Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what’s on the charts … is on the charts, while also looking at current chart action in a historical context for even greater insights.
This week, superstar duo Florida Georgia Line – Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley – and executive vp of Big Machine Label Group and president of BMLG Records Jimmy Harnen (a Billboard chart vet himself) chat with Billboard‘s Nashville-based senior chart manager Jim Asker.
The twosome is enjoying its highest-peaking Billboard Hot 100 hit, as “Meant to Be,” with Bebe Rexha, remains in the top 10 after reaching No. 2, while ruling the Hot Country Songs chart for a 27th week (the second-longest reign in the survey’s history). “How country radio sounds, it fits right in,” Kelley says of the multi-format smash. “It was exciting: ‘Let’s run it up the pop charts, let’s run it up the country charts.’ “
Harnen notes that the song appeared to have so much potential that the label stopped promoting prior FGL single “Smooth” to instead push “Meant to Be.” “It was [Big Machine Label Group founder, president and CEO] Scott [Borchetta]’s idea. He said, ‘Let’s just go.’ And we flipped. You give the people what they want, and here we are 27 weeks later.”
Meanwhile, new banjo-inflected single “Simple” launches at No. 24 on the latest Country Airplay chart. “I think it’s a feel-good summer jam,” Hubbard says, “but it’s also a good reminder to get back to the basics and the simple things in life and not get too distracted.”
The song previews FGL’s fourth LP, likely due in February, with new songs expected to be released leading up to its arrival.
“Country music is where we want to live,” Kelley says, with the duo’s discography including hits with pop acts (along with Rexha) Backstreet Boys, The Chainsmokers and Hailee Steinfeld (in addition to FGL’s 12 Country Airplay No. 1s). “That’s the seed, this is our home. We can go left, we can go right and show our artistry and be creative, but the heart of it is country music. I grew up wanting to be Garth Brooks … Tim McGraw … Alabama. Tyler, the same thing.
“I was walking the dogs down our driveway a couple years ago and I giggled. I said, ‘Man, I’m a country music singer. Hell, yeah.’ “
Gary and Trevor also discuss this week’s Hot 100 top 10, and beyond, as Drake earns the rare feat of charting six concurrent top 20 hits, and flashback to an elite nine compositions that have topped the Hot 100 thanks to two different versions.
Enjoy the latest Billboard Chart Beat Podcast and remember that you can be a part of it by calling the new Chart Beat Podcast hotline: 212-493-4021 (aka, “40-to-1” … like a countdown!) Call with your chart questions and/or observations for us to play back and respond to, and check back for additional upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!