Gwen Stefani scores 'first country number 1' a year after Lil Nas X was barred from reaching top spot
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani's 'Nobody But You' is now a number one country song despite Stefani not being a country artiste
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani can officially call themselves a country-pop duo now that their song 'Nobody But You' has reached number one on the Billboard Country Airplay Charts.
Shelton shared the news on Twitter, stating, "Congratulations @gwenstefani on your first country song going #1 at country radio!!! Not bad for your first try!!!!! Thank you all as well!!! #nobodybutyou"
Fans congratulated the couple with messages like "I am sooo freaking happy for you guys!!! congratulations!!!! YOU BOTH DESERVE IT SO MUCH" and were ecstatic for Stefani's first country number one, tweeting "Gwen omg this is so cool".
One fan said, "Makes me so happy to see @gwenstefani #1 on the country charts / West Coast female in love w a country boy & making it her own. Touché my sweet Gwen, Touché." Another said, "Congratulations Gwen & Blake. You’re such a cute couple. I hope you’re writing more beautiful music together in quarantine."
One fan shared, "This song means more to my wife and I than any single in many, many years. As well deserved as anything you two have ever gotten, congratulations!" and another said, "You all deserve all the happiness in the world. This song needed to be heard and nobody could ever sing it just like you two."
A fan quoted Shelton's statement about the song, tweeting "This incredible song that captures exactly how I feel about Gwen, and I can connect with every lyric. I still pinch myself every time I hear one of my songs on the radio, but I have to pinch and twist really hard to believe I’m singing it with Gwen Stefani."
One fan pointed out, "And to think she started out singing punk, went to pop and ended up in country," while another stated, "2020 and Gwen Stefani is getting #1 song for Country genre. If you tell me that Gwen will be a Country singing artist back in 1996, I will laugh and think you're being silly. But here we are."
Responding to Shelton's congratulatory tweet, Stefani said, "Trying to wrap my head around the fact that I even get to know you Blake Shelton — let alone be on Such a beautiful classic duet w u?! thank you ! for taking me along on this ride with you!! I am so grateful and blown away by all the support everyone has shown us!!?!!"
Her surprise is undoubtedly warranted, considering the backlash other acts have received for landing on the country charts when they weren't originally country artists. Beyonce, for instance, faced intense backlash for performing with country group Dixie Chicks at the CMAs, despite the singer herself hailing from Houston, Texas.
Fans at the time stated, "I hate the fact that Beyoncé is going to open the CMA Awards because she isn't even a country singer. So stupid #CMAawards50," as well as, "How terrible has country music become? Well they get Beyoncé to perform at the CMA's. Making the genre a joke now."
The CMA's website and social media accounts removed most mentions of the performance following the backlash but claimed it had nothing to do with the response.
Another artiste who found themselves in country controversy was Lil Nas X. His 2019 song 'Old Town Road' featuring Billy Ray Cyrus broke cultural and geographic barriers, but unfortunately, could not breach the alleged racial barriers that still exist where country music is concerned.
After reaching number 19 on the Billboard country charts, his song was removed and blocked from reaching its inevitable number 1. Billboard claimed this was due to the song not embracing "enough elements of today's country music."
Nas also faced backlash for his sponsorship deal with Wrangler jeans due to its close association with country music and culture. Many believe these artistes face such backlash not because of their non-country roots, but due to their ethnicity.
This is certainly plausible, given that the reverse — a country star breaking into R&B and hip-hop music — has occurred quite frequently over the years.
The most notable example of this would be Billy Ray's own daughter, Miley Cyrus, whose R&B/hip-hop album 'Bangerz' saw her do everything from dabbling in traditionally black genres (which she then subsequently dissed) to appropriating black culture. The album did well commercially, even earning a Grammy nomination.
For most people, this seems to point to a form of "racial segregation" where country music is concerned, something many people have taken offense to over the years.
And despite many within the country music industry attempting to shift this narrative, including Billy Ray, one of Nas' biggest supporters, it appears there is still some amount of gatekeeping that stands in the way of progress.