JN’s Top 10 (Are You Going #1 Or Not edition)

Seems to me we’ve recently had quite a few significant
battles for #1 lately, plus some battles for multiple-week-stays at #1. We’re
also seeing a battle for who will dominate the charts – superstars or a mix
that includes some newcomers. In addition, we’re about to see some major
battles for #1 song of the year. So now’s a good time to borrow the Thompson
Square song title and take a look:

George Strait Denied A
Good Time, Falling Short Of 45
th
Billboard #1 Song
. This battle occupied a lot of hours of chart
prognosticators everywhere. Here’s a quick review: After a surprising slowdown
in the teens, which looked as if it had ruined George’s chances to take his
lead single Here For A Good Time to
the top, the song suddenly regained momentum and appeared to be solidly ahead
of its only serious competitor, Blake Shelton’s God Gave Me You. Until the 10/8 chart, in fact, there was plenty of
reason to believe that Blake was content to follow George to the top – maybe
even to drink a toast to George’s 45
th at the King’s #1 party
sometime this fall.

But that’s not how it played out. Yes, George rode his huge
points lead to an easy #1 week over on the Mediabase/Aircheck chart. But the
race on Billboard, a much closer one, did not result in an appearance at #1 for
HFA Good Time. In a battle taking
place quietly, well behind the #1 appearances of Toby Keith and Keith Urban,
first Blake overtook George; then, he barely held on to the lead in the face of
a big rally; and in the end, God
outlasted Good by only 100,000
impressions for the #1 slot on 10/29. (That’s only a handful of spins. George
seemed to be gaining all week, but a big last-day push won the top spot for
Blake and focused George’s fans on the elusiveness of the landmark 50
th
#1 hit.)

Blake’s still on top, about to mark his third week at #1.
And George is not pausing to lick his wounds – that’s not like him anyway. His
new release is already on the chart.

2. Where Will The
Year’s Craziest Chart Run End?
I
hadn’t thought until a couple of months ago that the topics “#1 Country Song”
and “Eli Young Band” would ever intersect. A solid Texas band that had a few
songs land on the Billboard country chart, Eli Young Band had never had a BB
top 10 (although Always The Love Songs
got there on Mediabase) until Crazy Girl
came along. But in its 30
th chart week, Crazy Girl made it into the top 10 and it has continued to climb
despite its longevity. (See below for a reason this is a suitable
“slow-climber.”) Now it’s all the way up to #2, but still 3.5 million
impressions behind that same old Strait-denying Blake Shelton hit God Gave Me
You. Can EYB manage to do what the veteran of 30 years’ chart success couldn’t?

3. Three Things You Should Know About Crazy Girl and Eli Young Band. Thing
one: they’re really good. If you’ve only heard their radio material, and you’d
like to hear something else, listen to Even
If It Breaks Your Heart
and see what you think.

Thing two: 92% of country music fans think there must be
someone named Eli Young in this band. No, sorry, there is a Zac Brown but
there’s no Eli Young. There’s a Mike Eli and a James Young – coincidence? Maybe
not. My goal is that only 91% of country music fans will think there’s an Eli
Young by year’s end.

Thing three: it would be a nice coincidence if Crazy Girl lasts 40+ weeks on the chart:
one of its co-writers is Lee Brice. And Lee has the distinction of singing the
longest-running song ever to appear on the Billboard country songs chart: Love Like Crazy peaked at #3 in 2010 and
charted for 56 weeks. Not all of his songs have “crazy” in the title; but from
now on, they probably all will. (Crazy
Girl
’s other writer was Liz Rose, who wrote Songs About Rain for Gary Allan and who has co-written extensively
with Taylor Swift.)

4. Have Just A Few Artists Dominated The
Country Charts This Year?
If you look at it one way, the answer’s got to be
“yes.” Blake Shelton’s had 3 #1 hits in 2010, and Billboard recently listed (in
their online weekly Country Update) these artists who’ve had 2 #1 hits this
year: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, and Chris
Young. All but Young are consensus radio superstars, and Young’s not far away
from getting there himself. (If you’re wide awake, a bonus quiz: Billboard made
a mistake; they left out another artist who has had 2 #1’s this year as well.
Who is this mystery performer, who is the only artist with a lifetime total of
exactly 13 Billboard #1 country hits?)

Considering that Aldean and Zac Brown Band might well land
their third #1’s of the year by the end of December, and that Paisley and
Chesney have rapidly-climbing songs that will run out of calendar just before
they can reach the top for the third time, the big acts are faring very well at
country radio right now.

5. Or Have Newcomers
More Than Held Their Own In 2011
? This side of the argument will get some
support below, when I write about various lists of year-end #1 hits. But even
before I go there, let’s see how the newcomers have done: Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not was a #1 hit, Thompson Square’s first.
Jake Owen’s Barefoot Blue Jean Night
was one of the year’s biggest songs, and his first #1. Justin Moore had only
his second #1 this year. The Band Perry just missed their second, after topping
the chart for the first time last December. Jerrod Niemann had his second top 5
hit.

And if you look at the 11/5 chart, the most recent one, you
see Eli Young Band and Brantley Gilbert, strong candidates for first-ever #1’s,
in the top 10. And Eric Church, David Nail, and Ronnie Dunn have songs in the
top 20. OK, I can’t count Ronnie; he’s never had a solo #1 before, but I
realize that he’s not entirely a newcomer to country radio success. Still,
that’s an impressive listing of artists who are contending for their first #1
song, all on the chart at the same time.

6. After Eli Young
Band, Who Will Claim Or Fly To #1?
Of course I can’t be 100%
sure EYB will get their first #1, but I’m leaning strongly in that direction.
After that the two obvious contenders are Miranda Lambert’s Baggage Claim and Taylor Swift’s Sparks Fly. Lately Swift’s songs have
made it to #1 on Mediabase while peaking at #2 or even #3 on Billboard – could
this song be different? Maybe her label wants one #1 on Billboard per album, at
a minimum. And the recent successes of Lambert, most notably when she
constructed the 4-week #1 The House That
Built Me
, make it clear she must be considered a contender for #1 anytime
she releases a single.

These two songs have been passing and re-passing each other,
most recently on the 11/5 chart, which saw Lambert make a rare 5-position jump
within the top 10 as she passed Swift with a 9-4 burst. On the other hand Swift
has gained a lot of audience this week and could well forge back in front. Both
songs are well placed to inherit #1 from Crazy
Girl
, but who will get there first? And will the other sustain its airplay
long enough to reach #1 as well? I do think Swift will pass Lambert on the
11/12 chart; that’s as far ahead as my crystal ball will go.

[Items 7 through 10 have to do with year-end country hit
lists, and will be published here during the week of 10/31. Those comments will
be at least as frightening as anything else you encounter this Hallowe’en, so
come back soon.]

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One Response to JN’s Top 10 (Are You Going #1 Or Not edition)

  1. numberonecctfan says:

    First of all, this is great seeing a new blog from you in four months. Second, did you mean Blake Shelton had two #1s in 2010 or three #1s in 2011? Just asking. You better be more productive with these blogs. They are very informative and will increase traffic and interest in this website!

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