Monday, 17 November 2014

Country Billboard Chart News Nov 6, 2014

Country Billboard Chart News November 6, 2014

RIAA Certifications

Platinum = Sales of over 1-million units
Gold = Sales of over 500,000 units

Sam Hunt's single "Leave the Night On" (Platinum) for one million downloads and streams.

RIAA, CMHoF Commemorate Country Music’s Diamond-Selling Albums

Eleven Country music albums, including projects from Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers and The Dixie Chicks, have reached the rare feat of selling 10 million albums each.
The Recording Industry Association of America presented the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with a special jewel box case to commemorate these landmark recordings.
The recordings include Shania Twain’s Up! and Come On Over, The Dixie Chicks’ self-titled project, Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits, Patsy Cline’s 12 Greatest Hits, and six titles from Garth Brooks–Garth Brooks, No Fences, Ropin’ The Wind, The Hits, Double Live, and Sevens.

In Brief:  Billboard Country Charts

Country Album Chart ** No. 1 (1 week)  Sam Hunt
Hot Country Songs ** No.1 (1 week) ** “Leave The Night On” Sam Hunt
Country Airplay ** No.1 (1 week) ** “Leave The Night On” Sam Hunt
Country Digital Songs ** No.1 ** (13 cumulative weeks) ** “Burnin’ It Down” Jason Aldean

Billboard Top 200 / Country Album Chart News

POP Goes The Country! 
National Taylor Swift day #TS1989
Taylor Swift proved she is doing just fine as a pop artist – despite some doubters. Her new album 1989 sold 1,286,544 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan and crowned the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart (BB200)
  • This made it the biggest-selling album released in 2014, upping Coldplay’s GHOST STORIES which came out this year (383,000 debut) and has sold 737,000.
  • That number Swift sold is all the more impressive in the context of the contemporary marketplace, with piracy and streaming impacting sales. “1989” is the first album released in 2014 to sell a million copies, let alone a million copies in one week!
  • It would also marked the biggest opening week sales since Swift released her last studio album, RED.
  • However 1989 fell short of surpassing the one-week sales record for an album by a woman, set by the debut of Britney Spears' Oops! … I Did It Again in 2000, when it arrived with 1.319 million.
Taylor felt vindicated. "I was told to keep my expectations low because album sales were in decline, no one had sold over a million albums this year and the last time it happened on release week was with my album RED in 2012," she said. "I was told my optimism was naive. I was told it was risky to change creative directions. I was told my album wouldn't sell if it didn't have my entire face on it. I listened to my intuition instead of all those voices. I'm so proud that my fans were able to show the world that art is important and is still valuable to them." The album scored the most sales in a week for any artist since 2002, with copies selling at the rate of one every two seconds. That's called a good, old-fashioned country butt-whuppin'.
Taylor Swift: The last time an album sold as many copies as 1989 did first week, it was 2002, I was 12, and going through my 'braids phase' she shared on Facebook Industry experts predicted 1989 would sell 650k first week. You went and bought 1.287 million albums. AND IT'S GOT ME LIKE: Facebook Vid
  • She is the first artist since The Beatles (and the only female artist in history) to log six or more weeks at #1 in the U.S. with three consecutive studio albums.
  • Swift is the first act ever to have 3 albums sell a million copies in a week.
RED released Oct 22, 2012; logged first week sales [chart Oct 31, 2012] 1,208,290 copies and has sold 4,079,740 copies to date.
SPEAK NOW released Oct 25, 2010 logged first week sales of 1,046,718 copies and has sold 4.42 million to date.
FEARLESS, her best selling album was released Nov 11, 2008 and opened with 592,304 copies. It has now sold 6,859,962 copies to date.
Her self-titled debut album TAYLOR SWIFT started at #19 on the Billboard 200 in November 2006 with sales of 39,062. It peaked at #5 and has sold 5.44 million to date.

Taylor Swift's monster 1989 album was so big, it seems that the music business decided to mostly avoid releasing any albums that would have to compete with its second week on sale. Why? Industry sources suggest 1989 may sell 400,000 copies in its sophomore frame (ending Nov. 9) -- and easily give it a second week at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart. (That would also give the album the second-largest sales week of the year, behind only its own debut with 1.287 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.) 1989's second-week total will be more than 300,000 copies ahead of the likely No.2 album.
Seven weeks ago, UMG projected that 1989 would sell 1.1 million units, but that figure was readjusted to 750,000 units about four weeks before its release. It wasn't for lack of confidence in Swift's commercial power, but because overall sales have declined so dramatically in 2014 (blame the shrinking download business and the growth of streaming services) many doubted any artist could hit the first-week million mark. Additionally, there were fears that country fans would abandon Swift because she was fully embracing a POP sound. The payoff: a steady climb in projections.
Even though U.S. album sales have plummeted 20% since Taylor Swift's last album, RED, was issued in 2012, the singer scored the best opening week of her career. With that debut, Swift not only registers the only instant-platinum release of 2014, but bests her last effort by 7.6% (the only other album to hit the million mark: Frozen, which has sold 3.5 million units, most of them this year) and beats the previous 1989 projections of 750,000 (upped to 900,000 on release day and 1.2 million 48 hours later) by some 500,000 copies.
So how did she manage to defy expectations and log the biggest week for an album since 2002, when Eminem's The Eminem Show sold 1.32 million in its second chart week?
In a classic Swiftian strategy, the 24-year-old under-promises, over-delivers and then some, while behind the scenes, label Big Machine, and its Universal Music Group support system, drives sales with ruthless focus.
1. Entice Multiple Purchases 2. Connect With Fans Socially And Emotionally
3. Take Over Tv And Radio  4. Keep The Album Off Streaming  5. Market Far And Wide  6. Lower Expectations

Billboard Graphic showing breakdown of 1989's sales
Amazon just 2.4%!

Set To Pop: Taylor put her days in country behind her with “1989,” a move to New York and spent months of heavy promotion worldwide jetting round the globe. Making the release-day media rounds (Oct. 27) she sat down with Robin Roberts on ABC’s >> Good Morning America, broadcasting live from Times Square.
On GMA, Swift discussed the private listening sessions she hosted for groups of fans at her homes across the country prior to the release of 1989, as well as her move to New York City and her new role as the city’s tourism ambassador.
ABC announced that Swift will headline New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, hosted by Ryan Seacrest. She will be one of more than 30 yet- "Good Morning America feels more like a partnership rather than a TV show," said Swift. "They're always so supportive, so wonderful, so they’re always my first choice as to where to debut new music or where to announce news."

Swift's other stops included:
>> The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Voice, >> Late Show With David Letterman  and performed >> "Welcome To New York", CBS This Morning, >> The View and The Talk.
Here's her performance of >> "Out Of The Woods" on Jimmy Kimmel Live in the middle of Hollywood Blvd:
Taylor Swift-mania extended to the Billboard Hot 100, where "Shake It Off" rebounded 2-1 for a third total week on top. The song debuted at No.1 on Sept. 6 (sales of 544,000), and led again in its second week before spending the next eight weeks at No. 2, until this week.
With its third week at No.1 on the Hot 100, "Shake" equals her longest reign. Her sole prior leader, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," led for three (also nonconsecutive) weeks in 2012.
"Out Of The Woods" debuted at #18 on sales of 195,292 (lower than expected due to iTunes no longer reporting instant grat sales), and "Welcome To New York",  started at #1 on iTunes.

  • Taylor’s “Shake It Off” video first published on Aug 18, 2014 has had 207.7 million views!
  • The 1989 physical CD comes with 13 Polaroids. There are 5 different sets (65 different poloroids in all) Each Polaroid has a handwritten lyric from 1989 at the bottom - Facebook - Twitter
  • Fan Purchase - Photo
  • Create your own Taylor Swift 1989 Album Artwork -
  • Taylor Swift's '1989' Liner Note Messages & Reference Guide - Billboard
  • See how some of her fans have decoded the 1989 messages on Tumblr - 14. Wonderland - (target deluxe): Are we not going to talk about the fact that in Wonderland she says “Cheshire cat smile” "Hi, I’m Harry and I’m from Cheshire"
  • Imogen Heap Talks Working With Taylor Swift: 'I Assumed She Didn't Write Much of Her Music' - Billboard
  • Lady Antebellum Comment on Taylor Swift's Transition to Pop - Taste of Country : “I think she’ll always have fans in the country genre,” says Charles Kelley. “I mean it’s where she started, but she’s Taylor Swift, she’s such a musical icon now, and I think it’s no surprise. Her last record was definitely leaning towards the pop side.” Kelley admits that it sounds like where she belongs — at least for now. And by her calling it pop, she’s being honest with all of her fans.
  • Kelly Clarkson >> covered Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” recently—and even got Swift’s stamp of approval. In a fan-recorded video of the performance, Clarkson introduces “Shake It Off” as “one of [her] favorite songs out right now.” She goes on to infuse the pop song with some soul, and finishes with a note on Tay: “Seriously, everybody gives Taylor Swift a hard time, but she can write a hook,” Clarkson says. “I’m just sayin’.”
The critics weighed in with raves.

Critical reception for Taylor Swift’s “1989” :
Standard Copy 13 Tracks / Time: 48:32 Deluxe Copy: 19 Tracks/ Time: 1:08:20
CD Standard - CD Deluxe Edition - MP3 - UK iTunes (Standard) - UK iTunes (Deluxe)
Smart Choice Music [Deluxe US Exclusive] -

A bold, gossipy confection The Guardian (Rating: 4 STARS) ..Those commentators will be rupturing veins when 1989 finally comes out. Of its 13 tracks, roughly 10 find Swift in love, out of it, or in transition. There are exceptions – such as Shake It Off, Swift’s sassy US No 1 single, which rejects the bile of the haters. Recently revealed online, Welcome to New York is a love song, but to Swift’s new city. As New York songs go, WTNY is not up there in the Jay Z /Alicia Keys stakes, but there’s wisdom among the cliches. “Everyone here was someone else before,” Swift notes, reinventing hard. WTNY is this album’s scene-changing opener, proffering 80s pop as its signature sound. Swift may have been born on 13 December 1989, but here she is claiming the 80s – gated drums, synth-pop –as a formative influence. The remainder of 1989 is singularly focused on making eyes at boys, severing ties with boys, and what went wrong with whom....This album carries on her skilful works, with increased stylistic and tonal variation. “You look like my next mistake,” runs Blank Space, an out-and-out pop song with an intriguingly skeletal undercarriage. There is a rewarding pen click when Swift prepares to write down this man’s name. Bad Blood faintly recalls Charli XCX with its stark beats. Wildest Dreams borrows a bit of glaciation from Lana Del Rey....Swift’s fifth record is a bold, gossipy confection that plays to her strengths – strengths which pretty much define modern pop, with its obsession with the private lives of celebrities and its premium on heightened emotion. The album’s one failing? There’s no obvious single here as unequivocally great as I Knew You Were Trouble.

Billboard (Rating: 4 STARS)Taylor Swift’s Pop Curveball Pays Off With ‘1989’ by Jem Aswad ......1989 is the coming-out party, because it makes Red sound like Reba McEntire. Executive-produced by Swift and Martin, two of the all-time biggest hitmakers,
the LP could have been an overstuffed Frankenstein of battling ideas. But instead it's Swift's best work -- a sophisticated pop tour de force that deserves to be as popular commercially as with Robyn-worshipping blog--gers; an album that finds Swift meeting Katy and Miley and
Pink on their home turf and staring them down.....What's so different? Plenty. Sonically, 1989 is far more electronic than her previous work, driven by Martin's trademark drum programming and synthesizers, pulsating bass and processed backing vocals. The guitars, when they're there at all, deliver mostly texture; an acoustic is audible on just one song. The mandolins and violins were left back in Nashville, and there might not be a single live drum on the album.
The songwriting is still unmistakably Swift, with her polysyllabic melodies and playful/-provocative lyrics. But Martin and other key collaborators (including Shellback, Ryan Tedder and fun.'s Jack Antonoff) have helped hone her songs, which are more seasoned and subtle, less bubbly and bratty, than in the past.....Swift saves the most unexpected pairing for the last, show-stopping cut on the album's standard edition. "Clean" is an aching, bittersweet team-up with esoteric British alt-popper Imogen Heap where Swift surrenders more to her collaborator than on any other song on the album....A clean break with the core audience is a risky move for any artist: At worst, it's like ill-advised plastic surgery, a blandifying of the distinctive qualities and quirks that made the person interesting in the first place. But Swift avoided that fate entirely with this album, making her rare ability to write for multiple audiences and ages even more universal. With 1989, she expertly sets up the next chapter of what is now even more likely to be a very long career.

Rollingstone (4 STARS) .....The best moments come toward the end, when Swift shakes up the concept. "How You Get the Girl" mixes up the best of her old and new tricks, as she strums an acoustic guitar aggressively over Martin's expert disco surge. "This Love" brings back her most simpatico producer, Nathan Chapman, for the kind of tune that they were just starting to call a "power ballad" in 1989. (The precise equivalent would be Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There for You.") On the killer finale, "Clean," English singer Imogen Heap adds ethereal backup sighs to Swift's electro melancholy ("You're still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can't wear anymore").....This is still an artist who likes to let it rip. Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before. And yes, she takes it to extremes. Are you surprised? This is Taylor Swift, remember? Extremes are where she starts out.

NY Times A Farewell to Twang (Rating: 80/100).....Country music has been — was — a natural enemy for her: hidebound, slow moving, lousy with machismo. She could break the rules and make people nervous simply by showing up. And yet country was also a hospitable host body. She faced almost no direct competition there, and it’s a genre that embraces success, grudgingly if need be. Most important, country gave Ms. Swift context. It made her a transgressor, which means even her most benign songs could be read with mischievous intent.....On this new stage, Ms. Swift is thriving. And crucially, she is more or less alone, not part of any pop movement of the day. She has set herself apart and, implicitly, above....On this album, Ms. Swift’s songwriting isn’t as microdetailed as it has been, instead approaching heartbreak with a wider lens, as on “This Love"...But by making pop with almost no contemporary references, Ms. Swift is aiming somewhere even higher, a mode of timelessness that few true pop stars — aside from, say, Adele, who has a vocal gift that demands such an approach — even bother aspiring to. Everyone else striving to sound like now will have to shift gears once the now sound changes. But not Ms. Swift, who’s waging, and winning, a new war, one she’d never admit to fighting.

Back to strictly “country” matters Sam Hunt made a bow at No.3 on Billboard 200 and landed the No.1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart with his debut album, MOTEVALLO selling 69,849 copies. 
Hunt is just the second solo male in the SoundScan era (since 1991) to simultaneously lead Top Country Albums and Hot Country Songs with a rookie release. Billy Ray Cyrus first did so more than 22 years ago, ruling Hot Country Songs with “Achy Breaky Heart” as his debut set, Some Gave All, bowed at No. 1 on Top Country Albums (June 6, 1992). Hunt is the first new male artist in two years to launch at No.1 on Top Country Albums with a first full-length studio set (Dustin Lunch’s self-titled debut began at No. 1 on Sept. 8, 2012) and the first male newcomer to crown Country Airplay with an introductory entry since Easton Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That” (April 3, 2010).

Hunt's debut album was produced by Zach Crowell and Shane McAnally and features the lead and now #1 Hot Country Songs and Billboard Airplay, gold-certified single "Leave The Night On." He co-wrote all 10 tracks. The album title comes from the name of a city in Alabama about 25 minutes south of Birmingham. Sam played football at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before moving to Nashville. Once he got to Music City, Sam ended up dating a girl who lived down in Montevallo. Though that relationship is now over, that  girl is the main inspiration for the songs Sam wrote and recorded for his debut project.
He told ABC News Radio, "I spent a lot of time talking to her about songs. I probably should have included her as a co-writer on a lot of these songs because I spent a lot of time chatting with her."
Many of the songs that will appear on Montevallo are polished versions of songs Hunt’s fans have already heard in their original, campfire acoustic versions. Hunt says some were inspired by a woman he dated after moving to Nashville. “She’s sort of somewhere in between a city girl and a country girl,” he said. “She absolutely fit in when she was hanging out with me in Georgia, and she lived in a liberal, kind of hippie town that had an art school, so she fits in right there too.” That woman might represent a significant portion of Hunt’s listeners —  young people in high school, college, or just beyond it, who can relate to the culture of both small towns and big cities. Maybe, like Hunt, they’re not in a rush to get married as early as their parents did. They probably grew up listening to country music with their parents, but plenty of R&B and hip-hop too.
“The boundaries are starting to break down,” Hunt said. “Maybe one day music will just be music and there won’t be these categories, it’ll just be different shades of music.”  Read more at
Sam Hunt will headline the Lipstick Graffiti Tour, starting Jan. 29 in West Hollywood, CA and running through April. Native Run and Michael Ray will open.

Critical reception for Sam Hunt’s “Montevallo”:
10 Tracks/ Time: 38:22 CD - US iTunes -

Allmusic (Rating: 3.5 STARS)....A quarterback-turned-country songwriter-turned-country star, Sam Hunt never makes apologies for his inherent bro-ness on his 2014 debut Montevallo....Montevallo deliberately sounds like other guys next door, sometimes evoking memories of Jason Aldean (he's as comfortable with the slow-burning electronic rhythms of "Break Up in a Small Town" as Aldean is on "Burnin' It Down"), sometimes Keith Urban (Hunt does his own version of "Cop Car," previously a hit for Urban), sometimes Jake Owen ("Raised on It" is a dead ringer for "Barefoot Blue Jean Night"). Hunt is unabashedly a modern guy and his taste for busy electronic arrangements and facility with fleet-footed rhythms distinguish him from the pack of modern country bros: it's what gives the nocturnal urban sparkle of the hit "Leave the Light On" a lift, it's what gives "Single for the Summer" its sheen, it's what gives "Ex to See" a bit of dense menace. These electronic flourishes are notable but they're not the anchor of Montevallo, nor is Hunt's amiable presence. What grounds the album is his clean, commercial songwriting, heavy on hooks but also sturdily constructed. Ultimately, Hunt's ability to fuse his classical construction with modern flair and pass it off as no big thing is what makes his debut something more than just another album from the bro next door.

For The Country Record - On one level, Sam Hunt makes sense. He’s a continuation of bro-country, the leader of a fresh wave of influence that carries R&B, pop and EDM sounds further than they have ever existed in country, while dialling back the kind of lyrical clichés and offensive material that is still perpetrated by the founders of the much-hated trend, Florida Georgia Line. I’m not saying he’s offering up wonderfully poetic turns of phrase or fascinating stories that do the long-standing form proud, but there’s less misogyny and tailgates, even if the language oft used is very “hip” and colloquially urban.....This record is largely a repackaged collection of tracks fans have heard before in some shape or
form, meaning they were penned probably at least a couple of years ago and arguably no longer represent Sam artistically, at least as to who he is standing on the brightly-lit stage for all to see. All that I know is that this is where country music is going, with 2014 showing signs of it everywhere even as bro-country has remained out in full force. Buzzfeed got it right when they said Sam Hunt was a country star for the Instagram age. We’re entering a new era, and everything has gone digital.

Jason Aldean's OLD BOOTS, NEW DIRT rose 6-5 on the BB200 (#2 Country) with 42,636 copies sold (down 24%, 4-week total 467,723 ) and Florida Georgia Line with ANYTHING GOES dipped 5-6 (1-3 Country) with 37,863 sold (down 36%, 3-week total 294,173).
In their second chart frame Little Big Town with PAIN KILLER fell 7-30 on the BB200 (#3-#4 Country) with sales of 12,195 a 71% slump (2-week total 54,214)
Lady Antebellum with 747 fell 26-49 on the BB200 (#5-#10 Country) with 8,354 copies sold (down 22%, 5-week total 131,859)

Christmas has officially arrived! - Darius Rucker with HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Capitol Records) made a bow at No.43 on the BB200 (#7 Country) selling 8,887 copies and sold see sales pick up as the holiday season gets underway.  

For his first Yuletide album, Darius recorded two brand new tracks (well One really since “Candy Cane Christmas” was released in 2009) and 10 classic Christmas songs. A longtime pet project for the Grand Ole Opry star, he brings his children into the fold for “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and duets with Sheryl Crow on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Darius Rucker’s vocal tone is second to none so his take on these and other classic songs like “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” and “White Christmas” is a wecome addition to the yearly Christmas playlists

Critical reception for Darius Rucker’s “Home For The Holdays”:
12 Tracks/ CD - UK iTunes - 

Allmusic (Rating: 3 STARS) Darius Rucker leaves his newly adopted country home behind for a bit of uptown swinging swagger on 2014's Home for the Holidays. This 12-track collection of standards -- apart from "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful," they're all secular; apart from the nondescript original "What God Wants for Christmas," they're all well-known -- is all delivered in the mock-Sinatra style that has come to suggest Christmas in popular culture. The production is clean and unfussy, sparkling just enough to suggest new-fallen snow but not enough to be tacky, and Rucker is amiable, perhaps a bit too digitally polished but possessing enough good charm to keep things moving at a nice clip. Consequently, Home for the Holidays winds up as a perfectly fine Christmas record, suited for those Rucker fans who have stuck with him from Hootie to R&B to country.

For The Country Record ..All that aside, ‘Home For The Holidays’ sounds a lot like what I expected. Darius’ soulful, velvety vocals lend themselves perfectly to the rich, vintage big band sound that often characterizes those Christmas classics, and he pulls off standard arrangements of those well, even if they aren’t particularly new or noteworthy. Tracks like ‘Let It Snow’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ (featuring Sheryl Crow), ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ continue a very standard, conventional narrative when it comes to festive covers, and the overriding theme is pleasant, rather than dynamically exciting, music.....This record is not as notable as one might hope for from an artist of his caliber, ...My advice? Buy it, if you’re a die-hard fan. But if you’re not? Don’t bother.

Renowned For Sound (Rating: 2.5 STARS) It’s always hard to take such well-known songs, especially Christmas ones and make them your own but Home For The Holidays feels a bit forced like Darius Rucker is simply trying too hard. No single track really stands out to the listener, rather, it sounds like something one might hear in the empty piano bar of a fancy hotel lounge. With so many Christmas albums already on the market and new ones being added every year, artists need to bring something fresh and
unique to their interpretations and sadly, Darius Rucker has missed this opportunity.
A cappella country act Home Free with holiday set  FULL OF CHEER made a debut at No.65 on the BB200 (#14 Country) selling 6,108 copies.
Home Free - Full of Cheer >> Track-by-Track Part 1
They have spent the past several years making a name for itself thanks most notably for winning NBC-TV's The Sing-Off in 2013, moving from being an all-purpose a cappella group to covering classic and contemporary country songs with their signature soulful harmonies and smooth tones. Now, for the first time in the group's career, the vocal group is setting it's sights on the wonders of Christmas with "Full of Cheer," which combines plenty of cheer alongside warm, holiday traditions. The "cheer" is evident from the start as the band kicks things off on the 10-song CD with a playful take on the country Christmas favorite "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," ad-libbing a few fun moments throughout. "Hairy Christmas," a cover from The Robertson's Christmas record last year keeps the entertainment moving with the easy-going arrangement, but it's the original title track that really shines with corn pone charm, turning a break up into the best Christmas gift ever. The focus turns to seasonal standards, both secular and sacred. "White Christmas" is given a gentle, loping vibe, the group inventively mimicking harmonica flows and everything while "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is rendered faithfully and showcases the incredible harmonies the group is really capable of. And with "Baby, It's Cold Outside" the group welcomes guest vocals from Canadian Kira Isabella for a great take on the romantic holiday jam. Country vibes are heard on "O Holy Night," bits of twang working their way into the mix alongside their soaring vocal melodies as "Angels We Have Heard On High" presses those melodies forward, the group showing some real vocal prowess with a layered arrangement that stands strong. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" showcases further skill, the vocal abilities really shining in their diversity, creating a rich soundscape with just their voices while closer "Silent Night," buoyed by a guest violin solo from Taylor Davis, ends things on a cozy note. - Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh Country Standard Time 10 Tracks CD - UK iTunes - UK iTunes - - Track Listing

Wade Bowen with his titled album WADE BOWEN (Independent/AMP Entertainment) made a debut at No.47on the B200 (#9 Country) selling 8,556 copies.
The Texas Red Dirt-circuit veteran matched his previous best debut and rank. His previous album, THE GIVEN, opened at the same spot and with an almost identical sum on June 16, 2012. Bowen was a member of the band, West 84, with friend Matt Miller, before the band was re-aligned 2001. He released his first album in 2002, TRY NOT TO LISTEN, which became a regional hit in Texas.  He is the brother-in-law of Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman, Cody Canada.
One of country music’s most deserving released via his own label after records with labels like BNA Records, Sustain and Smith Music, Wade Bowen’s self-titled album is his fifth studio album (to go along with a pair of live albums). Produced by Justin Niebank, the 12 track effort features lead single “When I Woke Up Today,” already a hit in Texas, and was written with co-writers like Will Hoge, Jeremy Spillman, Scooter Carusoe, Matt Nolen, Lori McKenna and Travis Meadows, to name but a few. Two tracks on the album (“Honky Tonk Road” and “Sun Shines on a Dreamer” were written by outside writers but totally fit within Wade Bowen’s style and sound. “Watch Her Drive” and “West Texas Rain” feel like potential hits as does “When It’s Reckless.” “Sweet Leona” stands out amongst the dozen tracks as well. Here’s hoping folks finally take a shine to Wade Bowen’s music as he’s clearly one of the best ‘unknowns’ we’ve got in this business.

Wade Bowen calls his new CD “a selfish record”: The first glimpse of the "happier, more raw, more energetic" Wade came on his stand-alone single, "Songs About Trucks." The song, written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, fit perfectly in his transition from major label artist to independent artist, with its good-natured jab at the music populating mainstream country airwaves. Wade approached making Wade Bowen with the idea of creating a project that he would enjoy personally. He wanted it to show his sense of humor and his positive, happier side. He ended up with that and then some, putting together his most eclectic record that includes some of his best songwriting – and song-picking. The “no rules” approach to Wade Bowen lets a diverse sound come to the forefront. The “anything goes” freedom let influences come out in Wade’s songs stronger than on previous records -

Critical reception for Wade Bowen’s self titled album:
14 Tracks/ Time: 53:01 CD - MP3 - UK iTunes -

NPR The drifter is an archetype in country music, but not a common one these days; maybe his or her story is just too somber to fit in with all the hits about tailgating and spring break. Bowen revives the drifter's story beautifully. He does the character justice by making him a successful worker instead of a train-hopping hobo; maybe he's a musician, but he could also be a construction crew manager or a mid-level executive....Bowen's calm delivery is perfectly reflective, framed by gentle guitar lines that fall in a sideways motion, like rain on a moving windshield. The self-titled album that contains this song is his seventh. He has honed his singer-songwriterly sound so that it reflects both urbane Nashville and independent-minded Texas; this veteran of Red Dirt and Music Row really is a traveler.

Stoney LaRue with AVIATOR (eOne) arrived at No.72 on the BB200 (#17 Country) selling 5,254 copies.
The Texas Music star worked with producers Frank Liddell and Michael McCarthy on the album, which features the lead single "Golden Shackles" and a bonus track, "Studio A Jam."
Another ‘unknown’ who is actually a big star in Texas, Stoney LaRue, like Wade Bowen, has been building up his fanbase on a national scale the past couple of years and now, with new label eOne partnering with him, things are looking up for the singer as his third nationally distributed album Aviator hits the market. The Texas native helped define the whole “Red Dirt” scene and his new record showcases this with standout tracks like “First One To Know,” “Aviator,” “Still Runnin’” and “A Little Too Late.”
The Red Dirt music singer-songwriter chronicles life’s ups and downs as he sings about growing up, relationships and moving on. It’s about the realization of tomorrow, he said, as well as mortality and what people are going to do while they’re here.
“It’s got to be something that people can believe,” said LaRue, who co-wrote all but one of the album’s 14 songs.
Watch the >> EPK  Watch "First One To Know"

Critical reception for Stoney LaRue’s “Aviator”:
14 Tracks/ Time:  55:13 CD - MP3 - UK iTunes - 
Saving Country Music (Rating: 1 3/4 of 2 Gun Up) ....One of the few artists the national media will label as “Red Dirt” and actually be right about …. though it will still be by mistake from the common misconception that “Red Dirt” and “Texas Country” are interchangeable. The Texas born, Southeastern Oklahoma-bred singer and songwriter who once swept the floors at the Tumbleweed Dancehall was just as famous for his own songs as he was for being the brother of Bo Phillips and the “guy in the bandanna” in the Red Dirt scene until his 2011 album Velvet really put him on the map as his own man....With his new album Aviator, you not only get that great, signature Stoney LaRue sound, you get it with Stoney and all the involved parties buying in by not just showing confidence, but even showing a little boldness and willingness to do some things a little offbeat, run some songs together and carry others out a little longer than they should be, and this all results in that enriching Stoney LaRue mood becoming even more enhanced. Aviator isn’t one of those albums you cherry pick through to the best songs. That would be like choosing a favorite child, because all of these songs are great and work so well together and in succession... This is one of those albums you put on for a long road trip or a restful backyard barbecue and then press repeat when you get to the end. It is the embodiment of that laid back Texoma flavor that doesn’t just remind you to take a deep breath and appreciate life for the moment, it demands it....Not just an album of great songs, Aviator is a great album cover to cover.

The Lacs with NOTHING IN PARTICULAR, a bits and bobs album of rarities, sold 4,594 copies to make a Billboard 200 bow at No.86 (#17 Country)
Average Joes Entertainment’s, The LACS’ (made up of Clay ‘Uncle Snap’ Sharpe and Brian ‘Rooster’ King, whose name is short for ‘Loud Ass Crackers,’) released the new 11-song collection as a “fan must-haves”. As a tribute to their fans, the duo have unlocked the vault on this 11-track collection, which features songs not previously available on CD or previously released. The video for the title track, “Nothing In Particular,” premiered exclusively on The Boot on Oct 29th.
The Country rap/Southern rock duo enjoyed a career-best rank and biggest sales week on Billboard’s Top Country Albums on the chart Sept 7, 2013 with 14,460 copies sold to land at No.3 on the country chart  with their third album, “Keep It Redneck” (Backroad/Average Joes). Their previous best was a No.16 bow (#68 BB200) with 190 PROOF, which debuted in April 2012 with 6,745 units sold and was on country album chart for over 72 consecutive weeks.

The final debut on the top 25 Country Albums came 45-year-old comedian Rodney Carrington whose album LAUGHTER'S GOOD landed at No.91 on the BB200 (#23 Country).
He brought it his hilarious one-man show Laughter's Good to CMT. The highly-anticipated special features the comedian taking a fresh look at everyday life through his hysterical down-to-earth style. The, known for his everyman humor and ornery songs, is highly visible these days with the comedy special and this new album out plus dealing with being a single man after 18 years of marriage.

Outside the Top 25 Country Albums

At #33 Country saw debut from Joey+Rory selling more than 2,200 copies of COUNTRY CLASSICS: A Tapestry Of Our Musical Heritage (FarmHouse Recordings/Gaither), previously it spent 5 months exclusively on Cracker Barrel shelves. The husband and wife team are taking time off so they can enjoy time together with newborn Indiana but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t find the time to record a sweet 12 track collection of the duo’s all-time favorite Country songs, or songs that inspired them to become singers. Standouts include “I’m Not Lisa,” “Let It Be Me,” “King Of The Road,” “I Believe In Love,” “Coat Of Many Colors” and “Back Home Again.” The harmonies are sweet (with an assist from Heidi Feek) and the melodies are as timeless as ever.
On the Billboard Music Video Sales chart for the week Nov 15, 2014 it made its debut at No.1!    

Brian Davis with his ALL ABOUT THAT LIFE EP made a debut at No.45 with 1,000 units scanned.

Lee Ann Womack who is heading to London in March 2015 for the C2C Festival is no longer on the Top 50 albums. She has sold 8,000 copies of THE WAY I’M LIVIN‘ to date.

LeAnn Rimes made a lowly debut (#47 Country) once more with holiday set One Christmas: Chapter One selling just 1,000 copies. This EP is the first of a trilogy “ONE Christmas - chapter 2” will be released in 2015 with “ONE Christmas – chapter 3” planned in 2016. 
Rimes will now be hoping folks get in the holiday spirit with songs including "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas," "Blue Christmas" and "Carol Of The Bells."
The 32-year-old singer recently debuted her cover of “Silent Night” on .  “I made a Christmas record a long time ago, and this time, I decided I wanted to spread it out over three years so I didn’t have to stop making Christmas music,” LeAnn said. “We had so much fun making this first EP. I tried to play around with it as far as things you don’t typically hear me do. A lot of the vocals sound very live, and it’s just a really cool piece of music. It’s very exclectic. It has a lot of soul, and it sounds really organic.”

Critical reception for LeAnn Rimes’ “One Christmas: Chapter One”:

GotCountryOnline (Rating 4.5 STARS) ....Leading off the album is “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” (originally released in 1953). Families will enjoy singing the fun tune together. Can you imagine the sight of Santa bringing in a hippo through the front door? The classics, “Silent Night Holy Night” and “Blue Christmas“, are elevated to new heights with Leann’s beautiful vocal interpretations. Also included are “Someday At Christmas” (released by Stevie Wonder in 1967) and “Hard Candy Christmas” (sung by Dolly Parton in the 1982 musical The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas). Chapter 1 ends with “Carol Of The Bells“, a 1904 traditional folk chant (originally associated with the start of spring), that showcases the amazing range of her vocals. Next year LeAnn will release One Christmas: Chapter 2, and One Christmas: Chapter 3 in 2016. She will kick off her One Christmas Holiday Tour this December in New York.

Allmusic (Rating: 3 STARS) The first in a projected series of yearly seasonal EPs, One Christmas , thankfully, a more eccentric holiday album than LeAnn Rimes' What a Wonderful World. That 2004 Christmas record played it straight, but here Rimes launches into the 1953 novelty "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" on the second track, then slides into a soulful rendition of "Blue Christmas" after that. Generally, One Christmas does operate at a slow burn -- "Somebody at Christmas" and "Hard
Candy Christmas" both simmer, with only "Carol of the Bells" sparkling perhaps a bit too much, providing a quickening tempo -- but Rimes' decision to play it cool in addition to having a bit of fun makes One Christmas a neat little seasonal treat.

2014 Country Album sales Year-To Date:
25,334,000 (Physical sales 16,829,000 (down 9%) + Digital sales 8,505,000 (down -9.6%)) which is 18.0% down at the same point in 2013 (30,881,000 sales)

Billboard Top 200 / Country Album Placings
(Issue dated Chart week of November 15, 2014)
(Country Album positions #1 - #25)
(TW) This Week, (LW) Last Week, Co (Country Album Chart placing / Movement)

Billboard Catalog Albums Chart (week of November 15, 2014)

Taylor Swift with RED remained in the top 10, but SPEAK NOW and FEARLESS didn’t get much of an additional boost from the "1989" release. RED was No.84 on the Billboard 200 selling 4,670 copies, up 12% on the previous weeks 4,153 and has sold     4,079,740 copies to date. FEARLESS was placed at No.177 on the BB200 selling 2,486 copies, up 19% with total sales so far of 6,859,962 since its release.

Top Catalog Albums
#1 Re-Entry 240 Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin
#3 5 114 The Legend Of Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash
#4 1 64 The Ultimate Hits - Garth Brooks
#5 4 5 Red - Taylor Swift
#32 37 110 Fearless - Taylor Swift
#42 31 46 Speak Now - Taylor Swift

Top 25 Hot Country Songs (week of November 15, 2014)

On Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart - which blends:
a) All-format airplay, as monitored by BDS 
b) Sales, as tracked by Nielsen SoundScan and
c) Streaming, (tracked by Nielsen BDS from such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio and Xbox Music, among others) according to BDS it results in:

  • Sam Hunt with “Leave The Night On” climbed one place to top the multimetric Hot Country Songs chart. Hunt’s track halted a 14-week reign by Jason Aldean’sBurnin’ It Down” (Broken Bow), which dropped to No.2. However Aldean’s track collected a 12th week atop Country Digital Songs (37,373 copies sold) and controls Country Streaming Songs for a 13th frame (2.1 million total U.S. streams, down 14%, according to BDS). Sam’s “Night” also added Digital Gainer honors (31,066 downloads sold, up 14%) and rebounded to its peak (6-3) on Country Digital Songs. Hunt is the second rookie act in 2014 to bow at No.1 on Top Country Albums, following Dan + Shay’s top-ranked start with Where It All Began (April 19). Hunt’s single is also the third new artist’s debut to crown Hot Country Songs since the chart switched from core country radio airplay to a sales/airplay/streaming hybrid two years ago, preceded by Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” and Cole Swindell’s “Chillin’ It.”
Top 25 Hot Country Songs:

Sam Hunt with “Leave The Night On” climbs one to Top the chart!
Jason Aldean with former No1 “Burnin’ It Down” slips 1-2 q
Blake Shelton with “Neon Light” is up one, #4 - #3 p
Florida Georgia Line with former #1“Dirt” slips one, #3 - #4 q
Carrie Underwood with “Something In The Water” lifts one, #6 - #5 p
Keith Urban with “Somewhere In My Car” climbs three, #9 - #6 p
Frankie Ballard with “Sunshine & Whiskey” falls two, #5 - #7 q
Maddie & Tae with “Girl In A Country Song” holds at #8
Little Big Town with “Day Drinking” sinks two, #7 - #9 q
Tim McGraw with “Shotgun Rider” shoots up one, #11 - #10 p
Luke Bryan with “Roller Coaster” falls one, #10 - #11 q
Brad Paisley with “Perfect Storm” climbs three, #15 - #12 p
Big & Rich with “Look At You” climbs four, #17 - #13 p
Kenny Chesney with “American Kids” is down two, #12 - #14 q
Eric Church with “Talladega” jumps up six, #21 - #15 p
Parmalee with “Close Your Eyes” rises two, #18 - #16 p
Lady Antebellum with “Bartender” sinks one, #16 - #17 q
Lee Brice with “Drinking Class” climbs one, #19 - #18 p
Scotty McCreery with “Feelin’ it” lifts one, #20 - #19 p
Florida Georgia Line with “Sun Daze” burns up five, #25 - #20 p
RaeLynn with “God Made Girls” is up one, #’22 - #21 p
Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood’s former #1 “Somethin’ Bad”, #14 - #22 q
Kenny Cheney with “Til It’s Gone” holds at #23
Brantley Gilbert with “Small Town Throwdown” slumps eleven, #13 - #24 q

Darius Rucker with “Homegrown Honey” is down one, #24 - #25 q

Hot County Songs
** No.1 (1 week) / Digital Gainer ** “Leave The Night On” Sam Hunt
** Airplay Gainer ** No.20 “Sun Daze” Florida Georgia Line”
** Hot Shot Debut ** No.32 “Make You Miss Me” Sam Hunt
Debut No.35 “Take Your Time” Sam Hunt
** Streaming Gainer ** No.38 “Ex To See” Sam Hunt
Debut No.40 “Speakers” Sam Hunt
Debut No.46 “Freestyle” Lady Antebellum

Billboard Country Airplay Chart Week of November 15, 2014

Sam Hunt became the first act in almost two years to reach No.1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart with a debut single, and the first solo male artist in nearly five years to reign with a first hit, as “Leave the Night On” (MCA Nashville) rose 2-1 in its 21st chart week. It logged 47.840 million audience impressions, a gain of +1.775 million and received 7,662 radio plays (+277) during the tracking week.
The song written by Sam Hunt, Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally was first released by MCA Nashville on June 16, 2014.
No newcomer’s debut single had topped the Nielsen BDS-driven list since Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” on Dec. 15, 2012, while Easton Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That” was the last such leader by a male soloist on April 3, 2010. (As for rookie women?

 It has been more than 10 years since Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” became the last debut single by a female artist to rule, on May 29, 2004.) Top local audience stations for “Night” during the Oct. 27-to-Nov. 2 tracking week: WUSN Chicago (1.4 million impressions), WNSH New York (1.2 million), KKGO Los Angeles (1.1 million), WUBL Atlanta (1.1 million) and KPLX Dallas (1 million). Through the Nielsen SoundScan week ending Oct. 26, the album has yielded 1 million in digital track sales, with “Night” accounting for 691,000.
Sam Hunt Thanks Radio Support >> YouTube

  • Big & Rich claimed their second Country Airplay top 10, and first in seven years, as “Look at You” lifted 11-9 in its 36th week (27.8 million impressions, up 11%). The duo scored its sole prior top 10 with “Lost in This Moment,” which began a two-week stand at No. 1 on July 27, 2007. Big & Rich’s second entry, the much-buzzed-about “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” stopped at No. 11 in 2004.) “Look” is the twosome’s first single since it launched its own record label, B$R, in January. It’s the lead single from GRAVITY, the act’s fifth full-length studio set, which debuted and peaked at No.8 on Top Country Albums on Oct. 11.
  • Tim McGraw notched his 52nd Country Airplay top 10 as “Shotgun Rider” (Big Machine) bulleted 13-10 in its ninth chart week. 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. McGraw last reached the upper region with “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” (featuring Faith Hill), which peaked at No.2 on Sept. 6. He most recently topped Country Airplay with “Highway Don’t Care” (with Taylor Swift) for two weeks starting on June 15, 2013.
  • Florida Georgia Line snared the Most Increased Audience and claimed the Most Added trophy with "Sun Daze" which jumped 29-21. It logged 14.498 million audience impressions, a gain of +6.223 million and received 2,200 radio plays (+1,056) thanks to 63 fresh radio commitments (ADDS) 
  • The Swon Brothers with "Pray For You"  snagged the Hot Shot Debut honour with a lowly No.59 bow.
Women of Country 2014 Watch:

There were two solo female artists on the Top 30 Country Airplay songs with Carrie Underwood’s “Something In The Water” climbing 14-12 and RaeLynn’s “God Made Girls” rising 22-20. “Girl In A Country Song” by duo Maddie & Tae climbed two 9-7.
Jana Kramer #32, Trisha Yearwood #42, Lindsay Ell #50, Kelsea Ballerini #55, Lucy Hale #56 and Sara Evans #58 were the additional six solo females in the remaining 31-60 slots, to make it 13.3% of the entire Top 60 chart.

Country Airplay
*** No. 1 (1 week) *** "Leave the Night On" Sam Hunt
** Most Increased Audience/ Most Added ** No. 21 "Sun Daze" Florida Georgia Line
** Hot Shot Debut ** No.59 "Pray For You" The Swon Brothers
Debut No.60 "Middle Of America" Will Hoge

Billboard Country Digital Singles Chart Week of November 15, 2014

Jason Aldean with his PLATINUM selling “Burnin’ It Down” held onto No.1 for a third succesive week and 13 cumulative weeks atop the summit of the Billboard Country Digital Singles chart selling 37,373 copies (down 16%, 14-week total 1,138,733 copies). On the overall all genre Digital Songs it was placed at No.31. That chart was headed by Taylor Swift who made a debut at No.1 with "Blank Space" (155,178 downloads), notching her ninth leader on the tally. It's her third No.1 from the 1989 album, following "Shake It Off" and "Out of the Woods."
Swift also placed another entry in the top 10, as the album's "Style" started at No.8 with 73,534 copies sold.
In total she charted with 10 (none album preview tracks) on Top 75:
#15 “Wildest Dreams” (57,655 copies), #18 “Bad Blood” (54,101 copies), #38 “How You Get The Girl” (32,235 copies), #48 “All You Had To Do Was Stay” (27,155 copies), #54 “This Love” (25,860 copies), #56 “Clean” (24,088 copies), #73 “I Know Places”  (19,374 copies) and #75 “I Wish You Would” (19,307 copies)

Back to country matters Carrie Underwood with “Something In The Water” stayed at No.2 selling 34,423 copies, up 4% in her 5th week (282,017 total).
Sam Hunt dominated the Top 30 with three tracks in the Top 12 and 4 in the Top 30 of the Billboard Country Digital Singles Chart. “Leave The Night On” moved 6-3 (31,066 sales, up 14%; 20-week total 722,208). New tracks “Make You Miss Me” made a debut at #7 (21,270 sales) joined by “Take Your Time” at #12 (17,988 copies) and “Speakers” at #22 with 12,090 sales.

Frankie Ballard with “Sunshine And Whiskey” has now surpassed the 500K mark (506,137 sold in 23 weeks) to bag him his second-consecutive GOLD single, along with “Helluva Life.”
Luke Bryan’sRoller Coaster” also went GOLD having sold 506,736 copies during his 19 week chart frame. It’s the fifth single from CRASH MY PARTY to go either Gold or Platinum.

Women Of Country Watch
Carrie Underwood with “Something In The Water” at No.2 and RaeLynn (19-18) with God Made Girls” represent the only solo female artists on the Top 50 placings.

Dropping off the Top 30:
15 – Off The Chart Billy Currington “Don’t It”
24-31 Luke Bryan “Play It Again”
22- 33 Florida Georgia Line “This Is How We Roll”
28-34 Brantley Gilbert “Small Town Throwdown”
30-38 Little Big Town “Girl Crush”

Top 30 Digital Singles in Country Music (published November 6, 2014)
 (LW) Last Week (TW) This Week
*Numbers are rounded to nearest 1000th

Country Aircheck MEDIABASE Chart

Sam Hunt moved 2-1 to land No1 on Mediabase with “Leave The Night On” (MCA). The song logged 7,833 radio spins (+388) and 56.679 million audience impressions (+2.323 million) from 149 tracking stations for the tracking week October 26 to November 2, 2014 and published chart November 3rd.
Congratulations to UMG Nashville SVP/Promotion Royce Risser, MCA Nashville VP/Promotion Van Haze and the entire MCA promotion staff for scoring the week's #1 single on the MEDIABASE Country singles chart with Sam Hunts "Leave The Night On." The single is Hunt’s first release from his MONTEVALLO album, which debuted on Mon October 27th.
Sweet treats were due to be delivered to the MCA office (Nov 3rd) to congratulate the staff on their success.

Congratulations to Warner Music Nashville SVP/Promotion Kevin Herring, VP/Promotion Kristen Williams, Dir./National Promotion Katie Bright and their entire promo team for earning 40 MEDIABASE adds on Cole Swindell's "Ain't Worth The Whiskey." Those adds give Cole  "Most Added" title for this week.
Bagels were due to be delivered to the Warner's office (Nov 4th) to congratulate the staff on their success.

For a detailed report check out Country Aircheck Weekly Issue 421 - November 3, 2014 [PDF File]
For the very latest up to the minute Mediabase Chart (Past 7 Days) go here -

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