Beyoncé Becomes First Black Woman To Top Billboard’s Country Songs Chart With Texas Hold ‘Em

(THE GUARDIAN) – Beyoncé has become the first Black woman to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, after her track Texas Hold ‘Em debuted at No 1.

In a genre whose relationship to Black artists has often proved controversial, the track marked one of several historical achievements when weekly chart rankings refreshed on Tuesday.

Texas Hold ‘Em – released simultaneously with the single 16 Carriages in a surprise album announcement during the Super Bowl – is Beyoncé’s first time topping the country charts.

It has also made her the second solo female artist – with no accompanying featured artists – to debut at No 1, after Taylor Swift achieved the feat in 2021 with her re-recordings of Love Story and All Too Well.

Beyoncé is also the first woman to top both the Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hip Songs charts since the lists began in 1958. Justin Bieber, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ray Charles and Morgan Wallen are the only other artists who have led both charts.

The Hot Country Songs chart is a “multi-metric” chart which combines US sales, streams, and radio airplay, much like Billboard’s primary Hot 100 chart.

Tuesday’s charts reflected the seven days leading up to 15 February – which means Texas Hold ‘Em, released 11 February, achieved its slots after just four days of tracking.

In that time, it was streamed 19.2m times and downloaded 39,000 times in the US, according to entertainment data company Luminate. It debuted at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart, whereas the superstar’s other new track 16 Carriages debuted at No. 38 on the Hot 100 and No. 9 on Hot Country Songs.

Both singles will appear on Beyoncé’s second instalment of her Renaissance trilogy, set for release on 29 March.

The country chart achievements come after an online firestorm last week around Texas Hold ‘Em’s categorisation as a country track.

A country radio station in Oklahoma initially declined to play a request for Beyoncé’s new single, though they later changed their tune after a viral campaign on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The station said that they hadn’t yet been served the file for the track from Beyoncé’s label when they received the request. Texas Hold ‘Em is now officially being promoted to country radio, according to Billboard.

The song has become Beyoncé’s first appearance on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, where it debuted at No. 54. Unlike Hot Country Songs, Country Airplay measures only radio play.

Country music’s relationship to Black artists has often sparked debate. In a high-profile example from 2019, rapper Lil Nas X’s viral country-trap fusion Old Town Road was removed from Billboard’s Hot Country Songs after it topped the chart.

Chart compilers claimed it wasn’t country enough – despite its banjo instrumentation and lyrical content about horse riding.

“While Old Town Road incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version,” Billboard wrote at the time.

In 2016, Beyoncé’s heavily country-inspired track Daddy Lessons was rejected by the Recording Academy’s country music committee, making it ineligible for country Grammys.

She later played the song at the Country Music Association awards with the Dixie Chicks in a surprise performance that sparked a fresh round of discourse around country music’s politics and ambiguous classifications.