The country charts received a shot of Pain Killer this week as Little Big Town’s sixth studio release becomes the quartet’s fourth to reach the Top Ten on Billboard‘s Country Albums chart. Debuting at Number Three and led by the group’s Top Ten hit “Day Drinking,” Pain Killer sold 42,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That amount is less than half of the 113,000 copies their previous album, Tornado, sold in its debut week in 2012, earning them their second chart-topping disc. That album, however, was buoyed by mega success of their single “Pontoon.” The group had also debuted at the top spot on the country survey with their 2010 LP The Reason Why.
While first-week sales of the album may have been soft, the group’s approach to making the Pain Killer album had them walking the fine line between material that generates country radio airplay and what fuels their own sense of creative expression.
“We couldn’t determine our song selection based on, ‘Well, we can’t do that because that probably won’t work on radio,” the band’s Phillip Sweet recently told Rolling Stone Country. “That confines you.”
“It’s a lot more fun to be popular,” added group member Karen Fairchild. “But it’s super fun to be popular and respected. It’s fun to have voicemails on your phone from your peers in the business saying, ‘I can’t wait for this album to come out.’ Or ‘that inspired me.’ So I want to believe that it can all happen. And outside of our format is the example. Look at Adele. Who would have thought a piano ballad would be on the radio and sell 20 million records worldwide?”
Pain Killer was kept from the Number One spot by a couple of powerhouse releases: Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes, which holds the penthouse position for a second week, and Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt, which digs in at Number Two for a second week.
On the plus side for the foursome, “Day Drinking” becomes the newest Grand Ole Opry members’ latest Top Ten hit on the Hot Country Songs chart, as the tune climbs to Number Seven. Jason Aldean logs his 14th week at Number One on that chart with “Burnin’ It Down,” keeping Sam Hunt‘s breakthrough hit “Leave the Night On” in the runner-up spot but moving up one position.