From Vermont to the Official Chart: How Noah Kahan's Stick Season dominated the UK
Last Friday, Noah Kahan's Stick Season reached Number 2 on the UK's Official Singles Chart, only blocked from Number 1 by Jack Harlow's Lovin On Me.
Stick Season - a country-folk ballad in the most traditional sense - is not the kind of track you would typically expect to find battling for the title of biggest song in the country, but over the last few weeks it has seen a truly extraordinary rise, and providing a true breakout moment for singer-songwriter Noah Kahan, who has finally found a commercial audience, three albums in to his career.
But how did Stick Season make its way to UK chart domination? Here's its journey, in three easy to follow steps.
1. Noah Kahan was slowly but steadily building up a dedicated core audience prior to the release of Stick Season
While it may feel like Stick Season is Noah Kahan's debut single, it's actually the latest in a long line of maudlin, emotionally honest ballads that the singer-songwriter has slowly, but steadily, been building a dedicated core fan base around.
In fact, Kahan's commercial breakthrough has been whirring away in the background for a while. Originating from Vermont - the place where Stick Season is set - he originally signed to Republic Records (also home to A-list acts like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj) in 2017, following significant exposure his original songs gained on YouTube and Soundcloud.
From that point, he began releasing music; first with the 2018 EP Hurt Somebody, and his full-length debut album, Busyhead, in 2019, with all the tracks on that LP produced by Joel Little, best known for his influential work on Lorde's own debut album Pure Heroine.
Kahan followed this up with another EP, 2020's Cape Elizbeth two more albums, 2021's I Was/I Am and 2022's Stick Season.
2. Stick Season began to take off thanks to two viral covers by Olivia Rodrigo and Maisie Peters
You can trace the breakthrough of any song in the UK chart down to a source. And luckily for Stick Season, has two touchstone moments that helped the song reach the widest audience possible.
The first was thanks to ascendant UK singer-songwriter Maisie Peters - who Kahan has repeatedly called an influence on his own songwriting - who debuted a gender-flipped re-write of Stick Season on her TikTok. In Maisie's version of the song, Stick Season is re-told from the perspective of the girl who comes back to Vermont for Christmas, where she finds Kahan's protagonist waiting for her.
Maisie's version went viral (of course) and actually caught the attention of Olivia Rodrigo, who chose to cover Stick Season in her BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge set, following the release of her second album GUTS.
Olivia is, obviously, one of the biggest and most visible pop stars in the world, and we can see everyone sitting up and taking notice of Stick Season after her cover. In fact, there's a direct correlation between her cover airing and the song quickly beginning to rise in the UK - breaking back into the Top 40, reaching the Top 20 and eventually reaching the Top 10.
3. Of course, Stick Season's UK chart breakthrough was sealed by TikTok virality - and now the sky's the limit
TikTok then took Stick Season and ran with it. Virality on TikTok is perhaps the most important path to success on the Official Chart right now, and thanks to the helping hands of Olivia and Maisie, Stick Season has truly spread far and wide.
Now sitting comfortably at Number 2 in the UK, Stick Season will be looking to hold on to that position in the coming weeks, becoming an unlikely contender for the biggest Number 1 of the year, the Official Christmas Number 1, in the process.
According to Official Charts Company data, Stick Season's total UK chart units stand at over 347,000, including 39 million streams.
Stick Season by Noah Kahan is out now via Republic/Mercury.