Chris Young Brings Vince Gill Back to No. 1 on Country Airplay; Little Big Town Leads Albums Chart
With "The Breaker," LBT earns its third No. 1 on Top Country Albums. Plus, chart action for Aaron Watson, Luke Bryan & Luke Combs.
In its 39th week on Billboard's Country Airplay chart (dated March 18), Chris Young's "Sober Saturday Night," featuring Vince Gill, ascends 2-1. The song increased 5 percent to 41.4 million audience impressions in the tracking week ending March 5, according to Nielsen Music.
"Sober," which Young penned with brothers Brad and Brett Warren, is Young's eighth Country Airplay leader and the third straight from his fifth studio album, I'm Comin' Over, following "Think of You," with Cassadee Pope (May 14, 2016), and the title track (three weeks, beginning Nov. 26, 2015).
Gill's return to No. 1 makes for a historic achievement on Country Airplay, which launched Jan. 20, 1990. "Sober" marks his first No. 1 in 23 years and one week, since "Tryin' to Get Over You" topped the March 12, 1994-dated list. ("Sober" is his sixth total leader on the list.) His gap between No. 1s is the lengthiest in the chart's archives, besting Alabama's 17-year, six-month and one-week break between "Reckless" (Nov. 27, 1993) and the band's featured turn on Brad Paisley's "Old Alabama" (June 4, 2011; notably, that song interpolates a piece of Alabama's classic "Mountain Music").
"It was an honor for Vince to agree to be part of this song," Young tells Billboard. "His harmonies and guitar solo escalate everything. It's one of my favorites on the I'm Comin' Over record."
TOWN & COUNTRY: Little Big Town's eighth studio album, The Breaker, marks the group's third No. 1 on Top Country Albums and the third to arrive atop the survey, as it starts with 51,000 equivalent album units -- 44,000 from pure sales -- in the week ending March 2. On the all-genre Billboard 200, The Breaker opens at No. 4, the act's fourth top 10.
The new set, produced by Jay Joyce, follows 2016's pop release Wanderlust, the quartet's collaboration with star pop/R&B writer-producer Pharrell Williams. Before The Breaker, LBT last charted on Top Country Albums with Pain Killer, which debuted and peaked at No. 3 on Nov. 8, 2014, with 42,000 sold.
Two Top Country Albums No. 1s for the group preceded The Breaker: Tornado debuted atop the Sept. 29, 2012, chart, spending five weeks at No. 1, and marks the quartet's strongest opening sales week to date: 113,000. Little Big Town's first No. 1 on the tally, The Reason Why, started at the summit on Sept. 11, 2010 (42,000 sold).
LBT first hit Top Country Albums with its debut self-titled set (No. 40, 2002), followed by The Road to Here (No. 12, 2006) and A Place to Land (No. 10, 2007), the first of the band's five Top Country Albums top 10s.
The first single from The Breaker, the Taylor Swift-penned "Better Man," topped Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay for two weeks each.
AARON ARRIVES: Beginning at No. 2 on Top Country Albums is Vaquero from Texas country artist Aaron Watson. His seventh charted title (and third top 10) enters at No. 2 with 39,000 equivalent album units (37,000 in pure sales), his biggest sales week to date.
Watson's most recent release, The Underdog, debuted atop the chart dated March 7, 2015 (26,000 sold). His first top 10, Real Good Time, debuted and peaked at No. 9 on the Oct. 27, 2012-dated list (6,000).
COOL HAND LUKES: Hot Country Songs welcomes two new entries to the top 10. Luke Bryan's "Fast" jumps 11-6, becoming his 23rd top 10. The track hikes by 41 percent to 11,000 downloads sold and vaults 24-14 on Country Digital Song Sales; the song's official video debuted March 2, the last day of the chart's tracking week. "Fast" also ascends 7-6 on Country Airplay (31.1 million in audience, up 9 percent).
Concurrently, Luke Combs' debut hit, "Hurricane," charges 13-9 on Hot Country Songs. It bumps 6-5 on Country Streaming Songs, up 12 percent to 5.3 million U.S. streams. On Country Airplay, it bullets at its No. 19 high (14.7 million, up 10 percent).