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Kenny Chesney Crowns Top Country Albums; Thomas Rhett Rules Country Airplay

Kenny Chesney's new live album, "Live in No Shoes Nation," roars in at No. 1 on Top Country Albums and the all-genre Billboard 200 (dated Nov. 18) with 219,000 equivalent album units in its first…

Kenny Chesney’s new live album, Live in No Shoes Nation (Blue Chair/Columbia Nashville/Sony Music Nashville), roars in at No. 1 on Top Country Albums and the all-genre Billboard 200 (dated Nov. 18) with 219,000 equivalent album units in its first week (ending Nov. 2), according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 217,000 were via traditional album sales. That marks Chesney’s best weekly sales sum since Sept. 29, 2007, when Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates launched with 387,000 sold.

The album was powered almost entirely by traditional album sales, whose sum was generated largely by a concert ticket/album sale redemption promotion with Chesney’s 2018 stadium tour. The cost of the CD was bundled into the price of each ticket sold online for his tour (which went on sale Sept. 22).

Chesney’s No. 1 arrival on the Billboard 200 is the third by a country artist in the last two months: Shania Twain’s Now arrived at No. 1 on the chart dated Oct. 21 with 137,000 units and Thomas Rhett’s Life Changes opened atop the Sept. 30-dated list with 123,000 units; previously, no country album had reigned since Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know (Oct. 1, 2016). Not counting albums by various artists, a country act also last crowned the Billboard 200 with a live album: Sugarland’s Live on the Inside bowed at the summit in 2009.


The 29-song Live, which collects concert highlights from various tours stretching back a decade, is his eighth Billboard 200 leader, second to only Garth Brooks (nine) among country acts. Chesney charts his 15th Top Country Albums No. 1, moving him into a tie for fifth place with Tim McGraw; George Strait leads with 26. Chesney last ruled Top Country Albums with Cosmic Hallelujah, which bowed atop the list dated Nov. 19, 2016 (79,000 sold). Live in No Shoes Nation is his second live album; Live: Live Those Songs Again arrived at No. 1 on Oct. 7, 2006 (146,000 sold).

Why did Chesney release a new live album now? “At this point in my career, it’s a tribute to the fans and how hard they love these songs, this music and what we do together every summer,” he tells Billboard. “You know, these recordings start in 2007 with Dave Matthews at the close of our Flip Flop Summer Tour, but if you listen, it’s amazing how the excitement, the cheering and all of it has grown over the years.”

GRANGER GETS A ‘WIN,’ TOO: Granger Smith’s When the Good Guys Win (Wheelhouse/Broken Bow Music Group) enters Top Country Albums at No. 2 with 17,000 units (15,000 in pure sales). It’s his fourth appearance and highest peak on the list, besting his -previous album, Remington (No. 3, 2016).

MEMORABLE NO. 1: Thomas Rhett notches his ninth Country Airplay No. 1 as “Unforgettable” (Valory) ascends 2-1 in its 15th week, increasing 4 percent to 46.4 million audience impressions. The song follows “Craving You” (featuring Maren Morris), which led the Country Airplay list dated July 22 as the second leader from his album Life Changes.


‘SHORE’ IS A LOT OF BLAKE: Concurrently on Country Airplay, Blake Shelton earns his 29th top 10 as “I’ll Name the Dogs” (Warner Bros./Warner Music Nashville) rises 11-10 (26.7 million audience impressions, down 1 percent). “Dogs” is the first single from his 11th album, Texoma Shore, which arrived Nov. 3 and is due on next week’s charts.

Five tracks from the new LP also premiered daily on participating iHeartMedia radio stations. From Oct. 30-Nov. 3, a different track was featured each day. The five tracks all debut on Country Airplay: “At the House” (No. 33, with 5.3 million in audience), “I Lived It” (No. 34; 5.2 million), “Turnin’ Me On” (No. 35; 5.1 million), “Money” (No. 36, 5.1 million) and “Why Me” (No. 37, 5.0 million).

Shelton’s six-song Country Airplay blitz marks the first since Jan. 8, 2011, when Lady Antebellum placed seven songs on the list, the most in a week in the top 60. (The chart launched as a 75-position survey in 1990.) Lady A matched Kenny Chesney, who rolled a lucky seven on Jan. 10, 2004.