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Gone Country: George Strait just had a chart record broken by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha

Jake Harris

Over the course of George Strait’s legendary recording career spanning nearly 40 years, he has produced 45 Billboard No. 1 hits. They don’t call him “King George” for nothin’.

Those 45 songs (including hits like “Fool Hearted Memory,” “A Fire I Can’t Put Out,” “Give It Away,” “I Cross My Heart” and many, many others) have spent a combined total of 84 weeks atop the Billboard Country Charts.

Previously, the record to break was Conway Twitty’s 40 No. 1s hit streak. 

Last week, Strait’s record was broken, thanks to new standards in Billboard’s chart rules and thanks to a pop song from a Backstreet Boys knockoff duo and a pop star who thinks their collaboration “paved the way for other artists to jump into country.”

Related:George Strait’s main songwriter, Dean Dillon, says modern country music is ‘all about the same damn thing’

“Meant To Be,” from Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha, has now spent 33 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. This puts Florida Georgia Line at a total of 89 weeks of No. 1s.

The song is also the longest-charting Billboard Hot Country No. 1 for a song featuring a woman. Too bad that honor couldn’t have gone to an actual woman country artist, but I digress.

More: Gone Country: Here’s to the farmer

Oh, and the song is also one week away from tying the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1. The current record-holder for that honor? Sam Hunt’s atrocious “Body Like A Back Road,” at 34 weeks. Before that, FGL held the record for “Cruise.”

Related: Here’s your friendly reminder that Jeff Bezos is George Strait’s cousin

How is this possible? A combination of country and alternative radio spins. Back in 2012, Billboard changed its methodology for several charts, including the country charts. Basically, instead of using airplay from Billboard-paneled country radio stations, the charts would also factor in streaming and digital download numbers. The stats would also include airplay from a wider group of non-country radio stations. Case in point: The first song to achieve a  No. 1 on the new chart after the new rules were implemented was Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

Related: Gone Country: Sam Hunt’s ‘Backroad’ is now the longest charting No. 1 single on Billboard ‘Hot Country’ chart 

Make no mistake, “Meant To Be” is huge. It’s even somewhat catchy. If it weren’t marketed as a “country” song, I might even like it. But it wasn’t meant to be remembered. It was meant to be a No. 1 hit because it was designed that way. Like I mentioned last year with “Body,” nobody’s going to be singing this song 25 years from now. It’s a soulless cash-grab marketing gimmick wrapped up in a formula-canned package. These days, a No. 1 on a country radio chart doesn’t mean much anymore.

But George Strait’s songs? Those will last forever. And he probably doesn’t even listen to Florida Georgia Line anyway. 

[H/T Saving Country Music]