The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: April 21, 2019

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.

Mediabase’s usual PDF seems to be DOA right now, so this week’s numbers are from this week’s Country Aircheck. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Brett Young, “Here Tonight” +1 (6/10)
2. Old Dominion, “Make It Sweet” (5/10)
3. Chase Rice, “Eyes On You” 0 (5/10)
4. Eli Young Band, “Love Ain’t” -1 (4/10)
5. Kane Brown, “Good As You” +1 (6/10)
6. Kelsea Ballerini, “Miss Me More” +4 (9/10)
7. Jon Pardi, “Night Shift” 0 (5/10)
8. Morgan Wallen, “Whiskey Glasses” -1 (4/10)
9. Michael Ray, “One That Got Away” -4 (1/10)
10. Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins” +3 (8/10)
11. Riley Green, “There Was This Girl” +1 (6/10)
12. Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” 0 (5/10)
13. Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her” +1 (6/10)
14. Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” +1 (6/10)
15. Lee Brice, “Rumor” (5/10)
16. Maren Morris, “GIRL” +1 (6/10)
17. Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” -1 (4/10)
18. Eric Church, “Some Of It” +2 (7/10)
19. George Strait, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” +3 (8/10)
20. Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” -2 (3/10)
21. Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” -3 (2/10)
22. Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” +2 (7/10)
23. Chris Young, “Raised On Country” +0 (5/10)
24. Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” +1 (6/10)
25. Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” -1 (4/10)
26. Carly Pearce, “Closer To You” 0 (5/10)
27. Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” +2 (7/10)
28. Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” +1 (6/10)
29. Luke Bryan, “Knockin’ Boots” (5/10)
30. Justin Moore, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” +1 (6/10)
31. Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” -1 (4/10)
32. Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” 0 (5/10)
33. Cole Swindell, “Love You Too Late” +2 (7/10)
34. Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing” +2 (7/10)
35. Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” 0 (5/10)
36. Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow” +3 (8/10)
37. Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” -1 (4/10)
38. Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” -2 (3/10)
39. LoCash, “Feels Like A Party” -2 (3/10)
40. Lauren Alaina, “Ladies In The 90s” -1 (4/10)
41. Brothers Osborne, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” 0 (5/10)
42. Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” -1 (4/10)
43. Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” -1 (4/10)
44. Dierks Bentley, “Living” +2 (7/10)
45. Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” -1 (4/10)
46. HARDY, “REDNECKER” -3 (2/10)
47. Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” 0 (5/10)
48. Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” +3 (8/10)
49. Brad Paisley, “My Miracle” +1 (6/10)
50. Midland, “Mr. Lonely” +3 (8/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +8
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +7
Overall Pulse +15
Change From Last Week +4 🙂

Best Song: “Miss Me More,” 9/10
Worst Song: “One That Got Away,” 1/10
Mode Scores: 0 (12 songs)


  • Luke Combs, “Beautiful Crazy” (the king is dead, long live the king)
  • Jake Owen, “Down To The Honkytonk” (recurrent)


  • Michael Ray, “One That Got Away” (down from #6 to #9)
  • Riley Green, “There Was This Girl” (falls hard from #1 to #11)
  • Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (down from #29 to #31, and the losses are substantial enough to indicate it’s finished)
  • LoCash, “Feels Like A Party” (down from #26 to #39)

Death Watch:

  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (holds lifelessly at #21 while waiting for the album drop)

In Real Trouble:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins” (up from #11 to #10 and regains its bullet, but needs to show more strength)
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow” (down from #34 to #36, lost its bullet, and losses are bad enough that it might be history)
  • Lauren Alaina, “Ladies In The 90s” (holds at #42, but gained only twenty-one spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” (up from #15 to #14, but gains were modest and they haven’t looked great for a while)
  • Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (up from #40 to #37, but still looks weak with only twelve spins and ninety-nine points gained)
  • Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” (up from #41 to #38, but lost spins and gained only twenty-three points)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (holds at #45 but lost its bullet)
  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only twenty-eight  spins and sixty-eight points)
  • HARDY, “REDNECKER” (down from #47 to #48, gained only eleven spins and sixty-four points)

Warning Signs Are Flashing:

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” (up from #18 to #17, but their gains haven’t been great compared to their immediate neighbors for some time)
  • Cole Swindell, “Love You Too Late” (down from #32 to #33 and progress has been very inconsistent thus far)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing” (up from #36 to #34, but has yo-yoed around the thirties for a while)
  • Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” (up from #49 to #48, but radio has been really slow to get on board for this one)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown, “Good As You” (up from #10 to #5)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Whiskey Glasses” (up from #12 to #8)
  • Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” (up from #25 to #20)
  • Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” (up from #31 to #27)
  • Luke Bryan, “Knockin’ Boots” (up from #37 to #29)
  • Justin Moore, “The Ones Who Didn’t Make It Back Home” (up from #38 to #30, got twenty-four adds this week)
  • Tim McGraw, “Though About You” (up from #39 to #35)
  • Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” (up from #50 to #47, scored fifteen adds this week

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: I’m having trouble deciding whether this week was good or bad overall, because the signals are very mixed.

On one hand, the Pulse is in great shape right now, with crust fading at the top (don’t let the door hit you on the way end, Michael Ray) and solid reinforcements entering from the bottom (Paisley and Midland join McBryde on a crusade to dominate the summer). There’s a lot of boring neutrality sitting below #50 right now, so as some of the worst offenders cycle off the charts I expect another sizable jump for the Pulse in the near future.

On the other hand, there’s a golden band to remind me of…some disturbing trends that are solidifying the status quo’s grip on power:

  • I’m not sure what the country radio equivalent of income inequality is, but the rich seem to be getting a lot richer right now, with big names like Brown, Shelton, Aldean, and Bryan picking up most of Luke Combs’s slack while lesser-known artists are left to fight over the scraps.
  • Despite the lip service being paid to fixing the genre’s gender imbalance, this wasn’t a great week for the ladies: Musgraves took a massive hit, Alaina and Underwood have looked shaky for a while, Pearce has taken five months just to reach #26, Townes has needed nine months to make it to #32, and McBryde just can’t seem to find any traction on the airwaves. That leaves Ballerini and Morris to carry the flag for now, and while it’s heartening to at least have this many names on the chart to mention, there’s still a long way to go before country music gets over its allergy to female artists.

I expect things to be pretty turbulent for the next few weeks as the summer playlists start shaping up, so hopefully we see more of the good trends continue than the bad ones.

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