The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Country surged to tie pop for the most top 10s among all genres in Q1 2023.



Country songs have been few and far between in the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 over the past decade. From 2013 to 2022, only 12 top 10 songs represented the genre.

Leading the way for the genre, Morgan Wallen made history as the first country act to score five Hot 100 top 10s in a single week, all from his new album One Thing at a Time (March 18), a feat previously achieved by only five other artists (Taylor Swift, Drake, 21 Savage, Juice WRLD and The Beatles). His “Last Night” first hit the top 10 on the chart dated Feb. 3 and soared to No. 1 a month later.

Joining Wallen, Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange” hit No. 10 on the Hot 100 in January.  

Together, the acts brought country’s prominence to just over a quarter of all Hot 100 top 10s in Q1 2023 (26%) – tying pop for first place among all genres in that span. In the last decade, country had never reached a double-digit share, previously peaking at 9% in Q4 2020, then powered by hits from Gabby Barrett (“I Hope”) and Luke Combs (“Forever After All”).

How does country fit in with its Hot 100 Top 10 contemporaries?

While country songs possess certain characteristics that are unique to the genre, such as lap steel guitars, when you look under the hood, they actually have a lot in common with what’s trending in today’s Hot 100 top 10 overall.

For starters, take sub-genres and influences. In the first quarter of 2023, pop, hip hop and R&B/soul were the top three influences featured across the Top 10 followed close behind by rock. All six country songs featured a pop influence, 83% a rock influence and half a hip hop influence. R&B/soul, however, was a no-show, and generally has been in country over the past decade save for the Bebe Rexha/Florida Georgia Line collaboration Meant To Be (2018) and Sam Hunt’s Body Like A Back Road (2017).

Another key commonality between Q1’s country hits and the overall Hot 100 Top 10 is lyrical themes. The love/relationships theme rose to its highest quarterly level of prominence since way back in 2015 at 83% of songs, a commonality shared with every Q1 country hit.

And the similarities don’t stop there...

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