If you take a look around the music industry right now, you might realize that one specific genre is boldly standing above the rest.
Whether you look at the top music charts, or even highest grossing tours (excluding Taylor Swift, since she’s a bit of an outlier), country music is sitting atop basically every measurement of musical success. It’s not like the genre of country just popped up out of nowhere, so what is it that has the “ship of country music” moving forward with gale force winds behind its sails?
A strong summer of country music releases could be the answer, though early year releases like Morgan Wallen’sOne Thing at a Time and Luke Combs’Gettin’ Old back in March probably helped get things started on the right track. You probably also have to give some credit to rapper-turned-country-singer Jelly Roll for his innovative Whitsitt Chapel project that released in June.
Then this past weekend, a number of highly anticipated country music releases saw Turnpike Troubadours release their first album in six years, and Zach Bryan light up the country music charts with his self-titled project, which has kept country music firmly in the forefront of the music industry. And don’t even get me started on the Oliver Anthony phenomenon…
Many critics would be quick to say that the dominant run of country music is just a “summer movement,” where songs about drinking beer and driving with the windows down only make sense to blare through the speakers of your car. However, there seems to be a feeling that the country music genre has somewhat “caught up” to the streaming model of music, and could it really just be that country music appeals to the most people?
Songs like Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which longs for a time when government officials looked out for the little guy (if they ever did), have connected with the masses and rocketed the Virginia singer-songwriter to stardom seemingly overnight. The massive surge of country music (at least the good kind) could simply be a movement towards music that is authentic.
We’ve seen this year that the power rests in the hands of the consumer, and one could assume that people are fed up with shallow, let’s-make-some-money songs, and when a tune with a ton of heart comes along, they back it like no other. As country songs have continued to top the Hot 100 list (for two weeks in a row), the pattern has caught the attention of Billboard’s Katie Atkinson, who spoke on the recent run of country music success:
“With the genre finally catching up in streaming, I think country’s command of the Hot 100 is just getting started. We’ve seen in the past couple of months how right-wing virality can boost a song, but “Last Night” and “Fast Car” are just traditional, sustained hit songs with undeniable reach.”
And Stephen Daw of Billboard has also noticed the rice of the genre, giving this explanation when pondering the question of country’s recent rally:
“Country music is taking streaming more seriously than it ever has, it has a coterie of young stars that are connecting with a multi-generational audience, and it’s gained enough attention and momentum over 2023 to make this inarguably the biggest year in recent memory for country music.”
Billboard staffers believe that the massive surge of country music in the US will not go away any time soon.
“With the genre finally catching up in streaming, I think country’s command of the Hot 100 is just getting started.”
Clearly the foundation of country music has been set so far this year, and with Zach Bryan’s new album just really getting started on the Hot 100, we may be witnessing a year-long country sweep of the Billboard charts.
As the old saying goes, one time is a accident, two times is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern.
And let me tell you, country music confidently and consistently topping the charts, and holding strong, is no accident. It might be safe to call it a dynasty…