Chart Watch Extra: Country’s Top 100

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Luke Bryan's "Rain Is A Good Thing" this week become the 100th country song to sell 1 million digital copies. It's Bryan's fifth million-seller, which puts him in a tie with Jason Aldean for the most among male country solo artists. Taylor Swift accounts for 15 million-sellers, more than any other country artist. Carrie Underwood is in second place, with 10. Zac Brown Band is next in line, with seven.

Everybody knows Swift and Underwood, but Bryan has just broken wide open in the past year. His current album, Tailgates & Tanlines, has sold a healthy 1,246,000 copies. His current single, "Drunk On You," is his first top 20 hit on the Hot 100, after a couple of near-misses.

Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is the best-selling country song in digital history (5,861,000). Swift has a record four songs in the top 10: "Love Story" at #2 (5,357,000, the top-selling country song by a female solo artist), "You Belong With Me" at #4 (4,090,000), "Our Song" at #8 (2,990,000) and "Teardrops On My Guitar" at #10 (2,711,000).

The other songs in the all-time top 10 are The Band Perry's "If I Die Young" at #3 (4,216,000), Underwood's "Before He Cheats" at #5 (3,518,000), Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried at #6 (3,385,000), Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" at #7 (3,158,000, the top-selling country song by a male solo artist) and Rascal Flatts' "Life Is A Highway" at #9 (2,887,000).

Sugarland is the top duo, with three digital million-sellers: "Stuck Like Glue" (2,489,000, the top-selling country song by a duo), "Stay" (1,860,000) and "All I Want To Do" (1,323,000). Three other duos have each had one digital million-seller: Big & Rich, The Civil Wars and Thompson Square.

The top male solo artists, after Aldean and Bryan, are Brad Paisley, with four; and Rodney Atkins, Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson, with three each.

Trailing Swift and Underwood among female solo artists is Miranda Lambert, with three.

Trailing Zac Brown Band and Rascal Flatts among groups is Lady Antebellum, with four.

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are country's only husband and wife who have each had a digital million-seller. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill nearly qualify. Her best-selling solo hit, "Breathe," has sold 740K. A McGraw/Hill collabo, "It's Your Love," has sold 955K.

McGraw is the only artist who has had a country digital million-seller and is also the subject of a digital million-seller. He has topped the 1 million mark with both "Live Like You Were Dying" (1,701,000) and "My Little Girl" (1,016,000). And he's the subject of Swift's "Tim McGraw" (1,412,000).

Johnny Cash is the only deceased country artist with a digital million-seller. The legendary star, who died in 2003, has had three: "Ring Of Fire" (1,553,000), "Hurt" (1,365,000) and "I Walk The Line" (1,210,000). Cash is also the subject (along with his late wife, June Carter Cash) of Heidi Newfeld's "Johnny & June," which has sold 740K digital copies.

All but five of the top 100 digital hits are songs from the past 10 years, which stands to reason. But five older classics dot the list. Cash's 1956 hit "I Walk The Line" (1,210,000) is the oldest song to have sold 1 million digital copies. Cash's 1963 hit "Ring Of Fire" (1,553,000) is next oldest, followed by the Charlie Daniels Band's 1979 hit "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" (1,674,000), Lonestar's 1999 hit "Amazed" (1,144,000) and Lee Ann Womack's 2000 hit "I Hope You Dance" (1,565,000).

As you can see, each decade since the 1950s is represented with a million-seller except the 1980s. The top-sellers from that decade are Hank Williams Jr.'s 1982 hit "A Country Boy Can Survive" (752K) and Lee Greenwood's 1984 perennial "God Bless The U.S.A." (738K).

The lines between country, pop and rock are blurring. You can see that in country's embrace of Darius Rucker, the former lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish; and the success of Eric Church's "Springsteen," a song about the rock icon (1,404,000); Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" (1,365,000) and Dixie Chicks' faithful cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" (762K). Also: the format's acceptance of hits by Miley Cyrus, and, as a featured artist, Kelly Clarkson, Jimmy Buffett and even Natasha Bedingfield (on Rascal Flatts' "Easy," which has sold 917K copies).

Underwood's "Before He Cheats" was the first country song to sell 2 million digital copies. It achieved the feat the week ending Dec. 30, 2007. Swift's "Love Story" was the first country song to sell 3 million copies (on March 15, 2009) and also 4 million copies (on Nov. 1, 2009). Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" was the first country song to sell 5 million digital copies. It achieved the feat on April 7, 2011. That heartfelt ballad is likely to also become the first country song to sell 6 million digital copies. It is just 139K units away from that threshold. It's currently selling about 9K a week.

"Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldean featuring Kelly Clarkson (2,110,000) is the top-selling country collabo, followed by "Knee Deep" by Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett (1,683,000), "Remind Me" by Brad Paisley duet with Carrie Underwood (1,584,000); "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley featuring Alison Krauss (1,371,000); "Safe & Sound" by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars (1,224,000); "You And Tequila" by Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter (1,164,000); "It's Five O'Clock  Somewhere" by Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett (1,139,000), "As She's Walking Away" by Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson (1,029,000) and "Ready, Set, Don't Go" by Billy Ray Cyrus & Miley Cyrus (1,006,000).

Incidentally, Underwood and Clarkson aren't the only American Idol alums with million-selling country hits. Kellie Pickler's "Best Days Of Your Life" has sold 1,224,000. And Scotty McCreery is closing in on the mark with two songs: "I Love You This Big" (833K) and "The Trouble With Girls" (714K).