Chris Stapleton Claims First Country Airplay Leader With 'Broken Halos'

Theo Wargo/WireImage
Chris Stapleton (L) and Emmylou Harris perform onstage during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 2018 in New York City. 

Singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton reaches the summit of Billboard's Country Airplay chart for the first time, as "Broken Halos" (Mercury) ascends 2-1 in its 35th week on the list (dated March 24). It increases by 2 percent to 41.2 million audience impressions in the week ending March 18, according to Nielsen Music.

On Hot Country Songs, which blends streaming, airplay and sales data, "Halos" holds at its No. 5 peak, initially reached on the chart dated March 3. The track ranks at No. 6 on Country Digital Song Sales (13,000 downloads sold in the week ending March 15) and No. 17 on Country Streaming Songs (5.4 million U.S. streams).

The organic-styled "Halos," which Stapleton wrote with Mike Henderson, is the second single from the former's From A Room: Volume 1, which arrived atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated May 27, 2017), with 219,000 equivalent album units earned in its first week. The set has spent eight weeks at No. 1 on Top Country Albums and 13 weeks atop Americana/Folk Albums. It has earned 961,000 units to date, including 741,000 in traditional album sales.​

Thanks to the Dave Cobb-produced LP and "Halos," Stapleton is the first male, and fifth act, to have topped both Americana/Folk Albums and Country Airplay (or, before the latter list's 1990 inception, Hot Country Songs). He follows Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton in notching a No. 1 country song and a leading title on Americana/Folk Albums (which began in 2009).

Meanwhile, Stapleton's 2015 set Traveller holds the record for the most weeks at No. 1 on Americana/Folk Albums: 42 (most recently having led the March 17-dated chart). It led Top Country Albums for 29 weeks.

"Halos" marks Stapleton's sixth appearance on Country Airplay. The launch single from Volume 1, "Either Way," debuted at its No. 26 peak on the May 20, 2017-dated chart. Stapleton sports one additional Country Airplay top 10: "Nobody to Blame" (No. 10; April 2, 2016). His other three entries: "Parachute" (No. 17, 2017); "Tennessee Whiskey" (No. 57, 2016); and "What Are You Listening To?" (No. 46; 2013).

Johnny Chiang, KKBQ Houston program director, says that he "can't put a finger on why" "Halos" has outperformed other Stapleton songs on Country Airplay. "'Broken Halos' is simply a great modern country song with a traditional flavor, just like 'Parachute,' 'Nobody to Blame' and 'What Are You Listening To,' " he says. "Chris's music has always done very well for KKBQ."

Says WWQM Madison, Wisc. pd Fletcher Keyes, "Stapleton played for our listeners several years ago in a showcase we call Storytellers Jam. Ever since his appearance, which was amazing, all of his music has tested phenomenally here. I mean, once you hear Stapleton's voice, you're sold."

Considering that Stapleton's production is clearly more stripped-down than other, more pop-leaning fare on country radio, Keyes says that the sound is an important ingredient to the format's recipe. Stapleton's style is "really essential. It helps us maintain a balance, and he keeps us honest. Speaking for our audience, it seems like the listeners just can't seem to get enough of him."

'WAY' TO GO Brett Eldredge banks his seventh Hot Country Songs top 10, as "The Long Way" (Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville) lifts 11-10. The song holds at its No. 6 high on Country Airplay (31.5 million, up 4 percent).

Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line's "Meant to Be" (Warner Bros./Big Machine Label Group) dominates Hot Country Songs for a 16th week. On the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, the song pushes 5-4, matching FGL's best career rank. The duo's debut smash "Cruise" climbed to No. 4 on the Hot 100 in July 2013. "Meant" moves 9-7 on Country Airplay, up 14 percent to 30.1 million impressions with Most Increased Audience honors for a second consecutive week.