For women at country radio in 2020, the hits were bigger, even if there weren’t a lot more of them. According to Country Insider, using Mediabase ranking of songs played on all U.S. country stations from the beginning of January through late December, seven of the year’s 20 top country records prominently featured female voices compared to just two in 2019.
Led by Maren Morris’ “The Bones” and Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope,” records with women saw an increase in spins of nearly 300% among 2020’s 20 most-played records. Five of those records had more spins than Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell’s “What Happens in a Small Town,” 2019’s most-played country single with a credited female artist. Just the records in the Top 20 — which also included Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s “Nobody but You,” Maddie & Tae’s “Die From a Broken Heart,” Carly Pearce & Lee Brice’s “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” Miranda Lambert’s “Bluebird” and Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine” — garnered more total spins than all the records featuring female artists that appeared in the 2019 Top 100.
Those records accounted for more than 35% of the spins from the 20 top singles, up from nine percent in 2019.
In 2019, female artists were credited on just two records in Mediabase’s year-end Top 20: “What Happens in a Small Town” at No. 10 and Kelsea Ballerini’s “Miss Me More” at No. 20. Those two records combined for slightly fewer than 600,000 spins in 2019, while the seven in this year’s Top 20 totaled more than 2.3 million.
While Morgan Wallen ranked No. 1 with “Chasin’ You,” Barrett and Morris placed at Nos. 2 and 3, followed by “Nobody but You,” all receiving more than 350,000 spins. Factor in crossover airplay for “I Hope” and “The Bones,” and they were by far 2020’s most popular radio tracks coming from the country market.
The 2019 Top 100 contained 14 total tracks with credited female voices, representing 11 different artists. That number grew to 17 tracks and 14 different artists last year, meaning all the gains came at the top. Compare the total spins for all those records between the two years, and the year-over-year increase is 72%.
With comparatively few hits from recent years from which to choose, women had a smaller presence among golds than currents in 2020. Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” and Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” were the year’s most-played golds from female artists, both ranking in the mid-teens of the Top 100. Twelve tracks in 2020’s Top 100 golds featured women, and five of those came from mixed-gender groups or duos.
How has 2021 started? With Lady A’s “Champagne Night” at No. 1 on Mediabase’s published panel chart, followed by Shelton and Stefani’s “Happy Anywhere” at No. 2, Ballerini’s “Hole in the Bottle” at No. 18 and Tenille Arts’ “Somebody Like That” at No. 18.