Cole Swindell Claims New Career Best Atop Country Airplay Chart With ‘She Had Me at Heads Carolina’

Cole Swindell reserves his first four-week stay atop Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart as “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” continues its reign on the Oct. 8-dated survey.

In the tracking week ending Oct. 2, the song increased by 1% to 31 million impressions, according to Luminate – the top weekly total since Luke Bryan’s “Waves” tallied 31.9 million (Sept. 4, 2021).

Swindell co-wrote “Carolina,” which nods its cap to Jo Dee Messina’s No. 2-peaking 1996 debut hit “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” with Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Thomas Rhett, with additional credit going to Tim Nichols and Mark D. Sanders, who penned Messina’s song.


Among his eight Country Airplay No. 1s, Swindell previously led for as many as three weeks with “You Should Be Here” in 2016. Meanwhile, “Carolina” claims the most time on top since Dustin Lynch’s “Thinking ‘Bout You,” featuring MacKenzie Porter, led for six frames beginning last December.

“Cole has a genuine love and respect for country music and has mastered the art of writing and singing a great song,” Warner Music Nashville SVP/Radio Kristen Williams tells Billboard. “There’s a significant resurgence in the popularity of ’90s country and Cole and his co-writers tapped into that nostalgia perfectly. Cole’s passion, paired with this iconic hit by Messina, struck an instant chord with his fans.”

Additionally, “Carolina” rises 11-9 on Billboard‘s Radio Songs ranking, becoming just the second – and top-charting – hit in the survey’s 32-year history to reach the top 10 by appearing on Country Airplay but on no other individual genre chart, such as a pop or adult list (since Radio Songs became an all-format summary in December 1998). It joins only Luke Combs’ “Forever After All,” which reached No. 10 on Radio Songs in June 2021 (and led Country Airplay for six weeks beginning that month).

3 And ‘Change’

Kelsea Ballerini earns her fifth top 10 on Top Country Albums, and fourth top five entry, as Subject to Change starts at No. 3. Released Sept. 23, the LP earned 19,000 equivalent album units, with 10,000 in album sales, in the week ending Sept. 29.

Ballerini co-produced the set, which features Kelly Clarkson and Carly Pearce, both on the track “You’re Drunk, Go Home.” Ballerini had a hand in writing all 15 songs on the LP.

Subject to Change follows Ballerini, which arrived at its No. 9 best in September 2020, and Kelsea, which started at its No. 2 peak in April 2020. Before that, the singer-songwriter released Unapologetically (No. 3, 2017) and The First Time (No. 4, 2015).

The new set’s buoyant first single, “Heartfirst,” ranks at No. 24 on Country Airplay with 5.4 million impressions. On the airplay-, streaming- and sales-based Hot Country Songs chart, it pushes 38-33. It drew 3 million official U.S. streams (up 12%) in the tracking week.

Gary Trust