American Idol isn’t just for the pop charts anymore. Carrie Underwood, the 2005 winner who quickly emerged as one of Nashville’s biggest stars, remains at No. 1 on Billboard’s country airplay chart for a second week with “Before He Cheats.” On the country albums chart, 2006 Idol finalist Kellie Pickler debuts at No. 1 with Small Town Girl on BNA/19 Records.
Small Town Girl is just one position ahead of Underwood’s Some Hearts, which was just certified quadruple platinum this week. Pickler’s debut single, “Red High Heels,” is No. 37 this week but may receive a vote of confidence from radio stations after her strong sales week.
If anybody’s a true country idol, though, it’s George Strait. The recent inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame is at No. 3 on the country album chart with It Just Comes Natural. He’s followed by Rascal Flatts’ Me and My Gang at No. 4, Alabama’s Songs of Inspiration at No. 5, Alan Jackson’s Like Red on a Rose at No. 6 and Jimmy Buffett’s Take the Weather With You at No. 7. Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut falls from No. 3 to No. 8 in its second week. Josh Turner’s Your Man and Dierks Bentley’s Long Trip Alone round out the Top 10.
In addition to Pickler’s album, several more country artists have new projects entering the chart this week. Craig Morgan’s Little Bit of Life arrives at No. 13. Willie Nelson’s collaboration with Ryan Adams, Songbird, alights at No. 19. The title track is a Fleetwood Mac remake.
Meanwhile, Cross Canadian Ragweed’s double-disc set, Back to Tulsa: Live and Loud at Cain’s Ballroom plugs into the No. 27 spot. Tracy Byrd’s Different Things comes in at No. 36. The compilation A Blue Collar Christmas: Redneck Style unwraps a No. 66 position — just one shot, um slot, ahead of Jason Boland & the Strangers’ The Bourbon Legend.
Behind Underwood’s top spot, Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish” is No. 2 on the country airplay chart. Kenny Chesney’s “You Save Me” is No. 3, ahead of Sugarland’s “Want To,” Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl,” Heartland’s “I Loved Her First,” Keith Urban’s “Once in a Lifetime,” Bentley’s “Every Mile a Memory,” Montgomery Gentry’s “Some People Change” and Turner’s “Would You Go With Me,” at No. 4 through No. 10, respectively.
“Hillbilly Deluxe,” the title track of Brooks & Dunn’s latest album, slides into No. 57 as the week’s highest debut. Another new single, Danielle Peck’s “Isn’t That Everything,” completes the Top 60.