Which male country star has been recently declared the most downloaded in history? The answer may come as a surprise. Jason Aldean been named the Top Male Country Artist by the RIAA this week, having a total of more than 21.5 million certified digital song downloads or on-demand streams. In short, that makes him the most downloaded male country artist in history.
Think about that for a moment. Normally, the first name that comes to mind upon hearing "in history" would be "Garth Brooks" — who holds the distinction of being the best-selling artist of any genre in the United States since 1991, with figures that topple even rock's the Beatles.
But Brooks (like the Beatles for a very, very long time) has staunchly refused digital sales of his catalog, conceding just last month to allow his music to be sold via his official website at an unspecified date this year. Brooks has a big game of catch-up to play to get into Aldean territory.
So do other artists whose catalogs have long been available digitally, including Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and even King of Country George Strait. They also remain in Aldean's rearview.
Aldean's surprising RIAA accolade also comes despite a very public cheating scandal with American Idol alum Brittany Kerr, which directly preceded his separation from Jessica Ussery, his longtime wife and mother of his two young daughters.
While this type of affair may be commonplace in Hollywood circles, country fans are notoriously unforgiving of such shenanigans. Proof positive? LeAnn Rimes, whose once-skyrocketing musical career is still recovering from her 2009 affair with (now husband) Eddie Cibrian.
Whether this speaks to the notion of "bro-country" having yet another advantage over the females in the genre, or simply that Aldean navigated his drama with unusual caution (although he has been dating Kerr for more than a year, the pair has only made one public appearance together, on the red carpet for the CMT Awards back June), Aldean's musical success is unparalleled in the digital world.
Speaking of his newly minted status as a top-downloadable artist, the 37-year-old Aldean didn't attempt to analyze the data, rather he simply accepted the title with humility and grace. "This is such a huge honor, and one that everyone on my team earned together," he said in a statement. "I love country music, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else … there was never a Plan B for me."
Aldean is currently working on his sixth studio album and is on tour through the fall season.