The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: November 25, 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. Maren Morris, “Rich” -1 (4/10)
3. Kane Brown, “Lose It” +1 (6/10)
4. Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” +2 (7/10)
5. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Drunk Me” 0 (5/10)
6. Dan + Shay, “Speechless” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Young, “Hangin’ On” 0 (5/10)
8. Kip Moore, “Last Shot” -2 (3/10)
9. Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On” -1 (4/10)
10. Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man” +3 (8/10)
11. Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl” 0 (5/10)
12. Thomas Rhett, “Sixteen” +2 (7/10)
13. Eric Church, “Desperate Man” +1 (6/10)
14. Scotty McCreery, “This Is It” +1 (6/10)
15. Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” 0 (5/10)
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. Luke Bryan, “What Makes You Country” (5/10)
21. Jake Owen, “Down To The Honkytonk” -1 (4/10)
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. Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” -2 (3/10)
27. Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins” +3 (8/10)
28. Tyler Rich, “The Difference” 0 (5/10)
29. Old Dominion, “Make It Sweet” (5/10)
30. Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” +1 (6/10)
31. Brett Young, “Here Tonight” +1 (6/10)
32. Eli Young Band, “Love Ain’t” -1 (4/10)
33. Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” 0 (5/10)
34. Granger Smith, “You’re In It” 0 (5/10)
35. Chase Rice, “Eyes On You” 0 (5/10)
36. Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” -3 (2/10)
37. Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” 0 (5/10)
38. Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” -1 (4/10)
39. Kelsea Ballerini, “Miss Me More” +4 (9/10)
40. Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” +1 (6/10)
41. LoCash, “Feels Like A Party” -2 (3/10)
42. Lee Brice, “Rumor” (5/10)
43. Morgan Wallen, “Whiskey Glasses” -1 (4/10)
44. Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” -1 (4/10)
45. Garth Brooks, “All Day Long” +3 (8/10)
46. Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” -2 (3/10)
47. Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” -1 (4/10)
48. Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” +2 (7/10)
49. Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” -1 (4/10)
50. Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +9
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -1
Overall Pulse +8
Change From Last Week -9 😦

Best Song (tie): “Burn Out,” 10/10
Worst Song: “One That Got Away,” 1/10
Mode Score: 0 (16 songs)


  • Chris Janson, “Drunk Girl” (recurrent)
  • Brad Paisley, “Bucked Off” (down below #50)
  • Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift, “Babe” (recurrent)
  • Danielle Bradbery ft. Thomas Rhett, “Goodbye Summer” (recurrent)


  • Chris Young, “Hangin’ On” (down from #5 to #7)
  • Garth Brooks, “All Day Long” (down from #27 to #45)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (down from #27 to #28, gains only fifty-three points and—you guessed it!—is passed by another two songs. Good grief Valory, put this thing out of its misery already!)
  • Travis Denning, “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” (up from #36 to #33 despite losing points this week)
  • Granger Smith, “You’re In It” (up from #38 to #34 on a barely-passable week of gains, but after twenty-three weeks, is it too little too late?)
  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country (up from #37 to #36 but gains only fourteen spins and 47 points. After almost thirty weeks on the chart, it’s not even in the Top 35!)
  • Carlton Anderson, “Drop Everything” (up from #49 to #46 but is bullet-less for the second consecutive week. Just admit it’s over, Arista)
  • Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (the song that won’t die is back again at #47, but without a bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On” (holds at #9 with a shocking sub-100 point gain week. What happened here?)
  • Eric Church, “Desperate Man” (holds at #13 with a solid week for a change! Can it keep it up?)
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Ain’t” (holds at #32 after gaining only four spins and losing points this week)
  • Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (up from #41 to #38 despite losing its bullet with non-negligible point losses)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “Miss Me More” (up from #44 to #39, but with a weak sub-100 point gain week. After “I Hate Love Songs” faltered at #25, this bears watching)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (up from #48 to #44 despite gaining only twelve spins and less than 75 points this week)
  • Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” (finally makes the Top 50, but without a bullet)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Hard to say. There are a lot of significant spot gains below #25, but are they because of strength or because of recurrents above them?

On The Way:


  • Luke Combs, “She Got The Best Of Me” (down from #2 to #4 but regains its freaking bullet? Is this the second coming of “Body Like A Back Road”?)
  • Drake, “In My Feelings” (in the 100s and appears on Mediabase’s “New Airplay” list?)

Overall Thoughts: First things first: Either I’m misreading these reports, or Mediabase is reporting different chart positions than it did last week. I found several differences between where songs said they were last week as opposed to where they were actually listed last week…

Thanks to two very different sets of fading tracks, it seems we have a tale of two charts this week.

At the top, we have three songs that refuse to say die:

  • “Best Shot,” which not only held the #1 slot for a second week, but has enough of a point advantage over “Rich” that it could potentially keep it for a third week.
  • “She Got The Best Of Me,” which (I can’t stress this enough) got its bullet back even while sinking to #4. With “Beautiful Crazy” already in the 60s, not even Combs wants this thing to linger, but at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised to see this song still in the Top 10 in January.
  • “Hangin’ On,” which is taking a more conventional (but still slow) exit as it drop to #7. Given the sizable point gap between it and Bentley at #10, I think this keeps hangin’ on for another week.

With such statis at the top, movement within the Top 25 was almost non-existent, with only one artist jumping multiple slots (Morris) and sixteen songs not budging at all! With Allen, Combs, and Chris Young still looking strong, I expect more of the same next week.

Now the bottom of the chart? That’s where the action happened: With Paisley falling back to earth and Janson, Sugarland & Swift, and Bradbery all bowing out, the number of songs jumping four or more slots was in double digits! Sadly, the cruft-flushing I was hoping for didn’t quite materialize: Lay came back, Anderson hung around, and both Florida Georgia Line and Evans added to the refuse pile. Still, while the Pulse took a massive hit this week, I’m still slightly bullish on its future: Atkins, Anderson, and Lay are on life support, and there are a lot of songs now rising up from underneath the Top 5o, some of which are actually decent (who woulda thunk David Lee Murphy would turn in a solid effort?). Brooks’s expected departure next week will hurt, but at least the next songs on the chopping block all seem to be ones the world would be better off without.

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