Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, who make up the duo Sugarland, gave fans a pretty good hint that something was up when they presented Brothers Osborne with the trophy for vocal duo of the year at the 51st Annual Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 8 in Nashville. Sugarland, by the way, won that award for five straight years, from 2007 to 2011.
Now, the twosome is back to competing for the honor.
“Still the Same,” the first new single from Sugarland in over six years, makes a career-best debut at No. 26 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart with 6.9 million in audience, the chart’s highest new entry of the week. On the Hot Country Songs chart (which blends airplay, sales and streaming data), “Still” opens at No. 42, largely driven by its start at radio.
The song, whose official video arrived Dec. 20, is the first single from a new Sugarland album, reportedly due in 2018.
(The track bows on the tallies dated Jan. 3, marking rare Wednesday-dated charts, instead of the usual Saturday, as Billboard is adjusting how it dates its charts and magazine issues.)
“Still” marks Sugarland’s 22nd Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs appearance apiece, and the first since “Run,” featuring pop-rock singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, peaked at No. 60 on Nov. 26, 2011. The new song’s No. 26 start on Country Airplay is Sugarland’s highest, besting the No. 27 start of “All I Want to Do” in 2008. That track went on to become the third of five No. 1s for the duo, among 11 top 10s. The act arrived in July 2004 with “Baby Girl,” which peaked at No. 2 in April 2005.
After announcing Sugarland’s pause in 2011, Nettles and Bush have both pursued solo projects. Nettles launched a successful acting career, starring, among other projects, on Broadway in the hit musical Chicago in 2015 and playing Dolly Parton‘s mother in the NBC film Coat of Many Colors, which premiered the same year.
Nettles also released two solo albums: 2014’s That Girl, which debuted at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, and Playing With Fire, which arrived and peaked at No. 2. She also released the holiday set To Celebrate Christmas (No. 13, 2016).
Bush released his solo set Gravity, which debuted and peaked at No. 16 on Top Country Albums in 2015. He also produced Lindsay Ell’s new LP, The Project, which began and peaked at No. 4 in September; the album’s single “Criminal” has become Ell’s first top 40 Country Airplay hit, this week rising 40-38.