Sturgill Simpson Sails Post-'SNL'; Lady Antebellum Returns to Country Charts
On Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated Feb. 4), Sturgill Simpson's former No. 1 A Sailor's Guide to Earth bounces back from 19-3. The set also jumps 7-2 on Americana/Folk Albums. Fueling the flights was Simpson's Jan. 14 appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live (the show's first episode of 2017), sparking the album's 311 percent vault to 6,000 copies sold in the week ending Jan. 19, according to Nielsen Music. Simpson performed two tracks from A Sailor's Guide, "Keep It Between the Lines" and "Call to Arms."
A Sailor's Guide debuted at No. 1 on Top Country Albums and Americana/Folk Albums on the charts dated May 7, 2016 (with 52,000 sold), marking his first leader on each list. It has sold 162,000 to date.
Meanwhile on Top Country Albums, Chris Stapleton's Traveller leads for a 27th week (10,000 sold), and Natalie Hemby -- likely best known for penning hits for other acts, including Little Big Town's 2012 Hot Country Songs No. 1 "Pontoon" -- opens at No. 31 on Top Country Albums and No. 10 on Americana/Folk Albums with Puxico, selling 1,000 in its first week.
As a writer, Hemby has scored six Hot Country Songs top 10s. In addition to "Pontoon," she has co-authored Lady Antebellum's "Downtown" (No. 2, 2013); Miranda Lambert's "White Liar" (No. 2, 2010), "Baggage Claim" (No. 3, 2011) and "Automatic" (No. 4, 2014); and Little Big Town's "Tornado" (No. 6, 2013).
'AIN'T' AIN'T DONE: Keith Urban's "Blue Ain't Your Color" tops the Hot Country Songs chart for a 12th week. Since the survey launched as a multimetric tally in 1958, only 10 songs have spent more time at No. 1. "Blue" matches two other 12-week rulers: Luke Bryan's "That's My Kind of Night" (2013) and Cowboy Copas' "Alabam" (1960). The record for the longest-running No. 1 belongs to Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise": 24 weeks in 2012-13.
Supporting Urban's continued command, "Blue" rules Country Streaming Songs for a sixth week, increasing by 2 percent to 4.9 million U.S. streams.
HAPPY 'GUY': Blake Shelton's "A Guy With a Girl" leads Country Airplay for a second week, up by 4 percent to 47.4 million audience impressions. "I'm so proud of this album [If I'm Honest] and every song on it," Shelton tells Billboard. " 'A Guy With a Girl' is part of the story of my life, especially this past year-and-a-half, and I'm damn happy to celebrate it being No. 1."
NEW TOP 10s: Eric Church banks his 13th Hot Country Songs top 10, as "Kill a Word," featuring Rhiannon Giddens, rises 13-10. On Country Airplay, it bumps 12-11 (24.4 million in audience, up 3 percent).
Concurrently, Country Airplay welcomes two new top 10s, led by Brad Paisley's "Today," which hops 11-9 (26 million, up 9 percent). Paisley adds his 34th top 10, tying Garth Brooks for ninth place among acts with the most top 10s in the chart's 27-year history. George Strait leads with 61.
Also, Michael Ray's "Think a Little Less" jumps 14-10 in its 40th week on Country Airplay (24.9 million, up 12 percent). Ray notches a second top 10, following his debut No. 1, "Kiss You in the Morning" (Aug. 22, 2015).
'GOOD' NEWS: Lady Antebellum posts its first entry on Country Airplay since the No. 16-peaking "Long Stretch of Love" (Oct. 3, 2015), as new single "You Look Good" launches at No. 27 with 8.4 million in audience. The debut marks the trio's second-highest Country Airplay arrival among 26 appearances, second only to "Downtown," which entered at No. 25 on Feb. 9, 2013, before hitting No. 1 for two weeks. ("Good" also begins on Hot Country Songs at No. 41.)
The new Lady A single, penned by Hillary Lindsey, Ryan Hurd and busbee, was released Jan. 19 as the lead single from the group's sixth studio LP, Heart Break, due June 9. To support the set, the act will embark on the You Look Good World Tour, beginning May 26 in Bakersfield, Calif., with Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young set as opening acts.