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

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


  • Old Dominion, “Hotel Key” (recurrent)
  • Craig Campbell, “See You Try” (recurrent)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (dropped below #50)


  • Cole Swindell, “Break Up In The End” (max-spin week is over)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Blue Tacoma” (down from #3 to #4)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Simple” (down from #1 to #7)
  • LANco, “Born To Love You” (down from #17 to #19, label has officially pulled the plug)
  • Carly Pearce, “Hide The Wine” (down from #11 to #29)

Death Watch:

  • Chris Janson, “Drunk Girl” (down from #7 to #8 with some strong songs catching up from behind, and after 42 weeks the vultures are starting to circle)
  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (at #40 after 24 weeks and just hasn’t resonated with listeners)
  • Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (up from #48 to #46 as recurrents fall away, but gained less than 150 points and has a new crop of momentum-laden songs coming behind it)
  • Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” (in the same boat as Lay)

In Real Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Desperate Man” (up from #14 to #12, but loses it bullet again and has basically been stuck in neutral for the last six weeks)
  • Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” (up from #16 to #15, but gained all of one spin this week, and is in the same boat as Church but nearly twice as old))
  • Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (down from #29 to #30, passed by McGraw and Aldean, has Chesney, Ray, and Urban breathing down its neck, and just doesn’t seem to have a path forward)
  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (holds at #34 but gained less than 100 points, and has been stuck in the same mud as Rich for the last month or so)

In Some Trouble:

  • Garth Brooks, “All Day Long” (down from #10 to #13, gained less than 175 points, and passed by Allen, Pearce, and Tenpenny)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” (holds at #43, but lost its bullet this week and still isn’t finding any traction)
  • Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (up from #46 to #45, but lost its bullet this week)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jimmie Allen, “Best Shot” (up from #10 to #5 and has jumped eleven spots in the last three weeks)
  • Tim McGraw, “Neon Church” (up from #33 to #28)
  • Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On” (up from #18 to #13)
  • Dan + Shay, “Speechless” (up from 20 to #16)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Whiskey Glasses” (up from #53 to #49)

On The Way:


  • Post Malone, “Better Now” (debuts at 93?)

Overall Thoughts: So a funny thing happened on the way to Luke Combs’s coronation: The rest of the chart decided not to play along.

While I saw Swindell’s max-spin ads for “Break Up In The End” last week, I didn’t pay them much attention, as “She Got The Best Of Me” looked far too strong to be overtaken by anyone. However, Warner Bros. apparently decided they weren’t going to be denied, because Swindell rode an incredible 1400+ spin gain to this week’s #1 slot. While this would normally be just a one-week delay of the inevitable, Allen’s “Best Shot” is suddenly looking like a force of nature at #5, crushing any dream Combs had of an extended stay at the top. Put it all together, and suddenly Columbia Nashville is breaking out their own max-spin ads just to ensure Combs gets at least one week at the top.

Cracks are beginning to show in the rest of the chart as well, so much so that the current chart constipation threatens to swing the other way and turn into explosive diarrhea. Both Pearce and LANco have officially given up the ghost, and with several other tracks in the teens looking shaky (Brooks, Church, and Sugarland are all going nowhere fast, and Moore is looking long in the tooth at 38 weeks), I expect to see some major action in the next week or so.

Sadly, I’m not seeing a lot of quality rushing in to take the place of what’s leaving. LoCash, Wallen, Bryan, Currington, and Evans don’t have a positive score among them, and outside of Ballerini’s “Miss Me More,” I don’t see any songs landing in the Top 50 that I’m really excited about (spoiler alert: the new songs from Brothers Osborne and Old Dominion are much more boring than I expected). I was worried about how the chart would play out during the winter months, and those fears are getting realized more and more each week.

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