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 8.
Top of the Pile
Jon Pardi – Dirt on my Boots. Three weeks?! Testament to how brilliant a song this is, Jon is still cutting a rug with his dancing even though he might get dirt on the rug. He seems like a nice fellow too, and needed a massive hit to break into the B category of performers who can one day move up to Garth/Brad levels of success. Currently B categoty: Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldredge, Kelsea Ballerini, Cole Swindell.
The Sales Number One
Sam Hunt – Body Like a Back Road. The more I hear this, the more it becomes like Follow Me by Uncle Kracker. It has that groove to it, and it’s SO HOOKY!! I love how the chorus comes in so quickly, too. It’s up to 6 in the Airplay chart, and up to 16 in the Billboard Hot 100 which covers all genres, making Sam the biggest star in country music today. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Brantley Gilbert – The Weekend. Rising into the 10, coming in at 10. ‘It’s payday!!’ screams ole Brantley, whom I learnt this week (this is not news to you, though) was once engaged to Jana Kramer. This is a typical Brantley track, about that time between Friday at 5 and Sunday at 10. How many songs can say the same thing in different ways? Surely, SURELY, ‘the weekend song’ has had its day. There’s only so many times Jason Aldean can sing about partying…
Midland – Drinkin’ Problem. This is a choon, rising to 31 this week. Their bassist also directs music videos for the likes of Bruno Mars!! Compared to the Eagles, and you can hear it in the soft shuffle and the harmonies, Midland are a necessary band and the answer to the question: Man, ain’t you got any stuff by a band from Texas who sound like LA in 1975? ‘People say I’ve hit rock bottom just cos I’m livin’ on the rocks…I got no problem drinkin’ it all’ is the chorus, and there’s even a post-chorus passage before verse two: ‘They call it a problem, I call it a solution’. The play-on-words alone makes it a future Top 20 hit. Postscript: Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally wrote it. They need some more hits! The band are on Big Machine, who also run Rascal Flatts’ career; this lot are better. (My friend Daniel wants to open a pub called The Diplomatic Solution, which is a euphemism for a drink, ie ‘solution’ mixing water and other chemicals as well as a cure for any arguments.)
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill – Speak to a Girl. They’re back as a pair! In at 19 after an amazing number of spins on radio, this is Humble and Kind redux. Midland are touring with Tim and Faith on their money-spinning Soul2Soul tour this summer (Maren Morris is playing some dates too). You can imagine the pair of them opening the tour with this, Faith getting the initial cheer and Tim getting the second one. ‘That’s how you talk to a woman, that’s how you speak to a girl’ goes the chorus; it has good intent but, like so much American popular music, it bangs the message over your head like a drone missile with no subtlety whatsoever. Faith takes verse one and rhymes ‘Aretha’ with ‘how you treat her’; Tim takes verse two, advising the guys that ‘she don’t need to hear she’s a queen on the throne, that she’s more than amazing’. She just needs to hear that you mean what you say. This song says dollars, and obviously ‘respect your momma, respect the hell out of her’. Nice diminished chord in the chorus, but the worst middle eight of the year.
The Lower Reaches
William Michael Morgan – Missing. ‘Sometimes missing is my favourite place to be’ is a great lyric. This is at 40 this week, and is the follow up to I Met a Girl, the marvellous number 1 hit from WMM written by Sam Hunt, Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally. This one is co-written by Josh Kear (Need You Now, Two Black Cadillacs, Before He Cheats); in fact, it’s the same team who wrote ‘there’s a neon light at the end of the tunnel’ for Blake Shelton. Is WMM the new Blake? I hope so. This song sounds like CMT, when I used to flip it on in America. Great voice, reverb on the drums, twang in the guitar. I am positive it is trying to attract the type of crowd who think Sam Hunt (who, remember, wrote I Met a Girl!) is not country at all. WMM very much is, and this song shares its sound with Why Don’t We Just Dance by Josh Turner, whose new album Deep South is one of the year’s best traditional country LPs. Vinyl, the album from which this song is taken, is full of ‘older country’ sounds that should win him a big fan base.
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