After a Decade, Country Music Finally Reigns on Year-End Streaming Charts

after-a-decade,-country-music-finally-reigns-on-year-end-streaming charts

It’s taken a decade, but for the first time, a country artist is No. 1 on Billboard’s year-end Streaming Songs Artists chart.

… and a country song is No. 1 on the year-end Streaming Songs chart.

… and the top 10s of both rankings are chock full of both country artists and songs.

Point is, 2023 was a banner year for country on the streaming charts. And that’s after 2022’s year-end Streaming Songs Artists tally featured a country artist in the top 10 for the very first time in Morgan Wallen.

Oh, right, the No. 1 artist and song of 2023. It’s Wallen.

Explore All of Billboard’s 2023 Year-End Charts

After breaking through as the first act releasing music primarily in the country genre to appear in the Streaming Songs Artists survey’s top 10 at No. 4 in 2022, Wallen leads it in 2023, while his “Last Night” crowns the songs-based list, also marking the first time a country tune ranks atop that chart; both year-end recaps began in 2013, the same year Streaming Songs became a weekly Billboard chart.

“Last Night” was the only song of Wallen’s to reach No. 1 on the weekly Streaming Songs list. But it was far and away the year’s biggest song there, reigning for 19 weeks beginning in March. Barring a return to No. 1, the song concludes its run one week short of the record for most frames atop Streaming Songs, held by Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

It was so comparatively massive, in fact, that the next-closest songs released in 2023 in terms of overall weeks at No. 1 were Zach Bryan’s “I Remember Everything” featuring Kacey Musgraves, and Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers.” Currently, both boast four weeks apiece atop the survey.

Streaming was, as a result, a critical component of “Last Night” and its sizable run at No. 1 on the weekly multimetric Billboard Hot 100, reigning for 16 weeks.

But though “Last Night” was Wallen’s only No. 1 of the year, the weekly Streaming Songs tally was dotted with the 30-year-old’s tracks in 2023, both via his monster 2023 LP One Thing at a Time and from previous releases. In all, Wallen appears six times on the 75-song-deep year-end Streaming Songs ranking, with “Last Night” followed by “You Proof” at No. 6.

Country’s hold on Streaming Songs wasn’t limited to Wallen, either. Four of the top 10 on Streaming Songs Artists in 2023 largely released music in the country genre, while a fifth, Taylor Swift, appeared on the weekly survey with country songs a few times via her Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) re-recording. Compare that number to 2022, when six country acts made the entire 25-position Streaming Songs Artists year-end list, Wallen the only one of the group in the top 10.

Joining Wallen in the top 10 are three acts who were part of that group of six last year. Zach Bryan ranks at No. 5, followed by Luke Combs at No. 6 and Bailey Zimmerman rounding out the club at No. 9.

Bryan’s “Something in the Orange,” originally released in 2022 as part of the album American Heartbreak, soared to new heights in 2023 (it was No. 12 on the year-end 2022 Streaming Songs tally), rising to No. 3 the year-end survey. Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” also reaches the top 10 at No. 7, giving country four of the top 10.

Give a shoutout to other genres, too. R&B was well presented by SZA, who ranks at No. 2 on the year-end artists ranking while her “Kill Bill” is the No. 2 song. It became her first No. 1 on the weekly chart (four weeks beginning in December 2022) and helps SZA to her best-ever ranks on either year-end list. Her previous best on Streaming Songs as a lead artist had been “Good Days” in 2021 (No. 29), the same year she appeared at a then-career-best No. 22 on the artists rundown.

And while Bad Bunny didn’t quite retain the dominance he enjoyed in 2022 as the No. 1 on Streaming Songs Artists (chalk that up in part to his latest album, Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana, only having come out in October, eligible for the 2024 year-end rankings), not only did he still appear at a respectable No. 15 – Latin music was also represented in the top 10 thanks to Peso Pluma, whose meteoric rise caps off with a No. 7 placement. Concurrently, his collaboration with Eslabon Armado, “Ella Baila Sola,” ranks at No. 9 on the year-end Streaming Songs ranking.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts from Nov. 19, 2022, through Oct. 21, 2023. Rankings for Luminate-based recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology detail, and the November-October time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Luminate.

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