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Hot Country Songs



Hot Country Songs is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.

This 50-position chart lists the most popular country music songs, calculated weekly by collecting airplay data from Nielsen BDS along with digital sales and streaming.

The current number-one song, as of the chart dated May 23, 2020, is "The Bones" by Maren Morris.

History

Billboard began compiling the popularity of country songs with its January 8, 1944, issue. Only the genre's most popular jukebox selections were tabulated, with the chart titled "Most Played Juke Box Folk Records".

For approximately ten years, from 1948 to 1958, Billboard used three charts to measure the popularity of a given song. In addition to the jukebox chart, these charts included:
  • The "best sellers" chart – started May 15, 1948, as "Best Selling Retail Folk Records".
  • A "jockeys" chart – started December 10, 1949, as "Country & Western Records Most Played By Folk Disk Jockeys".

    The juke box chart was discontinued in June 1957. Starting with the October 20, 1958, issue, Billboard began combining sales and radio airplay in figuring a song's overall popularity, counting them in one single chart called "Hot C&W Sides". The chart was published under the title Hot C&W Sides through the October 27, 1962, issue and "Hot Country Singles" thereafter, a title it would retain until 1990.

    On January 20, 1990, the Hot Country Singles chart was reduced from 100 to 75 positions and began to be compiled entirely from information provided by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, a system which electronically monitors radio airplay of songs. Four weeks later, on February 17, the chart was retitled "Hot Country Singles & Tracks". Beginning with the January 13, 2001, issue, the chart was reduced from 75 to 60 positions, and all songs on the chart at the time had their tally of weeks spent on the chart adjusted to count only weeks spent at No. 60 or higher. Effective April 30, 2005, the chart was renamed "Hot Country Songs".

    Starting in 1990, the rankings were determined by Arbitron-tallied listener audience for each spin that a song received. The methodology was changed for the first chart published in 1992 to tally the amount of spins a song received, but in January 2005, the methodology reverted to the audience format. This change was brought on because of "label-sponsored spin programs" that had manipulated the chart several times in 2004.

    The Hot Country Songs chart methodology was changed starting with the October 20, 2012, issue to match the Billboard Hot 100: digital downloads and streaming data are combined with airplay from all radio formats to determine position. A new chart, the Country Airplay chart, was created using airplay exclusively from country radio stations. Following the change, songs that were receiving airplay on top-40 pop were given a major advantage over songs popular only on country radio, and as an unintended consequence, such songs began having record-long runs at the top of the chart. The first song to benefit from this change was Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", which had been declining in popularity but shot up to number one on the chart the first week the change took effect and stayed there until it set an all-time record for the most weeks at No. 1 by a solo female. This was followed almost immediately by Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise", which had the longest stay at number one of any song in the country chart's history (24 weeks), until it was surpassed by Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" in 2017 (34 weeks). The record was subsequently broken by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line's "Meant to Be" in 2018 (50 weeks).

    Billboard has not explicitly defined how it determines which songs qualify for the country chart and which ones do not, only that "a few factors are determined (...) first and foremost is musical composition" and that a song must "embrace enough elements of today’s country music" to qualify. (The 1990–2012 chart did not have such ambiguity, being objectively measured by airplay from specifically identified country stations alone.) A later statement from Billboard elaborated on what those "few factors" entailed: "most notably the song’s musical composition, but also how the song is marketed and promoted, the musical history of the artist, airplay the song receives and how the song is platformed on streaming services". The 2019 country rap record "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X was a subject of controversy over this ambiguous standard after it initially appeared on the country chart, where it debuted and peaked at number 19, before Billboard took the song off subsequent charts, claiming it had made a mistake in including it. The song gained popularity through viral memes rather than radio, as only one country station, Radio Disney Country, had played it at the time of the charting.

    Hot Country Songs chart achievements

    Songs with most weeks at number one

    These are the songs with 16 or more weeks at number one. Fifteen songs accomplished this feat between 1946 and 1964, but none did so again until after the 2012 reformulation; between "Almost Persuaded's" nine-week run in 1966 and the chart's reformulation in 2012, no song spent more than eight weeks atop the chart. Prolonged runs became commonplace again in 2012 ; five songs from this period have topped the chart for at least 16 weeks, and the top three longest chart runs have all been since 2012.Note: Songs marked achieved their runs on the Most Played in Juke Boxes chart (published 1944-58). Songs marked achieved their runs on the Best Sellers on Stores chart (published 1948-58). Songs marked achieved their runs on the Most Played by Jockeys chart (published 1949-58). All songs listed for the period when multiple charts were in operation also had shorter runs at number one on the other charts not indicated. In 1958 the three charts were merged to create Hot C&W Sides (now Hot Country Songs).

    Artists with most cumulative weeks at number one

    With at least 50+ weeks at # 1. As of the issue of Billboard dated December 25, 2019