Zach Bryan Makes Significant Move at the Top of Country Chart

The big story last weekend in country music was how Luke Combs, Cody Jinks, Zach Bryan, Morgan Wade, and Kameron Marlowe all combined to help pack some 63,000 people into the Ohio Stadium, a.k.a. “The Horseshoe” in Columbus on Saturday, July 23rd for the Buckeye Country Superfest.

There was a lot of bluster from the promoters about how it was the biggest crowd for a concert in the stadium’s history. “You set the record for the largest crowd to see a concert at The Shoe!” the fest proclaimed. But this is not exactly true. Genesis in 1992, Pink Floyd in 1994, Billy Joel and Elton John’s Face To Face Tour also in 1994, and George Strait in 1998 with a big host of openers all drew larger crowds according to records.

There was also a viral image of Cody Jinks standing in front of the crowd making the rounds that proclaimed, “Cody Jinks and his band just played a concert to 63,000 people. They did it without the media, a record label or FM country radio support. Outlaw country music is alive and well.” But that’s not entirely true either. Sure, Jinks is no longer on a label. And though places like 95.9 The Ranch in Fort Worth and Saving Country Music were early supporters, Jinks hasn’t received a whole lot of mainstream media or radio support, at least not yet (stay tuned).

But that also wasn’t Cody’s crowd. Jinks still got to play in front of them and it was a cool moment, but that was the crowd of Luke Combs, with some Cody Jinks and Zach Bryan fans helping to fill it out. Luke Combs is the massive superstar in country music at the moment, only running behind Morgan Wallen in regards to popularity. But this week, a seismic shift occurred that could disrupt the pecking order at the very top of country as one of Luke’s openers at the Buckeye Country Superfest made some moves that could have him poised to take over the Combs position at #2, at least according to one metric. And it wasn’t Cody Jinks.

Zach Bryan released a nine-song EP on July 15th called Summertime Blues that debuted at #7 this week on the Billboard Country Albums chart with over 17 million songs streams, and 16,009 total consumption in albums, downloads, and streaming equivalents. Not bad for what Zach was characterizing as a followup EP to his massive 34-song album American Heartbreak released in May. But it is what American Heartbreak did this week that is so significant.

As new releases come down the pike in country, the vast majority tend to spike in sales for the first week or two, and then taper off significantly. Then there is a very small and select few that get stuck at the very top of the charts and end up remaining there for sometimes years, like Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album has done for well over 1 1/2 years now, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller has done since 2015, Purgatory by Tyler Childers from 2017 has done, as have numerous titles from Luke Combs.

American Heartbreak by Zach Bryan has been showing all indications of being one of those “sticky” albums, selling another 24,803 in albums and equivalents again last week. Even more interestingly, the album retook over the #2 spot from the new Luke Combs album Growin’ Up two weeks ago—an album Luke released on June 24th, which was a month after Zach Bryan’s American Heartbreak. Zach edged out Combs again this week by about 1,400 album equivalents to hold the #2 spot that he held for weeks after the release just behind Morgan Wallen. American Heartbreak also debuted at #1 when it was first released, and became the biggest debut of 2022 at that time.

All indications are Zach Bryan’s American Heartbreak will remain at #2 on the country charts for the indefinite future. And this isn’t just an album phenomenon for Zach Bryan. Similarly to American Heartbreak, his song “Something in the Orange” continues to be one of the most popular songs in all of country, once again coming in as the 3rd most streamed song last week, as well as #5 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and it continues to chart on country radio with no promotion, rising from #59 to #58 this week. Zach Bryan also regained his position at #1 on Billboard’s Country Songwriters chart this week.

What do all of these stats mean? There is still much to hash out and determine, but we continue to stare down the very real possibility that Zach Bryan is blossoming into the next major country superstar, right up there and even besting the biggest of the big dogs at the top of the charts. This is no longer about the independent, non radio-supported underdog disrupting the mainstream, this is about outright dominating the mainstream.

Of course, Luke Combs is still far and away the bigger draw in concert. He proved that this last weekend. And just like Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous, Zach Bryan’s American Heartbreak album benefits from being a double release with more tracks to help accrue spins each week. Luke Combs is still edging out Zach Bryan in physical album sales by a slight margin. But more and more it’s looking like it’s only a matter of time before Zach Bryan will be able to pack his own major venues and draw his own massive crowds even bigger than he is currently, and that it might be sooner than later.

2022 is quickly becoming the year of Zach Bryan.

© 2023 Saving Country Music