American Idol barely had any country contenders in the beginning, but it has since become a farm team for Nashville labels. The 2005 winner, Carrie Underwood, has already sold nearly 5 million copies of her debut album, Some Hearts, which returns to No. 1 on Billboard's country albums chart this week some 62 weeks after its release.
Kellie Pickler -- a 2006 finalist -- returns to the Top 10 with Small Town Girl, following her endearing two-day substitution for Barbara Walters on The View. (One of Pickler's Idol competitors, Chris Daughtry, takes the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200, which tracks all genres, with his band's self-titled debut rock album, Daughtry.)
And there's more: Pickler's sassy "Red High Heels" struts to No. 15 on the country airplay chart. Underwood's new single, "Wasted," leaps to No. 25. Josh Gracin, a second-season finalist, ascends to No. 34 with "I Keep Coming Back," a track from his forthcoming album. Another 2006 American Idol finalist, Bucky Covington, is rolling with "A Different World," which moves to No. 47 in its second week of release.
On the albums chart, Rascal Flatts' Me and My Gang dips to No. 2, trailed by Keith Urban's Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing at No. 3, Rodney Atkins' If You're Going Through Hell at No. 4 and Brad Paisley's Time Well Wasted at No. 5. Taylor Swift's self-titled debut goes up two spots to No. 6, trailed by the latest albums from Sugarland, Pickler and Josh Turner. The soundtrack to Toby Keith's film, Broken Bridges, rounds out the Top 10.
No new albums enter the country chart this week, although Pickin' on Rodney Atkins arrives at No. 12 on the bluegrass albums chart.
Atkins holds onto the No. 1 position on the country airplay chart for a second week with "Watching You." George Strait's "It Just Comes Natural" rises to No. 2, just ahead of Paisley's "She's Everything" at No. 3, Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky" at No. 4 and Rascal Flatts' "My Wish." Trace Adkins jumps five places to No. 6 with "Ladies Love Country Boys," which is followed by Swift's "Tim McGraw," Urban's "Stupid Boy" and the Wreckers' "My, Oh My." At No. 10 is Martina McBride's "Anyway."