Sam Hunt’s smash single “Body Like a Backroad” has already made history, and is set to make more. By now logging 20 weeks at #1, “Body Like a Backroad” and Sam Hunt break a 55-year-old record on the 59-year-old Billboard Hot Country Songs chart previously held by Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” as the longest-running #1 song by a solo artist in country music history.
The Hot Country Songs chart combines sales, streams, and radio play, including from non-country stations to determine the most popular song at a given moment in time. The only song that has ever logged more time on the chart is “Cruise” by duo Florida Georgia Line. It logged 24 weeks at #1 from 2012 to 2013—a record which also finds itself in peril of being broken as the momentum for “Body Like a Backroad” remains strong.
This is all foreboding news for true country music fans, and fans of keeping at least some semblance of country influences in radio singles. “Body Like a Backroad” is about the most boundary-pushing, non-country song to ever crest the charts, let alone to set historic records.
And though the song reached its peak at #1 on country radio weeks ago—an event that is usually proceeded with a precipitous fall off in spins in subsequent reporting periods—“Body Like a Backroad” still sits at #4 on the Country Airplay charts tabulated by Nielsen. It has been in the Country Airplay Top Five for 13 consecutive weeks now, which is unheard of in the churning, slushy nature of the current country radio cycle. The song previously held the #1 spot on radio for 3 consecutive weeks.
“Body Like A Backroad” also continues to lead Billboard’s Country Streaming Songs and Country Digital Songs charts, symbolizing that the appetite for the summer smash remains solid, and it continues to receive play on Adult Contemporary radio channels, crossing over to pop to keep its momentum going.
Meanwhile Chris Stapleton’s “Either Way” is already done at radio. The lead single from his sophomore album From A Room, Vol. 1 never reached past #26, and this mark was only due to recurrent airplay preceding the release of the new record. In recent weeks, the single floundered mightily, and this week his label Mercury Nashville pulled support from it and announced “Broken Halos” would be his next single. This is despite From a Room, Vol. 1 becoming the first country record to be certified Gold by the RIAA in 2017.
Also on the charts, we keep waiting to pronounce Miranda Lambert’s latest single “Tin Man” dead and let the fury fly for radio not supporting female artists, but it continues to hold on, just barely. This week “Tin Man” actually gained four spots on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, though this was addition by subtraction. In plays, it lost four on the week, and remains clinging to life at the moment.
But the big story remains the resounding commercial success of “Body Like a Backroad,” and the very likelihood it will inspire years worth of doppelganger songs into the future, launching a new era in country similar to how Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” success ushered in the Bro-Country era.