Thomas Rhett‘s “Die a Happy Man” leads Billboard‘s airplay/sales/streaming-based Hot Country Songs chart (dated Feb. 13) for a 12th week (and sixth in succession).
The reign moves the song into a tie for ninth place, with Luke Bryan‘s “That’s My Kind of Night” (2014) and Cowboy Copas‘ “Alabam” (1960), for the lengthiest stay atop the survey, which launched as an all-encompassing list in 1958. Florida Georgia Line‘s 24-week smash “Cruise” (2012-13) holds the title.
THEIR NEW ‘HOME’? No. 1 There’s a changing of the guard atop Country Airplay. After Thomas Rhett‘s love song dominated the list for six weeks (beginning Jan. 2), Luke Bryan‘s “Home Alone Tonight,” featuring Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, takes over, hopping 3-1, up 8 percent to 48.3 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen Music. (“Man” falls 1-3, down by 7 percent to 44.5 million.)
While “Man” is a sincere proclamation of love, “Home” is a love song, too. Sort of. The track, written by Jody Stevens, Cole Taylor, Jaida Dreyer and Tommy Cecil, tells the story of two scorned lovers who meet in a bar and eventually hook up to exact revenge on their former flames. The single has been nominated for vocal event of the year by the Academy of Country Music, with awards to be handed out April 3 on CBS. Bryan, who will host the show with Dierks Bentley, is also up for entertainer of the year (which he won in 2013 and 2015). Little Big Town scored a number of nominations, including group of the year.
“Alone” is Fairchild’s first Country Airplay No. 1 without her Little Big Town bandmates (with whom she has earned one leader, 2012’s “Pontoon”). Bryan notches his 14th leader and third from his fifth studio LP, Kill the Lights, following “Kick the Dust Up” (on the chart dated Aug. 15, 2015) and “Strip It Down” (two weeks in October and November). The album, which debuted atop both Top Country Albums and the multigenre Billboard 200 (Aug. 29, 2015), has sold 882,000 copies in the United States to date. On Hot Country Songs, “Home” holds at its No. 3 high.
The vocal chemistry between Bryan and Fairchild (the first female to rank atop Country Airplay since Kelsea Ballerini, with “Love Me Like You Mean It” on the July 4, 2015, chart) has been well-received at radio. “It’s an exciting song on a lot of levels,” says WKLB Boston PD Mike Brophey. “We expect a certain level of performance and strength in music from Luke, but the duet was a timely change. Plus, it’s another opportunity to showcase Fairchild’s talent. In our bro-country world, this song is very refreshing. People love it. Great production pulls the voices together, and it [shows] great staying power.”
UNDERWOOD UP Additionally on Country Airplay, Carrie Underwood achieves her 23rd top 10, encompassing all her (non-seasonal) singles promoted to country radio, as “Heartbeat” hops 11-9 (up 16 percent to 32 million). Underwood ties Faith Hill for second-most top 10s among women, below Reba McEntire‘s 36. (George Strait is the overall leader with 61, dating to the chart’s January 1990 inception.) On Hot Country Songs, “Heartbeat” steps 8-6, fueled by a 13 percent gain to 1.3 million U.S. streams.
DRINKING SONG Hot Country Songs welcomes a new entry to the top 10, as Brett Eldredge‘s “Drunk On Your Love” climbs 11-9. The track sports a 19 percent boost on Country Airplay, jumping 18-14 (22.5 million). “Drunk” is Eldredge’s fifth Hot Country Songs top 10, with “Lose My Mind” his strongest showing to date (No. 2).
This article first appeared in Billboard’s Country Update — sign up here.