If honesty is the best policy, it certainly paid off this year for Blake Shelton. His latest album, If I’m Honest, was the top selling country album released in 2016. The #2 album was Florida Georgia Line’s third release, Dig Your Roots. Other top-selling albums include They Don’t Know by Jason Aldean and RipCord by Keith Urban. The sales plus streaming figures were reported by BuzzAngle.com, and sales-only by Billboard.
Released in May, If I’m Honest was Blake’s first album following his public divorce. When he co-hosted Country Countdown USA, he told Lon Helton, “I wanted the record to follow the timeline of my life last year. I wanted it to start out with life’s normal, everything is going like it’s been for a long time. Then straight into how it happened, all of a sudden the bottom falls out, and people can go on that journey with me. That’s why there’s such a contrast from the first song to the second song.”
The second song Blake referred to was also his second single, “She’s Got a Way With Words.” While that song didn’t go to #1, it was extremely popular with his fans. “It’s definitely a polarizing song, where people either love it or they hate it. Those are my favorite kinds of songs, those are the ones you see the most passion from people.” It certainly resonated with record buyers, because when that single was released, it propelled the album back to the top of the sales chart.
Right behind Blake in the album sales chart is RipCord by Keith Urban. When he co-hosted the Countdown back in June, he talked about the album’s title with Lon Helton: “I always struggle with the titles of albums, because I never want to name it after one song. I think it’s unfair to the other songs if the whole album is named after only one. So I’ve never done that. Ripcord, I loved the sound of that, and the title does make me think or I don’t know what the music would be on that record, so it lets the music speak for itself.” The album has already yielded 3 #1 hits, and is close to a fourth right now.
Another top seller in 2016 was Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots. Their 15-song collection was released in August, and was powered by the #1 hit “H.O.L.Y.” When they co-hosted the Countdown, Brian & Tyler told Lon they wanted to show growth and maturity on their third album: “It was important for us to show the world another side of who we are. It was time to go a little deeper, time for more depth, and there are topics that we’re passionate about that we want to sing about. This album lent itself to our taking that next step.”
Other top selling albums in 2016 were They Don’t Know by Jason Aldean, You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell, and Black from Dierks Bentley. Each of those albums had two #1 singles during the year.
Overall, the top selling country album of 2016 was actually released in 2015: Traveller by Chris Stapleton, selling 1.3 million copies. Luke Bryan’s 2015 album Kill The Lights was #2 for 2016, with slightly over a million copies. Carrie Underwood’s 2015 Storyteller album was also a big seller during the year. In terms of streaming charts, the top streaming country artist of 2016 was Sam Hunt. He was actually the only country artist in BuzzAngle’s Top 50, with 382 million streams from three different songs.