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

Best Song (tie): “Drunk Girl” and “Burn Out,” 10/10
Worst Song: “One That Got Away,” 1/10
Mode Score: 0 (17 songs)


  • Luke Bryan, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” (recurrent)
  • Dylan Scott, “Hooked” (recurrent, finally)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “I Hate Love Songs” (recurrent)
  • Aaron Watson, “Run Wild Horses” (recurrent)
  • Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” (down to #63)


  • Old Dominion, “Hotel Key” (down from #1 to #3)

Needs To Take A Hint:

  • Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (returns to the Top 50 for the third time, but hasn’t exceeded #47 yet)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (returns to the Top 50 for the third time, but hasn’t exceeded #50 yet)

In Real Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Desperate Man” (holds at #14 but loses its bullet again,  blown away by both Allen and Tenpenny)
  • Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” (holds at #17 but loses its bullet, passed by LANco and crushed by Moore)
  • Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (up from #31 to #29 but loses it bullet, passed by Owen and McCreery)
  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (holds at #33 but loses its bullet, passed by Chesney and Aldean)
  • Craig Campbell, “See You Try” (down from #36 to #38, barely regains its bullet, and generally seems to be losing traction)
  • Granger Smith, “You’re In It” (up from #40 to #39, but is aging, gained less than 150 points, and has looked bad for a while now)
  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (up from #43 to #41, but is aging, gained less than 150 points this week, and has looked bad for a while now)

In Some Trouble:

  • LANco, “Born To Love You” (up from #18 to #15, but needs to show they can build on this)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” (up from #44 to #43, but gained less than 50 points this week and just isn’t finding any traction)
  • Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” (up from #49 to #48, but lost points this week and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Tim McGraw, “Neon Church” (debuts at twenty-freaking-eight?!?!)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Sixteen” (up from #56 to #37)
  • Brett Young, “Here Tonight” (up from #54 to #46)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Best Shot” (up from #16 to #11)
  • Dan + Shay, “Speechless” (up from #25 to #20)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins” (up from #47 to #42)
  • Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (up from #50 to #45)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Was this a turbulent week? Yes. Is there a lot more turbulence to come? Count on it.

Of the fourteen songs I put on death watch last week, four are already gone, Old Dominion is leaving gracefully, and three others (Sugarland & Swift, Rich, and Denning) are on the edge of collapse. Losing Ballerini and Watson hurts the Pulse a lot, but Rhett and Brett Young helped ease the pain a little, and McGraw’s neutral comeback at least doesn’t make things worse. There’s still some flotsam hanging around at the very bottom (Anderson, Lay, Maddie & Tae, Rucker), but with Currington, Rascal Flatts, and a few others set to return to the charts, these will be cleared away quickly.

This week was mostly a win for the establishment, with known quantities like Dan + Shay, Owen, Chesney, McGraw, Rhett, Brett Young, Urban, and Underwood all jumping four or more spots. Allen’s leap to the brink of the Top Ten was unexpected but very much welcomed, while Houser’s five-spot jump makes me cringe a little. With more veteran artists preparing to rejoin the party, I expect this trend to continue as the summer rotations fade in favor of the fall.

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