian song to crown the secular Mainstream Rock Songs chart. (The song's continued airplay at mainstream rock radio contributes to its current Hot Christian Songs rank.)
Skillet's Unleashed has sold 146,000 copies since its August release. The set became the group's third Top Christian Albums No. 1 when it debuted atop the chart dated Aug. 27, 2016 (with 58,000 sold). It opened at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, marking the band's third top 10 on the all-genre, consumption-based chart. On the Jan. 7-dated Top Christian Albums chart, Unleashed gains by 53 percent to 5,000 sold and pushes 11-9.
MAHER REIGNS: Matt Maher's co-penned holiday track "Glory (Let There Be Peace)" charges 11-1 on Christian Airplay, surging by 49 percent to 4 million audience impressions.
"At the heart of the holiday season is the announcement of peace on earth, and to not be afraid," Maher says. "More than ever, we all need the message of peace, and a life not governed by fear... I am so grateful to everyone at radio for the support this holiday season."
Maher's 11-1 romp to the Christian Airplay summit marks the biggest jump to No. 1 since Big Daddy Weave's "Redeemed" bounded 12-1 on the chart dated Jan. 12, 2013. The largest leap belongs to Third Day's "Cry Out to Jesus," which flew 13-1 on Jan. 14, 2006.
"Glory" is Maher's second Christian Airplay No. 1, following "Because He Lives (Amen)," which topped the April 4, 2015, chart. The singer-songwriter has collected seven top 10s, starting with his debut, "Your Grace Is Enough" (No. 4, 2008).
'MULE' KICKS BACK TO No. 1: Finally, Shirley Caesar's meme-driven "Hold My Mule," featuring Albertina Walker and Milton Brunson, rebounds 5-1 for a third week atop Hot Gospel Songs. "Mule" first hit No. 1 on the Dec. 10-dated chart, giving the 79-year-old Caesar her first leader on the list. The track also returns to the top of Gospel Streaming Songs, surging 54 percent to 781,000 U.S. streams.
To recap: Caesar, who first reached a Billboard chart in 1975, originally recorded "Mule" in 1988. The surge in popularity for the track began with social media meme the #UNameIt Challenge, started when DJ Suede the Remix God created an update of "Mule," with special focus on the line, "beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes" among other food shout-outs, timely for the holiday season.
On Dec. 9, reports surfaced that Caesar was suing DJ Suede for his version's references to alcohol. However, Caesar has apparently not sued, according to her attorney, James L. Walker, Jr. In a lengthy explanation posted on Caesar's Facebook page, Walker notes that Caesar, who is selling her own "Mule" merchandise at UnameitShirley.com, is doing so for charity and is unhappy that Suede's intention was for profit.