Texas/Red Dirt touring-circuit veteran Aaron Watson becomes the first solo male of the Nielsen Music era (1991-present) to debut at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart with a self-released and independently distributed/promoted studio album, as The Underdog starts with 26,000 copies sold (his best-ever sales week). Among all acts in that span, Watson is the second to bow atop the chart with such a set, following Martina McBride's Everlasting (April 26, 2014).
Reinforcing his touring appeal, Watson is also the only artist to debut at the Top Country Albums summit, excluding collaborative, seasonal and comedy sets, without charting previously on the Country Airplay chart. (To further explain the qualifiers, Lionel Richie reigned over Top Country Albums with his guest-infused Tuskegee in 2012, which only later yielded a Country Airplay chart entry. Meanwhile, The Robertsons and Larry the Cable Guy have also topped the albums list, marking two novelty-based acts that wouldn't necessarily be expected to appear on the airplay ranking.)
The Underdog marks Watson's 10th studio release (in addition to two live albums) and his sixth to reach Top Country Albums. It surpasses his previous best rank and weekly sum, set when Real Good Time debuted and peaked at No. 9 with 6,000 (Oct. 27, 2012). "That Look," the new set's lead single, charted for a week (Nov. 1, 2014) at No. 41 on Hot Country Songs; it became his lone entry to date on Country Digital Songs the same week, debuting and peaking at No. 10 with 19,000 downloads sold; it's shifted 39,000 to date.
Watson is also the top debut at No. 44 on the Billboard Artist 100, which ranks the top acts of all genres each week via a methodology combining sales, airplay, streaming and social data.
CAMPBELL & McGRAW'S OSCARS GAIN: Tim McGraw's performance on the Feb. 22 Academy Awards (broadcast on CBS) of Glen Campbell's Oscar-nominated "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" pushes Campbell's recording of the ballad back onto Hot Country Songs, where it re-enters at No. 37. The track had previously peaked at No. 21 (Nov. 1, 2014).
"Miss" returns to Country Digital Songs at new peak (No. 22; 12,000 sold, up 613 percent). Concurrently, the Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me soundtrack bows at No. 20 on Top Country Albums (3,000 sold).
McEntire's version, which reached No. 8 on Hot Country Songs in 1991 (Gentry's reached No. 26 in 1970), bows on the streaming tally with 1.8 million U.S. streams, a whopping 1,185 percent gain; 94 percent of the views are from non-Vevo YouTube clicks.
COLE CUTS: Cole Swindell claims his third Country Airplay top 10 in as many tries with "Ain't Worth the Whiskey" (12-10). Swindell's debut single, "Chillin' It," peaked at No. 2 (March 8, 2014), followed by "Hope You Get Lonely Tonight," which topped the Oct. 11, 2014 list; the latter title holds the record for the most weekly audience impressions (50.6 million) for a title since the chart switched from ranking total plays to an audience-based methodology in January 2005.
All three of Swindell's top 10s are from his self-titled debut album.