Beyoncé Is Latest Singer To Pivot To Country—Here’s Why So Many Pop Stars Take Country Detours

Beyoncé’s forthcoming album, “Cowboy Carter,” drops in two weeks—but she’s far from the first (or the last) major pop star to foray into country, as many artists have made the jump to broaden their audience, embrace deeper storytelling or capitalize on the increasingly popular genre.

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In recent years, artists like Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper and Miley Cyrus have followed up years worth of pop music with country-tinged albums. Lady Gaga’s album “Joanne” dropped in 2016 after Lady Gaga had built a career primarily known for dance-pop music, and she retained some country influences on her 2018 album “A Star Is Born,” the soundtrack to the movie in which she starred. Cyrus, whose father Billy Ray Cyrus was already an established country musician, primarily released pop records until releasing “Younger Now,” a country album, in 2017. Jessica Simpson, long known as a pop artist, released a country record, “Do You Know,” in 2008. Other artists with roots in rock—like Steven Tyler, Kid Rock and Don Henley—also embraced country sounds later in their careers.


Beyoncé announced this week her upcoming album is called “Cowboy Carter,” billed as the second act to her “Renaissance” album, which she released in 2022. She previously released “Texas Hold ‘Em,” which went No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and “16 Carriages” during the Super Bowl last month. “Cowboy Carter” will hit streaming services on March 29.


Country music had a blockbuster year on the charts in 2023, shattering plenty of Billboard records. Country music consumption on streaming services was reportedly up 23% in 2023, and much of the growth was driven by Morgan Wallen, whose album “One Thing at a Time” topped the Billboard 200 for 19 weeks, the most ever for a country album, and whose single “Last Night” became the longest-running No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for a solo artist. In August 2023, country songs claimed the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time ever—including Wallen’s track, Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” and Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman hit “Fast Car.”


Pop stars turning to country hasn’t always translated to chart success. Cyrus’s “Younger Now” failed to reach the highs of her previous pop records: It peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart and only charted for eight weeks, a lackluster result compared to her five No. 1 albums, and her five total albums that have spent more than one year each on the chart. Turner’s country record failed to chart on the Billboard 200, and although Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” topped the Billboard 200, it sold about a fifth of what her blockbuster 2011 album “Born This Way” sold in their respective first weeks. Though Beyoncé’s record has yet to drop, she’s likely hoping to buck this trend—“Texas Hold ‘Em” is already a global hit.


Country crossovers have spurred debates over whether tracks like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which infused a country sound with trap beats and featured Billy Ray Cyrus on a remix, can be considered part of the genre. Billboard removed the track from country charts in 2019. More recently, an Oklahoma country radio station garnered attention after it had initially refused to play Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em,” which led critics to accuse the station of furthering exclusion of Black artists in the country genre.


Who else will foray into the country genre—and how these releases may perform on the charts. Del Rey’s upcoming country album, “Lasso,” is set for release this September. Post Malone, known for success in hip-hop, is also working on a forthcoming country album.