Luke Combs Side Steps “Six Feet Apart” for New Radio Single

Luke Combs announced recently that his new radio single will be “Lovin’ On You,” and I can’t help but think this decision is a one big boner. After Luke’s most recent single “Does To Me” featuring Eric Church spent two weeks atop the country radio charts, the decision of what to release next from arguably the biggest artist in country music at the moment was a big one. Every single one of Luke’s now eight radio singles have hit #1.

“Lovin’ On You” is fine I guess, but a very mild choice, a very list-like song, and a safe decision. But the worst part about it is that Luke already had another single out there gaining serious traction on radio, even as his previous one was cresting the charts. It’s the well-written and fiercely topical “Six Feet Apart” that Combs introduced during one of his quarantine acoustic performances and later cut in the studio. He co-wrote the song with Brent Cobb and Rob Snyder.

This situation feels very similar to Chris Stapleton’s label passing on releasing his version of “Tennessee Whiskey” as a single in 2015, even as it was becoming the most popular song in all of country music, and was hitting #1 on the consumption-based Hot Country Songs chart by Billboard. They also passed on Maddie & Tae’s “Die From a Broken Heart” as a radio single initially despite strong positive public sentiment (it’s a single now, and doing very well at #18). In these cases, just like with “Six Feet Apart,” there was clearly a groundswell of actual appeal for the song, as opposed to attempting to manufacture it through radio, which is the bane of many singles.

Furthermore, “Six Feet Apart” was already on its way to being a hit. After it was released as a proper standalone single on May 1st, it went #1 on the Billboard Digital Song Sales Chart, and #10 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Even without being released as a proper radio single and having to compete with a current single, it still sits at #36 on the country radio charts this week as is continuing to gain in traction. Radio loves this song, as do fans. A few weeks of proper radio promotion, and it easily would have been Luke’s 9th #1, and a much better option than “Lovin’ On You.”

Now I know what some are going to say. By the time “Six Feet Apart” would make it to the top of the charts, maybe it would no longer be relevant with many of the COVID-19 restrictions lifting. But with the head start it had, it could have crested very quickly, and at the perfect time just as people are able to unite in larger groups and see their loved ones again (hopefully). Also, even though it wasn’t originally part of Luke’s current record What You See Is What You Get, “Six Feet Apart” has been added to the digital version of the album officially as opposed to being treated as a standalone single, so they would still be promoting the album by promoting the song.

And yeah, it also would be really cool to see Brent Cobb and Rob Snyder get some mailbox money for writing a #1 country song. It also would likely make “Six Feet Apart” more eligible for Song of the Year and Single of the Year consideration from awards shows.

Look, “Six Feet Apart” is not the be all country music song, or even the best one released as a response to the Coronavirus. But it’s good, and better than “Lovin’ On You.” Officially sending it to radio could have been an important moment, and it was guaranteed to hit #1. But once again we see how difficult it is for country’s major labels to diverge from the script. “Lovin’ On You” was their next single, and they ain’t budging.

3+