Why Do Men Have More Multi-Week #1 Hits Than Women?

“It’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world,” goes the classic James Brown ballad. “But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” And sure enough, if you take look at this week’s Top 20 on Billboard Country Airplay, you’ll see the usual male domination, but it is as depressing as ever. If only that second lyric truly carried any weight in today’s market.

Only one solo female can be seen, and that is Danielle Bradbery with her debut “The Heart Of Dixie” at No. 14. As the lead single off her self-titled debut record, the mid-tempo track failed to even crack the Top 10 at radio. Of course, if you examine male-female mixed groups and duos, you’ll discover Lady Antebellum‘s “Compass” perched at No. 2 and Thompson Square‘s “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About” at No. 6.

Further down the tally (and outside of the Top 20), female voices are making more of a dent. Miranda Lambert‘s “Automatic” is at No. 22; Sara Evans‘ “Slow Me Down” at No. 27; Little Big Town‘s “Sober” at No. 34 (and falling); Sheryl Crow‘s “Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely” at No. 35; Leah Turner‘s “Take The Keys” at No. 41; American Young‘s “Love Is War” at No. 44; Lindsay Ell‘s “Trippin’ On Us” at No. 49; The Band Perry‘s “Chainsaw” at No. 52; Gloriana‘s “Best Night Ever” at No. 55; Lucy Hale‘s “You Sound Good To Me” at No. 58; and Natalie Stovall and The Drive‘s “Baby Come On With It” at No. 60.

Cutting through this noise, only seven solo females are currently being heard at radio — barely heard, that is. Because, honestly, a No. 58 placement on an airplay chart is certainly not bringing in many spins, especially when compared to Top 20 hits.

What got me thinking about this all over again?

Well, Jason Aldean‘s latest single “When She Says Baby,” off his platinum Night Train set, officially achieved three weeks at the summit, far more than any female single in the past two years. Carrie Underwood‘s “Blown Away,” co-written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, was the last solo female single to go No. 1 (for more than one week) on that same chart, formerly known as Hot Country Songs, before it became a digital sales/streaming/airplay hybrid and the Airplay chart became its own entity, in 2012. It stood tall at No. 1 for two weeks. Underwood’s subsequent singles “Two Black Cadillacs” and “See You Again,” from her platinum Blown Away disc, both peaked at No. 2.

Earlier that year, Lambert’s “Over You” reached the snowy peak for two weeks. That was two years ago. While “Mama’s Broken Heart” reached No. 1 on Mediabase, it only reached the second tier on this chart, with “All Kinds Of Kinds” bottoming out at No. 15.

You could say Taylor Swift was the last female to reach the top, but her guest-starring vocal on Tim McGraw‘s “Highway Don’t Care” (out 2013) hardly counts as her own work. The track spent a meager one week at the top. Her “Red” followup stalled at No. 7 late last year.

What is wrong with this picture?

Well, it’s rather complicated, but not really. As the fabulous Windmills Country has stated on numerous occasions, including on Wednesday (March 5), radio’s  18-34 demographic is the culprit (both male and female), nearly shunning the leading ladies and causing less-than stellar Callout scores. Bradbery is the only solo female voice to make Top 10, according to the Female 18-34 sub-category, as noted below.

In a series of tweets, Windmills breaks down the Top 10 Songs on Callout America (which is a radio survey testing out current singles on strong like/dislike/etc.) according to gender and age range (demo).

Take a look:

Windmills further analyzes these numbers. “Noteworthy: yes, females 18-34 support demeaning”bro country” *sigh* But they like pop country a lot, & oh look, a female voice in the t10,” she cites, then adding, “Meanwhile, males 18-34 are much more uniform in taste. 35-54 demo (male & female) supports more female voices, more romance, less bro.”

She concludes, “Last but not least, survey note: 6 out of the 35 songs tested feature female voices (incl Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum). 3 solo females.”

OK, so what you are seeing here, particularly within Music Row’s target 18-34 demo, is far less diversity among listeners, whoever they happen to be. (Seriously, who are these people taking these surveys?!) More favor is given to pop-country — and that’s to be expected, honestly — but as you can see above, Eric Church and Frankie Ballard register. These two artists have shown wide influences and notable depth to their records, especially Church’s recently released The Outsiders.

If you examine the Male-Female 35-54 snapshot, there is far more diversity among listeners. Artists such as Gary Allan, George Strait, Toby Keith and Sara Evans earn favorable scores…which has not translated to high chart positions at radio. Therein lies the disconnect between audiences and what radio’s playing at the moment. In its 27th week, Evans’ “Slow Me Down” is stagnant at No. 27, for example.

What’s interesting to also note about this age group is the inclusion of Scotty McCreery and Bradbery, both extremely young artists just breaking out. Their music has obviously resonated far beyond their age range, but only McCreery’s “See You Tonight” has gone Top 10.

It’d be hard to ignore the disparity between male-female artists, but the chase for the all-mighty dollar outweighs musical balance. As Windmills, again, concludes, “It’s one demo kind of creating a drag on anything that’s not MORE bro.” Thus, the cycle has already begun again, with Brantley Gilbert, Dan + Shay, Jerrod Niemann and countless others hopping aboard the “bro-country” bandwagon with the hopes of hitting the top and tasting that platinum bubbly. All we can do is hold on for dear life and hope the industry sucker punches itself out.

What does a female have to do to make measurable headway in this industry? Your guess is as good (and valid) as mine.

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Author: Country Cadre

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