Eric Church has seen his success snowball to a whole new level recently, with first week sales of his new album more than quadrupling those of 2009 sophomore set Carolina. That’s good enough to turn a lot of heads on Music Row, and good enough to land him ahead of Kelly Rowland and Adele on the all-genre albums chart. In fact, Church is the first core country artist to top the Billboard 200 without the benefit of any previous top five country singles since 1967, a fact that has even Billboard wondering “How Did Eric Church Get a No. 1 Album Without Any Hit Singles?”
In a recent chat with the Arizona Republic, Church seemed less interested in the chart action itself and more interested in the opportunity his burgeoning success gives him to play an active role in shaping the future of the country format:
My biggest problem with this generation of artists is that we just run songs up and down the charts so we can keep our touring going, so we can make money and have a living and all these things. We don’t make the music that’s really pushing the envelope or taking the music somewhere, expanding the music. Some people are. But I feel like when Cash and Waylon came along, they didn’t make the same music that Ernest Tubbs and Hank Williams Sr., made. They moved the flag. And I think it’s important that we do that. I think the evolution and diversity of the format is what’s going to allow it to have a fan base that doesn’t just grow old and age out.
While Church has come in for some criticism for his audacious interview manner, he has also managed to live up to a surprising amount of his own hype, with a dynamic stage show, considerable writing chops, and one of the great in-studio allies in the form of ultra-inventive producer Jay Joyce.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Find out for yourself by winning some Chief for your own collection. We have one (1) copy of the new album to give away to a random commenter. Just let us know your favorite Eric Church song by next Tuesday, August 16, and we’ll do our best to hook you up.