The new ballad, written by Shy Carter, Dave Gibson and Joe Spargur, is from McGraw and Hill's forthcoming duets album, expected in 2017. On Feb. 13, Billboard reported that the couple (married since Oct. 6, 1996), signed individual recording contracts with Sony Music Entertainment.
"Speak" was released digitally and to country radio on March 23; thus, it debuts with about half a week's worth of airplay, as the chart's tracking week ran March 20-26.
"We played the song within 15 minutes after receiving it," says Charlie Cook, Cumulus vp programming and PD of Nashville's WSM-FM and WKDF. "I think every guy who hears this song wants to call the woman in his life immediately and tell her that he loves her. I've not heard Faith Hill sound so strong in years. And her voice blends perfectly with McGraw's."
"Speak" marks the first Country Airplay appearance for McGraw and Hill together since "Meanwhile Back at Mama's," which peaked at No. 2 on the chart dated Sept. 6, 2014, and is their sixth collaborative entry overall. The lone Country Airplay No. 1 for the pair remains their first as a team, the six-week No. 1 "It's Your Love." "Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me" climbed to No. 3 on Country Airplay in 1998, followed by "Let's Make Love" (No. 6, 2000) and "I Need You" (No. 8, 2007).
On Hot Country Songs, "Speak" is McGraw and Hill's seventh appearance together and follows their spiritual-based "Keep Your Eyes on Me," from the movie The Shack (which opened in theaters on March 3 and stars McGraw, among others); it debuted and peaked at No. 44 on Feb. 18. "Keep" also granted the couple its first appearance on Hot Christian Songs, opening and peaking at No. 12 that week.
HIGH 'ROAD': "Body Like a Back Road," the lead single from Sam Hunt's forthcoming second studio full-length, extends its reign on Hot Country Songs to a seventh week. The track rules Country Digital Song Sales for an eighth week (61,000 sold, up 11 percent) and Country Streaming Songs for a seventh frame (12.2 million in audience, up 5 percent). On Country Airplay, "Body" bumps 8-6, increasing 11 percent to 30.1 million.
The song has reigned for the second-longest time out of Hunt's four No. 1s on Hot Country Songs. "Take Your Time," which first crowned the survey on Feb. 21, 2015, ruled for 11 weeks. "Road" passes "House Party," which ruled for six frames beginning Aug. 22, 2015. His debut, "Leave the Night On," spent a week at No. 1 (Nov. 15, 2014).
STILL KICKING: John Pardi's "Dirt on My Boots" leads for a third week on Country Airplay, gaining 1 percent to 46.4 million impressions. The song is just the third in the last year to post as many as three weeks at No. 1, following Blake Shelton's "A Guy With a Girl" (Jan. 28-Feb. 11) and Cole Swindell's "You Should Be Here" (April 9-23, 2016).
BIG WEEK FOR 'WEEKEND': Brantley Gilbert banks his seventh Country Airplay top 10, as "The Weekend" pushes 11-10 (23.4 million, 2 percent). On Hot Country Songs, it remains at No. 12 after reaching No. 9 (Feb. 18).