By Ralphie Aversa | For Weekender

Ralphie Report: Country music is taking over airwaves one song at a time

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Collaborations, cameos and covers are three ways in which Nelly has surprisingly yet seamlessly crossed genres from hip-hop to country. However his latest move, a cover of Thomas Rhett’s hit, “Die A Happy Man” may just be the biggest surprise to everyone, including Rhett, yet.

“It was crazy, man,” Rhett described of not just the new rendition, but of the whole experience with the single. “Just to have a song that was so personal to me and to my marriage, and to have it on the radio and be so successful, and then kind of organically cross over (to other radio formats) I think was the coolest way it could have ever happened.”

“Crazy” is one way to describe it but “unprecedented” might be a more accurate summation. “Die A Happy Man” spent an unheard of six consecutive weeks atop the country radio airplay chart. The last track to accomplish that feat was Taylor Swift’s “Our Song,” which held the number one spot from December 2007 through January 2008.

A country male solo artist hadn’t spent five weeks on top of the airplay chart since Kenny Chesney in August 2007. Not only did Rhett surpass that reign, but “Man” also ruled the airplay chart, Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and the Country Digital Songs tally simultaneously … for three straight weeks.

And then, Nelly decided to put his spin on it. I asked Rhett how the track clicked with the St. Louis emcee.

“I have no idea,” he replied. “We did talk on the phone the other day, and I’ve been a huge fan of Nelly for my entire life.

“He was just like, ‘Man, if you know me, you know that I love great songs and that I’m a songwriter and the first time I heard this song, I just felt your emotion and I wanted to put my voice on it and make a different track.’”

Rhett didn’t mention a possible remix but if the two artists do attempt to link up for a remix, it might have to be remotely. The Georgia-born singer just wrapped a country music festival in London with Miranda Lambert and following a few one-off dates in April will pick back up with Jason Aldean’s tour this May. The trek, which officially started in Illinois last January, wraps in Virginia on October 1. Aldean and Rhett will play Allentown on May 6 and Philadelphia September 17.

Listen to “Ralphie Tonight” weeknights from 7 p.m. to midnight on 97 BHT.

By Ralphie Aversa | For Weekender

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Listen to “Ralphie Tonight” weeknights from 7 p.m. to midnight on 97 BHT.