It’s said that time is the harshest critic of all. If that’s the case, time has not been very kind to the music of Florida Georgia Line at all. The title of their new album Can’t Say I Ain’t Country isn’t fooling anybody, and apparently the fickle pop country music fan has moved on en masse to the likes of Luke Combs and others. This has left only bread crumbs for the once high-flying Florida Georgia Line, who just a few short years ago were the biggest thing in all of country music.
There’s no way to sugar coat it. Sales of Can’t Say I Ain’t Country are terrible. The album opened with sales of only 29,000 in physical and digital copies, which is horrific for a top flight major label country act. To put that into perspective, that is 24,000 less albums than the 71-year-old John Prine debuted with his recently independently-released album Tree of Forgiveness, and 22,000 less than Jason Isbell sold with his last album The Nashville Sound without the help of a ticket bundle.
Okay, but what about those precious “album equivalents” that get racked up via streaming data these days that count towards album sales and have all these younger acts tipping the scales in their favor? Still Can’t Say I Ain’t Country was only able to eek out 50,000 units with streaming data counted in. This was still less than both John Prine’s and Jason Isbell’s last efforts, which came in at 53,000 and 51,000 respectively.
And how does 29,000 records sold, and 50,000 album equivalents rack up against Florida Georgia Line’s contemporaries in the mainstream? Well Carrie Underwood’s late 2018 album Cry Pretty sold 251,000 albums in pure sales, or 772-percent more units than Florida Georgia Line debuted with. With streaming equivalents, Carrie Underwood still debuted with 432-percent more in sales. Jason Aldean’s 2018 album Rearview Town debuted 266-percent higher than Can’t Say I Ain’t Country factoring in both sales and streams. 50,000 equivalent units is also a sharp drop from Florida Georgia Line’s last record, Dig Your Roots, which debuted with 145,000 in sales, or 190-percent better than Can’t Say I Ain’t Country.
Oh but perhaps the second week is where Florida Georgia Line’s new record would find it’s strength. Yeah, not so much. Second week sales have been cut by over 50-percent for the record, and Can’t Say I Ain’t Country isn’t even the #1 album on the country albums charts anymore. That distinction falls to Luke Combs with a record that was released in June of 2017, This One’s For You. In fact Luke Combs tops all five of country music’s major indexes this week. The tide has turned.
Granted, all things are relative when it comes to album sales. Many independent artist would kill for sales as the ones Florida Georgia Line just turned in. Cody Johnson, who just released his major label debut Ain’t Nothin’ To It a few weeks ago, was only able to log 32,000 in sales and streaming equivalents. But this is an up-and-coming artist just now receiving mainstream radio play, while Florida Georgia Line is an arena level act who was solely responsible for launching the Bro-Country era a few years ago, and just logged the longest-running #1 single on the Billboard Hot Country Sales chart last year with Bebe Rexha called “Meant To Be.”
But perhaps all that exposure has soured the taste of Florida Georgia Line, while the genre as a whole appears to want to move on from the Bro-Country era. Even Florida Georgia Line’s singles aren’t doing so well, not counting “Meant To Be,” which was officially attributed to Bebe Rexha as the primary artist. Out of their last ten solo singles, only one has hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart—2016’s “H.O.L.Y.” Their debut single from the new album, the Mumford & Sons-esque “Simple” did make it to #1 on radio, but it was one of those weak #1’s that immediately fall off the face of the earth the next week.
It’s not time to sound the all-clear signal just yet. Rest assured radio will continue to cram Florida Georgia Line singles down the throats of consumers for years to come. But all those predictions that Florida Georgia Line was a band with a short shelf life are starting to come to fruition. Sure better hope they invested all that “Cruise” money wisely.