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 13.
Top of the Pile
Sam Hunt – Body Like a Back Road. He’s got all of them now. Except the Billbord Hot 100 for all genres, where he is stuck at 12. Bruno Mars is at 1. 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! Pity poor Luke Combs who will surely be kept at 2, where he lies this week.
The Sales Number One
Sam Hunt – Body Like a Back Road. He may be a prince of pop radio, but in county Sam Hunt rules in sales and radio airplay. How lovely must it be to be Sam Hunt…It sometimes happens that the sales and airplay number one are the same. In 2013 we had Every Storm Runs out of Rain, Sure Be Cool if You Did and We Were Us; in 2014 the feat was achieved by Stay, Drink a Beer, Play It Again, Burnin It Down, Leave the Night On and Shotgun Rider; in 2015 we had I See You, Take Your Time, Kick the Dust Up, Strip It Down and House Party (guess which two men were HOT, in two ways, in 2015?), but shamefully not Girl Crush, a sales number one for all of June and July. Die a Happy Man, HOLY, You Should Be Here, Setting the World on Fire and Peter Pan all did what Body Like a Back Road has done this year. Well done Sam. If you read last week’s piece, nothing has changed except the position of the ‘favourite part of the song’ section. For variation, I put it in the first paragraph not the second.
Dan + Shay – How Not To. It’s a measure of the snail’s pace of the country radio charts that this tune, a highlight of their second LP Obsessed, has just clambered into the top ten. Will it follow From the Ground Up and get all the way to the top? I hope so, as I still love it months later. In a voice battle between Gary Le Vox and Shay Mooney (surely at CMA Fest this year!!!), it’d be a tie.
Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris – Craving You. Two new acts, given the history of country music, with a pop song. They rise to 18, but this is not fit for country radio, is it? If you have ten minutes, listen to Grady Smith bang on about the Monsanto argument of country music: if country moves closer to pop, then traditional country has to move closer to what country was before TR and Maren brought pop and r’n’b sensibilities to the country charts. Does this mean the extinction of the fiddle band? I hope not. More discussion on this song when it hits the top 10 some time in July.
Kip Moore – More Girls Like You. A stunning seven-place rise to 29 for the man who wrote Drive with The Shires (and may well take them out on a US tour this year). This is the first new tune from Kip since Wild Ones, but the word ‘wild’ is the sixth word of this fine pop song. I love the lyrical idea of ‘God made girls like you make guys like me’ do a range of crazy things including ‘raise a few more girls like you’, which I think means something to do with sex. This sounds like a number one record.
The Lower Reaches
Aaron Watson – Outta Style. Staying at 33 AGAIN (which accounts for almost the same text as last week and the week before in this slot, as I promised), this is one of the songs 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 LOCASH, while Drake White is at 34, a reversal of last week. 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! I’d be happy if he stayed at 33 for all time.