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!
Best Song: “Burn Out,” 10/10
Worst Song: “One That Got Away,” 1/10
Mode Score: 0 (15 songs)
- Dan + Shay, “Speechless”
- Thomas Rhett, “Sixteen” (down from #1 to #4)
- Dustin Lynch, “Good Girl” (down from #4 to #5)
- Tim McGraw, “Neon Church” (down from #20 to #22)
- Midland, “Burn Out” (#9 after 40 weeks)
- Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” (#8 after 39 weeks)
- Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (#24 after 38 weeks, passed by yet another song and looks much weaker than its immediate competition)
- Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (#26 after 38 weeks, gained only thirty-two spins and seventy-one points)
In Real Trouble:
- Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (holds at #38, gained just two spins and eighty points, and was passed by Pearce and Gilbert/Ell)
- Billy Currington, “Bring It On Over” (down from #47 to #48 and barely regained its bullet by gaining fourteen spins and losing points)
In Some Trouble:
- Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” (up from #19 to #18, but gained less than 100 spins this week and being pressured by Ballerini, Johnson, and…Chase Rice?!)
- Everybody from #30 to #34 (LoCash, FGL, Runaway June, Rascal Flatts, and Houser) gained 60 spins or fewer, and only LoCash gained more than 100 points (124).
- Everyone from #41 to #47 who isn’t named Lauren Alaina (Evans, Dickerson, Paisley, Morris, Brooks, Osborne) had a rough week, and only Morris has an excuse for it.
In No Trouble At All:
- Luke Combs
What he said.
- Kane Brown, “Good As You” (up from #34 to #29)
- Eric Church, “Some Of It” (up from #43 to #39)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” (3/10)
- Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” (8/10)
- Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (4/10)
- Toby Keith, “Don’t Let The Old Man In” (5/10)
- Chris Young, “Raised On Country” (5/10)
On The Way:
- Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” (5/10)
- Rachel Wammack, “Damage” (7/10)
- Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” (5/10)
- Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (4/10)
- Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug, “Havana” (somehow had the fourth-biggest airplay gain this week)
Overall Thoughts: While this was a pretty boring week on balance, there were a couple of interesting oddities that arose:
- Despite a strong move to #2 last week, Aldean posted a Country Aircheck add that specifically targeted next week as his max-spin push for “Girl Like You,” basically ceding this week’s number one spot to Bentley when he really didn’t have to. Was Broken Bow caught off guard by Aldean’s sudden surge? Were they in backroom talks with Capitol Nashville making sure everybody got their #1 single? It may always remain a mystery, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some slightly-below-board dealings afoot.
- Speaking of Capitol Nashville, they should tack this week’s chart on their wall, as they own a full quarter of the Top 20 (Bentley at #1, Bryan at #6, Underwood at #14, Pardi at #16, and Urban at #19). It won’t last too long (Bentley and Bryan will depart, and Urban looks really weak right now), but they might as well enjoy their success while it lasts.
- Luke Combs had a quiet week by his standards (he only jumped two spots), but the question now is whose day he will end up wrecking with a probable multi-week #1 on the way. It’s probably the kiss of death for both Stapleton and Midland (both are aging and don’t have enough steam to stand against Combs), and you have to wonder if Green will be denied a debut #1 as well. As I’ve stated before:
- I just don’t understand what “The Difference” is still doing here. It’s jumped a measly three spots since late October, and seems to get passed by at least one person every freaking week. Whatever buzz or momentum Rich had is completely gone, and the longer he waits to put out a new single, the higher the chance that another fresh face like Green steps in and steals his thunder. For as many smart decisions Valory has made with Rhett, they’re making an incredibly stupid one with Rich.
- Morris managed to survive her regression to the mean and keep her spot in the Top 50, and I’m happy about it because I’m starting to feel more pessimistic about what’s rising up from below the charts. Outside of McBryde, we’ve get a lot of “mehs” and “ughs” slated to jump onto the escalator soon, and I don’t see a lot of promising reinforcements on the horizon. (In fact, with Dan + Shay and Mitchell Tenpenny scheduled for February single drops, things might actually get worse.) Cling tightly to your heaters and your Aaron Watson singles folks, because both the weather and the radio are going to be a little chilly for the next few months.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!