Country industry sources disagree over whether content-related complaints were actually thwarting the rise of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” but they cannot dispute one fact: the controversy provided the song with immensely valuable exposure.
That exposure helped drive significant weekly sales and airplay gains, and those sales and airplay gains produce a rise on this week’s Billboard Hot 100.
“Girl Crush,” which held the #95 position on last week’s chart, climbs to a new peak of #45 this week. In doing so, it becomes LBT’s fourth Top 50 hit.
The song had previously reached a ceiling at #84.
In addition to reaching a new high point on the Hot 100, “Girl Crush” also enjoys a climb to #1 on the Country Digital Songs chart. Benefiting from its exposure on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and the aforementioned content controversy, the song moved approximately 60,000 paid downloads during the tracking week.
With sales interest still strong and radio enthusiasm continuing to grow, attention will now turn to whether “Girl Crush” can surpass the Hot 100 peak of previous single “Day Drinking.” That song, which served as the lead release from the act’s “Pain Killer,” went as high as #40 on the all-encompassing Hot 100.
Little Big Town’s career peak came via “Pontoon,” which went up to #22 on the chart.
Last week, stories emerged attributing the song’s country airplay struggle to audience complaints. Those alleged complaints, which the articles in turn alleged were prompting programming directors to scale back their support of the song, focused on the manner in which the song’s narrator expresses her jealousy.
Directed at the man for whom she pines, the song depicts its narrator’s “Girl Crush” on that man’s current flame. So desperate for his affection and his touch, the narrator even expresses a desire to taste the woman’s lips — because they surely taste like him.
While the song is rather clear in its exploration of a heterosexual longing, some listeners have latched onto the surface-level homosexuality (the notion of a woman wanting to kiss another woman), and they supposedly made those complaints known to the conservative radio format’s programmers.
Subsequent articles–including pieces from Billboard and Country Aircheck–disputed the initial claims. They rejected the notion of widespread listener complaints and said that feedback to the song has generally been glowing.
Accurate or not, the initial allegations ultimately turned “Girl Crush” into a hot topic, and it now claims its best position yet on the Hot 100.
— In accordance with its rise on the all-genre Hot 100, Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” appears at #3 on the Hot Country Songs chart.