The Big Three
Three artists really had fabulous years in 2006. Carrie Underwood rode the continuing success of her debut single "Jesus Take The Wheel" into a 6 week run at the Top of the charts. She followed that with "Don't Forget to Remember Me," which didn't peaked at No. 2 at Billboard, but hit No. 1 on R&R, then lastly, "Before He Cheats" hit No. 1 for 5 weeks, making her the Country artist with the most time spent at that No. 1 spot.
Kenny Chesney saw a fantastic year as well on the charts, also scoring two No. 1 songs on Billboard; "Livin' in Fast Forward," (3 weeks) and "Summertime" (5 weeks.) "You Save Me" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard, but hit the top of the R&R chart.
The third of this fantastic trio would be Rascal Flatts. Their album Me and My Gang flew out of the chute, selling over 700,000 copies in the first week, putting them in the company of artists like fellow country artists Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks and Tim McGraw, along with other non-country artists, totalling an elite group of 24 artists to ever have achieved this feat. The guys scored two No. 1 songs with "What Hurts the Most," and "My Wish."
Other Notable Country Figures
The Dixie Chicks continue to be ignored by Country Radio, yet they still managed to do quite well with their album, mostly through Internet Sales. Taking the Long Way ranked No. 5 on Billboard's Top Country Albums of the Year list, and the group ranked No. 5 on Billboard's Top Country Albums Artists list. The album came in at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Internet Albums list.
In the Independent labels, Little Big Town was No. 1 Independent Artist of the Year, while their album The Road to Here was ranked the No. 1 Independent Album, according to Billboard Magazine. Jason Aldean ranked No. 5 on the Artist list, and his self-titled album ranked No. 4 on the Independent Album list.
First Timers Reach Number One
The year saw nine new artists receive their first Number Ones. Rodney Atkins with "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" received his first No. 1 song, plus the song ended as Billboard's No. 1 Country Song of the Year.
Josh Turner saw his first and second No. 1s this year, with the title cut to his latest album, "Your Man," and the second single, "Would You Go With Me."
The Wreckers also had their debut single, "Leave the Pieces" become their first No. 1 song.
Although first timers on the country charts, Bon Jovi is no stranger to the pop charts. The band scored a record breaking No. 1 song, the first rock band ever to have a No. 1 on the Country charts, along with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles.
The year wouldn't end before Jennifer Nettles had a second No. 1, and the first with her partner Kristian Bush, as Sugarland finally hit the top with "Want To."
Billy Currington can count himself along the newly annointed artists with a No. 1 song, as ""Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right" became his first chart topper.
Jack Ingram went one further. Not only did he score his first No. 1 as an artist, but he also scored the first No. 1 for his record label, Big Machine, as his song"Wherever You Are" rose to the top of the charts.
Likewise, Heartland did the same thing for their label, Lofton Creek, with their No. 1 song "I Loved Her First."
Jason Aldean received his first No. 1 in May, for the song "Why," but he invited fans to his No. 1 celebration during the CMA Music Festival.
There's a New Nashville Star in Town
Season Four of Nashville Star kicked off with ten talented finalists. By May it was down to Chris Young, Casey Rivers, Nicole Jamrose, and Matt Mason, with Chris Young coming out on top. Chris released his self-titled major label debut in early October, debuting at No. 3 on the charts his first week.