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)
- Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” (recurrent)
- Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (recurrent)
- Garth Brooks, “Stronger Than Me” (down to #51)
- Jordan Davis, “Take It From Me” (up from #3 to #1, but needed a massive push to do it and now has a “thank you radio!” ad in Country Aircheck)
- Luke Bryan, “What Makes You Country” (down from #1 to #4)
- Midland, “Burn Out” (#6 after 45 weeks)
- Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” (#5 after 44 weeks)
- Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (#21 after 43 weeks)
- Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (#25 after 42 weeks)
In Real Trouble:
- Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” (holds at #33, but gained only twenty-one spins and lost points this week)
In Some Trouble:
- Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (down from #29 to #32, had a mediocre week and got steamrolled by Rhett, Gilbert/Ell, and Chris Young)
- Maddie & Tae, “Friends Don’t” (up from #34 to #33, but needs to show more consistency)
- Carly Pearce, “Closer To You” (down from #35 to #36, gained only sixteen spins and twenty-four points)
- Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (down from #37 to #38, gained only thirty-six spins and thirty-seven points)
- Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” (down from #42 to #44, gained only thirty-seven spins and seventy-nine points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Scotty McCreery, “This Is It” (up from #4 to #3 and showing some surprising resiliency)
- Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her” (debuts at #29?!)
- Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” (up from #51 to #41)
- Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” (up from #54 to #47)
- George Strait, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” (up from #30 to #26, gained almost 1700 points)
- Kane Brown, “Good As You” (up from #19 to #18, gained over 1900 points)
Is Luke Combs:
- Luke Combs, “Beautiful Crazy” (holds at #2, makes Jordan Davis and MCA work their tails off just to get a Mediabase #1)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Garth Brooks, “Stronger Than Me” (5/10)
- Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” (8/10)
- HARDY, “REDNECKER” (2/10)
On The Way:
- Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” (7/10)
- Ryan Hurd, “To A T” (5/10)
- Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” (4/10)
- Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know” (6/10)
- Dierks Bentley, “Living” (7/10)
Overall Thoughts: When is a #1 song a sign of weakness? When you have to work as hard as Luke Bryan Jordan Davis did to get it.
If anyone is unsure about whether the Billboard or the Mediabase airplay chart is more prestigious, look no further than the last two weeks. Luke Combs is toying with people at this point, comfortably sitting atop Billboard while giving weaker artists a gold star for gaming the system and stealing the #1 Mediabase slot. (Columbia is calling for a max spin week now, just in time to give Chris Stapleton and Midland a shot at the top slot.) There’s a good chance “Beautiful Crazy” will be both a) a three-week #1 and b) recurrent by the time it reaches its twenty-week anniversary, which is beyond insane. Strait and Rhett might have splashier debuts and Brown might get almost 2000 points in a week, but Combs is the unquestioned king of the radio right now.
Another interesting development: There was a lot more negative movement on the chart than I’d noticed in a long time, including several multi-spot drops from songs nowhere near the end of their runs. Weird things like this can happen sometimes (big debuts like Rhett’s can sometime trigger a massive slide below them), but to see someone like Houser drop three slots (although that song has been inconsistent and had some very weak weeks) is still a bit of a surprise. It may be nothing, but it may be a sign that the spring thaw might end up flushing some tracks from the chart prematurely.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!