Cody Jinks, Zach Bryan Make Surprising Moves on Country Radio

photos: Brad Coolidge / Warner Music

Yes, just a day after Saving Country Music posted a long-winded rant about why trying to court mainstream country radio is a fool’s errand, not one, but two interesting anomalies have popped up on the format that are worth remarking about, and keeping a close eye on.

The first is that Zach Bryan and his hit single “Something in the Orange” has finally officially charted on the Billboard Country Airplay chart this week, coming in at #59. The song is already a smash, and may become one of the biggest songs in country in 2022. It’s hit #3 on the more consumption-based Hot Country Songs chart on multiple weeks, is currently sitting at #6 on that chart, and continues to be one of the most streamed songs in country, coming in this week at #3 on Billboard’s Country Streaming Songs chart.

It’s unclear if there is an active effort underway to promote “Something in the Orange” to country radio, or if it’s appearance is more organic. There has been no advertisement for the song as a radio single by Zach Bryan’s label Warner Music, and it never appeared on the “Most Added” lists on the charts. It just seems like the Zach Bryan phenomenon is having such a significant impact, country radio’s otherwise closed-minded and closed-off programmers are finding no other choice but to add the song.

#59 is not much at this point. But clearly country radio is seeing the strong appeal for “Something in the Orange,” as well as Zach’s album American Heartbreak released in May, which once again is the #3 album in all of country music this week right behind titles by Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs. It’s likely certain radio stations are adding the song to the playlist in light or moderate rotation, while others remain unaware. What’s most important is what happens in the coming weeks now that “Something in the Orange” has shown up on a major chart.

Zach Bryan releases a new album Summertime Blues this Friday (7-15).

Just as surprising, and perhaps even more unprecedented, Cody Jinks is getting ready to send a new single to mainstream country radio, and it happens to be an old one. Instead of selecting a track from his recent country album Mercy from 2021, Cody Jinks is calling country radio’s bluff, and sending the biggest song of his career to the format, “Loud and Heavy.”

Released on Cody’s magnum opus Adobe Sessions in 2015, “Loud and Heavy” has gone on to become one of Cody’s signature songs, and was Certified Platinum by the RIAA in September of 2020. Incidentally, the album Adobe Sessions was also Certified Gold in February of this year. Just on Spotify, the song has received over 142 million streams.

What will the prospects be for a seven-year-old song? It’s hard to tell, but it’s an interesting move by Jinks and his team, almost like a game of chicken. You might recall, in November of 2021 around the release of his latest album, Cody Jinks promoted the single “Like a Hurricane” to mainstream country radio, including taking out advertisements for the single, and hiring the radio promotional company 16 Camino to help push it. The song actually appeared on some “Most Added” metrics early on, but never garnered any significant chart placement.

This move is likely Cody Jinks and his team saying, “Okay country radio, let’s see if you’ll play a song that’s already been certified as a hit.” “Loud and Heavy” officially goes for adds on August 1st.

What should we expect the prospects for these singles from Cody Jinks and Zach Bryan to be? I would remain skeptical. But it will be interesting to see just how receptive the mainstream country radio format is to songs that the public has clearly signaled a strong appeal for.

If mainstream country radio is to survive and continue to be relevant, it’s going to have to open its playlists to artists that the public is clearly clamoring for as opposed to just playing what their major label partners want to promote. Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange” and “Loud and Heavy” by Cody Jinks would be a good start, so would Morgan Wade’s “Wilder Days,” which has been stuck in the 30s for a while now.

In truth, country radio probably needs artists such Zach Bryan, Cody Jinks, and Morgan Wade more than they need country radio. All three artists play this weekend’s Under The Big Sky Fest in Montana.

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