Hot Country Songs

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With the issue of Billboard dated August 4, 2018, "Meant to Be" by Bebe Rexha (pictured) and Florida Georgia Line broke the record for the longest run at number one on the Hot Country Songs chart, having been in the top spot for 35 weeks.[1] The song's run ultimately extended to 50 weeks at the top.

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 for December 15, 2018, is "Speechless" by Dan + Shay.


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".[2]

For approximately ten years, from 1948 to 1958, Billboard used three charts to measure the popularity of a given song.[2] 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".[2] 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.[3]

On January 20, 1990, the Hot Country Singles chart was put 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.[4] Four weeks later, on February 17, the chart was retitled "Hot Country Singles & Tracks". Beginning with the January 13, 2001 issue, the chart was cut 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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] 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),[8] 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).[9]

Hot Country Songs chart achievements[edit]

Songs with most weeks at number one[edit]

These are the songs with 16 or more weeks at number one. Fifteen songs accomplished this feat between 1946 and 1964, but then nearly 50 years passed before another song joined the list in 2012: "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line, which spent more weeks at number one than any other song had previously. As of October 2018, an additional four songs have joined the list, two of which have further broken the record set by "Cruise" by at least 10 weeks.

Weeks Song Artist Year(s) Source
50 "Meant to Be" Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line 2017–18 [9]
34 "Body Like a Back Road" Sam Hunt 2017 [10]
24 "Cruise" Florida Georgia Line 2012–13 [10]
21 "I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)"dagger Eddy Arnold 1947–48 [11]
"I'm Moving On"double-dagger Hank Snow 1950 [11]
"In the Jailhouse Now"dagger Webb Pierce 1955 [11]
20 "I Don't Hurt Anymore"daggerdouble-dagger Hank Snow 1954 [12]
"Crazy Arms"Section-sign Ray Price 1956 [13]
19 "Walk On By" Leroy Van Dyke 1961–62 [11]
"Bouquet Of Roses"double-dagger Eddy Arnold 1947–48 [11]
18 "H.O.L.Y." Florida Georgia Line 2016 [10]
17 "Die a Happy Man" Thomas Rhett 2015-16 [14]
"Heartbreak Hotel"double-dagger Elvis Presley 1956 [11]
"Slowly"daggerdouble-dagger Webb Pierce 1954 [11]
"Slippin' Around"double-dagger Jimmy Wakely and Margaret Whiting 1949–50 [11]
16 "Love's Gonna Live Here" Buck Owens 1963–64 [10]
"Lovesick Blues"double-dagger Hank Williams 1949–50 [11]
"Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)"dagger Tex Williams 1947–48 [11]
"New Spanish Two Step"dagger Bob Wills 1946–47 [11]
"Guitar Polka"dagger Al Dexter 1946–47 [11]

Note: Songs marked dagger achieved their runs on the Most Played in Juke Boxes chart (published 1944-58). Songs marked double-dagger achieved their runs on the Best Sellers on Stores chart (published 1948-58). Songs marked Section-sign 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. The three charts were merged to create Hot C&W Sides (now Hot Country Songs) in 1958.

Artists with most cumulative weeks at number one[edit]

As of the issue of Billboard dated November 17, 2018

Weeks at
number one
Artist Source
Florida Georgia Line [15]
George Strait [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Asker, Jim (July 30, 2018). "'Meant To Be' Breaks Record For Longest Rule In Hot Country Songs Chart's History". Billboard. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Campbell, Michael (1 January 2012). Popular Music in America:The Beat Goes On. Chapter 30 Honky Tonk: Cengage Learning. p. 125.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2005). Joel Whitburn's Top Country Songs: 1944-2005. Record Research. p. ix. ISBN 9780898201659.
  4. ^ "R&B Enjoying Rare Dominance Over Rap". Billboard: 68. 24 April 2004. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  5. ^ Jessen, Wade (January 13, 2001). "Country Corner" (PDF). Billboard.
  6. ^ "Country returns to audience-based chart". 20 November 2004: 88.
  7. ^ Jessen, Wade (6 December 2012). "Taylor Swift Makes Country Songs History". Billboard Magazine. Billboard Musix. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  8. ^ Jessen, Wade (August 1, 2013). "Florida Georgia Line's 'Cruise' Sets Record For Longest No. 1 Run On Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Billboard Country Update: November 12, 2018" (PDF). Billboard. November 12, 2018. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Asker, Jim (April 3, 2018). "Florida Georgia Line Now Has 3 of the 5 Longest-Leading Hot Country Songs No. 1s, Thanks to 'Meant to Be'". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jessen, Wade (July 24, 2013). "Florida Georgia Line's 'Cruise' Ties For Longest No. 1 Run On Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Watson-Guptill. p. 515. ISBN 0823076326.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Watson-Guptill. p. 516. ISBN 0823076326.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Florida Georgia Line Marks One Hundred Total Weeks Atop Hot Country Songs With 'Meant To Be'". Billboard. October 2, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  16. ^ "Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line's 'Meant to Be' Breaks New Record". Billboard. July 22, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Whitburn, Joel. Top Country Songs 1944-2005 - 6th Edition. 2006.

External links[edit]