Well, it’s been a week of tragedy and triumph on Music Row, and the new Billboard charts vividly reflect this.
First to the triumphs, most of which accrue to Thomas Rhett, whose new album, Life Changes, debuts at No. 1 on both the country and all-genre Billboard 200 rankings.
Add to that the comforting fact that Rhett has not just one but two new singles on the country airplay chart. We’ll get to those in a moment.
More good news — at least for Dustin Lynch. His “Small Town Boy” is spending its third week at the very top of the airplay chart.
Now, the tragedies. It’s being realistic, not cynical, to observe that an artist’s death usually sparks an immediate jump in his or her album sales. And that’s the case with the late Don Williams and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry, both of whom died on the same day — Sept. 8.
Thus, Williams’ 20 Greatest Hits returns to this week’s chart at No. 14, while Montgomery Gentry has two resurrected titles — Playlist: The Very Best of Montgomery Gentry (No. 18) and Something to be Proud of: The Best of 1999-2005 (No. 46).
Besides Life Changes, there are four other new albums to thumbs-up. They are Dustin Lynch’s Current Mood (No. 2), Kip Moore’s Slowheart (No. 3), Toby Keith’s The Bus Songs (No. 6) and The Texas Tenors’ Rise (No. 17).
The other returning album is Keith’s 35 Biggest Hits (No. 43).
Rhett’s new single entries, alluded to above, are “Drink a Little Beer” (No. 53), featuring his dad, Rhett Akins, and “Sixteen” (No. 59).
Old Dominion’s latest single, “Written in the Sand,” bows at No. 58.
The No. 4 and No. 5 albums, in that order, are Kane Brown’s self-titled and Luke Combs’ This One’s for You (last week’s No. 1).
Chris Stapleton fans will be pleased to know that after 124 weeks on the chart, his Traveller stands firmly at No. 7.
Completing the Top 5 songs cluster are Kenny Chesney’s “All the Pretty Girls,” Jon Pardi’s “Heartache on the Dance Floor,” Jason Aldean’s “They Don’t Know” and Brown’s “What Ifs,” featuring Lauren Alaina.
As this column goes to press, we’ve also learned that songwriter Mark Selby, co-author of the Dixie Chicks’ first No. 1, “There’s Your Trouble,” has died of cancer at 56.