"Tequila" & "High Horse" debut at Nos. 38 & 39, respectively, on the Adult Pop Songs chart.
Two acts with country pedigrees debut on Billboard's Adult Pop Songs radio airplay chart (dated Aug. 11): Dan + Shay's "Tequila," at No. 38, and Kacey Musgraves' "High Horse," at No. 39.
The former song topped the Country Airplay chart for two weeks in July, while the latter is from Musgraves' LP Golden Hour, which opened at No. 1 on Top Country Albums in April.
Do the bows mark a trend toward more country at pop radio? Adult pop programmers say that such hits are an element playlists, adding spice among songs by core adult pop acts. Still, a song's overall quality determines its potential playlist placement.
"We play what we thinks fits the station and the target demo," says Patti Marshall, program director WKRQ Cincinnati, which spun "Horse" 32 times in the week ending Aug. 5, according to Nielsen Music.
To Marshall's point, neither the two debuts sound traditionally country. "Tequila" leans into Dan + Shay's poppier tendencies and "Horse" is driven by dance-friendly production.
"'High Horse' is great blend country and pop," muses WTMX Chicago music director Nikki Chuminatto, who cites two other such smashes in the past two years: Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line's "Meant to Be," atop Hot Country Songs for a record-extending 36th week after topping Adult Pop Songs for two weeks, and Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road," which ruled Hot Country Songs for 34 weeks and hit No. 6 on Adult Pop Songs in 2017.
WTMX played "Horse" 34 times and "Meant" 28 times in the latest tracking week. "Although adult pop stations may not play a ton country," Chuminatto says, "'Meant to Be' sounds great right now, and strong songs like 'Body Like a Back Road' tend to stick around."
Additionally, Musgraves opened over 20 North American dates on Harry Styles' Live on Tour trek in June and July. "I definitely don't think the country fan base hurts at all," Chuminatto says, "and by doing things like opening for Harry Styles, she's getting in front an entirely new audience."
"These two records sound great," says WMYX Milwaukee assistant pd/md Molly Cruz, who notes that country acts have a level familiarity with the station's listeners thanks to country radio stations in the market. WMYX played "Tequila" and "Horse" 13 and 19 times, respectively, in the week ending Aug. 5.
"Tequila' is selling, streaming and Shazam-ing, so it was a no-brainer to add," Cruz says. "The metrics and research aren't there yet for 'High Horse,' but I love the song and think it will cut through. Her whole album is amazing, too. Country crossovers are our secret sauce."