Readers check in on Hayes topping Hot Country Songs, Josh Groban crowning the Billboard 200 without a top 40 single, the Lumineers' crossover success and more uncredited artist appearances.
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HUNTER HAYES 'RETURNS' TO NO. 1
Is there any precedent to Hunter Hayes' stunning return to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart this past week with his hit "Wanted" … after 20 weeks of waiting in the wings, so to speak? The song topped the Sept. 29, 2012, chart and had then remained in the top five (except for one week) since.
Growing up in the '70s and '80s, I considered it unusual for a song like Andy Gibb's "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" to return to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1977 after merely a four-week gap.
Other than Chubby Checker's return to No. 1 on the Hot 100 with "The Twist" after a 15-month absence in two separate chart runs in 1960 and 1961-62, I can't think of any song on one of the major Billboard song charts other than "Wanted" to have had such an extensive gap between trips to the summit.
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It is perhaps surprising to see "Wanted" return to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs after a 20-week wait. There's a major asterisk, however, involving the feat.
When "Wanted" first topped the tally, Hot Country Songs was a radio airplay-only chart. Three weeks later, it transformed from comprising Nielsen-BDS monitored airplay on country stations to a country version of the Hot 100, reflecting the most-heard country songs across all formats, as well as the top-selling (according to Nielsen SoundScan) and most-streamed country songs each week.
So, "Wanted" has crowned Hot Country Songs first when the chart was all-airplay-based and now under its hybrid formula. Further, "Wanted" would not have led the list the week of Sept. 29 had the chart measured all three fields then. A look back at "test" charts prior to the Oct. 20 methodology switch shows that "Wanted" spent two weeks peaking at No. 2 the weeks of Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Thus, this week marks the first that "Wanted" has shown as the most popular country song under Billboard's three-fold manner of airplay/sales/streaming measurement.
In any case, that Hayes reaches/returns to No. 1 highlights the breakout success that the 21-year-old has already achieved. It also reinforces the aim of the redesigned Hot Country Songs chart. (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Hot Latin songs similarly underwent such changes in October.) The idea is to show, per the chart's title, the most popular country songs in the U.S. After its run to No. 1 on the all-airplay-fueled version of Hot Country Songs (now known as the Country Airplay chart), "Wanted" has proven a durable crossover hit, reaching the top 25 on Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary.
"Wanted" ranking atop Hot Country Songs this week follows Hayes' nomination for best new artist at the Grammy Awards (Feb. 10) and his performance of the ballad's chorus before he introduced Carrie Underwood singing a medley of her Hot Country Songs top 10s "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillacs."
That's quite a step up from when he sang the song for members of the charts department in the cozy library at Billboard's New York offices more than a year ago (see above).
Even then, it was apparent for the lucky few in attendance that the song was bound for much wider audiences.