The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: May 12, 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.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!


Song Score
1. Chase Rice, “Eyes On You” 0 (5/10)
2. Eli Young Band, “Love Ain’t” -1 (4/10)
3. Kane Brown, “Good As You” +1 (6/10)
4. Jon Pardi, “Night Shift” 0 (5/10)
5. Morgan Wallen, “Whiskey Glasses” -1 (4/10)
6. Kelsea Ballerini, “Miss Me More” +4 (9/10)
7. Brett Eldredge, “Love Someone” 0 (5/10)
8. Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her” +1 (6/10)
9. Lee Brice, “Rumor” (5/10)
10. Old Dominion, “Make It Sweet” (5/10)
11. Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” +1 (6/10)
12. Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” -2 (3/10)
13. Maren Morris, “GIRL” +1 (6/10)
14. Eric Church, “Some Of It” +2 (7/10)
15. Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” -1 (4/10)
16. Chris Young, “Raised On Country” +0 (5/10)
17. George Strait, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” +3 (8/10)
18. Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” -1 (4/10)
19. Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” +1 (6/10)
20. Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” +2 (7/10)
21. Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” -3 (2/10)
22. Luke Bryan, “Knockin’ Boots” (5/10)
23. Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” +2 (7/10)
24. Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” +1 (6/10)
25. Justin Moore, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” +1 (6/10)
26. Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” +1 (6/10)
27. Carly Pearce, “Closer To You” 0 (5/10)
28. Cole Swindell, “Love You Too Late” +2 (7/10)
29. Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” 0 (5/10)
30. Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing” +2 (7/10)
31. Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” 0 (5/10)
32. Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” -1 (4/10)
33. Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” -2 (3/10)
34. Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow” +3 (8/10)
35. Dierks Bentley, “Living” +2 (7/10)
36. HARDY, “REDNECKER” -3 (2/10)
37. Lauren Alaina, “Ladies In The 90s” -1 (4/10)
38. Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” -1 (4/10)
39. Brothers Osborne, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” 0 (5/10)
40. Midland, “Mr. Lonely” +3 (8/10)
41. Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” -1 (4/10)
42. Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” 0 (5/10)
43. Carrie Underwood, “Southbound” 0 (5/10)
44. Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” -1 (4/10)
45. Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” +3 (8/10)
46. Brad Paisley, “My Miracle” +1 (6/10)
47. Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know” +1 (6/10)
48. Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” -2 (3/10)
49. Travis Denning, “After A Few” 0 (5/10)
50. Ryan Hurd, “To A T” (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +11
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +6
Overall Pulse +17
Change From Last Week -3 😦

Best Song: “Miss Me More,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Caught Up In The Country,” 2/10
Mode Scores: 0 (15 songs)


  • Brett Young, “Here Tonight” (recurrent)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins” (recurrent)


  • Chase Rice, “Eyes On You” (holds at #1 but lost its bullet)
  • Jon Pardi, “Night Shift” (max-spin week is over)
  • Old Dominion, “Make It Sweet” (down from #3 to #10)

Death Watch:

  • Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (the album is out, and the song just broke the record for the longest stay ever on the chart. Can it go away now?)

In Real or Some Trouble:

  • We’ll discuss these a bit later on…

In No Trouble At All:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Southbound” (up from #48 to #43)
  • Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” (up from #24 to #20)

Is Luke Combs:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (debuts at #24)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: I think a picture is the most appropriate summary this week:

“Hey, look what I found!”

Thanos is a powerful villain, but I doubt that he could snap his fingers and crack the Top 20 on Billboard like Luke Combs just did. What’s cool about this, however, is that Combs’s Mediabase impact at #24 sent shockwaves throughout the entire chart and provided a good stress test for every song in the Top 50. Some continued to thrive, but others just barely survived, and it’s the latter group I’d like to dive deeper into today:

  • Cody Johnson, “On My Way To You” (up from #12 to #11, but gained only eighteen spins and lost points)

This track has looked pretty weak for a while now, as its spin and point gains always pale in comparison to the song around it. (The only song it could compete with was Carrie Underwood’s “Love Wins,” and that gave up the ghost two weeks ago.) Combs’s gains drove Johnson into the loss column this week, and given that this song was released way back in August, I reckon its days are numbered.

  • George Strait, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” (holds at #17, gains only thirty-four spins and sixty-one points)

Strait seems to be caught in the Twilight Zone that Tim McGraw found himself in not long ago: Ride a massive initial push to an impressive debut on the charts, and then barely move from then on. This song has pushed slightly past its mid-20s beginnings, but it seems to have hit a wall in the high teens, and keeps getting blown away by younger artists (Chris Young leapfrogged it this week, and I expect Dan + Shay to do the same next week). As great a story it was to see King George back on the charts, my gut tells me he may not be there much longer.

  • Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” (down from #22 to #23, gained only nine spins and lost points)

As great of a story as this song is, it seems that country music’s allergy to female artists is flaring up badly this spring (as we’ll see later on). The trio seems to be stuck in the same holding pattern as Strait, albeit at a slightly lower altitude. Given that this was released around the same time as “On My Way To You,” I’ve got a bad feeling that this thing is reaching the end of its run.

  • Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” (holds at #29, but lost its bullet)

Honestly, I’ve never really understood the appeal of this song, mostly because of the dissonance between its upbeat sound and its harder, more-serious message. Nevertheless, it’s made it inside the Top 30, and while it’s been a bit inconsistent throughout its run, it hasn’t shown the sustained weaknesses that would make me think it’s running out of gas. I think this one has still got some life left in it.

  • Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (down from #30 to #31, gained only twenty-one spins and lost points)

Speaking of McGraw, this song actually followed a more-conventional pattern to its current position, and much like Townes, it’s shown enough strength lately that I think it can weather Hurricane Combs. Of course, given McGraw’s age and the genre’s aversion to older artists, exactly how much longer it can continue to climb in anybody’s guess.

  • Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (holds at #32, but gains only fifteen spins and twenty-nine points)

This junk, on the other hand, looks a lot shakier to me. Evans has already lost his bullet a few times on this run, and the song isn’t that great to begin with, so while I don’t think the low fuel light is on yet, he’s not getting great mileage and I don’t see him going much farther.

  • Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow” (down from #33 to #34, lost its bullet and took a 350+ point loss)

I have no idea what to think about this one. It’s a great song and has shown a ton of strength at times, but there’s just no consistency here (this isn’t the first time it has been bullet-less) and this week was an absolute disaster. Given Musgraves’s exceptionally-rough relationship with country radio, you have to wonder if this one has reached its limit.

  • Lauren Alaina, “Ladies In The 90s” (down from #35 to #37, lost its bullet and took a 150+ point loss)

So Runaway June, Townes, Musgraves, and Alaina took the brunt of the Luke Combs storm surge…does anyone else notice a pattern here? It’s said that biases are more likely to emerge in times of stress, and Combs’s impact is definitely stress-testing the charts right now.

As for the song itself, it’s mostly been stuck in the lower echelon for some time, and has never looked particularly strong. I think this one will be heading for the exit shortly.

  • Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (holds at #41, but gains only thirty spins and zero points)

It’s safe to say this isn’t “Best Shot.” Allen’s follow-up single just hasn’t found any traction thus far, and while it’s too early to say it’s over, I’m not expecting a whole lot from this song going forward.

  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (down from #42 to #44, barely held onto its bullet by breaking even on spins while losing eighty-eight points)

This one is in the same position as “Make Me Want To,” and I have a lot less confidence in it. It’ll be lucky to break the Top 30 at this rate.

  • Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” (down from #44 to #45, gained only seventeen spins and fifty-six points)

This one is in the same position as “Nothing To Do Town,” and as much as I like it, I have even less confidence in it (especially considering how long it took just to get into the Top 50). I just can’t fathom why country radio doesn’t like McBryde, but until there’s a massive sea change in attitude, this one won’t crack the Top 30 either.

  • Brad Paisley, “My Miracle” (down from #45 to #46, lost spins and gained only forty-three points)

…And I have even less confidence in this track. Everything’s working against Paisley at this point: His age, his momentum, the fact that everyone else is singing songs like this right now, etc. It pains me greatly to write this, but this track won’t make the top forty, and when it falls, Paisley’s mainstream career will fall with it.

  • Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” (down from #47 to #48, lost its bullet)

Unfortunately, while everything is fighting Paisley, the winds still favor the mass of mediocrity that is Lynch: He’s a young male artist with a decent track record and some moderate momentum coming off of “Good Girl.” He’ll be fine.

We’ll see how next week ends up shaking out, but I think Combs still has a 50/50 shot of gaining momentum instead of regressing to the mean like most artists. If he gets any bigger, not even the Avengers will be able to take him down!

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