Superstar Garth Brooks tops Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart for the first time since 2007, as “Ask Me How I Know” ascends 2-1 on the chart dated Dec. 16, increasing 8 percent to 43.3 million audience impressions in the week ending Dec. 3, according to Nielsen Music.
“I’m so proud of the Pearl Records team for working so hard for this No. 1,” Brooks says. “Congrats to [writer] Mitch Rossell on his first cut – so happy for you, pal! And, to country radio: four decades later, thanks for still believing. I’m humbled and very grateful.”
The coronation is Brooks’ 19th and first since Sept. 15, 2007, when “More Than a Memory” became the only song to debut atop the chart, ending a 10-year, three-month gap between No. 1s, the second-longest for an act in a lead role on each track; Tracy Lawrence waited 11 years (and one day) between “Time Marches On” in 1996 and “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” in 2007.
“Memory” itself ended what’s now the third-longest break between leaders (by acts in lead roles), as it became Brooks’ first No. 1 since “To Make You Feel My Love” on Aug. 1, 1998. (In 2000, Brooks went on hiatus to help raise his three daughters.)
Brooks, who won his record sixth entertainer of the year award at the Country Music Association Awards (Nov. 8) and reigns as the top-selling album artist (72 million) since Nielsen Music began tracking U.S. sales in 1991, is one of eight artists with Country Airplay leaders in the 1990s, 2000s and 10s, joining Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley. Brooks first led Country Airplay with “The Dance” on July 14, 1990 (after the list launched that January; he first topped Hot Country Songs with “If Tomorrow Never Comes” on Dec. 9, 1989).
As for Rossell, “Ask” is the second straight Country Airplay leader penned by just one author, following LANCO’s “Greatest Love Story,” written by frontman Brandon Lancaster.
Meanwhile, Brooks simultaneously rules Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart as The Anthology: Part 1, The First Five Years strides 2-1, earning 57,000 equivalent album units (up 7 percent), all in traditional album sales. The box set, which chronicles his 1989 to 1993 rise and is available only on CD, rises following sale-pricing timed to the Black Friday shopping holiday on Nov. 24.
Brooks banks his 17th Top Country Albums No. 1, tying Willie Nelson for the second-most leaders. Brooks’ musical idol George Strait reigns with 26 No. 1s.
Brooks simultaneously paces Country Airplay and Top Country Albums for the first time since Jan. 3, 1998, when “Longneck Bottle” led the former and Sevens dominated the latter.