Country music’s unprecedented domination of the Billboard charts continues this week as Zach Bryan and Kacey Musgraves’ hit “I Remember Everything” debuts atop the chart, the first No. 1 hit for both artists, while four of the top six songs are by country artists.
“I Remember Everything” and Luke Combs’ “Fast Car,” both country songs, occupy the top two spots on this week’s Billboard Hot 100, while country hits “Last Night” by Morgan Wallen and “Rich Men North of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony rank at No. 4 and No. 6.
“I Remember Everything” is the fourth country song in a row to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, the first time this has ever happened, according to Billboard.
Working-class ode “Rich Men North of Richmond” previously reigned at No. 1 for two weeks, largely propelled by a viral social media campaign led by right-wing social media users and pundits, and Wallen’s “Last Night” and Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” another politically controversial song, topped the Hot 100 earlier this summer.
Bryan’s self-titled album also debuted at No. 1 on this week’s Billboard 200 albums chart, marking his first No. 1 album.
This week, 20 of the top 40 songs on the Hot 100 are country songs, the most in the chart’s history—most are by Bryan, who debuted all 16 songs from his new album within the top 50 of the chart.
These songs are leading an unprecedented demand for country music: Billboard reported consumption of country music was up 20.3% year-over-year in the first half of 2023.
“Last Night” claimed the top spot on Billboard’s “Songs of the Summer” chart, the first time a country song topped the seasonal chart since 1974, and “Fast Car” ranks No. 2—the first time two country songs ever topped the chart.
33.7 million. That’s how many streams “I Remember Everything” garnered in its first week, earning it the top spot on Billboard’s streaming songs chart.
Country artists have been breaking chart records on a weekly basis this summer. Twice this summer, country songs occupied the top three spots on the Hot 100, which had never happened before. Anthony also broke a series of records with his hit, “Rich Men North of Richmond.” A newcomer to the charts, Anthony became the first artist to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 without having any prior chart history, and he is one of few artists to top the chart without being signed to a record label. Wallen’s hit “Last Night” led the Hot 100 for 16 nonconsecutive weeks, breaking the record for the most weeks at No. 1 by a solo artist, and it’s tied for the second-longest reign on the Hot 100, just behind Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road,” which led the chart for 19 weeks in 2019.
Some of this summer’s country chart toppers were boosted by viral controversies. Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” became the subject of fierce political debate as some alleged the song—which threatens retaliation against behaviors like assaulting police officers and burning flags—glorifies gun violence. The song’s video also stirred controversy and was pulled from Country Music Television’s rotation because of its setting at the Maury County Courthouse building in Columbia, Tennessee, which was the site of race riots in 1946 and a lynching in 1927. Rep. Justin Jones (D-Tenn.) called “Try That in a Small Town” a “heinous song calling for racist violence,” while former President Donald Trump defended Aldean as “a fantastic guy who just came out with a great new song.” Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” also sparked political division: some on the left criticized the song’s lyrics calling out “obese” people “milking welfare,” while right-wing pundits and social media users championed its anti-Washington elite message. Anthony, however, maintains he is not affiliated with either party and criticized the song’s inclusion at the Republican presidential debate, stating the song was also about the candidates on the stage.