Sturgill Simpson Puts 2 Bluegrass Albums in Top of Country Charts

In a pretty unprecedented development for the modern era, there are two separate albums of bluegrass music currently in the Top 15 of the Country Albums chart according to Nielsen Soundscan. Even more unprecedented, they’re both from the same guy. Making matters even more convoluted and unprecedented, the feat comes as a mess of Christmas music dominates the charts due to back catalog streams around the Holiday season.

Sturgill Simpson’s Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 The Butcher Shoppe Sessions released on October 16th is at #7 on the latest installment of the charts, and his more recent release Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2 – Cowboy Arms Sessions with a street date of December 11th is at #14. How did the older volume chart better than the newer one? It’s because Sturgill Simpson’s physical pre-orders of Vol. 1 officially shipped during the week, bolstering it in the charts, while Vol. 2‘s physical copies are still on the way, meaning it only had streaming and download data to back its chart position.

Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 got credited for moving 23,230 physical copies this week. Along with the 2.2 million streams the record received, it was good for 25,043 in album sales and equivalents, and the #7 placement. Meanwhile Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2 didn’t move any physical product, but songs from the album were streamed 4.3 million times, making for the #14 placement. The surprise nature of the releases, and a worldwide slowdown in vinyl production is the reason for the delays in physical copies.

But both records would have been much higher if it wasn’t for the sheer dominance of Christmas music on the charts at the moment. No harm and no foul can be found with Carrie Underwood’s new Christmas album My Gift, which has been legitimately dominating the album charts for the last couple of months, and comes in at #1 this week, or Dolly Parton’s new Christmas album A Holly Dolly Christmas, which is #3.

However, albums from Elvis Presley, Burl Ives, Bobby Helms, Brenda Lee, and Gene Autry all make it into the Top 15 this week solely due to a single classic Christmas tune on the titles being streamed like crazy. Now that song streams count on albums charts, anomalies like this can materialize. If it wasn’t for these titles, Sturgill’s Cuttin Grass Vol. 1 would have been at #5 on the charts this week as opposed to #7, and Vol. 2 would have been at #9 as opposed to #14.

Luke Combs was also at #2 on this week’s chart with What You See Is What You Get, and Chris Stapleton was at #3 with his newest record, Starting Over.

It’s very rare to have any bluegrass record in the Top 20 of the country charts, let alone two. It’s yet another notch in the belt of Sturgill Simpson.

Vinyl copies of Cuttin Grass Vol. 2 are expected to ship out on April 2, 2021.

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