Lauren Alaina banks her first No. 1 with her sixth entry on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart (dated April 22), as “Road Less Traveled” ascends 3-1 in its 34th week, increasing 9 percent to 43.8 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen Music. Co-written by Alaina, Meghan Trainor and Jessie Frasure, the song is the title track from Alaina’s second LP, which debuted at No. 3 on Top Country Albums (Feb. 18).
“It feels very weird, almost surreal,” Alaina, 22, tells Billboard of her new leader. “I have been waiting five years for this. I handed in this song four years ago, so seeing it rise to the top feels so good. My goal was top 20 at first, and when it got into the top 10, I wanted to go all the way. Thanks so much to everyone for sticking with me this long.”
Alaina, who finished as the runner-up to Scotty McCreery on the 2011 season of American Idol, previously peaked at No. 28 on Country Airplay with “Georgia Peaches” (2012), her second charted single. She has notched two other top 40-charting songs: her 2011 debut, “Like My Mother Does” (No. 36), and 2012’s “Eighteen Inches” (No. 34).
“It’s been amazing and fun to witness this evolution and transformation from a wacky teenager who parlayed her incredible voice and infectious personality into success on a TV talent show to a legit songwriter, artist and star,” says Universal Music Group Nashville chairman/CEO Mike Dungan.
“I think this is the first really mature song that she’s released,” says KKBQ Houston PD Johnny Chiang. “She’s worked really hard throughout her career,” adds WBWL Boston PD Lance Houston. “After [“Road”] overcame that difficult Nos. 60-30 region of the chart, it seemed that research kicked in.”
Meanwhile, singer-songwriter/pop star Trainor earns her second Country Airplay No. 1 as a writer, following Rascal Flatts‘ “I Like the Sound of That” (April 30, 2016), another co-write with Frasure — who’s now up to six leaders on the list as a writer — as well as Shay Mooney (of Dan + Shay).
ACMs EFFECT: Sam Hunt‘s “Body Like a Back Road” tops Hot Country Songs for a ninth week and becomes the first country hit to reach the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 (revving 12-6) since Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” in 2013. It’s also the fourth-best-selling song (616,000 since its Feb. 1 release) among all genres, year to date.
Following Hunt’s performance of the song on the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards on April 2 (broadcast live on CBS), “Body” hikes 19 percent to 70,000 downloads sold and leads Country Digital Song Sales for a 10th week. It rules Country Streaming Songs for a ninth week, up 4 percent to 13.8 million U.S. streams, while lifting 5-4 on Country Airplay (37.8 million in audience, up 15 percent).
Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris joined forces at the ACMs to perform their new single “Craving You,” which soars 46-5 on Hot Country Songs, marking Rhett’s eighth top 10 and Morris’ second; she first hit No. 5 with “My Church” in 2016. “Craving” bows at No. 2 on Country Digital Song Sales (54,000).
Lady Antebellum, who performed “You Look Good” with backing from members of the UNLV Marching Band, rockets to its 13th Hot Country Songs top 10 (21-9) and first since 2014, fueled by a 320 percent sales surge to 41,000.
Miranda Lambert, who won female vocalist and album of the year for The Weight of These Wings, returns to the Top Country Albums summit as the set, which initially bowed at No. 1 in December, vaults by 663 percent to 31,000 equivalent album units. Lambert sang new single “Tin Man” at the festivities; it re-enters Hot Country Songs at a new No. 15 high.
GOOD ‘GOING’: Trace Adkins‘ Something’s Going On opens on Top Country Albums at No. 5 (14,000 units), marking his 14th top 10 and highest rank since 2011.
On Country Airplay, Luke Combs‘ debut hit, “Hurricane,” hits the top 10 (11-9; 27.7 million, up 14 percent).