Rodney Atkins Rallies Album Sales

Fueled by Hit Single, His Album Debuts at No. 1

Underdogs throughout the country music community rejoiced when singer-songwriter Rodney Atkins’ new album sold more than 55,000 copies in its first week of release to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart.

Although he had a major hit single in 2003 with “Honesty (Write Me a List),” the Tennessee native’s If You’re Going Through Hell is only the second album he has released after toiling in the music industry — and elsewhere — for almost a decade. The album also landed at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 — just behind the No. 2 debut of Los Lonely Boys’ Sacred and the various artists pop compilation, NOW 22, which holds the top slot for the second consecutive week.

“It’s humbling,” Atkins told CMT Insider soon after he got the news of his No. 1 album. “I did a lot of this album … working between doing other odd jobs.”

Atkins’ album sales were driven by radio airplay of “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows),” which climbs to No. 3 on this week’s Billboard country singles chart.

The week also brought promising news to newcomer Eric Church when he debuted at a very respectable No. 7 with his debut album, Sinners Like Me. Billy Ray Cyrus’ Wanna Be Your Joe arrives at No. 24, and the multi-artist compilation, Billboard #1s: Classic Country, shows up at No. 34.

With Atkins at the top of country albums list, Rascal Flatts’ Me and My Gang is at No. 2 and the Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way at No. 3 for a second straight week. After spending two weeks at No. 1, Johnny Cash’s American V: A Hundred Highways falls to No. 4. Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts slips one notch to No. 5 while Alan Jackson’s gospel album, Precious Memories, bounces back from No. 11 to No. 6. Eric Church holds the No. 7 slot — followed in descending order by Tim McGraw’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, Toby Keith’s White Trash With Money and the Wreckers’ Stand Still, Look Pretty

Brad Paisley tops the country singles chart for a third week with “The World.” Carrie Underwood climbs one rung to No. 2 with “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” as Rodney Atkins’ single rises to No. 3. Toby Keith’s “A Little Too Late” stays at No. 4, but Kenny Chesney’s recent No. 1, “Summertime,” falls to No. 5. At No. 6 through No. 9, respectively, are Rascal Flatts’ “Me and My Gang,” Gary Allan’s “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” the Wreckers’ “Leave the Pieces” and Little Big Town, “Bring It on Home.” Steve Holy, Atkins’ labelmate at Curb Records, enters the Top 10 with “Brand New Girlfriend.”

Newcomer Chris Young landed his debut release, “Drinkin’ Me Lonely,” at No. 54 to claim the highest-debuting single of the week. Young is followed by Tracy Byrd’s “Cheapest Motel” (No. 55), Vince Gill’s “The Reason Why” (No. 56) and Rushlow Harris’ “That’s So You” (No. 57).

Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.