Adele is officially going country this week with her new “Easy on Me” collaboration, featuring Chris Stapleton. The song, a duet version of her current Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper, will land at country radio first thing Friday, Billboard has learned.
The Stapleton rendition is on the deluxe version of Adele’s album 30, also out Friday.
The song will get a boost via iHeartMedia through featured airplay every hour Friday on all iHeart country radio stations, according to Rod Phillips, executive vice president, Programming for iHeartCountry.
“Any time you put two superstars like that together, it’s a moment, a collaboration we want to lean into,” Phillips tells Billboard. “If something this big comes together, we’re on it at the highest level. We’re excited to give it to the listeners across the country. Like all hits, the listeners get to decide. We’ll watch all the metrics and get a read on it with the way we do research and find out how big it can be.”
While Adele’s music has landed on Billboard charts in genres including pop, alternative, R&B/hip-hop, dance, Latin and smooth jazz, this could mark the first time Adele’s music would appear on Billboard‘s country rankings.
Though Adele is signed to Sony Music’s Columbia imprint, and Stapleton to Universal Music Group Nashville’s Mercury label, neither Sony’s country music counterpart, Sony Music Nashville, nor UMG Nashville are promoting the track to country radio. Instead, Billboard has learned that in2une Music will exclusively spearhead country radio promotion for the track.
Though this would mark Adele’s first foray onto Billboard‘s country charts, she isn’t a complete stranger to country music or to Stapleton: As a bonus track for her album 21, Adele covered “If It Hadn’t Been for Love,” a track co-written and originally performed by Stapleton when he served as lead singer/writer for the bluegrass group The SteelDrivers. In 2010, Adele also appeared on CMT’s Artists of the Year special to serenade trio Lady A with a rendition of their smash hit “Need You Now” alongside Darius Rucker.
As for Stapleton, he’s become the go-to country artist for cross-genre collaborations as of late. During last week’s CMA Awards, Stapleton teamed with Jennifer Hudson on a blistering performance of “Night Life” and “You Are My Sunshine.” At the CMT Music Awards, Stapleton partnered with H.E.R. on a blues-soaked rendition of “Hold On.” Those performances follow recorded collaborations with P!nk (“Love Me Anyway”), Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars (“Blow”), Kelly Clarkson (“Glow”), Justin Timberlake (“Say Something”), Sheryl Crow (“Tell Me When It’s Over”), Santana (“Joy”) and Morgan Wallen (“Only Thing That’s Gone”), as well as a recent release from Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) with “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version).”
Adele isn’t the only pop superstar making waves on country radio thanks to a Stapleton collab. “I Bet You Think About Me” jumped onto Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart at No. 23 on the chart dated Nov. 20. With the song, country-turned-pop star Swift earns her second-highest debut of her 39 total Country Airplay entries, after “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” debuted at No. 13 on the Country Airplay chart in 2012.
Stapleton, of course, exploded into the public consciousness in 2015 thanks to an unforgettable collaboration with Timberlake on Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” at that year’s CMA Awards. Stapleton currently has a top 15 song on the Billboard Country Airplay chart with “You Should Probably Leave,” while “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)” sits at No. 23. After the release of this collaboration, Stapleton will likely have three tracks on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart.
–Additional reporting by Jim Asker