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Published: Friday, 2/22/2008

Four straight No. 1s for Atkins

One of country s most underrated stars, Rodney Atkins, pulled off an incredible feat this week. "Cleaning This Gun" climbed to the top of Billboard s Hot Country Singles chart. It s the fourth straight single Atkins has taken to No. 1 off his current album, "If You re Going through Hell." He s the first artist to pull that off since Tim McGraw did it seven years ago.

"I just can t believe it and am so humbled that radio and the fans have given me this shot," Atkins said in a release after hearing the news. "I just want to keep working hard to make music and record songs that are worthy of this. In my wildest dreams, I never could have hoped for four number one records in a row."

Male superstars Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Trace Adkins, and Keith Urban get most of the accolades, but Atkins has outshone all of them when it comes to radio play. Last year, Atkins "Watching You" was the most played country song. The previous year, "If You re Going through Hell" achieved that honor. His fourth No. 1 was "These Are My People."

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One of country s good guys, Jeff Bates, is back on his feet after leaving RCA.

Bates will be hitting radio again next week with "Don t Hate Me for Loving You," the first single off his upcoming album.

"Jeff Bates" is a 13-cut album, including 10 songs written by Bates. It will be released by the Black River Music Group on April 8.

Several years ago, Bates spoke very honestly to me about the problems he s gone through in his life, including a stint in jail because of a drug addiction. His recovery has been nothing short of inspiring.

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Taylor Swift continues to have an impressive run. This week, Swift passed the 40 million mark for music streams on MySpace. She passed 30 million barely a month ago.

And for the 15th week, Swift s self-titled debut album is atop Billboard s Country Albums sales chart. It is No. 7 on Billboard s all-genre sales chart.

Her new single, "Picture to Burn," skyrockets this week to No. 20 on the radio charts.

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It s hard to believe this, but Dierks Bentley is going to be releasing his first greatest hits album on May 6.

Dierks has always put his fans first, and this project is no different. In addition to 10 of his biggest hits and two new tracks, the disc will include content voted on by his fans. On his Web site, www.dierks.com, fans will be able to pick their favorite live recordings, choose photos, and name the album.

The first 3,000 fans participating will have their names listed as executive producers in the album s liner notes.

Members of his fan club get to begin voting today, while other fans can begin tomorrow.

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Keep an eye out for the debut album of former American Idol contestant Phil Stacey.

The album, featuring "If You Didn t Love Me," will be in stores on April 29th.

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And congratulations to Rascal Flatts. Their "Feels Like Today" album has now sold more than 5 million copies. They join Alabama and the Dixie Chicks as the only country groups to sell that many copies of an album in the last 25 years.



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