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Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood Soar Onto Hot Country Songs In Top Five

As previously reported, Brantley Gilbert scores his first No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, as his third studio album, “Just as I Am,” bows at the summit with 211,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The sum marks the second-largest week for a country set this year, trailing only Eric Church’s “The Outsiders,” which began with 288,000 (March 1).

Gilbert previously charted as high as No. 2 with his breakthrough second album, 2011’s “Halfway to Heaven,” which crossed the 1 million-sold mark in April. “Just as I Am” also grants Gilbert his top Billboard 200 peak, as it launches at No. 2.

‘BAD’ BREAKING: On Billboard’s airplay/sales/streaming-based Hot Country Songs chart, which Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again” leads for a seventh week, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood notch the highest debut in nearly a year-and-a-half, as “Somethin’ Bad” begins at No. 5. It enters Country Digital Songs at No. 1 – becoming Lambert’s first leader on the list (and Underwood’s third) – with 107,000 downloads sold following the pair’s performance of it on the Billboard Music Awards (May 18).

“Bad” makes the best start on Hot Country Songs since Cassadee Pope, the third-season winner of NBC’s “The Voice,” soared in at No. 3 with her cover of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” on the Dec. 29, 2012, chart.

The song previews Lambert’s fifth album, “Platinum,” due June 3; first single “Automatic” continues its rise, returning to its Hot Country Songs peak (7-6). When “Automatic” reached the top 10 on the April 19 Country Airplay chart (where this week it lifts 6-4), it marked the first top 10 by a solo female in two months. “I’m damn glad to have my spot here,” Lambert says. “I’m happy as a little lark. I’ve worked hard to make relationships with radio and my fans. It took a long time to get where I am and I’m thankful that people are responding.”

MORE CARRIE: Underwood also bows at No. 36 on Hot Country Songs and No. 20 on Country Digital Songs with “Keep Us Safe” (24,000 downloads sold). She premiered the song with a performance on CBS’ May 20th broadcast of “ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops.”

MORE MOORE: Justin Moore scores his sixth Hot Country Songs top 10, as “Lettin’ the Night Roll” rises 12-9. He last reached the region with the No. 10-peaking “Point at You” in September. “Small Town USA” became Moore’s first top 10, and No. 1, in 2009. He’s also reigned with 2011’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”

Moore could be on his way to another top 10: he and Thomas Rhett are featured on Brantley Gilbert’s “Small Town Throwdown,” which ranks at No. 30 in its third week and lifts 28-26 on Country Airplay.

‘DRINK’ UP: After reaching No. 4 on Hot Country Songs in April and last ranking on the May 17 chart, Jerrod Niemann’s “Drink to That All Night” re-enters at No. 17. A sales surge spurs the return of the track, which now sports a remix featuring Pitbull. Of the song’s 28,000 sold in the chart’s tracking week (a 37 percent gain), 51 percent are from the original version and 49 percent from the remix.

SCORING HIGH MARX: Jake Worthington, who placed second on the recently-wrapped sixth season of “The Voice,” debuts three more covers on Hot Country Songs, upping his total to nine entries since he first charted in April. His take, with Blake Shelton, on Hank Williams Jr.’s 1982 No. 2 classic “A Country Boy Can Survive” bows at No. 27 (with 43,000 sold); his update of Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” starts at No. 31 (39,000); and his cover of Keith Whitley’s 1988 No. 1 “Don’t Close Your Eyes” debuts at No. 32 (32,000).

Of the three new entries, only “Right Here Waiting” was not previously a country hit; it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in 1989 (and became that year’s Song of the Summer). Still, Marx, who’s scored nine pop/rock top 10s on the Hot 100, has built a strong country pedigree, having written three Hot Country Songs No. 1s: Kenny Rogers’ “Crazy” (1985) and Keith Urban’s “Better Life” (2005) and “Long Hot Summer” (2011).

Last week marked a busy one for Marx. In addition to Worthington’s PR, Marx joined Ryan Seacrest for a lighthearted cover of “Waiting” on the season finale of Fox’s “American Idol.” (The original version swells by 791 percent to 6,000 sold.) Marx also released his new single, “Whatever We Started.” The ballad is the first single from his July 8 album “Beautiful Goodbye.”

“It wasn’t like I was trying to make a new album,” Marx told Billboard in December. “It’s just that I had this collection of songs that I had been writing and recording over the past few years. There’s a thread throughout them: they all have orchestral, symphonic components. They’re really moody, sexy tracks.”