Life Changes is the first No. 1 country album in 2017, and the first in a year -- since Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know spent one week in the penthouse on the list dated Oct. 1, 2016.
Life Changes was released on Valory Records on Sept. 8, and marks the second No. 1 for the imprint (part of Big Machine). Valory previously led the chart with Reba’s Keep on Loving You in 2009 (on Starstruck/Valory).
Rhett’s new album was led by the single “Craving You,” featuring Maren Morris, which hit No. 3 on the Hot Country Songs chart and No. 1 on the Country Airplay tally. The song was followed by the album’s second radio offering, “Unforgettable,” which hit the top 10 on Hot Country Songs and jumped 13-11 on the most recent Country Airplay chart, dated Sept. 23.
Life Changes is Rhett’s third full-length studio album, and fourth effort overall. It follows Tangled Up (No. 6 on the Billboard 200 in 2015), It Goes Like This (No. 6 in 2013) and his self-titled debut EP (No. 133 in 2012).
Rhett brings country music back to the penthouse on the Billboard 200 for the first time in a year. Four country sets came close to hitting No. 1 earlier in 2017, as titles by Brett Eldredge, Zac Brown Band, Chris Stapleton and Brantley Gilbert all debuted and peaked at No. 2. As noted earlier, the last country album to lead the chart was Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know (Oct. 1, 2016), which also marked the only country effort to hit No. 1 in 2016. Comparatively, in 2015, three country albums hit No. 1: Zac Brown Band’s Jekyll + Hyde, Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller.
Life Changes additionally notches Rhett his best sales week ever for an album. Its pure sales figure of 94,000 easily beats Rhett’s previous high of 63,000 logged by Tangled Up’s first week. Further, Life Changes has the third-biggest sales for a country set in 2017, following the debut frames of Stapleton’s From A Room: Volume 1 (202,000) and Zac Brown Band’s Welcome Home (139,000).
Rhett is also the fourth act in a row to notch its first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, following LCD Soundsystem a week ago (with American Dream), Lil Uzi Vert (Luv Is Rage 2) and Brand New (Science Fiction). The last time the chart housed four first-timers in-a-row at No. 1 was a little more than two years ago, when seven acts notched their first No. 1s in succession.
Rhett leads a big week for country in the top 10 on the Billboard 200, as a total of three country efforts arrive in the top 10. Dustin Lynch’s Current Mood bows at No. 7, while Kip Moore’s Slowheart starts at No. 10. It’s the first time there are three country albums in the top 10 in nearly a year, since the Oct. 8, 2016 chart, when Aaron Lewis’ Sinner bowed at No. 4, Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know slipped 1-6 in its second week, and Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots held at No. 10 in its fourth week. Further, this is the first week we’ve had three country albums bow in the top 10 in almost two years. The top 10 last had a trio of country arrivals on the Oct. 17, 2015 chart, when Don Henley’s Cass County, George Strait’s Cold Beer Conversation and Thomas Rhett’s Tangled Up debuted at Nos. 3, 4 and 6, respectively.
Back on the new Billboard 200 chart, rock band The National enters at No. 2 on the new Billboard 200 with its seventh full-length studio album, Sleep Well Beast (64,000 units; 59,000 in album sales) -- notching the group its highest charting album ever. The album surpasses the act's previous high of No. 3, logged with Trouble Will Find Me in 2013 and High Violet in 2010. In total, Sleep Well Beast is The National’s fourth release to hit the chart, as the band first entered the list with its fourth studio set, Boxer, in 2007. It debuted and peaked at No. 68.
At No. 3, electronic music duo ODESZA launches with its first top 10 effort, A Moment Apart. The set earned 63,000 units its first week, with 52,000 coming from traditional album sales (the act's biggest sales week yet). Earlier in 2017, the pair notched four hits on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, including “Line of Sight,” featuring Wynne and Mansionair.
Both The National and ODESZA benefit from a concert/ticket album bundle sale redemption offer in association with their respective upcoming tours.
Lil Uzi Vert’s former No. 1, Luv Is Rage 2, falls 2-4 in its third week with 56,000 units (down 24 percent).
Singer/songwriter Jack Johnson collects his seventh top 10 album on the Billboard 200, as All the Light Above It Too bows at No. 5 with 44,000 units (41,000 in traditional album sales). Johnson’s last studio effort, From Here to Now to You, was released in 2013 and debuted at No. 1. Johnson has earned a total of four leaders on the list, and logged his first top 10 in 2003 with On and On (No. 3). (Johnson, like The National and ODESZA, also profits from a ticket/album redemption promotion.)
Rapper XXXTentacion falls 3-6 on the new Billboard 200 with 17, earning 40,000 units (down 22 percent).
Country singer/songwriter Dustin Lynch snags his highest-charting album yet, and second top 10, as Current Mood bows at No. 7 with 36,000 units (27,000 in album sales). It trumps his previous high, set when his last release, Where It’s At, peaked at No. 8 in 2014. The new album was ushered in by a pair of top five hits on the Hot Country Songs chart: “Seein’ Red” (No. 5) and “Small Town Boy” (No. 2). Both tracks hit No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart.
Kendrick Lamar’s former Billboard 200 No. 1, DAMN., descends 4-8 with 35,000 units (down 13 percent) while Khalid’s American Teen moves 5-9 with 31,000 units (down 4 percent).
Closing out the top 10 is country singer/songwriter Kip Moore, who scores his third top 10 album with the No. 10 debut of third full-length studio set Slowheart (29,000 units; 25,000 in album sales). He previously hit the top 10 with his first two studio albums: Wild Ones (No. 4 in 2015) and Up All Night (No. 6 in 2012). The new set has snagged a top 15-charting single on the Hot Country Songs chart with “More Girls Like You” (No. 13), which has also reached the top 10 on the Country Airplay chart.