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

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


  • Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (down to #51)


  • Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” (holds at #2, and losses are slow enough that it might stick around for a while)
  • Chris Young, “Hangin’ On” (down from #1 to #5)
  • Chris Janson, “Drunk Girl” (down from #20 to #28)
  • Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” (down from #18 to #40)

In Real Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Desperate Man” (down from #12 to #13, loses its bullet, and is passed by Rhett and Lynch with McCreery coming up fast)
  • Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (holds at #27, but gains only fifteen points and is passed by another two songs. After 28 weeks, it’s time to pull the plug)
  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (has a 200+ point gain for a change, but still pushed back a spot to #36 by Paisley)
  • Granger Smith, “You’re In It” (holds at #37 but gains only two spins and only 59 points. As Randy Travis might say, it’s just a matter of time)
  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (same story, different week: holds at #38 with yet another weak-gain week and needs to just go away)
  • Danielle Bradbery ft. Thomas Rhett, “Goodbye Summer” (down from #41 to #43 and loses its bullet after taking significant losses. Is it already out of gas?)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (holds at #49 but gains less than 100 points this week, and just isn’t going anywhere)
  • Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” (down from #46 to #50 and loses it bullet again. Is this thing finally on its last legs?)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” (down from #40 to #41 and barely keeps it bullet after a zero-spin gain, eleven-point loss week)
  • Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (holds at #42 but gains only ten spins and loses points this week)
  • LoCash, “Feels Like A Party” (down from #43 to #47 and loses its bullet after a surprisingly-weak week. Is the party over already?)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Brad Paisley, “Bucked Off” (debuts at #35, though it will likely regress to the mean next week)
  • Michael Ray, “One That Got Away” (up from #28 to #23)
  • Jason Aldean, “Girl Like You” (up from #22 to #318)
  • Riley Green, “There Was This Girl” (up from #23 to #19)
  • Luke Bryan, “What Makes You Country” (up fro #25 to #21)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts:

Image from Make A Meme

Okay, it’s good news/bad news time.

First, the bad: While the Pulse technically jumped up this week, some high-scoring singles (Janson, Brooks) are now on their way out, and the stuff in line to replace them ranges from “meh” (Bryan, McGraw, Aldean) to “absolute garbage” (Ray). On the back end, some of the stuff looking to jump back into the top fifty (Currington, FGL, and maybe even Lay comes back from the dead) doesn’t inspire much hope for the future. In the short term, things are going to be really rough on the chart, perhaps bad enough to make it negative for the first time.

And yet, some beacons of hope are finally starting to shine. Paisley’s new song joins Ballerini’s as the best shot for a brighter future, and all this chart turbulence might finally allow for some unexpected gems (Runaway June? Rachel Wammack?) to finally emerge from below the Top fifty. Throw in the possibility of some weaker material sitting in the forties getting flushed away once and for all (definitely Anderson and Maddie & Tae, possibly Eldredge, Houser, and even LoCash), and there might be enough positive movement here to offset losses at the top. (For what it’s worth, neither Allen nor Combs seem to be going anywhere soon, and that’s a good thing.)

Things will get worse before they get better, but at least there are signs that they will get better as the calendar flips to 2019.

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