Tuesday, May 23, 2023

CHR Goes A Little Bit Country

It's been nearly four decades since country songs crossing to pop radio were a regular occurrence, when acts such as Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbitt and Dolly Parton showed up on top 40 airplay charts on a weekly basis during the late 1970s and early 80s. To a lesser extent, several country acts impacted CHR with hits of unusual longevity from 1997 to 2000, including Shania Twain's “You're Still the One” and LeAnn Rimes' “How Do I Live.”

Currently at CHR, country is making noise again, according to Country Insider. Three titles in the top 10 of this past week's Billboard Hot Country Songs chart – which blends streaming, radio airplay and sales data – are represented in Mediabase's current CHR airplay top 40. Multiplatinum-selling country singer/songwriter Morgan Wallen's “Last Night,” which tops the Billboard country chart, ranks 10th on the Mediabase CHR list, while Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown's “Thank God” is No. 9 at country and No. 14 at CHR, and Luke Combs' remake of Tracy Chapman's 1988 hit “Fast Car” ranks second on the country chart and at 34 on Mediabase.

There are also pop songs that are just a little bit country, such as Charlie Puth's “That's Not How This Works,” which features Grammy- and CMA award-winning duo Dan+Shay and ranks at No. 30 on Mediabase, and vice-versa, such as “Take My Name” from the country band Parmalee, which ranks below its top 40, as does another track from Wallen.

Clearly, Wallen's popularity has driven the move towards more country at CHR. No stranger to the format, his “Wasted On You” reached No. 16 in airplay last fall. “The weekly U.S. Spotify streams for 'Last Night' strongly suggest that track picked up fans beyond his country base,” Integr8 Research President Matt Bailey says. “Our Integr8 New Music Research CHR clients, for whom the song is strategically relevant, are seeing confirmation that 'Last Night' has fans beyond country. Combs' 'Fast Car' is developing a similar story.”

Not only has Billboard's Hot 100 chart – based on all-genre U.S. audio and video streaming, airplay and sales – already suggested this is the case, as “Last Night” has spent six weeks at the top, but four additional tracks from Wallen's current chart-topping album “One Thing at a Time” also made it into the chart's top 10 during the first week of the album's release.

In fact, according to music analytics company Hit Songs Deconstructed, during the first quarter of 2023, driven by Wallen's hit activity, country tied pop as the top genre represented in the Hot 100’s top 10, with each accounting for 26% of all top 10 hits. “Country songs have been few and far between in the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 over the past decade,” its report notes. “From 2013 to 2022, only 12 top 10 songs represented the genre.”

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