The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: September 2, 2018

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the now-defunct Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s official numbers are from Mediabase’s August 26th publication. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Thomas Rhett, “Life Changes” +2 (7/10)
2. Luke Bryan, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” (5/10)
3. Jason Aldean ft. Miranda Lambert, “Drowns The Whiskey” +2 (7/10)
4. Old Dominion, “Hotel Key” +1 (6/10)
5. Dylan Scott, “Hooked” 0 (5/10)
6. Florida Georgia Line, “Simple” +2 (7/10)
7. Russell Dickerson, “Blue Tacoma” 0 (5/10)
8. Cole Swindell, “Break Up In The End” +3 (8/10)
9. Chris Janson, “Drunk Girl” +5 (10/10)
10. Chris Young, “Hangin’ On” 0 (5/10)
11. Garth Brooks, “All Day Long” +3 (8/10)
12. Eric Church, “Desperate Man” +1 (6/10)
13. Maren Morris, “Rich” -1 (4/10)
14. Carly Pearce, “Hide The Wine” 0 (5/10)
15. Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” +2 (7/10)
16. Kane Brown, “Lose It” +1 (6/10)
17. Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” 0 (5/10)
18. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Drunk Me” 0 (5/10)
19. LANco, “Born To Love You” +1 (6/10)
20. Morgan Evans, “Kiss Somebody” -1 (4/10)
21. Jimmie Allen, “Best Shot” +2 (7/10)
22. Kip Moore, “Last Shot” -2 (3/10)
23. Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On” -1 (4/10)
24. Carrie Underwood, “Cry Pretty” (5/10)
25. Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man” +3 (8/10)
26. Kelsea Ballerini, “I Hate Love Songs” +2 (7/10)
27. Midland, “Burn Out” +5 (10/10)
28. Chris Lane ft. Tori Kelly, “Take Back Home Girl” -1 (4/10)
29. Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” 0 (5/10)
30. Jordan Davis, “Take It From Me” -2 (3/10)
31. Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl” 0 (5/10)
32. Riley Green, “There Was This Girl” +1 (6/10)
33. Tyler Rich, “The Difference” 0 (5/10)
34. Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” 0 (5/10)
35. Craig Campbell, “See You Try” -1 (4/10)
36. Scotty McCreery, “This Is It” +1 (6/10)
37. Dan + Shay, “Speechless” 0 (5/10)
38. Granger Smith, “You’re In It” 0 (5/10)
39. Jake Owen, “Down To The Honkytonk” -1 (4/10)
40. Aaron Watson, “Run Wild Horses” +4 (9/10)
41. Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” -3 (2/10)
42. Jon Pardi, “Night Shift” 0 (5/10)
43. Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” 0 (5/10)
44. Eli Young Band, “Love Ain’t” -1 (4/10)
45. Michael Ray, “One That Got Away” -4 (1/10)
46. Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” -2 (3/10)
47. Danielle Bradbery ft. Thomas Rhett, “Goodbye Summer” (5/10)
48. Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” -1 (4/10)
49. Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” +1 (6/10)
50. Darius Rucker ft. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Charles Kelley, “Straight To Hell” (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +23
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -2
Overall Pulse +21
Change From Last Week -3 😦

Best Song (tie): “Drunk Girl” and “Burn Out,” 10/10
Worst Song: “One That Got Away,” 1/10
Mode Score: 0 (18 songs)


  • Brett Young, “Mercy” (recurrent)
  • Brothers Osborne, “Shoot Me Straight” (recurrent)


  • Jason Aldean ft. Miranda Lambert, “Drowns The Whiskey” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Morgan Evans, “Kiss Somebody” (down from #10 to #20)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Cry Pretty” (down from #6 to #24)
  • Chris Lane ft. Tori Kelly, “Take Back Home Girl” (down from #20 to #28)

In Real Trouble:

  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (up from #36 to #34 due to recurrents above it, but lost points, spins, and its bullet this week)

In Some Trouble:

  • Craig Campbell, “See You Try” (up from #37 to #35, but still hasn’t gained more than 200 points a week since the Pulse restarted)
  • Granger Smith, “You’re In It” (up from #39 to #38, but has turned in four straight weeks of sub-200 point gains)
  • Aaron Watson, “Run Wild Horses” (holds at #40, but aging and has turned in four straight weeks of sub-200 point gains)
  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (holds at #41 and finally broke the 150 point-gain barrier, but still had a weak week and has some stiff competition behind it)
  • Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (down from #47 to #48, gained only 44 points, passed by three other songs, and just seems to be floundering at the bottom of the “future” chart)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Danielle Bradbery ft. Thomas Rhett, “Goodbye Summer” (up from #57 to #47)
  • Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” (up from #23 to #15)
  • Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On” (up from #29 to #23)
  • Kane Brown, “Lose It” (up from #21 to #16)
  • Dan + Shay, “Speechless” (up from #42 to #37)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: The transition period continues for the country charts, and while it doesn’t look great at the moment, I’m starting to see a few steps back in the positive direction:

  • Losing Brett Young, Aldean and eventually Rhett will hurt, but we’re also starting to clean out some mediocrity from the top of the charts (Lane, Evans, and even Carrie Underwood).
  • The clock is finally about to strike midnight for Dylan Scott, as the latest Country Aircheck pegs next week as the final “max spin” push for “Hooked.”
  • The less-exciting songs at the bottom of the charts are starting to show their true potential, and while some awful entries (Shelton, Davis, Owen) are making headway, others (Campbell, Atkins, Lay) appear to be more bust than boom.
  • The songs coming in from the bottom seem to be trending back towards neutral scores (Bradbery, Rucker), and Urban’s “Never Comin’ Down” will at least be canceled out by Chesney’s “Better Boat.”
  • Looking very deep into the crystal ball, there are a couple of songs coming with some real potential (Underwood’s “Love Wins,” Brett Young’s “Here Tonight,” and even Aldean’s “Girl Like You”). Yes, LoCash’s “Feels Like A Party” is coming too, but their last song didn’t even make the Top 40, so I don’t see them making much of an impact.

None of this means much in the short term (things look pretty good!) or medium term (things look kind of bad), but it’s nice to know there’s a small sliver of hope for the future.

So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!