Zac Brown Band makes history on country airplay chart; Randy Houser debuts
Zac Brown Band's "Beautiful Drug" ascends 2-1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart (dated April 2), increasing by 2 percent to 43 million audience impressions in the week ending March 20, according to Nielsen Music.
The song is a landmark No. 1 for the group, becoming its 13th leader and pushing it past Rascal Flatts for the most No. 1s among groups of three or more members. Lady Antebellum and Lonestar follow with nine each. Tim McGraw leads all acts with 27 No. 1s dating to the Country Airplay tally's Jan. 20, 1990, launch.
"Drug" is the third consecutive Country Airplay leader from ZBB's fourth studio album, Jekyll + Hyde. "Homegrown" began a three-week reign on April 11, 2015, and "Loving You Easy" led the Aug. 29 list. (Meanwhile, rock single "Heavy Is the Head," featuring Chris Cornell, crowned the Mainstream Rock chart dated May 9, 2015.)
Reaching the pinnacle in its 28th week, "Drug" completes the band's longest trip to No. 1 since its breakthrough 2008 single "Chicken Fried" (30 weeks). Conversely, "Homegrown" and "Easy" hit the summit in relatively brisk 11- and 17-week trips, respectively.
What took "Drug" longer? "I think the song title might have made people a little nervous," WYCD Detroit PD Tim Roberts tells Billboard. "Lyrically, I feel this track is deeper, so it just took a little longer to kick in. Eventually it did and is now testing power for us.
"Zac treats every album as its own piece of work," adds Roberts. "He played the album for me in the studio before it came out, and I thought it was a masterpiece." Jekyll + Hyde debuted at No. 1 on Top Country Albums (May 16, 2015). It rises 18-17 this week and has sold 624,000 copies to date.
Jekyll + Hyde is the act's third LP to generate at least a trio of Country Airplay No. 1s. 2010's You Get What You Give yielded four ("As She's Walking Away," featuring Alan Jackson; "Colder Weather"; "Knee Deep," featuring Jimmy Buffett; and "Keep Me in Mind"), as did 2008's The Foundation ("Chicken Fried," "Toes," "Highway 20 Ride" and "Free"). (2012's Uncaged unleashed two: "Goodbye in Her Eyes" and "Sweet Annie.")
PERFECT 10s: Concurrently, Country Airplay welcomes two new top 10s, led by Chris Young and Cassadee Pope's "Think of You," which rises 12-9 (25 million, up 9 percent). The love song is Young's 11th top 10, following his sixth No. 1, "I'm Comin' Over," and Pope's second; "Wasting All These Tears" reached No. 10 in February 2014.
Also on Country Airplay, Chris Stapleton achieves his first top 10, as "Nobody to Blame" bumps 11-10 (24.7 million, essentially even from last week). The traditional country track opened on Country Airplay on Nov. 21, 2015 (at No. 46), following Stapleton's big night at the Country Music Association Awards (Nov. 4), when he won three awards. Traveller, which won for album of the year, has totaled 15 weeks at No. 1 on Top Country Albums and passed 1 million sold in the week ending March 10.
JOEY REMEMBERED: Joey + Rory's Hymns leads Top Country Albums for a third frame (and second in succession) (44,000, even from the prior week, when it gained by 36 percent after Joey Feek passed away from cancer on March 4). The inspirational set reigns over Top Christian Albums for a fifth week.
FIERY DEBUT: Fired Up, the fourth studio album from Randy Houser, enters Top Country Albums at No. 3 (21,000). The set matches his previous best rank, as How Country Feels debuted (with 24,000) and peaked at No. 3 in 2013. Fired Up is his third top 10; They Call Me Cadillac debuted and peaked at No. 8 in 2010.
FIRST, FOR A SECOND WEEK: Finally, Cole Swindell's "You Should Be Here" tops Hot Country Songs for a second week. The track boosts 3-2 on Country Airplay (42 million in audience, up 7 percent) and 4-3 on Country Streaming Songs (2.1 million U.S. streams, up 2 percent), and holds at No. 5 on Country Digital Songs (28,000 sold, down 7 percent).
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.