Advertisement

Beyoncé's 'Texas Hold 'Em' debuts on country charts, and it's a big deal

Beyoncé's new country single "Texas Hold 'Em" debuted at No. 50 on Billboard's country airplay chart and No. 54 on Mediabase, a rare feat for Black female country artists.

In the eight decades Billboard has had country radio charts, only seven Black female acts have achieved placement on those charts. Linda Martell's 1969 track "Color Him Father" still holds the record for the highest placement by a Black female country artist on the charts — No. 22.

Billboard and Mediabase's country airplay charts measure spins in major versus minor markets and rank records by audience impressions. Country radio stations pay close attention to these numbers to determine how well a song is performing and if they should play it.

Beyoncé's new country single "Texas Hold 'Em" debuted at No. 50 on Billboard's country airplay chart. Here's why it matters.
Beyoncé's new country single "Texas Hold 'Em" debuted at No. 50 on Billboard's country airplay chart. Here's why it matters.

"Texas Hold 'Em" is the first song by a solo Black female artist to chart since Micky Guyton's 2016 hit "Heartbreak Song," according to U.S. Radio Updater. Guyton took roughly three months to chart on country radio. Beyoncé achieved it in a week.

Rissi Palmer, a Black female country performer and host of Apple Music Radio's Color Me Country program, released a trio of country radio singles between 2007 and 2008, none of which charted higher than No. 47.

"If anything, the lesson this week is all that stuff that they've told us about (country) radio, that we have to do, we don't have to do it," she said. "They said the quiet part out loud. You don't have to do a radio tour, you don't have to service a song, because they can get it off the internet."

Songs by artists not typically played on country radio often chart in the middle of the pack in their early rise but then tend to stay there. Americana artist Tyler Childers' ballad "In Your Love" started in a similar position to Beyoncé and after five months has only reached No. 43.

Those numbers reflect being heard sparingly, initially on medium-market stations, while slowly being added into low rotation on a broader smattering of major-market country radio stations.

Beyoncé's situation is both similar to and wholly different from Childers'.

As an industry, country music can be slow to adapt to the success of women across the board.

Lainey Wilson's 2020 song "Things A Man Oughta Know" took 64 weeks from its release date to hit the top of Billboard's radio charts.

However, three years later, Wilson's single "Watermelon Moonshine" took only 16 weeks to reach country radio's pinnacle.

"Texas Hold 'Em" could eclipse this standard and make history.

Will Beyoncé's 'Texas Hold 'Em' top country charts? These songs set precedent

In the past decade, Mickey Guyton — a four-time Grammy-nominated Black female country performer — has charted three songs on Billboard's country airplay charts.

"Better Than You Left Me" from 2015 spent seven months on the charts and peaked at No. 34. She closed that year with holiday song "Do You Want To Build A Snowman," which charted at No. 57. Her 2016 single "Heartbreak Song" peaked at No. 45 after three months.

Guyton's Grammy-nominated track "Black Like Me" from 2020 was never sent to country radio. Instead, the song reached a top 30 position on the Billboard adult contemporary chart.

Mickey Guyton performs during the All for the Hall concert benefitting the Country Music Hall of Fame held at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.
Mickey Guyton performs during the All for the Hall concert benefitting the Country Music Hall of Fame held at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

Five decades before Guyton, Linda Martell also landed three songs on Billboard's country charts from 1969 to 1970. In addition to "Color Him Father," Martell's take on "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" hit No. 33 and her "Bad Case of the Blues" reached No. 57.

Beyoncé's 2016 country song "Daddy Lessons" debuted and peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 41, and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 26. After the release of "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages," "Daddy Lessons" listens increased 370% on music streaming services. At the time of its release, it was not marketed to country radio.

Beyoncé and the future of country music

Last week, Variety reported that chief content officer at Cumulus Media Brian Philips was so "bullish" on adding "Texas Hold 'Em" to his stations' rotation that, before the song was serviced, he found a Waveform Audio File (WAV) of the song online. As the country format rises in prominence, he thinks it will evolve to become more experimental and welcoming.

Rissi Palmer is also looking forward to an evolution.

"Unlike women who came before me, in the future, Black female artists charting (in high positions) on country radio can become commonplace," she said. "It won't be weird — it'll be just as normal as anyone else."

'Texas Hold 'Em': Will the country music establishment embrace Beyoncé? Here's how to tell

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Beyoncé's 'Texas Hold 'Em' debuts on country charts, a rare feat