POP! Goes The Country: Can These Tracks Hit Top 40 Radio?

Take a look at the current top 50 on the CHR chart and there’s not an ounce of country music to be found on the format. A few of the artists represented on the chart, like Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson, have both charted at country radio, however, I don’t think they’ll be returning there during their respective eras this time around. Still, the potential remains for the next big country crossover act or single during the summer and fall months of 2015. Given the most recent chart data, here are choices that I think could do very well with the right opportunity:

Carrie Underwood
CARRIE UNDERWOOD – “Little Toy Guns”
Label: 19/Arista Nashville

Since her chart debut in 2005, Underwood has been the golden girl of the airwaves with an outstanding total of 20 top ten hits, including 18 main credits that have all peaked at #1, #2 or #3. That’s incredible. Though “Something In The Water” seemed to be accessible to stations on the AC panel, it never went beyond her core format (except for some airtime at Christian stations.) However, it’s the followup that very much fits the model of a classic Underwood crossover: stellar lyrics and good production.

Florida-Georgia Line
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE – “Sun Daze”
Label: Republic Nashville

Before you start screaming in horror about the thought of these two guys having a third single chart at mainstream radio (after “Cruise” and “This Is How We Roll”), this song is already getting enough flack from the country community, so maybe the pop outlets will jump on this one. Lyrical masterpiece, it’s certainly not, but is it catchy? Sure. It has the potential to serve between transition records (genre, tempo, etc.) well. KFMB/San Diego and WOMX/Orlando lead the way thus far on the Hot AC listing.

Kelsea Ballerini

KELSEA BALLERINI – “Love Me Like You Mean It”
Label: Black River Entertainment

One could say that a Swift co-sign is about to give this 21-year-old newcomer a great chance to go even further then she, or her label, expected to with the track, currently gaining in the top 25 at country radio. The song is already pop-driven in its original form and if sales and airplay numbers keep going in the right direction, AC and Hot AC radio could definitely pick up on this as well. Distribution for Black River is handled by RED; we’ll see if the label’s limited radio traction affects anything in the future.

Mickey Guyton
MICKEY GUYTON – “Better Than You Left Me”
Label: Capitol Nashville

Guyton is another newcomer on the scene, and with a huge impact week earlier this year thanks to an expansive radio tour, the  first time top 40 star is looking to solidly plant her feet in the upper rungs of the chart. She certainly has a powerful message in her debut single that is musically comparable to a more established mainstream name like Colbie Caillat. The singer needs to gain some country support in the next few months, but this is a relatable female record that shows major strength and courage.

Sam Hunt
SAM HUNT – “Take Your Time”
Label: MCA Nashville

If the Shawn Mullins‘s “Lullaby” formula ever sounded like it could be a country crossover hit, it would probably sound like the latest single from 30-year-old Hunt, who never managed to cross with his former #1 at the format, “Leave The Night On”. I still think that it would’ve been easier to push “Leave”, but it appears that “Take” is selling ever more than that song; lately, the track’s been hovering near the top 20 at iTunes. Hot AC station WBMX/Boston recently added the song into medium rotation.

Zac Brown Band
ZAC BROWN BAND – “Homegrown”
Label: Southern Ground/Varvatos/Big Machine

Though they moved after three albums with Atlantic Records into the Republic family last year, the Georgia octet is definitely due for another crossover single, which they had plenty of during their first three eras. Most recently, “Goodbye In Her Eyes” pulled off the trick during the spring of 2013 that garnered some play at Hot AC outlets, though it stopped just short of the top 40. People love a song about taking pride in one’s roots, and this has the feel to transcend several different types of audiences.

Which of these songs do you think will make the next best Country crossover? Let me know! Comment below or click the “Get Social!” tab to find PGTC on social media sites.

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