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That’s How Country Boys (And Girls) Roll

From a remake of a hidden pop gem to an Oscar-winning actress (married to a rock star), action abounds on Billboard's Country Songs chart.

‘GOOD’ JOB, JERROD: Billboard’s Country Songs chart, to be refreshed, along with all surveys, Thursday on, sports several notable feats this week, beginning at the summit.

Jerrod Niemann notches his first No. 1, as “Lover, Lover” lifts 3-1. With the Harper, Kan.-born singer’s debut Arista Nashville album, “Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury,” having led the July 31, Country Albums chart, Niemann is the first artist since Darius Rucker to lead both lists with maiden No. 1 titles. Rucker concurrently ruled each ranking with “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” and “Learn to Live,” respectively, the first two weeks of October 2008.

Just as Rucker claims roots in pop and rock music as lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, Niemann’s new No. 1 revisits a prior non-country hit, although mainstream U.S. success eluded the original version.

“Lover, Lover” was first released by the rock group Sonia Dada, as “You Don’t Treat Me No Good,” in 1992 and scaled charts in Australia and New Zealand. The track never appeared on a Billboard survey, however, other than as part of the group’s self-titled debut album, which reached No. 29 on Heatseekers Albums in 1993.

While Niemann’s track tops Country Songs with an audience of 33.7 million, according to Nielsen BDS, Sonia Dada’s original version still receives pockets of airplay; seven stations, all in the triple A adult alternative format, played the song in the current chart’s tracking week (July 26-Aug. 1), including KMTT (103.7 the Mountain)/Seattle, WXRV (92.5 the River)/Boston and KBCO (97.3)/Denver.

“Lover, Lover” is the first Country Songs No. 1 that reinvents a pop or rock song since Blake Shelton‘s update of Michael Buble’s “Home” topped the July 12-19, 2008, charts. The only other such No. 1s since the chart’s conversion to Nielsen BDS-monitored airplay data in 1990: Mark Chesnutt‘s cover of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1999), Kevin Sharp‘s reintroduction of the Tony Rich Project’s “Nobody Knows” (1997), Brooks & Dunn‘s remake of B.W. Stevenson’s “My Maria” (1996), Alan Jackson‘s revival of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” (1994) and Garth Brooks‘ interpretation of Billy Joel’s “Shameless” (1991).

HIGHER ‘LOVE’: Lee Brice‘s “Love Like Crazy” rises 7-6 in its 50th week on Country Songs.

With the jump, the track becomes just the third title to log at least 50 frames on the chart in its 66-year history and the first since 1957-58:

Weeks on Chart, Title, Artist, Peak Year
54, “Bouquet of Roses,” Eddy Arnold, 1948
52, “Fraulein,” Bobby Helms, 1957
50, “Love Like Crazy,” Lee Brice, 2010

Uncle Kracker‘s “Smile” lifts 11-10 in its 41st week on Country Songs. The cut completes the second-longest ascent to the top 10, trailing only the 46-week climb of Brice’s “Love Like Crazy.”

Uncle Kracker makes his first visit to the chart’s top tier since Kenny Chesney‘s “When the Sun Goes Down,” on which he guested, spent five weeks at No. 1 in 2004. Uncle Kracker’s newest single, “Good to Be Me,” featuring Kid Rock, concurrently edges 53-51.

“Smile” previously reached the top 10 on Adult Pop Songs, where it peaked at No. 2, and Adult Contemporary, where this week it remains bulleted at its peak to-date of No. 3. Only one other title by a solo male has logged top 10 peaks on all three charts: Keith Urban‘s “You’ll Think of Me” in 2004-05.

NEW ACT(RESS): A first-time entrant on Country Songs boasts a familiar name.

Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow bows at No. 55 with “Country Strong.” The track previews the movie of the same name, starring Paltrow, Tim McGraw and Leighton Meester. The film opens in theaters Dec. 22.

Paltrow’s musical resume already includes a No. 1 on a Billboard airplay chart. “Cruisin’,” with Huey Lewis, ruled Adult Contemporary in December 2000. The song accompanied the movie “Duets,” starring Paltrow, Lewis, Paul Giamatti and Angie Dickinson.

Paltrow, married to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin since 2003, won the 1998 best actress Oscar for her turn as Viola de Lesseps in “Shakespeare in Love.”

Billboard senior country charts manager Wade Jessen notes that other Hollywood giants have charted on Country Songs, including Sissy Spacek, Clint Eastwood, Robert Mitchum and Burt Reynolds.

COURT-ING SUCCESS: An act long associated with country radio sees two of its members branch out to a Billboard rock airplay chart.

Court Yard Hounds, the duo of Dixie Chicks sisters Marti Maguire and Emily Robison (and minus Natalie Maines), debut on the Triple A tally at No. 30 with “The Coast.” The pair’s self-titled debut album arrived on the Billboard 200 at No. 7 in May.

Dixie Chicks placed 26 titles on Country Songs from 1997 through 2006. The trio has sold 26.7 million albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan, a sum that ranks the group as the 32nd-best-selling album act since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.