Billboard released its 2017 year-long charts, as compiled by Neilsen Music. Their “year” was 12/3/16-11/25/17. Here’s the Billboard Country Update, 12/18/17 in .pdf format.
Country Albums 2017 is topped by Chris Stapleton’s 2015 release “Traveller,” which also topped this chart in 2016, followed by his 2017 release “From A Room, Volume 1.” Among new artists, radio products Kane Brown and Brett Young came in at sixth and seventh, respectively. Sam Hunt’s 2014 release “Montevallo” is at number eight, and… Well, anyway, Miranda Lambert led solo women at number four, followed by Maren Morris at sixteen, and Kelsea Ballerini at twenty seven.
Americana/Folk Albums also had “Traveller” and “From A Room, Vol 1” as one and two. On the current weekly chart, “From A Room 2” has the top spot, “From A Room 1” the next, and “Traveller” the third.
The Digital Albums 2017 chart paints a pretty bleak picture for country and roots music, as country landed just two spots of the twenty five. Chris Stapleton’s “From A Room, Volume 1,” which happens to be my choice as 2017 album of the year (withstanding the late challenge from the same artist’s December release, which is Volume 2 of the same series), checks in at number eleven, while Stapleton’s “Traveller,” my favorite album this decade, checks in at number twenty five, after finishing 2016 at number five in this category, and number twenty in 2015.
Top Billboard 200 Artists is an all-genre list, which is based on a formula of sales, airplay, and streaming. The country artists in the top hundred are Chris Stapleton 10, Florida Georgia Line 31, Thomas Rhett 34, Keith Urban 38, Garth Brooks 40, Blake Shelton 45, Zac Brown Band 46, Luke Bryan 50, Miranda Lambert 54, Kane Brown 58, Sam Hunt 61, Brett Young 67, Kenny Chesney 69, Jon Pardi 70, Jason Aldean 81, Luke Combs 83, and Maren Morris 95.
Among Streaming Songs , Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” at 24 is the only country-labelled song out of 75. Yeah, I know…
Hot 100 Songs is based on a formula of sales, airplay, and streaming. Among “country” offerings, however loosely that term is used, Sam Hunt is at 8, Brett Young at 57, Kane Brown at 72, Luke Combs at 76, and Dustin Lynch at 94.
Alison Krauss’ “Windy City” topped the Bluegrass Albums chart. It’s a tremendous classic country covers album, but this is one of several quality albums on this chart that I would not have labelled “bluegrass.” Marty Stuart’s “Way Out West” and Rhonda Vincent’s & Daryle Singletary’s “American Grandstand” are also outstanding “retro-country” albums that I enjoy greatly, but I can imagine bluegrass purists really scratching their heads.
Country Airplay has Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” at number one, The Backstreet Boys at thirty seven, and a bunch of other crap. Many stories have been written about the lack of airplay for women, so let’s take a look at how they fared (including groups with women singing lead): Lady Antebellum 3 , Lauren Alaina as a guest on a Kane Brown song 7, Maren Morris as a guest on a Thomas Rhett song 11, Carly Pearce 16, Carrie Underwood as a guest on a Keith Urban song 18, Kelsea Ballerini 22, Lauren Alaina 25, Little Big Town 34, Rhiannon Giddens as a guest on an Eric Church song 36, Maren Morris 44, and Carrie Underwood 51. Meanwhile, here are songs by men with “girl” in the title: “My Girl” 6, “A Guy With A Girl” 17, “More Girls Like You” 19 , “Hometown Girl” 30, and “All the Pretty Girls” 38.