Thomas Rhett remains atop three of Billboard’s main country songs charts (dated Jan. 16), as “Die a Happy Man” (Valory) leads Hot Country Songs (for an eighth week), Country Airplay (for a third) and Country Digital Songs (for a ninth).
On Hot Country Songs, “Man” marks the longest reign since Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” dominated for 13 weeks beginning May 9, 2015. On Country Airplay, the song holds at the pinnacle with a 17 percent gain to 48.9 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen Music. Previously, Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over” (RCA Nashville) was the most recent single to lead Country Airplay for three weeks (beginning Nov. 28, 2015). “Man” is buoyed atop Country Digital Songs by a 57 percent burst to 98,000 downloads sold in the week ending Dec. 31, 2015.
The track, which Rhett co-wrote as a proclamation of love to his wife, Lauren, is the second single from his second full-length studio set, Tangled Up (Valory/Big Machine Label Group). First offering “Crash and Burn” topped Country Airplay (Sept. 26, 2015) and reached No. 2 on Hot Country Songs. The LP has spent its first 14 weeks in the Top Country Albums chart’s top 10, rising 7-6 on the Jan. 16 list with 11,000 sold. It peaked at No. 2 (Nov. 7, 2015) and has sold 257,000 since its release. In those 14 frames, the album has neared the current sales of Rhett’s first full-length, 2013’s It Goes Like This (291,000), which also peaked at No. 2 in a 78-week run on Top Country Albums.
“As Thomas’ star continues to rise, this single [“Die a Happy Man”] is already arguably his biggest and has become a career song,” says Big Machine Label Group president/CEO Scott Borchetta. “He’ll likely never be able to play another show without performing the song.”
Likewise, radio programmers have been steadfast in their support of Rhett. “He is one of those artists that appeals across the entire country music spectrum,” says Cumulus Nashville WSM-FM/WKDF PD Charlie Cook. “What is so great about him is that he can come with a pop-influenced track like ‘Crash and Burn’ and follow it with a deeply moving love song like ‘Die a Happy Man.’ There’s no fluff and nothing trite in his lyrics, just honest-to-goodness country music.”
Gator Harrison, PD of iHeartMedia’s WUSY Chattanooga, Tenn., concurs. “'Die a Happy Man’ is the song every guy wants to sing and every girl dreams of hearing. Rhett is real and relatable, making him extremely relevant. Country fans know he’s not only singing the song, but he has lived it. This might be the next song of the year from the next superstar.”
Rhett’s ballad is also drawing fans beyond core country audiences. “Happy Man” is gaining an early foothold at adult top 40 radio (aided by promotion from Republic). WBMX Boston leads the format with more than 400 plays to date; the song was the station’s seventh-most-played track in the week ending Jan. 3.
Meanwhile, on Country Streaming Songs, Sam Hunt’s “Break Up in a Small Town” (MCA Nashville) rebounds 5-1 for its fourth week atop the list (3.6 million U.S. streams). Chris Stapleton’s Tennessee Whiskey (Mercury) leads Top Country Albums for a seventh week (the last four consecutively) with 37,000 sold. It has shifted 685,000 to date.