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 (14 songs)
- Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man” (recurrent)
- Scotty McCreery, “This Is It” (holds at #1, but lost its bullet and posted “thank you radio!” ad in this week’s Country Aircheck)
- Jason Aldean, “Girl Like You” (down from #1 to #2)
- Midland, “Burn Out” (#7 after 43 weeks)
- Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” (#6 after 41 weeks)
- Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (#22 after 41 weeks and lost its bullet)
- Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (#25 after 41 weeks)
- Jordan Davis, “Take It From Me” (#5 after 38 weeks)
In Real Trouble:
- Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” (holds at #19, but lost its bullet with major spin/point losses, and may be finished)
- Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” (down from #31 to #33, gained only seven spins and lost points this week)
- Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (down from #38 to #40, gained only sixteen spins and lost points, and got blown away by Evans and Swindell)
- Brad Paisley, “Bucked Off” (down from #42 to #43 and bullet-less for a second straight week)
- Billy Currington, “Bring It On Over” (down from #49 to #50 and also bullet-less for a second straight week)
In Some Trouble:
- Jake Owen, “Down To The Honkytonk” (holds at #10 but inexplicably lost its bullet)
- Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins” (holds at #13, but gains only thirty-seven spins and fifty-one points)
- Jon Pardi, “Night Shift” (holds at #14 but also lost its bullet)
- Lee Brice, “Rumor” (holds at #24, but only gained thirty-five spins and 120 point)
- George Strait left one heck of a path of destruction in his wake: Nobody below him had a good spin week (only Morris and Chris Young managed to crack 150), and LoCash, Maddie & Tae, Pearce, Church, Scott, and Lane didn’t crack 100 points either. (Runaway June just missed that list with 101 points.)
In No Trouble At All:
- No moves big enough to note, with one major exception…
Is Luke Combs:
- Luke Combs, “Beautiful Crazy” (up from #3 to #2)
Is King George:
- George Strait, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” (debuts at #27?!)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (4/10)
- Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (5/10)
- Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” (8/10)
- Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow” (8/10)
On The Way:
- Brooks & Dunn ft. Luke Combs, “Brand New Man” (5/10)
- Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” (5/10)
- Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” (4/10)
- Mitchell Tenpenny, “Alcohol You Later” (3/10)
- Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know”
- Chris Janson, “Good Vibes”
Overall Thoughts: Well, I guess I know where the charts are going now: nowhere!
Earlier this week, I mashed together a meme to highlight this week’s two major stories:
- Luke Combs, the current crown prince of country music, is poised to take over #1 from Scotty McCreery next week, and as I discussed last week, there aren’t a lot of credible challengers nearby. In fact, looking at the charts right now, I don’t see any real challengers at all, with one notable exception…
- George Strait exploded back onto the charts this week with a massive (but not quite McGraw-level) debut, using a bright, cheerful honky-tonk description to carve a path of desolation and misery all the way into the Top 30! He’ll regress back to the mean next week, but his strong add numbers indicate he’ll rebound in a hurry.
Beyond these two titans, however, the story is more about what didn’t happen than what did. A solitary flip-flop between Combs and Aldean was the only change in the top fourteen, and no one moved more than two slots outside of Strait’s debut. I’d call the the chart constipated if the spin and point numbers didn’t look so weak across the board, so songs with some real momentum behind them (maybe Musgraves with “Rainbow”?) might be able to make some real noise soon.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!