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Tim McGraw Notches 25th Hot Country Songs No. 1 With ‘Shotgun Rider’

The veteran scores a milestone leader. Plus, action for Craig Wayne Boyd of NBC's "The Voice" and more.

Tim McGraw scores his first No. 1 in nearly four years on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart (and his first on the list since it switched from measuring core country radio audience to a sales/airplay/streaming hybrid two years ago) with “Shotgun Rider,” which steps 2-1 to become his landmark 25th career leader.

McGraw had last reached the summit when “Felt Good on My Lips” began a three-week reign on the Jan. 8, 2011, chart.

“Shotgun” has reached No. 2 on Country Digital Songs and sold 232,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music. It rises 5-3 on Country Airplay with a 10 gain to 41 million in radio audience.

The format vet extends his lead for the most No. 1s since he first reigned with “Don’t Take the Girl” on May 28, 1994. Kenny Chesney ranks second in that span with 22.

TRIBUTE: Nashville resident Craig Wayne Boyd, a contestant on NBC’s The Voice, storms Country Digital Songs at No. 1 with “I Walk the Line,” following a Nov. 24 performance of the 1956 Johnny Cash classic on the show.

Boyd’s cover starts with 46,000 downloads sold and earns the Hot Shot Debut at No. 15 on Hot Country Songs. The track also enters the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 84, where it’s the song’s first appearance since Jaye P. Morgan‘s cover reached No. 66 in 1960. Dating to the launch of Country Digital Songs nearly five years ago, Boyd is the third TV talent show contestant to debut at No. 1, following American Idol‘s Scotty McCreery (“I Love You This Big,” 2011) and The Voice‘s Cassadee Pope (“Over You,” 2012).

Boyd’s performance was an emotional one. He borrowed Cash’s song, but not the classic boom-chick-a-boom tempo of the original, reimagining it as a slow, soulful ballad. Before the performance, Boyd handed his coach, Blake Shelton, a replica of a necklace worn by their mutual close friend and mentor Wayne Mills, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter who died last year ago after being shot at a Nashville nightclub. In addition to mentoring Shelton and Boyd, Mills was an early supporter of Jamey Johnson, among others.

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NEW ‘MOM’: Tribute group Nashville Nuggets debuts on Hot Country Songs with a cover of Garth Brooks‘ current single, “Mom” (No. 46). The track sold 8,000 downloads in the week ending Nov. 30 and enters Country Digital Songs at No. 32.

Brooks’ original isn’t available digitally on an a la carte basis but is included on his new album Man Against Machine (which leads Top Country Albums for a third week, with 63,000; it’s sold 255,000 to date). The cover is from Nashville Nuggets’ EP The New Hits: Greatest Tribute to Garth Brooks & Man Against Machine. The track’s sales account for all of its Hot Country Songs chart points.

Concurrently, Brooks’ “Mom” rises 50-41 in its second week on Country Airplay. “‘Mom’ will take its place beside ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes,’ ‘Unanswered Prayers’ and ‘The Dance’,” Brooks has said of his touching new ballad, which follows closely in those classics’ sonic footprints. “It’s that strong.”