How Big a Deal Is ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ Getting to No. 1 for Beyoncé — And for Country Music?

When Beyoncé released “Texas Hold ‘Em” as the first single from her upcoming Act II album on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 18), it scored a No. 2 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 with just four days of tracking activity. That was impressive enough — but in its second week, “Hold ‘Em” maintains and then some, climbing to No. 1 on the chart.

The song makes for Beyoncé’s second Hot 100 No. 1 of the 2020s as a lead artist, following Renaissance leader “Break My Soul,” and the ninth of her solo career (following four notched at the turn of the ’00s as part of Destiny’s Child). While the song continues to excel in sales and streams in its second week, it also grows rapidly at radio — including on country radio, whose approval has been historically hard to come by for artists from outside of the Nashville community (as well as for Black women artists in general).

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What does the No. 1 mean for Beyoncé? And will it be a gate-busting moment for Black women in the country space in general? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.

1. A week after debuting at No. 2, “Texas Hold ‘Em” climbs to the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. On a scale from a pair of deuces to a royal flush, how big of a win do you think this is for Beyoncé?

Rania Aniftos: Full house. Beyoncé has hit icon status at this point, so anything she touches turns to gold, but I’m sure that making a major genre switch and it being received so well is incredibly validating no matter what status level you’re at.

Kyle Denis: Royal flush. Beyoncé bagged her ninth solo No. 1, made history in the process and pulled off a highly effective launch of both her country pivot and the second installment of her three-act Renaissance project. Most importantly, she did this all while playing the game (mostly) on her terms. Sure, Bey & Co. gave into the “multiple versions” trend with recent single releases, but “Texas Hold ‘Em” reached nearly instant astronomical heights without deviating from the current Beyoncé playbook: surprises and silence.

From a purely musical and personal standpoint, it must feel really gratifying to not only keep scoring hits nearly three decades in the game, but to score one of your biggest hits in years while exploring a genre you grew up listening to and cherishing.

Jason Lipshutz: Let’s call it a very strong full house. Beyoncé didn’t need another Hot 100 chart-topper for the Act II era to continue her phenomenal run, especially after a No. 2 debut demonstrated widespread interest in her next project. Yet “Texas Hold ‘Em” powering to No. 1 in its second week shows that Act II is kicking off with a bonafide smash — the type of multi-quadrant, cross-genre hit that makes the music industry salivate — and could very well become Beyoncé’s biggest chart hit in a decade. Maybe it’s all just gravy for Queen Bey at this point, but it’s still gotta taste pretty delicious.

Melinda Newman: This is a full house for Beyoncé, the type of hand that any poker player would be excited to have and one that doesn’t come along every day, but isn’t so rare and unattainable as a royal flush. It’s still a thrill to see the cards (or chart positions, in this case), add up to such a winning hand, no matter how many times an artist has been here before — and in Beyoncé’s case, it’s eight times before as a solo artist.

Andrew Unterberger: To invert a Garth Brooks title from 30-plus years ago — in a way that may not make all that much sense in actual poker terms — Beyoncé has a full house, working on four of a kind. It’s just one of many historic accomplishments for her at this point, but it’s still a pretty big deal for her to have such success with such a hard pivot, and to maybe end up with her biggest hit in a decade or longer when all is said and done.

2. “Hold ‘Em” has gotten off to a much better start on streaming than any of her Renaissance hits or other singles from the past five years or so — helped, of course, by instant virality on TikTok. What do you think is the biggest factor that has allowed this song to take off with that kind of velocity?

Rania Aniftos: Bey played her cards just right with something fun and different. Everyone loves Beyoncé’s classic R&B sound, but I was definitely among the masses that rushed to streaming services to hear this new country song as fast as possible. And just like everyone else, I loved it and have been listening to it ever since, despite not generally being a country fan myself. I think music fans like hearing something unique from an artist that’s been in the game for decades, and it’s even better when it’s executed as well as “Texas Hold ’Em.”

Kyle Denis: The same night “Hold ‘Em” dropped, it was available on all streaming platforms. There wasn’t a mysterious unlisted YouTube video nor was there a week-long Spotify Premium exclusivity period nor were the new country songs locked away on TIDAL years at a time. And immediate wide release coupled with a blockbuster Super Bowl ad gave “Hold Em” an advantage that few Beyoncé singles have ever had. Think about it: even “Break My Soul” was simply announced via the singer’s Instagram bio.

Speaking of “Break My Soul,” a lot of the immediate success of “Hold ‘Em” is due to the work Renaissance did to help Beyoncé regain her footing on streaming. “Break My Soul” marked the first solo song attached to a Beyoncé studio album in six years. From 2016-2022 – although she gifted us a bevy of stunning projects — Beyoncé withheld a studio album while streaming exploded. Now that she’s gotten solo streaming smashes and reintroduced herself to younger audiences through those hits and the Renaissance World Tour, “Hold ‘Em” was always going to get off to a particularly strong start.

Of course, there are also the facts that 1) “Hold ‘Em” is an unequivocally catchy song with wide appeal that fits into the current guitar-centric wave of pop music and 2) “Hold ‘Em” benefitted, at least initially, from the novelty of Beyoncé making a country record.

Jason Lipshutz: The song’s chorus possesses a perfect combination of hummable, radio-friendly hooks and interactive TikTok fodder for a hit in 2024 — “Texas Hold ’Em” reaches the passive listener ready to enjoy a new Beyoncé single, and the active social media user ready to make the most of those “hey”s and “woo”s. If the song relied more heavily on gimmickry, maybe it would still go viral, but it wouldn’t be hitting the top of the Hot 100. “Texas Hold ’Em” contains a stronger hook than any of the (still great) big Renaissance singles, and looks like it may eclipse them in terms of both Hot 100 longevity and TikTok reach.

Melinda Newman: Announcing and releasing it during the Super Bowl was a brilliant move and showed that an artist doesn’t have to be a halftime performer, or even in attendance, to get a huge bump. Her Verizon commercial was money very well spent with 123 million viewers made aware that new music was dropping. It’s hard to think of any other platform that could have created such an instant blast.

Andrew Unterberger: She landed in the right genre at the right time, didn’t she? The mainstream ceiling for country right now is basically as high (and the audience as wide) as it’s been for R&B or even for more classic pop at any point this decade, and Bey’s spin on it is so fun and fresh and viral-friendly — and clearly authentic to her and her artistry — that it’s really no major surprise it’s being embraced by all kinds of 2024 audiences.

3. “Hold ‘Em” is also off to a fast start on that most contentious of platforms for a crossover star — country radio, moving No. 54 to 34 in its second week on the Country Airplay listing. Do you think it will continue to climb there, or is this hot start mostly due to a curiosity factor that will abate in the weeks to come?

Rania Aniftos: I want it to keep climbing! A Black female artist atop country radio is long overdue. Period.

Kyle Denis: Country radio is notoriously hard to break if you’re Black, a woman, or crossing over – and Beyoncé is all three at the same time. I see “Hold ‘Em” peaking somewhere in the 20s on Country Airplay; if it can break the top 20, I think that will be one of the song’s most notable achievements. But who knows? “Hold ‘Em” is well on its way to being too big to completely ignore, so if listeners connect with the track and Columbia Nashville works its muscle, the sky is the limit for “Texas.”

Jason Lipshutz: I could see it continuing to climb into the top 20 and potentially even the top 10, but have some trouble vying for No. 1 against core country artists. History tells us that crossover artists can move the needle at country radio without necessarily installing their songs in the heaviest rotation, so I think that “Texas Hold ’Em” could keep gaining spins while still being boxed out of the pinnacle by songs from artists like Warren Zeiders, Morgan Wallen and HARDY.

Melinda Newman: There was definitely a curiosity factor and we’ll know for sure if that’s all it was if in a couple of weeks it begins to fall, but the 20-position leap in its first full week on the Country Airplay chart indicates that fans are responding to the song and requesting it. Columbia Nashville is pushing the song and that will carry weight with programmers. Plus, it sounds great on the radio. It’s sweet vindication for Beyoncé, after 2016’s “Daddy Lessons” got no love from mainstream country and was rejected for consideration by the Grammys in the country categories.

Andrew Unterberger: A 20-spot jump in its second week is definitely some eye-opening movement — especially in country radio, which can be purposefully gradual in its adoption of new songs, particularly from non-core artists. i imagine that will slow a little as the excitement (and conversation) around “Hold ‘Em” recedes a bit, but it feels now like it could end up a real hit there — which would’ve felt close to unimaginable just a couple weeks ago.

4. Billboard reported last week about how big a bump Bey’s country pivot had already afforded to both up-and-coming and legendary Black female artists in the country space. Do you think “Hold ‘Em” is turning into a moment of real significance in country’s history in terms of shining more light on the Black female artists who have been doing important work in the genre all along — or is it too soon to tell if its impact will be a lasting one?

Rania Aniftos: I certainly hope so. With artists like Mickey Guyton, Brittney Spencer and Tanya Blount-Trotter of The War and Treaty out there, Black women in country have always displayed immeasurable talent. With Bey’s success with “Texas Hold ’Em,” I’d like to see country music spotlight other Black women as well, including up and coming artists who might not have had the confidence (or opportunity) to pursue a more mainstream avenue before.

Kyle Denis: I think the song is already turning into a moment of real significance in country’s history. Even outside of its milestone achievements, new fans are falling in love with country and checking out other Black woman in the genre as a result of “Hold ‘Em.” I see fans sharing playlists rounding up notable Black women in country music every day. Ideally, the impact of “Texas Hold ‘Em” is a lasting one, but we’ll probably have to wait for the next mainstream country album from a Black woman to gauge just how much things have (or haven’t) changed.

Jason Lipshutz: Yeah, way too soon to tell. “Texas Hold ’Em” producing real gains for rising and veteran Black female artists in country makes for an important by-product of a smash single, but we can’t yet say how sustained those gains will be, which songs and artists will experience prolonged revivals, and, stepping back even further, how much the paradigm will shift as more Black women release country music for mass audiences. Let’s hope “Texas Hold ’Em” symbolizes real change for music discovery and in-genre opportunity, but we likely won’t know its full impact for a while.

Melinda Newman: Sadly, no. Beyoncé occupies her own unique space in the musical firmament and it’s likely that the streaming bump other Black female artists saw is short-lived. If radio stations aren’t inclined to play Black female artists, at least streaming outlets may be a little more willing to add them to their playlists, but I don’t expect for Beyoncé to be an “a-ha moment” for programmers.

Andrew Unterberger: I doubt it’s going to be an opening of the floodgates exactly, but I think it could be an important turning point in subtler, deeper ways. For the biggest Black female artist in popular music this century to stake her ground in country, and to be embraced from (nearly) all corners in the process… it’s going to have an impact beyond what we can see in the immediate numbers, and more in the long-term shifts of perception from artists and audiences on all sides. (And as we’re already seeing, it’s going to have a pretty sizable impact in the immediate numbers, too.)

5. Given the hot start it’s off to and how it’s still growing rapidly at radio — it debuts at No. 43 on Radio Songs this week — it doesn’t seem like “Hold ‘Em” is likely to fold on the Hot 100 particularly soon. How many weeks total would you guess it spends at No. 1 on the chart?

Rania Aniftos: I’m going to guess a good nine or ten weeks — perhaps non-consecutively and with a boost from when Act II arrives or something like a surprise performance or remix.

Kyle Denis: Barring a “Carnival” surge or a massive breakout hit from Eternal Sunshine, I can see “Hold ‘Em” spending at least eight weeks atop the Hot 100… so until Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poets songs make their debut. And, by then, “Hold ‘Em” might be so strong that it’ll only get knocked off the top for a week.

Jason Lipshutz: My guess would be six weeks — a legitimate smash, to be sure, but one that happens to be hitting its stride during a crammed two-month period in the release calendar. Could another single from Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine pause its run? What about the focus track from Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department? “Hold ’Em” is just getting started, but at a busy moment in pop, so I’ll predict a half-dozen nonconsecutive weeks on top.

Melinda Newman: Barring a rebound by Jack Harlow’s “Lovin’ on Me,” which dropped 1-2 after six weeks at No. 1, Beyoncé probably has a few weeks at the top with “Hold ‘Em.” Most of the songs in the top 10 have already hit their peak so that plays in her favor.

Andrew Unterberger: I’ll say six. It could end up being longer, but competition is about to start getting thick with new albums from Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift (and maybe another Vultures or two), while current top five hits from Teddy Swims, Benson Boone and Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign continue to grow. In the less-crowded winter landscape of 2022 or 2023, Beyoncé might’ve had a clear path until at least April, but this year she’s going to have to fight every week to keep hold of her spot.

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