It took 38 weeks to do it — somewhat longer than growing a sequoia seedling to maturity — but Kelsea Ballerinihas taken “Love Me Like You Mean It” to the top of Billboard’s country airplay songs chart.
In so doing, she becomes the first female breakthrough artist to drive her initial single all the way to No. 1 since Carrie Underwood accomplished that same feat in 2006 with “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
Making her achievement all the more sweet is the fact that Ballerini is one of the song’s co-writers.
Meanwhile, it’s rebound time for the Zac Brown Band’s Jekyll + Hyde, which — eight weeks after it bowed in as the No. 1 country album — bounces back into that prime slot.
Five albums make their first appearance on this week’s chart, including Tim McGraw’s 35 Biggest Hits (No. 8), Big Smo’s Bringin’ It Home EP (No. 12), Hank Williams Jr.’s 35 Biggest Hits (No. 16). Also, the multi-artist collection Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City (No. 28) and Cory Morrow’s The Good Fight (No. 45).
Returning are Alabama’s Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites (No. 41) and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Amazing Grace: 14 Treasured Hymns (No. 44).
Only two songs come aboard this week: Miranda Lambert’s “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” featuring Little Big Town (No. 55) and Kenny Chesney’s “Save It for a Rainy Day” (No. 59). By the way, Chesney’s single is not a cover of the Stephen Bishop pop hit from 1976.
Steven Tyler’s “Love Is Your Name” comes back in at No. 60.
The No. 2 through No. 5 albums, in that order, are the multi-artist Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8 (last week’s No. 1), Sam Hunt’s Montevallo, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s Django and Jimmie and Little Big Town’s Pain Killer.
Completing the Top 5 songs cluster are Blake Shelton’s “Sangria”, Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns,” Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song” and McGraw’s “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” featuring Catherine Dunn.
Last week’s top song, Chesney’s “Wild Child” with Grace Potter, slips to No. 8.
As you squint against the merciless sun and gasp at the suffocating humidity, take comfort in the fact that someone somewhere is recording a Christmas album. Yeah, I know. It didn’t work for me either.