Little Big Town scores its second No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart (dated March 4), as “Better Man,” written by Taylor Swift, pushes 2-1 in its 18th week. It increases 8 percent to 40.8 million audience impressions in the tracking week ending Feb. 19, according to Nielsen Music.
“So blown away by the reaction to this song,” LBT’s Karen Fairchild tells Billboard. “We’re popping the champagne right now. Thanks to our fans and country radio for all the love and support. And thanks to Taylor Swift for sending us this beautiful song.”
“Better Man” is the lead single from Little Big Town’s eighth studio album, The Breaker, produced by Jay Joyce and due Friday (Feb. 24).
LBT previously led Country Airplay with “Pontoon” for two weeks beginning Sept. 15, 2012. Notably, “Girl Crush,” which ruled the Hot Country Songs chart (the list blends airplay, sales and streaming) for 13 weeks in 2015, peaked at No. 3 on Country Airplay. “Better Man” topped Hot Country Songs for two frames (Feb. 11 and 18).
“Better Man” is the first Country Airplay No. 1 by a single author since Tim McGraw‘s “Humble and Kind,” penned by Americana/country singer-songwriter Lori McKenna, topped the list dated June 25, 2016. That ballad became the first No. 1 penned by one person in more than four years, since — guess who — Swift’s self-authored “Ours” (March 31, 2012).
BRETT BOWS: As Reba McEntire‘s first faith-based set, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope, paces both Top Country Albums and Top Christian Albums for a second week, with 26,000 equivalent album units (down 52 percent), Brett Young‘s self-titled debut full-length (BMLG) opens at No. 2.
Young’s LP, produced by Dann Huff, begins with 25,000 equivalent album units earned in its launch week (ending Feb. 16). Young co-wrote 11 of the set’s 12 songs, including latest single “In Case You Didn’t Know,” which pushes to a new high (17-14) on Hot Country Songs. The move is sparked in part by the song’s 28 percent gain to 20,000 sold, as it climbs 6-5 on Country Digital Song Sales, and its 25 percent boost to 7.1 million impressions; on Country Airplay, it advances 31-29.
Young’s first single from the LP, “Sleep Without You,” peaked at No. 2 on Country Airplay and No. 3 on Hot Country Songs in December 2016.
NEW TOP 10s: Keith Urban‘s “The Fighter,” featuring Carrie Underwood, soars 46-5 on Hot Country Songs following their performance of the pop-flavored track on the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, broadcast on CBS on Feb. 12. The song — from Urban’s latest album, Ripcord — vaults 25-2 on Country Digital Song Sales, surging 370 percent to 45,000 downloads sold. It also jumps by 371 percent to 1.7 million U.S. streams. On Country Airplay, it reaches the top 40 (44-33; 5.9 million, up 145 percent).
“The Fighter” is Urban’s 38th Hot Country Songs top 10, all achieved consecutively (counting songs in lead roles officially promoted to country radio and excluding holiday fare), extending his unmatched active streak that started with the No. 4-peaking “Your Everything” in 2000.
Underwood earns her 26th Hot Country Songs top 10, also all linked consecutively (and encompassing all of her promoted country music, excluding holiday material). Her run began with her first country single, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” her first of 15 Country Airplay No. 1s and 14 Hot Country songs leaders, in 2006. Underwood extends the longest streak of top 10 promoted singles from a career’s start on both charts; Tracy Lawrence ranks second with 19 out-of-the-gate top 10s in 1992-97.
Brad Paisley banks his 32nd Hot Country Songs top 10 as “Today” bumps 11-10. On Country Airplay, the ballad rises 6-4 (36.5 million, up 8 percent).
Finally, Jason Aldean nabs his 25th Country Airplay top 10 as “Any Ol’ Barstool” hops 12-10, up 15 percent to 25.8 million.