Chris Janson's 'Boat' Launches on Hot Country Songs, With Pushes From Bobby Bones & Toby Keith

Chris Hollo/Hollo Photographics Inc.
Chris Janson performs at the Grande Ole Opry.

The self-released song cruises in at No. 33. His wife and DJ Bones tell the story behind it.

Independent singer/songwriter Chris Janson makes a splash on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, as "Buy Me a Boat" sets sail at No. 33, thanks to a pair of high-profile key supporters.

The song starts with almost all its points from sales, as it debuts at No. 8 on Country Digital Songs with 21,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen Music, since it was made available for purchase on iTunes on Friday, March 20. (Thus, the song debuts with only three days of sales in the tracking week.)

"I wish I had a rich uncle that'd kick the bucket and I was sitting on a pile like Warren Buffett," Janson muses in the tongue-in-cheek single. "I know everybody says that money can't buy happiness … but it can buy me a boat."

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Despite the track's quick trip from release to chart debut, Janson, like many Nashville success stories, has long built a solid resume, especially as a writer. Most notably, he co-wrote Tim McGraw's "Truck Yeah," which reached No. 10 on Country Airplay in 2012. In 2013, he scored his best Country Airplay run as an artist when "Better I Don't," released on Bigger Picture, reached No. 40. (He was previously signed to the BNA label.)

The catalyst for the solid sales start for "Boat": Two plays on the Premiere Networks-syndicated Bobby Bones Show the day of its release. "We went to bed Thursday, a normal night, and then woke up to the phone ringing off the hook," marvels Kelly Janson, Chris's wife and manager.

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Also boosting the song's start: Toby Keith endorsed "Boat" in a March 20 tweet to his 860,000 Twitter followers.

Kelly says that her husband and Bones have a relationship that goes back several years. Recently, Chris joined Bones at a charity event and the host asked him if he had any new music on the way. As "Boat" went to retail, Chris sent Bones an mp3 of it. By Friday morning, Bones was playing the song for his far-reaching audience. "It's catchy, relatable and country," Bones says. "It's just a good song that I felt people need to hear."

As for potential major-label pick-up and a bigger promotional push, Kelly tells Billboard that, for now, she and Chris are "keeping open minds, taking it one day at a time." And, while "Boat" is a stand-alone single, "Chris has more music. It's time for an album next."

 

Meanwhile, adventurous programmers are seeking out the song. "Although Bobby Bones played it, I found out about it through Toby on Twitter," says JD Greene, program director of WPGB Pittsburgh. He says that the station is planning to add "Boat" to its rotation. "If people open their pocket books, that's something you have to look at."

Overall, the Jansons are "very, very thankful" for the beginning of the voyage for "Boat," which Chris wrote with Chris DuBois, who's co-penned 11 Hot Country Songs No. 1s. (Kelly and Chris, married six years, have also written together, including a song on their first date. "It wasn't very good," Kelly says. "I was too nervous.")

Clearly, audiences are praising "Boat." Maybe the new hit's title-wish will even be answered? "We'd love if someone bought us a boat," Kelly says with a chuckle, noting how many nights that a cash-strapped Chris (a native of Perryville, Mo.) slept in his car when just starting out in Nashville. "We haven't had a vacation in a while …"