Luke Combs is Billboard’s Top Country Artist of 2019 as well as finishing first in the male-artist category. While Combs has been awarded with a boatload of awards and accolades of late; this is a first for the 29-year-old singer-songwriter from North Carolina.
Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during the charts dated Nov. 24, 2018, to Nov. 16, 2019. Data registered before or after a title’s chart run is not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-to-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music.
So, how did Combs get there?
Combs Is Top Artist on Both Hot Country Songs & Country Airplay: Combs is ranked as the top artist on the year-end hybrid Hot Country Songs chart, which combines airplay-, streaming and sales, as well as Billboard’s radio-airplay fueled, Country Airplay list. His hit “Beautiful Crazy,” which was released as his fifth single from his freshman album This One’s For You, rang up 11 weeks in the Hot Country Songs penthouse starting on the chart dated March 2. Concurrently it dominated Country Airplay for seven frames. “Crazy” ranks as second and fourth for the year on Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs respectively.
Here’s the story. As other country artists are experimenting with electronic sounds, hip-hop rhythms, Americana slanted country; Combs just produces 1990’s influenced, straight-ahead country music, with a voice that commands attention. As it is with many iconic country artists, sonically, it’s pretty simple.
This One’s for You is the No. 1 title on the year-end Top Country Albums survey.
Combs’ first full-length album arrived at No. 1 on June 24, 2017, and then proceeded to roll up 50-weeks at the summit. That 50th week; Nov. 2, 2019 Combs tied Shania Twain’s Come on Over (which posted 50 weeks at No. 1 beginning in 1997), as the longest running titles atop the Top Country Albums chart, which was launched in 1964.
Coincidentally, This One’s No. 1 run may have extended to a 51st week if not interrupted by his new second full-length effort, What You See Is What You Get, which arrived atop both Top Country Albums and the all-genre Billboard 200 dated Nov. 23, with 172,000 equivalent album units during the frame ending Nov. 14, according to Nielsen Music. During that same week, This One’s was ranked at No. 2.
With This One’s Combs sent his first five singles to No. 1 on Country Airplay, which is a record for the chart which launched in 1990: “Hurricane,” “When it Rains it Pours,” “One Number Away,” “She Got the Best of Me” and “Beautiful Crazy.” He then extended his record when his sixth and seventh songs followed as chart-topping hits; “Beer Never Broke My Heart” and “Even Though I’m Leaving.”
“Beer” is 2019’s fifth ranked title on both Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay.
Dan + Shay Reigns as Top Duo/Group: 2019’s No. 2 overall country artist, and the top duo/group, is Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney). The act’s self-titled third full-length sits in the runner-up spot as the Top Country Albums No. 2 title of 2019.
The LP, which is the act’s third studio album, debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated July 7, 2018 with 44,000 equivalent album units. To date the 11-song set, which was released on June 22, 2018 via Warner Music Nashville, has earned well over 1-millon equivalent album units. Also, as the LP started atop Top Country Albums, that same week, the album’s lead track, “Tequila” simultaneously climbed to No. 1 on Country Airplay becoming the pair’s fourth of six No. 1s to date. It also topped Hot Country Songs and ranks at No. 7 for the year on the hybrid list.
The third single from the Smyers and Mooney’s self-titled set; “Speechless” is the No. 2 track of 2019 on Hot Country Songs. “Speechless” which propelled the twosome to a win in the duo of the year category at the CMA Awards, crowned Hot Country Songs for its first of a nine week reign on the tally dated Dec. 1, 2018. The track, a love song, which the pair dedicated to their wives, also hit No. 1 on the weekly Country Airplay chart, where it stayed for four frames.
Morris Is Country’s Leading Lady: Maren Morris is the No. 1 female country artist of 2019. Anyone who’s not been under a rock the last few years knows that there’s been lots of talk about the scarcity of slots for women on radio station’s playlists. The recent CMA Awards was framed as a dedication to female acts. Well, only one woman scored a No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart during 2019 and that was Morris’ aptly titled song, “Girl,” which led the list dated Aug. 3 for a week. It peaked at No. 8 on Hot Country Songs. For 2019, “Girl” ranks at No. 16 on Hot Country Songs and No. 26 on Country Airplay.
Morris’ album, Girl, her sophomore set, became her second Top Country Albums No. 1 when it flew in at the apex on the chart dated March 23, with 46,000 units. Concurrently, it was named album of the year at the 2019 CMA Awards. Morris’ Girl LP comes in at No. 10 on the year-end Top Country Albums chart.
Blanco Brown Dances in as the Year’s Top New Artist. Blanco Brown’s rookie single “The Git Up,” made a splash for the 34-year-old Atlanta native when it jumped 4-1 on the Hot Country Songs chart dated July 13, in its fifth week on the survey. That same week “Git” led Country Streaming Songs and Country Digital Song Sales, driving it to log 12 weeks in the Hot Country Songs penthouse. Country radio lagged in its support of the track, which was initially aided by a viral dance challenge on TikTok and YouTube. “Git” ultimately received enough radio support to climb to No. 44 on Country Airplay. On the year-end Hot Country Songs chart, “Git” comes in at No. 6.
Meanwhile, Morgan Wallen finished seventh on Billboard’s year-end Top Artists overall list and fifth in the male category. The artist’s hit “Whiskey Glasses” doubles-up as the No. 1 song for 2019 on Hot Country Songs as well as Country Airplay.
“Whiskey,” which was Wallen’s first Hot Country Songs leader, led the list for two weeks starting May 18; and while it just spent a couple of weeks at No. 1, it spent a full-year, 52 weeks on the chart, with 29 of those frames in the top 10.
On Country Airplay, it posted three weeks atop the chart beginning June 8, but 52 weeks in total on the survey. Its hold of 19 weeks in the top 10 is tied with four other songs for the third longest running top 10 in the history of the 1990 launched chart.
A couple other notable mentions; Kane Brown, who wrapped up the year in third place overall and second behind Luke Combs in the male category, scored the No. 3 title on the year-end Top Country Albums list, with his second studio-set, Experiment. With Experiment, the singer-songwriter achieved his first No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200, when it debuted at the pinnacle on the chart dated Nov. 24, 2018 as it earned 124,000 equivalent album units.
Finally, the No. 3 song on the year-end Hot Country Songs list is Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country.” The straight-ahead country track became Shelton’s 14th No. 1 on Hot Country Songs, and his first since 2013 (“Sure Be Cool If You Did) on the list dated May 25, 2019, for its first of a nine week rule. “God’s Country” also topped Country Airplay, where it’s ranked at No. 19 on the year-end survey.