Adele Makes Crossover History, as ‘Easy on Me,’ With Chris Stapleton, Debuts on Country Airplay Chart
The ballad is the first song to scale Billboard's MRC Data-based pop, rock, R&B/hip-hop and country airplay charts.
Pop superstar Adele adds another genre to her Billboard chart résumé, as “Easy on Me,” with Chris Stapleton, enters the Country Airplay ranking (dated Nov. 27). The song starts at No. 25 with 5.4 million audience impressions, according to MRC Data.
With the debut, Adele logs her first appearance on a Billboard country survey, and makes unprecedented airplay chart history.
The collaborative version was released Nov. 19 and, being promoted to country radio by In2une Nashville, received hourly plays that day on participating iHeartMedia stations. (The latest Country Airplay chart reflects airplay on over 140 country stations in the Nov. 15-21 tracking week.)
Adele’s piano ballad was originally released Oct. 14 by the singer-songwriter solo, and has spent four weeks atop the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. It’s the first single from her Columbia Records album 30, released Nov. 19; the version with Stapleton is a bonus track on the physical version on sale at Target.
As “Easy on Me” begins on Country Airplay, it continues climbing other airplay charts. It tops Adult Contemporary for a third week and becomes Adele’s sixth No. 1 on Adult Pop Airplay. Among other moves, it bullets at No. 2 on Adult Alternative Airplay, No. 3 on Pop Airplay, No. 7 on Dance/Mix Show Airplay (thanks to remixes) and No. 11 on Adult R&B Airplay.
Notably with its Country Airplay entrance, “Easy on Me” becomes the first song to scale a combination of pop, rock, R&B/hip-hop and country airplay charts since MRC Data started powering Billboard‘s airplay tallies beginning with Country Airplay in January 1990.
“Adele has once again shown that she is an artist who transcends format,” Keith Solis, director of music programming at Adult R&B Airplay panelist KRNB Dallas, told Billboard after the station added “Easy on Me.”
Said Brian Robinson, program director at fellow Adult R&B Airplay reporter WBAV Charlotte, N.C., after the station put the song into rotation, “She makes records for the masses.”
“Any time you put two superstars like that together, it’s a moment,” Rod Phillips, iHeartCountry executive vp, programming, mused to Billboard as the chain embraced the song’s new duet version. “Like all hits, the listeners get to decide. We’ll watch all the metrics and get a read on it and find out how big it can be.”
As for the last song to make a somewhat comparable sweep among pop, rock, R&B/hip-hop and country charts prior to 1990? Perhaps unsurprisingly, USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” (which, like Adele’s “Easy on Me,” was released on Columbia). The charity anthem and pop-culture phenomenon that culled artists representing a host of styles topped the Hot 100 for four weeks and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for two frames and rose to No. 27 on Mainstream Rock Airplay and No. 76 on Hot Country Songs in 1985.
Meanwhile, Adele appears on her 17th Billboard airplay chart, among 25 active airplay surveys published throughout the year. Her updated portfolio, dating to her first hit, “Chasing Pavements,” in 2008: Adult Alternative Airplay, Adult Contemporary, Adult Pop Airplay, Adult R&B Airplay, Alternative Airplay, Country Airplay, Dance/Mix Show Airplay, Latin Airplay, Latin Pop Airplay, Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, Pop Airplay, Radio Songs, R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, Rhythmic Airplay, Rock & Alternative Airplay, Smooth Jazz Airplay and Tropical Airplay.
Conversely, the dwindling list of airplay charts on which Adele hasn’t yet appeared: Christian Airplay, Christian AC Airplay, Gospel Airplay, Holiday Airplay, Latin Rhythm Airplay, Mainstream Rock Airplay, Rap Airplay and Regional Mexican Airplay.
Adele matches Mariah Carey with visits to as many as 17 Billboard airplay charts (again, since the inception of MRC Data tabulation in 1990). Only one act has made more lists: Pharrell, with 18 in his chart history. Next up with 16 each: Beyoncé, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Bruno Mars, Santana and Timbaland. Plus, with 15 each: Christina Aguilera, Akon, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Shaggy and Snoop Dogg.
Of those artists, Adele joins Bieber and Legend as the only acts to up their totals via Country Airplay entries. As with Adele’s team-up with Stapleton, both did so thanks to collaborations with established format stars: Dan + Shay and Bieber’s “10,000 Hours” led for two weeks beginning in January 2020 and Carrie Underwood and Legend’s “Hallelujah” hit No. 57 last holiday season.
Additional reporting by Jim Asker