Chart Beat

Blake Shelton, Luke Combs & More Lead Country Charge on Streaming Songs Chart

Blake Shelton
Andrew Eccles

Blake Shelton

In 2019 alone, five new non-holiday country songs have debuted on the list, compared to just two in all of 2018.

Don't look now, but country music is having a bit of a moment on Billboard's Streaming Songs chart.

The June 8 tally sees a pair of debuts from the genre, led by Blake Shelton's "God's Country," which debuts at No. 39 with 13.5 million U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music. Morgan Wallen's "Whiskey Glasses" bows at No. 41 (12.8 million).

The tracks are the fourth and fifth new non-holiday country songs to make the list in 2019, all occurring before the halfway point of the year.

To compare: In 2018, two non-classic country songs debuted on Streaming Songs the entire year. The year before, three debuted, with one of them stretching its chart run into 2018.

2016? Two. 2015? Three.

That means that in 2019, country music is already on pace to have its best year ever on the Streaming Songs chart, which began in 2013. After multiple years of sitting behind the eight ball with regards to streaming versus, say, hip-hop and pop music, the genre is becoming able to take more of a share of the top-performing songs at streaming services.

And thus far at least, it's doing so without major crossover hits. Of the five country songs to hit Streaming Songs in 2019, only Dan + Shay's "Speechless" has had a marked presence on pop radio, reaching No. 11 on the Adult Pop Songs airplay chart in early May. The others -- Shelton and Wallen's, plus a pair of Luke Combs tunes, "Beautiful Crazy" and "Beer Never Broke My Heart" -- have been country-only hits to date. And while "Speechless" and "Beautiful" have already reached No. 1 on Country Airplay, followed by "Whiskey Glasses" on the June 8 list, both "God's Country" and "Beer" are still climbing Country Airplay, meaning there could very well be something left in the tank for both.

Compare that to 2018, when Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line's "Meant to Be" was a smash on pop radio in addition to country, while Dan + Shay's "Tequila" reached the top 10 of Adult Pop Songs. Only Kane Brown's "Heaven," which led Country Airplay for two weeks in May 2018, didn't experience notable crossover success, something Brown replicated in 2017, when his "What Ifs," featuring Lauren Alaina, also reached Streaming Songs without making a significant dent at pop.

With country finding more success in its biggest hits accumulating stream counts that can compete with pop and hip-hop juggernauts, the genre is setting its sights on 2014, when six country songs reached Streaming Songs. Then it's on to 2013, when seven dotted the list.

It certainly seems doable. After all, in 2015, the overall share for country in terms of on-demand streams in the U.S. was 4.5%. That number has grown gradually each year since, rising to 5.7% in 2018, the share at which the genre currently stands thus far in 2019.

And then? Perhaps the focus will shift to a chart milestone of a different type. Just one country song has ever reached the top 10 of Streaming Songs: Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," which peaked at No. 9 in 2013.