It took them a little time to fully embrace the digital era, but more and more Country fans are responding to their favorite acts on iTunes and other digital retailers to the point where those acts are on equal footing with dance, rock and pop singers and bands in single sales. Thus, record labels are promoting their rosters beyond the Country format, similar to the boom we saw about 30-35 years ago. What’s next in the world of crossover records? How many can hit at one time? Here are some recent Country songs and a few that are still building that I think could make an impact on a wider level by the end of the year:
CARRIE UNDERWOOD – “See You Again”
Former American Idol winner Underwood is still racking up the hits on Country chart, which is surprising to a grand total of no one. “Again” is her 18th top 5 song at the format and was certified Gold not too long ago. It will likely be one of her last releases from this era, seeing that it is the fourth single. Pop radio should’ve latched onto title track and second single “Blown Away” earlier this era, but it would likely do nothing with this song. However, an AC release could result in another top ten single for her. It’s light and the message is relatable, plus it can probably be released there in its original form. There’s no real risk in doing so.
CASSADEE POPE – “Wasting All These Tears”
The season 3 winner of NBC’s The Voice is about to release her debut solo album, Frame By Frame, on October 8. With a CMT reality series in the works to coincide with the release of that album and an opening spot on tour with the group Rascal Flatts, she has a lot of things going right for her. A crossover hit may be the icing on the cake. Her former group Hey Monday never got the chance to break out at pop radio even if they did pick up a little bit of airplay. Pope’s fan base was capable of getting “Tears” as high as #3 on iTunes during its debut week; there’s absolutely a strong connection there from all shades of music fans.
HUNTER HAYES – “I Want Crazy”
PEAK: #1 for one week
Hayes skyrocketed to the top of the Country chart with “Wanted” and “Somebody’s Heartbreak” and now his latest makes it three in a row. Not bad for a guy who turns 22 next month. His latest single at Country radio is a new version of “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” with Jason Mraz, and while Mraz is a pop artist, this song isn’t meant to go to mainstream radio. “Crazy”, however, has a youthful energy and playfulness about it that should connect. He has a chance considering “Wanted” only crossed over six months ago. I would highly encourage label Atlantic to get behind a full crossover for it with a nice little remix.
THE BAND PERRY – “Done.”
PEAK: #1 for one week
The family band topped the Country chart with this single for a week in July, becoming their fourth song to pull off the trick. The first single from their album Pioneer,”Better Dig Two”, was supposed to see an adds date at pop radio in April. However, Republic decided to put all of their chips behind a remix of Florida-Georgia Line‘s “Cruise” with Nelly and ended up a with a huge summer single, which ultimately meant that “Dig” was pulled from the schedule. It was sad, but they can make it all better by releasing “Done.” It’s not a ballad like their signature song, “If I Die Young”, and you can just go out and pump your fists to it.
THOMAS RHETT – “It Goes Like This”
Rhett is the son of Country musician Rhett Atkins, best known for his 1996 #1 “Don’t Get Me Started”. The 23-year-old charted two songs on Country radio last year, but “Goes” is his first song looking to make a run at the top. Despite being #16 on those airwaves thus far, he’s already up to #23 on iTunes. Only two other Country single releases are above him, which is outstanding for someone so new. He’s young and his song can be mixed with some pop-driven guitars against that already understated beat. I see it being a moderate AC/Hot AC hit, similar to the Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson duet, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”.
Which of these five singles do you think would make the next best Country crossover? Is there one not listed on here that you think could school them all? Let me know! Comment below or click the “Get Social!” tab to find PGTC on social media sites.