2016: The Year in Charts

Luke Bryan Celebrates 7 No. 1 Hits, Reflects on the Music Biz 'As Money Gets Tight'

Jason Davis/FilmMagic
Luke Bryan arrives at 2016 CMT Artists of the Year at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Oct. 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn. 

It’s nothing unusual for an artist to throw a No. 1 party in Nashville. However, celebrating seven chart-toppers at once is a little bit different. That’s what reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan did Monday night (Oct. 24) at the Country Music Hall of Fame. In a press event prior to the celebration with the writers of those songs, Bryan admitted that they had tried to schedule separate parties, but it just didn’t work out. “It’s funny. It came about because of me being busy, but these guys are all very busy too…. Thankfully, the songs started really going fast up the charts because of all these great writers. Now, it’s kind of fun. Maybe we can have another “seven No. 1s" in a couple of years. It’s about celebrating the writers, and certainly the songs.”

Of course, the native of Leesburg, Georgia admitted that having one number one was something that he never thought would happen, let alone a celebration for his past seven. “It’s pretty uncomfortable when I tell people -- and I do feel bad -- ‘Come to my No. 1 party….there’s actually seven of them.' It’s an amazing situation that I am blessed to be in, and it’s a situation where it takes a group of writers to make it happen,” he told Billboard.

“It takes a band and a crew sending our tour down the road. It takes management, and it takes Jessie, my publicist, and the record label. You work so hard for about ten years, and you look up and you have a song going up the charts in fifteen, sixteen weeks,” he said, saying that he tried to enjoy each career plateau as it came his way. “I try not to live too fast. I try to take a break, and enjoy it as it happens. But I truly do appreciate what is going on. I understand the rarity of having success to where your No. 1s are outrunning your ability to have parties.” 

The job of making music is a lot of fun, he reasons, and he’s humbled by it. “We’re all clocking in every day, and I don’t think anyone takes a second of it for granted. It’s the best job in the world, certainly on a day like this.”

On a day where Bryan was celebrating his fellow songwriters, he confessed that he knew things were tougher for the creative community as a whole, but applauded those who stick it out. “My prayer is that more money can be generated in the music business to allow more revenue to be shared by people who move to town. Ever since I and a lot of these guys moved to town, you hear of a lot more songwriters on the street. Not to get on a soapbox, but when the revenues are less, and there’s less money in the whole revenue stream of the music business, you hope that the stable writers will always have their gig as a writer, as well as the new and fresh biggest thing.”

He knows that as the budgets of music companies continue to shrink due to less revenue, decisions get made that aren’t always the ones even the executives would like to make. “As the money gets tight, it makes the labels and publishers more reluctant to roll the dice on someone. They start over-thinking everything, and it becomes a monetary decision -- and not ‘I’m gonna sign this person with my heart.’ The beauty of these writers is I think they are thinking the same thing. New writers are new competition, but that makes us all better, and moves the needle to make our songs better…Nothing is more exciting when you’re a veteran writer, and you write with a new one. I’m not quiet about it. I go tell everyone how that person just slayed me, and if they’re not signed, you need to sign them.”

Some of the writers said that in the back of their minds, they had Luke in the back of their head when composing a song. Bryan -- who hit with Billy Currington’s “Good Directions” as his own career was kicking off -- said that was the ultimate compliment. “I remember being the young writer trying to write songs for other people. I remember how daunting that was, and it’s flattering to know that these writers sit down and think about it. It’s amazing to have an idea and bounce it off these guys, and really be able to knock it out of the park. To have the ability, for years before I had a record deal, we’d get together and write a song and you’d never know what was going to happen to it, if the world would ever hear it. You can talk about the monetary part, but at the end of the day, we’re just excited to be writing something that we know a lot of people are going to have the opportunity to hear. That ultimately far outweighs any money that could show up in a mailbox.”

One of the seven songs that were celebrated was “Home Alone Tonight,” which the singer recorded with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild. He said that he has enjoyed playfully ribbing her husband (and Little Big Town member) Jimi Westbrook about it. “Every night I embellish it. I wanted to know what Jimi thought about me singing to his wife. I made comments about it the whole tour. I’ve had fun with that.” Having the group as his opening act this year has made for some fun conversations, though he says it’s all in fun. “Right after we do the song, get all of Little Big Town out and I acknowledge each band member, at which point I would thank Jimi for letting me gaze into his wife’s beautiful eyes. I would ask how he felt about that. He seemed to not fret it, as he should be.”
 

Songs celebrated yesterday:

“Play It Again,” written by Dallas Davidson and Ashley Gorley
(Hit No. 1 on Hot Country Songs chart, April 26, 2014)

“Roller Coaster,” written by Michael Carter and Cole Swindell
(Hit No. 1 on Country Airplay chart, October 18, 2014)

“I See You,” written by Luke Bryan, Ashley Gorley, and Luke Laird
(Hit No. 1 on Hot Country Songs chart, February 7, 2015)

“Kick The Dust Up,” written by Dallas Davidson, Chris DeStefano, and Ashley Gorley
(Hit No.1 on Hot Country Songs chart, August 8, 2015)

“Strip It Down,” written by Luke Bryan, Ross Copperman, and Jon Nite
(Hit No. 1 on Hot Country Songs chart, October 3, 2015)

“Home Again Tonight,” written by Tommy Cecil, Jaida Dreyer, Jody Stevens, and Cole Taylor
(Hit No. 1 on Country Airplay chart, February 13, 2016)

“Huntin, Fishin, and Lovin’ Every Day,” written by Luke Bryan, Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, and Ben Hayslip
(Hit No. 1 on Country Airplay chart, July 2, 2016)