2018: Most New Artists to Top Charts with Debut Singles in Over a Decade
In 2018, country music saw a dynamic shift at the top of the charts, with radio no longer being ruled by the old guard. While the likes of Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, and Old Dominion all had #1 hits this year, the charts saw an onslaught of chart-toppers hits by country newbies. In fact, there were five new artists who scored #1’s with their debut singles, including Jordan Davis, Jimmie Allen, Russell Dickerson, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Morgan Evans.
Russell Dickerson: “Yours”
Despite originally being released digitally in 2015, “Yours” was truly the little song that could, being released to country radio by Triple Tigers Records in April 2017. The romantic wedding song, co-written by Dickerson, Parker Welling, and Casey Brown, slowly climbed the charts, hitting #1 for two weeks in late-January and early-February.
“[“Yours”] was only the second song that the three of us ever wrote together,” Dickerson told Billboard. “It’s certainly a love song, written for my wife, Kailey. I’m not kidding: when we finished it, we knew it was special, and I said to Casey and Parker, ‘You can go to zillow.com and pick out a new house, ’cause we just wrote a No. 1 song.'”
Dickerson would go on to score his second #1 eight months later with “Blue Tacoma.”
Jordan Davis: “Singles You Up”
Written by Jordan Davis, Steven Dale Jones, and Justin Ebach, “Singles You Up” was the debut single from Davis, and the first release from his album, Home State. “It took us a little while to land on something, but at the time Justin had just gotten engaged and through congratulating him on the engagement that term, ‘single her up,’ got said,” Davis told Rolling Stone Country of the writing session. “Right when it was said, I think all three of us were like, ‘Oh man, that’s really cool.’”
Davis will be spending much of 2019 on tour with Old Dominion, Morgan Evans, and Mitchell Tenpenny as part of the Make It Sweet Tour. The tour will stop at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT on February 8.
Morgan Evans: “Kiss Somebody”
Released in July 2017, at the lead single from his Morgan Evans EP, “Kiss Somebody” was Morgan Evan’s first release to U.S. country radio, and his first #1. Co-written by Evans, Chris DeStefano, and Josh Osborne, the track hit #1 over a year after its initial release.
Interestingly enough, Evans told Nash Country Daily that the romantic tune was NOT inspired by his superstar wife, Kelsea Ballerini. “A lot of people asked me if I wrote [“Kiss Somebody”] about Kelsea,” said Evans. “No. The answer is absolutely no. It was inspired by a mate of mine, actually. I used to stay with him in Nashville before I moved here, and he went through this really rough breakup and he was devastated. And, I was with him through that period, and I went back to Australia. A year and a half later, I came back and he was still devastated over this situation. And, I was like, ‘Dude! You need to kiss somebody!’ And so, the lyrics kind of go, “Sometimes you’ve got to drink about somebody / Sometimes you’ve got to cry and miss somebody / Sometimes you’ve got to kiss somebody.’”
Jimmie Allen: “Best Shot”
When Jimmie Allen’s “Best Shot” became a #1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, Allen made history by becoming the first black artist to have a debut single top the country charts. Interestingly, after losing the top spot on December 8 to Kane Brown’s “Lose It,” Allen’s song returned to the top spot December 15, making “Best Shot” the first song by any artist to reclaim the top spot after descending in over a decade.
“If someone asked me two years ago if I thought that this would be my life today—that I’d be on the red carpet at the CMAs or my song would be the No. 1 song on country radio, I would have honestly said no,” reflected Allen in a statement. “Did I think it would happen eventually? Absolutely! Just not this soon. I’m humbled and grateful— it’s such an honor to get my first No. 1 and to know that my song is connecting with people and resonating in a way that hopefully makes us all better people in the end, because that’s really what ‘Best Shot’ is all about.”
Allen will kick off 2019 on tour with Scotty McCreery’s Seasons Change Tour, with a stop at Westbury, NY’s NYCB Theatre on January 26.
Mitchell Tenpenny: “Drunk Me”
Just five days before the release of his debut album, Telling All My Secrets (December 14), on Riser House/ Columbia Nashville, Mitchell Tenpenny’s first single, “Drunk Me,” became the top song on the Mediabase/ Country Airplay chart. Co-written by Tenpenny, Jordan M. Schmidt, and Justin Wilson, the single was officially released in March, and climbed to the top position nearly nine months later.
“I recorded ‘Drunk Me’ after pitching it to other artists in town for over six months,” recalled Tenpenny in a statement. “I believed in my heart it was such a special song and that it would be a hit for someone. I never dreamt it would be the song labels first heard from me, resulting in a record deal … or that it would go on to bring us our first single, let alone a number one.” He continues, “It’s been a two-year journey with this song, yet so many believed, and so, this is one of those moments we all share together – my co-writers, our band and record label, country radio and all the fans that have streamed it over 120 million times. I can’t get over you. You’ve changed my life.”
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