Little Big Town notches its second No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart (dated May 9), as "Girl Crush" rises 2-1 in its 21st week. The band previously reigned with "Pontoon," which sailed upstream to No. 1 for two weeks in September 2012. (The group has charted 23 titles, dating to its first in 2002.)
"Crush" gains by 15 percent in overall activity, led by its third week atop Country Digital Songs (110,000 downloads sold, up 13 percent, in the week ending April 26, according to Nielsen Music). It holds at No. 2 on Country Streaming Songs with 2.4 million U.S. streams, up 23 percent, good for top Streaming Gainer honors on Hot Country Songs. Little Big Town performed the song on the April 19 Academy of Country Music Awards, broadcast on CBS.
The track's lyrical theme has helped build its buzz, as several media outlets have mistakenly pegged the track as sung by a woman romantically interested in another woman (an almost unheard-of angle in mainstream country music). Instead, the song presents the viewpoint of a woman jealous of another woman's desirability. Its lyrics are directed to a man, who is involved with the other woman: "I want to taste her lips, yeah, 'cause they taste like you/ I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume."
As previously reported, a narrative developed that radio was avoiding "Crush," with such headlines appearing as "Little Big Town's 'Girl Crush' Rankles Puritanical Country Radio" (Los Angeles Times, March 27) and "Radio Stations Pull Little Big Town's 'Girl Crush' Over Complaints of Song's 'Gay Agenda'" (Huffington Post, March 27).
In reality, country radio has supported the song, which boasts a 20 percent gain to 17 million in audience, as it bullets at its No. 19 high in its 20th week on Country Airplay. (All but one of the chart's 146 reporters played "Crush" last week.)
"It was hard at first," Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman says of the song's perceived controversy. "It has given huge life to the song, but when it was happening, it was disheartening. We heard all these angles and negative news stories about the song. But, what was so incredible was that the people who heard it and believed in it rallied around it. Then, people started buying it like hotcakes. So it's good that more people have heard it.
"The song is just a solid one for the ages."