This is big news. It's only the second time in the past two decades that a female solo artist has topped the alt chart, and it's the first time since Lorde's "Royals" shot to No. 1 back in 2013.
How could a song like "Ex's & Oh's" win big on the charts? Easy. Its road-weary, country-tinged, boot-stompin' rhythm makes it inescapably catchy, and King's clever lyrics -- "One, two, three, they gonna run back to me/ They always wanna come but they never wanna leave" -- endearingly speak for themselves.
But why have only two female solo songs found that kind of success since 1996? King thinks it has to do with "alternative" being a typically male-affiliated term.
"Alternative is mainly male rock and roll, and there’s not a lot of women who, not only fronting female bands, but [there] aren’t as many female rock or alternative solo acts," she recently told MTV News. "I think there’s just more guys in alternative."
King co-wrote the song with producer Dave Bassett and co-wrote all 12 tracks on her debut album, Love Stuff, released in February on RCA. "Ex's & Oh's" itself, however, came out all the way back in September 2014, which makes its rise to the top of the chart a bit delayed, but certainly a welcome outcome. She chalks it up to constant touring, including her headlining tour throughout this past summer, as well as tons of radio interviews and -- surprise, surprise -- just being pleasant to the people she meets.
"It’s really being nice to every single person from the head of the label to just a fan on the street," she said. "You have to be nice to everybody, and then people want you to succeed."
The news of that success came to King via a message from her manager while she shopped in Seattle with her boyfriend, who, she said, "picked me up and swung me around."
For all the bigger, slicker moments on Love Stuff (like "Ex's & Oh's"), there's a gorgeously sparse folk ballad called "Kocaine Karolina" that displays King's softer side. She plucks a banjo over subtle piano chords and sings to soothe a worried rambler (maybe herself): "Easy days will come/ When you rest your heavy soul/ Easy days will come/ When your hard living is done." That song, a quiet emotional oasis in a dry expanse of big, bold statements, was almost just as loud -- King wanted drums on the track, but her producer talked her out of it.
"I’m glad because it is a nice break," she said. "It was an important decision to showcase every side of me as a musician and as who I am. I love to sing big rock and roll songs, I love to sing country-pop stuff, and then I love to sing soft, sadder beautiful songs. And I’m just very glad I signed with the right label that let me make the album I wanted to make."
And that's the point. Whether she stays on top another week (or eight, and breaks Lorde's record, or 20, and beats out Muse's "Madness" to set a new one all-time record), it's all good. She did it.
"Hey, my song is No. 1 two weeks in a row, but it could not be next week," she said. "But just the fact that I got to No. 1 for an instant? That just means it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, if you make good f—king music that people wanna listen to. That’s it."