Florida Georgia Line sets the all-time record for the most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, as the duo’s “Cruise” notches a 22nd cumulative week at the summit. With its latest week on top, the song passes three other titles that each led for 21 weeks over the chart’s 69-year history.
The immense No. 1 run for “Cruise” stems, in part, from the Hot Country Songs chart’s change in methodology last fall. It switched from ranking Nielsen BDS-based audience airplay impressions from a core set of terrestrial country radio stations to a hybrid survey. The chart now encompasses paid digital downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and streaming data and an expanded radio panel, according to BDS.
The chart’s tabulation methods — along with, of course, the radically different song styles — over the eras in which “Cruise” and the three 21-week leaders have dominated is remarkable. Ranked solely by jukebox play at the time, the chart’s first 21-week No. 1 belonged to Eddy Arnold, whose “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)” hugged the chart’s summit for 21 weeks in 1947-48.
Arnold’s feat was matched by 21-week command that began in the summer of 1950 by Hank Snow, whose “I’m Moving On” dominated the country Best Sellers chart. (By then, Billboard’s country chart methodology incorporated a triad of tallies: Juke Box, Best Sellers, and the radio-based Jockeys chart.) Arnold and Snow were still major forces on those three charts when Webb Pierce’s “In the Jailhouse Now” locked up the top spot on Juke Box for 21 weeks beginning in February 1955.
Having spent three weeks at No. 1 last December on the BDS-driven Country Airplay chart, “Cruise” was remixed featuring Nelly, renewing its sales and leading to pop and adult crossover airplay, which has fostered the song’s record Hot Country Songs reign. “Cruise” reached No. 7 on Pop Songs; bullets at No. 8 on Adult Pop Songs; and navigates 18-17 on Adult Contemporary.
“Cruise” has sold 5.4 million downloads to date, becoming the third-best-selling country digital track ever, according to SoundScan. Lady Antebellum leads with “Need You Now” (6.2 million), followed by Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (5.6 million). (Due, in part, to its availability before the addition of Nelly, the original version of “Cruise” accounts for 59% of the song’s total sales.)
“Cruise” spent five nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs in December/January before dropping to as low as No. 13 in March. Following the release of the Nelly edit and its push to pop and adult radio formats, it’s ranked at No. 1 for the last 17 weeks dating to April 20.
Upon the record-breaking achievement of “Cruise” this week, here is an updated look at the titles to spend the most weeks atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, dating to its Jan. 8, 1944, launch:
“Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line (2012-13)
“In the Jailhouse Now,” Webb Pierce (1955)
“I’m Moving On,” Hank Snow (1950-51)
“I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms),” Eddy Arnold (1947-48)
“Crazy Arms,” Ray Price (1956)
“I Don’t Hurt Anymore,” Hank Snow (1954-55)
“Walk On By,” Leroy Van Dyke (1961-62)
“Bouquet of Roses,” Eddy Arnold (1948-49)
“Heartbreak Hotel,” Elvis Presley (1956)
“Slowly,” Webb Pierce (1954)
“Slipping Around,” Jimmy Wakely & Margaret Whiting (1949-50)