HERE'S THE 'STORY': On Top Country Albums, Blake Shelton achieves his third (and second full-length) No. 1 and biggest SoundScan week with "Based on a True Story," which earns the Hot Shot Debut with 199,000 sold. (It bows at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.) His previous best sum was 116,000 with "Red River Blue," which opened at No. 1 on both charts last summer. Shelton first debuted atop Top Country Albums three years ago with the EP "All About Tonight."
Shelton's new album spawns four debuts on Hot Country Songs, including the Hot Shot Debut at No. 37, "Mine Would Be You." Current radio track "Boys 'Round Here," featuring Pistol Annies & Friends, rockets 44-15 in its second chart week and opens at No. 7 on Country Digital Songs (54,000). Driven heavily by coordinated hourly plays March 26 on Clear Channel-owned stations, Shelton registers his highest start on Country Airplay with "Boys," which roars in at No. 19. (He'd set his previous best mark when "Honey Bee" buzzed in at No. 31 two years ago.)
For the third straight year, Shelton will co-host Sunday's (April 7) ACM Awards (to be broadcast on CBS), this time with Luke Bryan. Shelton also boasts three nominations, including one for entertainer of the year. The reigning ACM male vocalist of the year, he'll be honored with the organization's Gene Weed Special Achievement award for his work as a coach on NBC's "The Voice," which began its fourth season last week. (The latter nod will be part of the ACM's annual honors event, slated for Sept. 10 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.) Shelton's summer tour opens July 19 in Virginia Beach, Va.
PRAISE & GLORY: Below Shelton on Top Country Albums, Alan Jackson's "Precious Memories: Volume II" starts at No. 2 with 55,000 (and grants him his second No. 1 launch on Top Christian Albums). The first edition of Jackson's hymns series bowed atop the Country and Christian charts, ringing up 107,000 in its opening week seven years ago. Jackson remains the only artist to lead Top Country Albums with a religious album since Charley Pride led with "Did You Think to Pray" in 1971.
Meanwhile, husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square enters Top Country Albums at No. 4 with sophomore set "Just Feels Good" (36,000). The couple's rookie album debuted two years ago at No. 3 with 30,000.
'HEARTBREAK' BEAT: Hunter Hayes achieves his second No. 1 on Country Airplay with "Somebody's Heartbreak," which steps 2-1 in its 25th week. Hayes' second leader reaches the summit five weeks faster than "Wanted," which crowned the Nielsen BDS-fueled chart dated Sept. 29, 2012. The latter track was subsequently promoted to pop and adult stations, culminating in a two-week reign on Hot Country Songs in February. Both songs are from Hayes' self-titled debut album.
Hayes is set to premiere "I Want Crazy" at the ACM Awards on Sunday. The new song previews his deluxe album "Hunter Hayes (Encore)," due June 18. It's set to feature seven new and rerecorded tracks.
HERE COMES 'TROUBLE': Taylor Swift opens at No. 55 on Country Airplay with "I Knew You Were Trouble.," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January. The Country Airplay debut is based solely on 33 unsolicited plays (translating to 658,000 audience impressions) during the tracking week at KKGO Los Angeles. The song was promoted only to pop and adult radio.
Swift's current country single is "Highway Don't Care," on which she shares billing with Tim McGraw. Her label has not announced a subsequent single for country radio from her album "Red" (while "22" is the current pop focus track; it rises 20-17 on Pop Songs). "Highway" winds 18-17 in its eighth week on Country Airplay.