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 April 15.
Top of the Pile
Luke Bryan – ‘Fast’. Yep, no doubt about this. Luke is country’s big star, because he never frowns and shakes his tush. This one is a thinky-think song about how ‘sixty seconds down feels more like thirty’ and how time always acts against people’s wishes to ‘make the good times last’. It’s his sixth number one from ‘Kill The Lights’, which breaks his own record of five from ‘Crash My Party’.
The Sales Number One
Sam Hunt – ‘Body Like a Back Road’. He sang it at the Academy of Country Music Awards in the lap of his fiancée, and it’s getting more addictive with each week on the chart, now up to 5 on the radio charts. But how high can it go in the Billboard Hot 100? It’s up to 12, making it a massive pop smash. Other recent enormous country hits in the pop charts include ‘Redneck Woman’ (22), ‘Need You Now’ (2), ‘Wanted’ (16), ‘Cruise’ (also 16, with the Nelly remix hitting 4) and ‘Play It Again’ (14). Lonestar’s ‘Amazed’ was a number one hit and technically ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, a number one pop hit, is classed as a country song, so this puts Sam in great company. Can he equal Taylor and Lonestar, or be stuck with Lady A?
Darius Rucker – ‘If I Told You’. Up to 15 for the man who upstaged Reba at C2C 2017 – allegedly Keith Urban had to withdraw from a headline slot. The song is a departure from the Darius formula, and sees him adopting the fast-speak-sing Sam Hunt style, which I am positive will be all over country radio by the end of the year. The song is a yearning love song – “would you love me anyway?” Darius croons, even as he reveals the truth about who he is and what he has done. “Would you stay, would you leave?” It’s a Ross Copperman-Shane McAnally-Jon Nite composition, which means it’s kitemarked with hit potential, but it came out back in July 2016, and it’s not even top 10. How slow is country radio?!
Seth Ennis – ‘Woke Up in Nashville’. Annoyingly falling to 49 from a high of 40, when it’s one of the best tracks currently getting spins on country radio. Seth came to London to perform this and other tracks at Country2Country. He looks suave and swarthy, and has a super voice. The key lyric is “went for broke, broke your heart”, and shows the pull of music and chasing a dream that may not work out. “You were all that I needed all along” sings Seth. In fact, there are so many great lines in this song that it may well win Song of the Year. ‘Play It Cool’ could be the enormohit from the EP (it’s got more bounce) but ‘Woke Up in Nashville’ is a good introduction to Seth, who is signed to Sony Nashville.
Billy Currington – ‘Do I Make You Wanna’. It’s the follow-up to massive number one ‘It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To’ and the even better ‘Drinking Town with a Football Problem’. What place does Billy have in the marketplace? It’s single four from ‘Summer Forever’, Billy’s sixth album. It’s from the pens of Ashley Gorley, Zach Crowell, Matt Jenkins and Jerry Flowers, who between them have written many of the great radio songs of this decade. This song will sound great on country radio because it has those familiar bro-country chords (IV-I-VI-V if anyone cares). Bring on album seven, Billy.
The Lower Reaches
LOCASH – ‘Ring on Every Finger’. Congratulations to Aaron Watson, a YLIAS fave, who rises to 40 with ‘Outta Style’, and just above him at 37 this week are LOCASH. The duo have already had two big hits: the one about loving this life, and the one about knowing somebody. This will be the third. Though the autotune can sometimes get too much action, this is a solid, contemporary country-pop song. This is a TR tune in all but name, and you can tell Thomas wrote it just like you could tell Love Yourself was an Ed Sheeran song given to Justin Bieber. (Yes, that makes TR the Ed Sheeran of country music.) All the Thomas Rhett qualities are here: poppiness, a smile on the face, enthusiasm on your heart and some fun lyrics: “Gonna try my last name on ya, girl, just to see if it fits”. TR himself will be back in the charts next week…