What a difference a week makes.
Because eager beavers began selling copies of Luke Bryan's Crash My Party before the official release date, the album debuted last week at a subterranean No. 68 on the minuscule sale of 586 copies. This week, Bryan sold a few more units than that -- a total of 527,783 to be exact, by Nielsen SoundScan's count.
The achievement vaults Crash My Party to No. 1 this week on both the Billboard country albums chart and the Billboard 200 all-genres rankings. It's the biggest sales debut for a male country artist, Billboard says, since 2004, when Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying juggernauted in with 766,000 copies scanned.
Two of Bryan's earlier albums enjoyed sales bumps, too. Tailgates & Tanlines levitated from No. 5 to No. 4, and Spring Break ... Here to Party bounced from No. 13 to No. 9.
The No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 albums, in that order, are Florida Georgia Line's Here's to the Good Times, Blake Shelton's Based on a True Story and the eponymous Hunter Hayes.
New to the albums chart are Glen Campbell's See You There (entering at No. 22) and Johnny Cash's Life Unheard (No. 32).
In other news, Brett Eldredge's "Don't Ya" perches at No. 1 on the country airplay charts for the second consecutive week.
Falling into formation within the Top 5 behind Eldredge are Keith Urban's "Little Bit of Everything," Carrie Underwood's "See You Again," Randy Houser's "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" and Hunter Hayes' "I Want Crazy."
Four songs take their first bow this week: The Band Perry's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" (No. 51), Josh Thompson's "Cold Beer With Your Name on It" (No. 52), Zac Brown Band's "Sweet Annie" (No. 58) and Ronnie Dunn's "Kiss You There" (No. 60).
CMT.com first took notice of Bryan on Dec. 10, 2003, when he performed at one of the weekly songwriters' luncheons then being sponsored by BMI, the performance rights organization. This was a year before he signed to Capitol Records. Three other songwriters were also on the bill: Phillip White, Jamie Teachenor and Roger Murrah (for whose publishing company Bryan then wrote).
Bryan sang two of his own compositions that day: "Right Back Here to Me," which Billy Currington turned into a No. 1 three years later under the alternate title "Good Directions," and "Tackle Box," which Bryan cut on his 2007 debut album, I'll Stay Me.
The small audience of music industry and media people applauded both of Bryan's songs vigorously, and some may have even whistled, but none among them was heard to yell, "Superstar!" Sometimes you just have to wait for the wisdom of fans.