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


  • Florida Georgia Line, “Simple” (recurrent)
  • Carly Pearce, “Hide The Wine” (recurrent)


  • Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” (posted a “thank you radio!” in Country Aircheck this week)
  • Chris Janson, “Drunk Girl” (ditto Combs)
  • Cole Swindell, “Break Up In The End” (down from #8 to #20)
  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (down from #34 to #35, and the losses are big enough to suggest it’s lost label support)

Death Watch:

  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (semi-decent gains constitute progress, but at only #38 after 26 weeks does it really have a future?)

Really Needs To Take A Hint:

  • Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” (up from #46 to #45, but lost its bullet again and is starting to age)
  • Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only 22 points this week and just isn’t going anywhere)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (magically re-appears at #49 due to some glitch in the chart reporting, but without a bullet)

In Real Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Desperate Man” (up from #13 to #12, but posts another weak week and with Bentley, Lynch and Rhett behind it, how long can in continue to tread water?)
  • Granger Smith, “You’re In It” (down from #36 to #37, passed by Bryan and Brett Young after another sub-100 point gain)

In Some Trouble:

  • Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” (holds at #14, but reverts to its weak-gain ways and now has Lynch and Rhett backed up behind it)
  • Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (holds at #27, passed by Chesney, and now has Bryan, Ray, Pardi, and Urban ready to pounce)
  • Basically, if you’re #39 or lower and aren’t Old Dominion, you had a rough go this week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “What Makes You Country” (up from #37 to #28 and has jumped thirty-seven spots in the last two weeks)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl” (up from #19 to #15)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Sixteen” (up from #20 to #16)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

WTF, or “There Has To Be A Station Going Rogue Somewhere”:

  • Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug, “Havana” (reappears at #92?)

Overall Thoughts: Washington may have gotten a big shakeup this week, but after Luke Combs decided “You know what, I want a multi-week #1 after all,” the complete flushing of the Mediabase chart will have to wait another week.

At the very end of September, I called out fourteen songs would absolutely be gone by November, and labeled another six as potentially gone. Fast forward to today: Nine of the fourteen are history, one (Denning) is on its way out, and the other four (Sugarland & Swift, Smith, Atkins, and Anderson) are zombies that really need to be plunged from the drain of the genre. (From the ‘potentially gone’ group, Pearce has disappeared and Janson and Swindell are both heading for the exits.) In their wake, a crop of established stars are racing in to fill the void, each one looking stronger than the last (first Shelton, then Dan + Shay, then McGraw, then Rhett, and now Luke Bryan).

I really wish I could say that this coming transition is for the better (and I can say that it’s not as bad as it could have been), but I’m just hearing a lot of bland filler on the radio lately. There’s still a chance for things to improve (Runaway June and Ballerini are knocking on the door of the Top 50, and Wammack is lurking in the high 50s), but given country music’s allergy to female artists, it seems more likely that we’ll be stuck with middling tunes from Brothers Osborne, Billy Currington, and Morgan Evans instead. (That David Lee Murphy tune sitting at #52 also greatly concerns me…)

One last question: Who takes the #1 slot next week? Jimmie Allen’s Country Aircheck ad this week only called for “powering up,” but given his gains over the past few weeks, he might get around Chris Young and steal the crown on momentum alone. However, I expect a lot of movement below these pair, so stay tuned!

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