Country Music’s Record-Breaking Run Proves the Gatekeepers Are Stronger Than Ever

Country is dominating the Billboard charts like never before thanks to some of the most narrow-minded gatekeepers in all of music

country gatekeepers record breaking charts chat luke combs morgan wallen tracy chapman
Illustration by Steven Fiche

    Wren Graves (Features Editor): Yeehaw! Or as the country music-lovers in my Wisconsin family might say, ah geez! Today’s Consequence Chat looks at country’s record-breaking run to the top of the Billboard charts — and what it reveals about the music industry.

    The controversial superstar Morgan Wallen continues to perch atop both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200, which respectively track songs (“Last Night”) and albums (One Day at a Time). In the process, as Billboard reported, it became only the third album to dominate both charts at once for at least 11-weeks straight since Michael Jackson’s Thriller did it twice. Not only did his 2021 use of the N-word not hurt his career, Wallen is more popular than ever before.

    At the same time, as of the July 8th chart, Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” has rocketed up to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, making this the first time in 42 years that the two most-popular songs are both country tunes. “Fast Car” has also taken the No. 1 spot on the Country Airwaves chart, so not only has Combs’ cover surpassed the original in airplay, it has made Chapman the first Black woman with a No. 1 country song writing credit.


    That’s a lot to unpack! Luckily, joining me today are Associate Editor Mary Siroky and Editorial Coordinator Jonah Krueger. Folks, is country music just in a better place than other genres right now? Or is something else going on? Let’s start with Nashville’s own Mary.

    Mary Siroky (Associate Editor): I love so much about country music as a genre, and living in Nashville for over a decade now has allowed me to have an interesting proximity to this specific industry. Obviously, there are so many great country artists creating fantastic work right now, but I don’t think that’s necessarily what’s driving the successes here.

    Wren: Can I be honest? We’re all friends here, right? That Morgan Wallen song sucks.

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