Country’s biggest-seller this week is still Body Like a Back Road by Sam Hunt, but here’s what’s happening on Country Radio this week, for the chart dated May 6.
Top of the Pile
Sam Hunt – Body Like a Back Road. Now then. There exist two airplay charts, one from Billboard (which I take for here) and the Mediabase chart used by the likes of the Country Top 40 (which you can hear on Chris Country on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings). This week’s Mediabase topper is Josh Turner with Hometown Girl, but Billboard list Sam Hunt, who after a drop to 9 last week now tumbles to 11, which means only ten acts have been heard more in America than him. They include Kendrick Lamar, Future, Chainsmokers and Bruno Mars. I call Sam Hunt country music’s Ed Sheeran: relatable and reliable. Bring on album two, Sam, and I hope your honeymoon has been fun!
The Sales Number One
Sam Hunt – Body Like a Back Road. It sometimes happens that the sales and airplay number one are the same, as it did with Kelsea’s Peter Pan in 2016. The format of these pieces, however, cannot change, so I must talk more about Body Like a Back Road. What’s your favourite part of the song? The intro, easing us in? The first verse, setting the scene? The chorus for the first time, introducing us to an earworm of a hook? Verse two, which develops our story, or verse three ‘out here in the boondocks, the breeze and the birds, tangled up in the tall grass’? Or the lingering bar in the third chorus which repeats the line ‘I’ma take it slow (rest, rest, rest, rest) just as fast as I can’? I love them all. Go Sam go!
Dierks Bentley – Black. Dierks is married to a Ms Black, so this song is very personal to him, but I still don’t like it…I just listened to it and all I remember is ‘Blaaaaaaaaack’. I can’t connect with it, and maybe it’ll grow on me. Especially after the brilliance of singles one and two, Somewhere on a Beach and Different for Girls, both number ones, it feels daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamp. Hear more from the dude later in this piece!
Chris Lane – For Her. Mr Fix is back with a second single, where he shows off his falsetto. I used to like it, and now I don’t. It’s artificial, rushes the chorus like the worst bro-country song and isn’t a good song to ‘ride around, windows down’ to. I’m sorry Chris, because you look like a kind fellow, and I’ll hear Girl Problems properly, but I fear country music has moved on and you’re at the end of a trend. Can you reinvent yourself as Sam Hunt Mk II? Or even Brett Young?
Cole Swindell, featuring Dierks Bentley – Flatliner. Ole Cole has come a long way since writing hits for Thomas Rhett and the like; he’s a hot guy in a cap who comes from the Garth Brooks school of entertainment. You Should Be Here, about his late father, and the fab Middle of a Memory were both number ones, and this one will be the third. A great country voice and a great performer who famously worked on the merch stall at Luke Bryan gigs, he also seems like a nice fellow. And who’s with him on the track? Dierks Bentley. I like this one a lot more, which compares a girl to someone who makes a guy’s heart stop, ie flatline. Great wordplay! The song was co-written by Cole, along with guys named Jaron Boyer, who worked on Hell of a Night for Dustin Lynch, and Matt Bronleewe, who is also an author, which explains the great metaphor.
The Lower Reaches
Aaron Watson – Outta Style. Staying at 33 AGAIN (which accounts for almost the same text as last week in this slot, as I promised), this is the song of the year, not just because an indie country act has cracked country radio, but because it couldn’t happen to a finer man. Sitting at 32 is Drake White, while LOCASH is at 34. Both acts are just as talented but have millions of dollars behind them; Aaron is doing it for the little guy, and he’ll never go outta style!