Country Music Stations Already Refusing to Play Beyoncé's Country Songs (UPDATE)

Tied to her Verizon commercial during Super Bowl LVIII, Beyoncé surprised the BeyHive with country songs "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages."

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UPDATED 2/16/24, 3:21 p.m. ET: Beyoncé has made her country chart debut.

Billboard reports that her new song, "Texas Hold 'Em," landed at No. 54 on the Country Airplay chart.

Due to the song's popularity, country radio stations have also changed their tune about playing Bey's new track—particularly KYKC 100.1 FM in Oklahoma, which fans were slamming online for its refusal to play "Texas Hold 'Em."

Station manager, Roger Harris, was perplexed when fans flooded KYKC with emails and phone calls. “I’ve never experienced anything in my career like the amount of communications that we received in support of the song,” he told The New York Times. He shared that the radio network’s owner, Chickasaw Nation, plays Beyoncé on its Top 40 and adult hit stations.

"We literally just learned about the new song,” Harris said in another interview with Entertainment Weekly. “But we didn't have the actual song in our possession.”

“We apparently were targeted in a big campaign to add the song. As soon as we received the file, we did add it to the playlist of our country station." A station rep also shared that KYKC has added “16 Carriages” to its system.

It seems that because KYKC is a smaller station, they don’t immediately have access to certain songs. "We actually wish that artists wouldn’t get boxed into certain genres or formats," Harris said to CBS News. "If it's good music, it's good music."

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Beyoncé's new music is getting the cold shoulder from country radio stations.

On Sunday, the most-awarded Grammy Award recipient released two new country singles, "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages," and also announced the March 29 release date of her eighth studio album, Act II. But despite calls from the BeyHive for country stations to play the two songs, some are allegedly refusing to do so.

According to one X user who requested "Texas Hold 'Em" to be played on KYKC 100.1 FM in Oklahoma, the station replied by email to decline. "We do not play Beyonce' [sic] as we are a country music station," the email read.

After more requests poured in, KYKC changed its tune and added "Texas Hold 'Em" to their rotation, even logging into its X account with an update.

It's questionable whether other stations will follow suit, but the protest bears resemblance to Lil Nas X's 2018 single "Old Town Road" being removed from the Billboard country charts.

At the time, some cited racism as the cause for the decision, and country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus was added to the remix.

Black representation in country music and Americana radio has been divided for decades, with artists like Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown, and Jimmie Allen being some of the most visible Black artists in the genre.

According to a report titled Redlining in Country Music by Dr. Jada E. Watson, from 2002 to 2007, BIPOC artists were virtually absent from country format radio during the initial six years of the study. This changed slightly from 2008 to 2013 when representation increased to 1.5 percent of songs played, also receiving an airplay of 2.0-2.5 percent throughout the period. From 2014 to 2020, the representation of underrepresented artists increased to  3.7 percent by the end of the period and received 4.8 percent of the annual airplay. Both in songs played and receiving airplay 0.5% to 3.7 percent, the increase was limited to songs by BIPOC men.

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"Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages" aren't Beyoncé's first country music efforts, as "Daddy Lessons" is her most notable country-focused song, which she later performed at the 2016 CMA Awards with The Chicks. The performance was widely debated, with country artist Alan Jackson even walking out during the set, as he didn't support pop singers being included in the genre.

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