Tommy Brown, aka TBHits, claims the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 Songwriters and Producers charts, leading both lists for the first time thanks to 15 songwriting and production credits on the latest Billboard Hot 100.
Of his 15 writing credits on the Hot 100, 14 are from Ariana Grande’s new LP Positions, which debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 174,000 equivalent album units, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Leading the total, “Positions” ranks at No. 2, a week after debuting at No. 1, and “34+35″ debuts at No. 8.
Along with all 14 songs from Positions, TBHits also co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Holy,” featuring Chance the Rapper, at No. 11 (after hitting No. 3). That credit helps push him ahead of Grande on Hot 100 Songwriters, where she ranks at No. 2.
Here’s a look at all 15 of TBHits’ songwriting credits on the latest Hot 100:
Rank, Artist Billing, Title (co-writers in addition to TBHits)
No. 2, Ariana Grande, “Positions” (Ariana Grande, Nija, Angelina Barrett, Mr. Franks, Brian Bates, London on da Track, James Jarvis)
No. 8, Ariana Grande, “34+35″ (Ariana Grande, Scott Nicholson, Victoria Monet, Tayla Parx, ProdByXavi, Peter Lee Johnson, Mr. Franks, Albert Stanaj)
No. 11, Justin Bieber feat. Chance the Rapper, “Holy” (Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper, Jon Bellion, Michael Pollack, Jorden Odegard, Anthony Jones, Mr. Franks)
No. 32, Ariana Grande feat. Doja Cat, “Motive” (Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Mr. Franks, Murda Beatz, Jeremy McIntyre, Victoria Monet, Nija)
No. 35, Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd, “Off the Table” (Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Mr. Franks, Shintaro Yasuda, Travis Sayles)
No. 40, Ariana Grande, “POV” (Ariana Grande, Mr. Franks, Oliver Frid, Tayla Parx)
No. 43, Ariana Grande, “Just Like Magic” (Ariana Grande, Shae Taylor, Mr. Franks, Priscilla Hamilton)
No. 47, Ariana Grande, “Shut Up” (Ariana Grande, Tayla Parx, Mr. Franks, Travis Sayles, Peter Lee Johnson)
No. 49, Ariana Grande, “Nasty” (Ariana Grande, Victoria Monet, Leon Thomas III, Khristopher Riddick-Tynes, Travis Sayles, Nami)
No. 52, Ariana Grande feat. Ty Dolla $ign, “Safety Net” (Ariana Grande, Ty Dolla $ign, Leon Thomas III, Khristopher Riddick-Tynes, Silus Doss)
No. 63, Ariana Grande, “Six Thirty” (Ariana Grande, Mr. Franks, Shae Taylor, Nami, Priscilla Hamilton)
No. 65, Ariana Grande, “My Hair” (Ariana Grande, Scott Storch, Anthony Jones, Charlie Anderson, Victoria Monet, Tayla Parx)
No. 70, Ariana Grande, “Obvious” (Ariana Grande, Mr. Franks, Travis Sayles, Ryan Tedder, Nija, Peter Lee Johnson, Josh Conerly)
No. 71, Ariana Grande, “West Side” (Ariana Grande, ProdByXavi, Victoria Monet, Ammar Junedi)
No. 75, Ariana Grande, “Love Language” (Ariana Grande, Tommy Lumpkins, Travis Sayles, Tayla Parx, Victoria Monet, Kameron Glasper)
On the Hot 100 Producers chart, TBHits also rules for the first time, as he also produced the 15 songs listed above.
Here’s a rundown, with co-producers listed in parentheses:
Rank, Artist Billing, Title (co-producers in addition to TBHits)
No. 2, Ariana Grande, “Positions” (London on da Track, Mr. Franks)
No. 8, Ariana Grande, “34+35″ (Peter Lee Johnson, ProdByXavi, Mr. Franks)
No. 11, Justin Bieber feat. Chance the Rapper, “Holy” (Jorden Odegard, Jon Bellion, Mr. Franks)
No. 32, Ariana Grande feat. Doja Cat, “Motive” (Murda Beatz, Mr. Franks, Joseph L’Etranger)
No. 35, Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd, “Off the Table” (Shintaro Yasuda, Travis Sayles, Mr. Franks)
No. 40, Ariana Grande, “POV” (Mr. Franks, Oliver Frid)
No. 43, Ariana Grande, “Just Like Magic” (Shae Taylor, Mr. Franks)
No. 47, Ariana Grande, “Shut Up” (Peter Lee Johnson)
No. 49, Ariana Grande, “Nasty” (The Rascals)
No. 52, Ariana Grande feat. Ty Dolla $ign, “Safety Net” (The Rascals)
No. 63, Ariana Grande, “Six Thirty” (Shae Taylor, Mr. Franks, Nami)
No. 65, Ariana Grande, “My Hair” (Scott Storch, Anthony Jones, Charlie Anderson)
No. 70, Ariana Grande, “Obvious” (Mr. Franks, Travis Sayles, Josh Conerly)
No. 71, Ariana Grande, “West Side” (ProdByXavi, Ammar Junedi)
No. 75, Ariana Grande, “Love Language” (Tommy Lumpkins, Travis Sayles)
Meanwhile, Mr. Franks (real name: Steven Franks) debuts at No. 2 on Hot 100 Producers and No. 3 on Hot 100 Songwriters, just behind TBHits and Grande, as he co-wrote and co-produced nine of the songs above.
Since the charts’ launch in June 2019, TBHits is the ninth artist to top Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers simultaneously. He joins Louis Bell, Finneas, Metro Boomin, OZ, Ricky Reed, David Stewart, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd.
TBHits and Grande boast an impressive history on the Hot 100 together, dating to 2016. He earned his first two No. 1s as a co-writer and co-producer of Grande’s “Thank U, Next” in 2018 and “7 Rings” in 2019. “Positions” became his third leader in each role, while “34+35″ marks his seventh top 10.
The weekly Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts are based on total points accrued by a songwriter and producer, respectively, for each attributed song that appears on the Hot 100; plus, genre-based songwriter and producer charts follow the same methodology based on corresponding “Hot”-named genre charts. As with Billboard’s yearly recaps, multiple writers or producers split points for each song equally (and the dividing of points will lead to occasional ties on rankings).
The full Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts, in addition to the full genre rankings, can be found on Billboard.com.
The 2020 Country Music Association Awards are just hours away and with performances by everyone from Miranda Lambert and Luke Combs to Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber, it’s sure to be country’s biggest night of the year.
Airing live from Music City Center in downtown Nashville, this year’s show will broadcast at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC. Fans with a participating TV provider can also tune into all the action using ABC’s official website, as well as the ABC app.
The CMAs are set to open with an all-star tribute to the late Charlie Daniels, featuring Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Jenee Fleenor. (The Charlie Daniels Band frontman passed away in July at the age of 83 due to a hemorrhagic stroke.)
Lambert leads this year’s pack of nominees with a total of seven nods, including entertainer of the year, album of the year, female vocalist of the year, single of the year and song of the year. Ahead of the show, the star took home the prize for music video of the year for her hit single “Bluebird” but lost out on musical event of the year to Carly Pearce and Lee Brice’s duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”
Other performers over the course of the night will include Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini, Old Dominion and Chris Stapleton, plus hosts Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, who will debut their new collaboration “In the Ghetto” as a tribute to the late Mac Davis.
Contrary to most awards shows in 2020, this year’s CMAs will also take place in person with an audience, though nominated artists and their guests will still be expected to practice social distancing during the intimate telecast.
Check out the CMAs latest social media teaser ahead of tonight’s show below.
Misery loves company. It’s an important part of Michael Ray’s new single, “Whiskey and Rain,” though the protagonist never encounters another person in the course of the song.
“The company part is that rain and that whiskey that’s helping him get through it,” explains Ray.
Misery, loneliness and alcohol are all classic elements of old-school country songs, and they help “Whiskey and Rain” provide a musical salve for Ray, who spent much of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic sheltering with family in Florida. He determined during those weeks that his career needed a shot of the traditional sound that had inspired his original pursuit of country, and “Whiskey” — particularly the winding guitar-and-keyboard lick in the intro — is a proper elixir.
“That makes me remember hearing Gary Allan for the first time, and Gary Stewart, and Buck Owens,” he says. “That beginning grabs you immediately, and the sway of that chorus, I just feel like it’s this good, two-stepping-feel song.”
“Whiskey and Rain” is the result of an old-school songwriting arrangement, too. Josh Thompson (“Drowns the Whiskey,” “One Margarita”) authored it roughly two years ago with Jesse Frasure (“Dirt On My Boots,” “Remember You Young”) at the Rhythm House publishing operation near Nashville’s fairgrounds. The room was less crowded than the typical 2020 co-write, and fewer people led to fewer doubts about the work.
“I find the smoothest writes are two-way writes,” observes Frasure. “You just go, ‘Do you like this?’ And they go, ‘Yeah.’ Then you move on. There’s not a third party going, ‘Well, what if we did this angle?’ “
Frasure came to the appointment with a handful of musical ideas, and Thompson gravitated to a midtempo one with a curvy signature lick. The “Whiskey and Rain” phrase fit nicely with that musical hook, and they used it to launch the chorus, quickly following it with a “comin’ down, comin’ down” afterthought that became a secondary hook, though it filled up enough space that it threatened to create a breathing problem.
“Not a lot of gaps there,” concedes Frasure.
The chorus carried out the liquid nature of the title, both the bourbon and the weather helping to “wash away the past.” Pieces of the melody intertwined with the sig lick, then pulled away, then intertwined again. It represented an addictive musical dance, even if the guy in the song was forced to dance alone.
Once that stanza was completed, the writers backed up to the opening lines of the first verse, referencing a downpour on the tin roof and a Black Label brand to hint at the eventual title. And once they established the singer as the sole occupant of his honky-tonk living room, they inserted that important observation: Misery loves company.
“I just thought that was a cool line that basically summed up the whole thing — the company of the rain, the whiskey — and just kind of setting up that mood,” notes Frasure.
The second verse turned the protagonist’s pain into a hangover and ambled its way toward a repeat of the chorus. Before it was all over, they repurposed the “Misery loves company” line, bringing it out to set up a final down chorus, a subdued section that sets up the song’s conclusion.
Frasure tweaked the demo with a sibilant, ’80s-pop drum sound and light, flute-tinted piano chords, and Thompson delivered the vocal, confirming in the process that the “comin’ down, comin’ down” section was going to work.
“Some of the best writers in town can sell the hell out of a demo; you know, really get that emotion across,” says Frasure of Thompson’s performance. “As long as he can pull off a phrase, I know it’s singable.”
Frasure’s wife, Rhythm House vp Stevie Frasure, sent the demo to Morris Higham Management executive Buffy Cooper, who thought highly of it and passed it along to Ray. It was the first song he put on hold for his next album.
“It has the sad lyrics, obviously — this guy is going through heartbreak — but there’s kind of a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Ray. “We’ve all been in that position, and I think that’s kind of how this whole year has been, you know? It’s been sad, but we’re all trying to be hopeful.”
The pandemic — the most obviously painful part of 2020 — affected how “Whiskey and Rain” moved forward. Studios were closed in the early days of COVID-19 to prevent the virus’ spread, and producer Ross Copperman (Dierks Bentley, Gabby Barrett) had to remotely build the performance one or two tracks at a time. Drummer Nir Z and bassist Tony Lucido laid down the foundation together with Copperman listening in via Zoom. Copperman sewed in the keyboard parts himself and had guitarist Ilya Toshinsky add in his contributions on his own. Despite the isolation, the musicians were able to muster enough energy that the track sounds as if it were cut live.
“There’s definitely a magic that happens in the studio when everyone’s together,” says Copperman. “But I feel like when you have a vision and you know how to attack a song, I think we nailed this one like that.”
Ray recorded his final vocals at the home of his tour manager, Luke Reynolds, who served as engineer while the artist cut five takes of “Whiskey and Rain” for Copperman to work with. Ray did extra advance preparation, expecting that the alternative arrangement would present some obstacles.
“It is weird — hell, we’re singing in the damn front part of the house,” says Ray. “I didn’t see any of the band members when we recorded. So I just tried to focus and learn as much as I can on that song so when I go in, all I have to do is handle that lyric and really hear what we’re singing.”
Copperman contributed the background vocals, and as he developed mixes, Ray decided it needed a fiddle to increase its traditional country flavor. Jenee Fleenor did the honors, sneaking in after the two-minute mark and taking prominence at the down chorus.
“She was phenomenal,” says Copperman. “It sounded like perfection.”
In the end, “Whiskey and Rain” blends several eras of country. Lucido’s bass grooves like Ronnie Milsap’s 1981 crossover “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me.” The overall sound is as melodic and easy-going as a 1990s David Lee Murphy single. And the hooky signature lick stamps it in the same way that the instrumental riff IDs Billy Currington’s 2009 hit “Don’t.”
“If I had to play one song for somebody and go, ‘Hey, here’s the representation of my record all on one song,’ it would be ‘Whiskey and Rain’ because there’s so many different influences that you’re going to hear in this album,” says Ray. “I feel like ‘Whiskey and Rain’ has elements of the ’80s, has elements of the ’70s, has elements of the ’90s. It really does bring it all together.”
“Whiskey and Rain” tied Luke Combs for the second-most-added single in conjunction with the Country Airplay chart dated Nov. 10, and lives on the Nov. 17 list at No. 58, making itself at home with 59 other current country titles.
Misery loves company.