Casting Crowns, NEEDTOBREATHE Make Strong Debuts On the Top Christian Albums Chart

Robby Klein
Casting Crowns

Plus, Hillsong UNITED and Fresh Start Worship bank new top 10s.

Casting Crowns' Only Jesus debuts at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart (dated Dec. 1), earning 18,000 equivalent album units in its first week, according to Nielsen Music.

The set is the band's 15th Top Christian Albums top 10.

Casting Crowns' last full-studio set, The Very Next Thing, opened at No. 1 on the chart in October 2016, becoming the band's seventh No. 1 and its fifth to start at the pinnacle. Sandwiched between the group's two most recent studio LPs, EP It's Finally Christmas hit No. 4 in December 2017.

Fronted by singer-songwriter Mark Hall, Casting Crowns formed in 1999. It first appeared on Top Christian Albums in 2003 with its self-titled effort, which peaked at No. 2 in early 2004. In 2005, the outfit achieved its first No. 1, as Lifesong debuted atop the tally.

Starting with that eponymous top 10, which first reached the region exactly 15 years ago (on Nov. 29, 2003), Casting Crowns' 15 top 10s on Top Christian Albums in are the third-most, tied with worship collective Passion, since then. In that span to date, only Bill & Gloria Gaither (25) and the related Gaither Vocal Band (16) have more.

Also on Top Christian Albums, NEEDTOBREATHE's Acoustic Live, Vol. 1 enters at No. 3 (9,000 units) as the South Carolina-based act's ninth top 10. On Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart, Acoustic Live opens at No. 20.

The release was recorded during the acoustic leg of NEEDTOBREATHE's 2017 All the Feels Tour.

Over on Christian Airplay, Sydney, Australia-based Hillsong UNITED banks its fourth top 10 and second of 2018, as "Not Today" hops 14-10, with 3.9 million audience impressions. The song ascends despite a 13 percent drop in audience, as Christian radio stations blitz airwaves with holiday tracks (until the Christmas music goes back in the closet around Dec. 26).

"Today" follows UNITED's "So Will I (100 Billion X)," which peaked at No. 6 on the chart in June, becoming the group's first top 10 since 2015's No. 5-peaking "Touch the Sky." The collective's other top 10 is its lone No. 1 so far, mega-hit "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" which led Christian Airplay for a week in 2014; on the airplay, streaming and sales-based Hot Christian Songs chart, it dominated for a record 61 weeks.

Finally, on Hot Gospel Songs, Fresh Start Worship's debut single "Mention" becomes its first top 10. It gains by 9 percent in plays and returns to the Gospel Airplay top 10 (11-7).