As predicted by Saving Country Music the very first week pop star Bebe Rexha’s “Meant to Be” song crested the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it is now on a flight path to break the chart’s all time record for most weeks at #1, which had already been made a mockery of by Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Backroad” after his 34-week run. This has all been made possible by Billboard’s ill-advised and shortsighted chart rules first implemented in 2012 that unfairly award pop artists for spins and play outside of country music’s purview and influence.
This week Bebe Rexha tops the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for a 31st week, leaving her with only three weeks left to tie Sam Hunt. Her collaboration with Florida Georgia Line has already shattered every other record on the chart for female artists, solo artists, or any artist appearing on a country chart for the first time. She’s also at #1 once again on Billboard’s Country Streaming Songs chart, and the Country Digital Song Sales chart for another week, signaling the track’s success is showing no signs of slowing down, and might be poised to become the unofficial “country” music “song of the summer.”
This is all from an artist who is not country in any sense of the word, does not identify as a country artist, never meant “Never Meant to Be” to be considered a country song when it was first recorded and released, and had no idea who Florida Georgia Line was before collaborating them, let alone having any cursory knowledge of country music itself.
The one challenger who perhaps could have dethroned “Meant To Be” was Kane Brown’s “Heaven.” Similar to Bebe Rexha, Kane enjoys curiously-favorable placement on country music streaming playlists on Spotify, YouTube, and other places, as well as strong grassroots support. But “Heaven” peaked in sales and on country radio already. Since no other country artist receives radio play and support in the pop realm like Bebe Rexha does, it gives “Meant to Be” and incredibly unfair advantage over country artists. In 2012, Billboard tweaked its rules for the Hot Country Songs chart where any pop artist or song considered to be fit for the country realm would also have its plays, streams, and downloads counted on the country chart.
Meanwhile zooming out on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the madness, rabid shortsightedness, and inherent unfairness of their methodology couldn’t be more obvious. As journalist Grady Smith recently pointed out, in the last 73 weeks of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dating back to February 25th, 2017, there have only been five total songs to crest the chart. Two of those—“Meant To Be” and Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Backroad”—have benefited from pop plays and spins for a total of 65 weeks and counting. That means that over the past 1 1/2 years, two songs have occupied the chart’s top spot 89% of the time. And those two artists very specifically benefit from pop attention.
Weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Since February 25th, 2017:
Sam Hunt – “Body Like A Backroad” (34 weeks)
Kane Brown – “What Ifs” (5 weeks)
Luke Combs – “When It Rains It Pours” (2 weeks)
LANCO – “Greatest Love Story” (1 week)
Bebe Rexha (ft. Florida Georgia Line) – “Meant to Be” (31 weeks, and counting)
This severe anomaly is shading out country artists on what is supposed to be a country music chart, and creating an extreme anomaly that renders the entire enterprise of charting country songs either comical, or obsolete. Add in the nefarious way songs like “Meant To Be” are being added to playlists, and it makes the monopoly at the top of the charts even more dubious. This especially hurts country music’s female performers since the slots for women are so few.
Billboard should rectify this clear incompetency of their current chart metrics, and it only has a few more weeks to do it before the history books will show forevermore that a pop star that never self-identified as country had the most successful song in the 70-year history of the chart.