The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: September 23, 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 weekly chart publication. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Old Dominion, “Hotel Key” +1 (6/10)
2. Russell Dickerson, “Blue Tacoma” 0 (5/10)
3. Luke Bryan, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” (5/10)
4. Dylan Scott, “Hooked” 0 (5/10)
5. Florida Georgia Line, “Simple” +2 (7/10)
6. Cole Swindell, “Break Up In The End” +3 (8/10)
7. Chris Young, “Hangin’ On” 0 (5/10)
8. Chris Janson, “Drunk Girl” +5 (10/10)
9. Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” +2 (7/10)
10. Maren Morris, “Rich” -1 (4/10)
11. Garth Brooks, “All Day Long” +3 (8/10)
12. Kane Brown, “Lose It” +1 (6/10)
13. Carly Pearce, “Hide The Wine” 0 (5/10)
14. Eric Church, “Desperate Man” +1 (6/10)
15. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Drunk Me” 0 (5/10)
16. Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” 0 (5/10)
17. LANco, “Born To Love You” +1 (6/10)
18. Jimmie Allen, “Best Shot” +2 (7/10)
19. Kip Moore, “Last Shot” -2 (3/10)
20. Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On” -1 (4/10)
21. Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man” +3 (8/10)
22. Midland, “Burn Out” +5 (10/10)
23. Kelsea Ballerini, “I Hate Love Songs” +2 (7/10)
24. Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” 0 (5/10)
25. Jordan Davis, “Take It From Me” -2 (3/10)
26. Dan + Shay, “Speechless” 0 (5/10)
27. Riley Green, “There Was This Girl” +1 (6/10)
28. Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl” 0 (5/10)
29. Scotty McCreery, “This Is It” +1 (6/10)
30. Tyler Rich, “The Difference” 0 (5/10)
31. Jake Owen, “Down To The Honkytonk” -1 (4/10)
32. Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” 0 (5/10)
33. Michael Ray, “One That Got Away” -4 (1/10)
34. Kenny Chesney ft. Mindy Smith, “Better Boat” +2 (7/10)
35. Craig Campbell, “See You Try” -1 (4/10)
36. Aaron Watson, “Run Wild Horses” +4 (9/10)
37. Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” -2 (3/10)
38. Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” +1 (6/10)
39. Granger Smith, “You’re In It” 0 (5/10)
40. Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” -3 (2/10)
41. Jon Pardi, “Night Shift” 0 (5/10)
42. Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” 0 (5/10)
43. Billy Currington, “Bring It On Over” -1 (4/10)
44. Danielle Bradbery ft. Thomas Rhett, “Goodbye Summer” (5/10)
45. Eli Young Band, “Love Ain’t” -1 (4/10)
46. Jason Aldean, “Girl Like You” (5/10)
47. Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” -2 (3/10)
48. Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” -1 (4/10)
49. Chase Rice, “Eyes On You” 0 (5/10)
50. Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +25
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -8
Overall Pulse +17
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)


  • Thomas Rhett, “Life Changes” (recurrent)
  • Darius Rucker ft. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Charles Kelley, “Straight To Hell” (dropped below #50)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (dropped below #50)


  • Old Dominion, “Hotel Key” (max-spin week is over)
  • Luke Bryan, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Dylan Scott, “Hooked” (down from #2 to #4)

In Real Trouble:

  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (up from #33 to #32, but only gained four spins and lost points this week, and has Ray and Chesney nipping at his heels)
  • Craig Campbell, “See You Try” (holds at #35 and regains its bullet, but gained less than 100 points and has zero momentum at this point)
  • Aaron Watson, “Run Wild Horses” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only twelve spins and lost point this week)
  • Granger Smith, “You’re In It” (regained its bullet, but dropped from #38 to #39, was blown away by Urban and Johnson, and generally looks like it’s going nowhere)
  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (forget “inside the Top 30 at twenty weeks,” he’s struggling to stay inside the Top 40)

In Some Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Desperate Man” (down from #13 to #14 and lost its bullet,  but still only eleven weeks on the chart)
  • Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” (up from #17 to #16, but gained less than 11 points and has some strong competition behind it)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “I Hate Love Songs” (up from #24 to #23, but gained only six spins and nineteen points this week)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl” (gained only 34 points and dropped from #27 to #28, and it wasn’t because Riley Green’s gains were anything special)
  • Chase Rice, “Eyes On You” (drops from #49 to #49, gained one spins and lost points this week, but still only three weeks on the chart)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Billy Currington, “Bring It On Over” (debuts at #43?!)
  • Jason Aldean, “Girl Like You” (up from #58 to #46)
  • Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” (up from #43 to #38)
  • Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” (up from #41 to #37)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:


  • Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B, “Girls Like You” (currently at #91?)
  • Post Malone, “Better Now” (debuts at #93?)

Overall Thoughts: Things are still a bit constipated, but I expect to see some movement soon, and for the first time in a while I think it’ll be for the better!

Things are surprisingly orderly at the top of the charts, with only Kane Brown gaining more than three positions this week. Gains are a bit more spread out this time around, but I’m still seeing more weakness than I’d expect between #11 and #20: Pearce, Tenpenny, Sugarland, LANco, and especially Eric Church are looking shaky, and Brooks seems to have stalled just outside the Top Ten.

Farther down, the true contenders are starting to rise to the top: Dan + Shay, Owen, Ray, Chesney, and even Scotty McCreery are starting to make their move to get on the escalator, while a bunch of acts from #30 on down (especially those on the “Real Trouble” list) seems to have losing traction. There are a lot of strong singers with high-quality singles on the way (Rhett, Underwood, Wammack, Runaway June, and maybe Brett Young pending a review), so if you’re looking up at #30 and aren’t named Owen, Urban, Aldean, or Cody Johnson (!), you need to be concerned.

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

2 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: September 23, 2018

    1. I threw those tracks in the post because I couldn’t believe they were on the Mediabase chart in the first place! Apparently they both got enough airplay boosts this week on country stations (35 spins across 34 stations for both tracks) that they showed up on Mediabase’s official ‘New Airplay’ rankings. According to the list, Maroon 5 was at #69 last week!

      I’ve never heard either song, but I’m really curious to know where their spins are coming from…


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