Sam Hunt becomes the first act in almost two years to reach No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart with a debut single, as “Leave the Night On” rises 2-1. No newcomer’s first single had topped the Nielsen BDS-driven list since Florida Georgia Line’s breakout smash “Cruise” began a three-week command on Dec. 15, 2012.
Hunt is also the first solo male in nearly five years to reign with a first hit: Easton Corbin last did so with “A Little More Country Than That” on April 3, 2010. (As for rookie women? It’s been more than 10 years: Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” became the last debut single by a female artist to rule, on May 29, 2004).
Hunt’s hit tops Country Airplay as his debut album, Montevallo, is poised to challenge for the top spot on the Top Country Albums tally; all charts will be refreshed on Billboard.com on Thursday (Nov. 6).
‘LOOK AT’ THEM: Big & Rich claim their second Country Airplay top 10, and first in seven years, as “Look at You” lifts 11-9. The duo scored its sole prior top 10 with “Lost in This Moment,” which began a two-week stand at No. 1 on the July 27, 2007, chart.
Perhaps surprisingly in retrospect, Big & Rich’s second entry, the much-buzzed-about “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” stopped at No. 11 in 2004.
WHEN YOU THINK …: Tim McGraw notches his 52nd Country Airplay top 10, as “Shotgun Rider” bullets 13-10. Dating to the chart’s launch nearly 25 years ago (on Jan. 20, 1990), McGraw gains sole possession of the second-most top 10s, passing Alan Jackson (51). George Strait leads with 61. Kenny Chesney ranks fourth with 46 top 10s, followed by Toby Keith (42).
McGraw had last reached the upper region with “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” (featuring wife Faith Hill), which peaked at No. 2 in September. He most recently topped Country Airplay with “Highway Don’t Care,” with Taylor Swift, for two weeks in June 2013. The song became McGraw’s 26th Country Airplay No. 1, tying him with Jackson and Strait for the most leaders.
(Speaking of Swift, her new album, 1989, is set to bow atop this week’s Billboard 200, perhaps with a monstrous 1.3 million sold in its first week. With the set geared toward pop audiences, however, it won’t appear on Top Country Albums, where Swift has tallied five No. 1s since her 2006 arrival.)