Heartland refuel a lot of sputtering dreams this week as their first-ever single, “I Loved Her First,” rolls to No. 1 in Billboard. Not bad for a band that didn’t even have a record deal until this spring — and that with a tiny independent label. Simultaneously, Heartland’s album, also titled I Loved Her First, debuts at No. 3.
In a big surprise for those who didn’t even realize he was a country act, Jimmy Buffett storms to the peak of Billboard’s country album chart with his just-out CD, Take the Weather With You.
Adding more luster to Heartland’s triumph is the fact that “I Loved Her First” reached No. 1 after only 17 weeks on the singles charts, leapfrogging over such heavy hitters as Carrie Underwood, Lonestar, Rascal Flatts and Brooks & Dunn.
On Billboard’s all-genres album listing, Buffett captured the No. 4 slot while Heartland logged in at a very impressive No. 11.
Other new albums this week are Brad Paisley Christmas (arriving at No. 33), Shooter Jennings and the .357’s’ Live at Irving Plaza 4.18.06 (No. 55), Wynonna’s A Classic Christmas (No. 68) and Elvis Presley’s Elvis Christmas (No. 69). Illustrating just how tight the singles chart is, there are only two new entries there: Pat Green’s “Dixie Lullaby” (No. 57) and Josh Gracin’s “I Keep Coming Back” (No. 58).
Among the remaining Top 5 albums, George Strait’s It Just Comes Natural slides from No. 1 to No. 2, Alan Jackson’s Like Red on a Rose drops from No. 2 to No. 4 and Rascal Flatts’ Me and My Gang steps back from No. 4 to No. 5. Chris Young’s self-titled album plummets from its debut No. 3 spot last week to No. 10.
Movement is similarly turgid within the Top 5 singles. Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” advances from No. 4 to No. 2, Dierks Bentley’s “Every Mile a Memory” holds at No. 3 for the second week, Josh Turner’s “Would You Go With Me” slips from No. 1 to No. 4 and Kenny Chesney’s “You Save Me” spends its second week at No. 5.
Singles showing the most momentum are Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish,” advancing from No. 10 to No. 7, Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw,” sprinting from No. 21 to No. 17 and Brad Paisley’s “She’s Everything,” striding from No. 22 to No. 20.
The most energetic albums are Paisley’s Time Well Wasted, a former No. 1 that climbs back from No. 17 to No. 14 and Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits, which hops from No. 64 to No. 56.
Look for a sudden shift in traffic patterns as more Christmas titles speed in.