Barring a highly unlikely twist of fate, the year’s hottest country song will not reach #1 on either the Mediabase or Billboard country radio airplay chart.
Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” which tops the all-encompassing (streams, sales and airplay) Hot Country Songs chart for a thirteenth straight week, is currently in a state of brisk decline at country radio.
Per Mediabase, it has thus far received 2,650 plays during the ongoing July 19-25 tracking week. At this point last week, it had garnered 3,308.
It was country radio’s #2 song at this point last week. It is currently #7–and potentially falling–on the building chart.
The spin loss indicates the beginning of the end for “Girl Crush.” As a result, it will likely settle for last week’s #2 peak on the Mediabase country radio singles chart and #3 peak on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.
While big songs falling short of #1 at radio is far from uncharted territory — see Carrie Underwood’s hit “Something in the Water” for a recent example — the event is noticeable given the extent to which “Girl Crush” has resonated from a sales, streaming and general buzz standpoint.
When the July 10-16 tracking week ended, the song’s cumulative US sales total was 1,481,697 (on a real-time basis, it has surely crossed 1.5 million).
Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” presently boasts a greater US sales total (1.539 million), but “Girl Crush” has sold more within the calendar year. “Take Your Time” spent eleven weeks atop Hot Country; “Girl Crush” is currently enjoying its thirteenth week at #1.
Resistance from radio, intriguingly, is what helped “Girl Crush” become such a phenomenon.
While it was always a disproportionately strong seller, it did not truly explode until reports came out alleging that audience objection to the content was preventing programmers from embracing the song. That specific claim was eventually debunked, but the reality is that programmers were not, for whatever reason, spinning the song as aggressively as its sales and buzz seemingly warranted.
Once the controversy put “Girl Crush” on the radar, its profile further grew, and radio finally got behind the track.