Elle King Sends Tyler Childers-Penned “Jersey Giant” to Radio
It’s still inexplicable how Chris Stapleton’s version of “Tennessee Whiskey” was never released as a radio single. It’s the biggest song in country music in the last 10 years and is Certified 14-times Platinum. But since doing anything in the country radio business is as arduous as turning a battleship around, his label couldn’t adjust on the fly and get the song to the radio format after he performed it on the 2015 CMA Awards.
Say whatever you want about Morgan Wallen or Jason Isbell. But if Morgan Wallen’s version of “Cover Me Up” had been released to radio, it would have been a #1 for Wallen, and a #1 for Isbell as a songwriter, and probably considered for the CMA Song of the Year. This was another missed opportunity for a quality song to get mainstream radio attention. Wallen’s version still went #15 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and 4-times Platinum.
Right now, the Luke Combs version of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of the hottest songs in all of music. It’s #11 on Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100, and #2 on the Hot Country Songs chart. But his radio single is currently “Love You Anyway.” In this instance, radio is saying “screw it,” and playing “Fast Car” anyway. As “Love You Anyway” sits at #15 on country radio and climbing, “Fast Car” sits at #21 right now, up from #28 last week. “Fast Car” had the most increased radio audience for any song last week.
Sometimes songs can create their own momentum, and no matter what Music Row focus groups are telling labels, the labels should listen to the fans themselves, and jump on board instead of getting in the way. Luckily that is what is happening with Elle King’s version of “Jersey Giant,” originally written and performed by Tyler Childers some 10 years ago, but never recorded in the studio.
“Jersey Giant” is a unique composition for Childers since it features a bridge within the verse/chorus structure. Some may see it as sacrilege that anyone but Childers recorded this song in the studio first, but apparently when Tyler’s label RCA asked who else could record the song, Childers specifically requested Elle King. She also happens to be signed with RCA, which facilitated the collaboration. The theory was since Childers will never record a studio version of the song himself, someone should. According to Tyler, he was tired of the song shortly after he wrote it.
Elle King does “Jersey Giant” justice by connecting with the Appalachia folk/bluegrass lineage native to Tyler Childers songs. Elle King first released it as a standalone single in November of 2022. Since then the song has received some 20 million global streams, and it’s getting about 500,000 streams a week. Since it was so well-received, King decided to put it on her recent album Come Get Your Wife, and now RCA has decided to send it to radio.
“I was so humbled when Tyler asked me to record the song,” says King. “And then earlier this year he surprised my fans and joined me on stage in Lexington, KY. That was a badass moment for me personally.”
There is a fly in the ointment though. As some folks were celebrating the release of “Jersey Giant” to radio last week, they failed to mention that the target for it is, “Americana, Triple A, and non-commercial radio” according to RCA, though it’s available to all formats through the Play MPE format, including mainstream country.
“Jersey Giant” is a hit. The numbers don’t lie. It could be a big opportunity for Elle King, and for a song penned by Tyler Childers if country radio picked it up. Or, like “Tennessee Whiskey,” “Cover Me Up,” and others, it could be a lost opportunity.
If country radio is going to survive in the streaming age, it needs to be light on its feet, with a wet finger in the air judging where the winds are blowing, and most importantly, lead instead of follow. Spying a single like “Jersey Giant” and serving it to listeners is exactly what radio and labels should be doing as opposed to pushing whatever then next generic single is from the next generic country dude just because it’s their turn.
May 21, 2023 @ 9:22 am
“Jersey Giant,” loved it from the first note and can’t get the song out of my head (along with 49 Winchester’s “Russell County Line”). Finally subscribed to a streaming service recently. I’m working my way through this year’s top albums so far, Trigger. Thanks for all you do.
Bill from WI
May 21, 2023 @ 10:37 am
Trigger, what is the process of releasing or sending a song to radio? Is that just the label publicizing it and begging stations to play it?
May 21, 2023 @ 10:57 am
It really depends on the artist. If Morgan Wallen or Luke Combs release a single, radio stations know what to do. For other artists, yes, there are regional reps and publicists that work specifically with program directors and DJs, and compel them to play it. They cultivate personal relationships, make artists available for interviews, etc. The label may also take out advertising in things like “Country Aircheck” and “Billboard Country Weekly.” They say to promote a new single to country radio costs about $1 million. Again, that’s different for each artist, but that is the reason why a lot of smaller artists are starting to target Tripe A and Americana more to some success. Charley Crockett has had tons of success on radio using that strategy.
May 24, 2023 @ 8:57 pm
You mention how Luke’s current “radio single” is Love you Anyway but they are playing fast car anyway.
I’ve noticed Luke does those announcements like “this is my next radio single” so does that mean his label is asking radio stations to play specific songs and promote that one but they’re obviously still allowed to play whatever Luke combs song they want?
May 24, 2023 @ 9:43 pm
Yes, the label services singles to radio. Hypothetically though, radio stations are autonomous entities, and can play whatever they want. But since in country music, radio is so in bed with labels, the labels basically tell radio what to play, and how often. “Fast Car” is the exception, not the rule. It really speaks to how popular it is that radio is playing it.
May 21, 2023 @ 11:16 am
Man o man Bill you took the thought right out of my head. I’ve been around a long time and even I didn’t fully understand the “sending a song to radio” in 2023 and what it essentially means. That’s a great answer Trig. You know I read the same trades you do every week and I see the “going for adds” and the “thank you’s” for playing my song” etc…. I never really thought about the “cultivate personal relationships, make artists available for interviews” etc…..I’m sure the 1 million dollar cost to promote one song is only reserved for the upper echelon artists? This song is ok, it’ll be interesting to see how far it goes and how long it takes to get there. Lukas and Lainey’s More Than Friends is my favorite non album track right now. I think it’s a smash hit but no one will take it to radio and sadly most will never know it exists.
May 21, 2023 @ 12:13 pm
I can’t with Elle King. Saw her open for Stapleton last summer and she just wasn’t good. She also called during her set. During one song, she called twice. Very disappointing in person.
May 21, 2023 @ 1:03 pm
What does calling mean? I don’t know what you mean.
May 22, 2023 @ 1:40 am
Call and answer perhaps? Like “hey San Diego how are you???”
May 21, 2023 @ 7:45 pm
I don’t like her either, but what does called mean?
May 22, 2023 @ 4:01 am
I believe calling in this context means “calling” out to the audience for a response. Such as saying the first part of a chorus and having the audience finish it.
May 22, 2023 @ 7:25 pm
For some reason, vape was changed to call by my phone. Sorry all!
May 22, 2023 @ 8:25 pm
And because she vaped a few times you thought that was not okay? Really? Who cares? How would you feel if she took a few puffs from a cigarette between songs?
Josh Thompson wasn’t bad!
May 21, 2023 @ 2:23 pm
I thought Josiah and the Bonnevilles sang this ? So it’s a Childers’ cover for them? I know he covers and reworks a bunch of songs, didn’t realize this was one
May 22, 2023 @ 4:02 am
It’s originally a Tyler Childers song. He wrote it.
May 21, 2023 @ 7:01 pm
I’m happy this song is doing very well at least on streaming. I’m glad she’s releasing it to radio although I’m less enthusiastic about its chances at radio because for some reason, radio will play what they want regardless of how’s its doing in terms of sales/streaming.
May 22, 2023 @ 5:12 am
Good move. I continue to be more and more confused about the radio format and its relationship with music labels. What’s stopping the radio format from looking at the most played Spotify country songs and drawing off that? There’s very real data available to the radio on trending songs now that did not exist in the past. Seems more accurate than whatever a focus group in Nashville thinks.
May 22, 2023 @ 5:52 am
It’s interesting to me that after Elle and her label spent a lot of time announcing and promoting her move to country with her latest album, it is the single released prior and written by Childers that has become the most successful from the album. The song stands out from the rest of the album with its Nashville country pop over production. Maybe this can become a wake up call to Elle and the record labels that a more organic sound can be as successful, if not more successful in this case, to the standard Nashville way of making everyone sound exactly the same.
May 22, 2023 @ 6:33 am
sometimes Tyler’s decision not to record a studio version of a song he performs live that his fans love baffles me, while there are more than a few to choose from i always felt Redneck Romeo which would have been a solid addition to either Purgatory or Country Squire. I still hold out hope that one day he may release a compilation of all the songs that never made it to any album i.e. Redneck Romeo, Jersey Giant, Fraulein, Shake The Frost, 22nd Winter, Her and the Banks some of his covers like Pink Floyd’s Time etc . seems unlikely this far down the road though but you never know
May 22, 2023 @ 7:16 am
Such a cool story, sometimes a song can be done better by another artist Instead of the original songwriter who is a singer.
Eddie Raven wrote and sang Thank God for Kids, the oak ridge boys recorded for their Christmas album, and the song became a hit for them. And Eddy Raven even said that the song belonged to William lee Golden now, it is his song, Golden is the bearded baritone singer, and I couldn’t agree more. So, yeah sometimes that can happen, and I wish her all the luck in the world with the song.
May 22, 2023 @ 10:13 am
a lot of people of recorded this song. I do like her version tho. she’s a got a few songs that I don’t mind. she has a lot more that I don’t like as well, but by and large, she’s not the worst person in the world to help bring this song to the masses.
May 22, 2023 @ 10:23 am
It’s an odd choice for a radio single. The melody’s fine but the lyrics are kind of opaque, and opaque’s not what mainstream country listeners go for. (And hey, it’s supposed to be “three chords and the truth,” right? So why make the song’s point difficult to get?)
I liked the album a lot but was hoping “Tulsa” or “Crawlin’ Mood” would be next after “Worth a Shot” went nowhere. That song’s failure to catch on was a total surprise to me, especially after “Drunk” did so well. Yeah, it’s a bit of a snap track, but it loses that in the choruses and lyrically, it’s superior to typical snap-track hits, which invariably are saccharine boyfriend country. Maybe Dierks Bentley’s success with “Gold” at the same time caused radio to pull back on a King/Bentley collab.
May 22, 2023 @ 10:33 am
Me replying to myself. Sorry. I somehow failed to notice that it was only being sent to AAA/Americana radio, so maybe one of the songs I mentioned previously will get a chance at mainstream airplay. “Jersey Giant” should do very well at AAA/Americana, but Elle’s been down that road before and this won’t do much to expand her audience.
May 22, 2023 @ 11:12 am
Do you feel like some sort of winner by censoring comments? Does it make you feel like your ideas win? When comments veer into the social and political do you feel like controlling which comments are seen makes you some virtuous arbitor of morality.
You are pathetic.
May 22, 2023 @ 4:17 pm
First, no comments were censored on this thread. And no, I don’t feel like a winner. I hate it, and it makes me sick to my stomach. But I cannot have comment sections descend into political chaos every single time I post an article, especially when they don’t have anything to do with politics. When I make this request over and over, and then make a specific request in a specific comments section and you completely ignore that request, you give me no choice.
This is a country music website. We talk about country music.
May 22, 2023 @ 8:58 pm
I can’t understand how she still has an audience. Is it because her dad is a D list actor? Is it because she had that one song with Miranda Lambert? There’s nothing appealing about Elle.