The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: July 14, 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. Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” -2 (3/10)
2. Eric Church, “Some Of It” +2 (7/10)
3. Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” +1 (6/10)
4. Maren Morris, “GIRL” +1 (6/10)
5. Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” -1 (4/10)
6. Justin Moore, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” +1 (6/10)
7. Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” +2 (7/10)
8. Lee Brice, “Rumor” (5/10)
9. Chris Young, “Raised On Country” 0 (5/10)
10. Luke Bryan, “Knockin’ Boots” (5/10)
11. Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” -1 (4/10)
12. Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” +2 (7/10)
13. Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” +1 (6/10)
14. Carrie Underwood, “Southbound” 0 (5/10)
15. Cole Swindell, “Love You Too Late” +2 (7/10)
16. Keith Urban, “We Were” 0 (5/10)
17. Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” -2 (3/10)
18. Dierks Bentley, “Living” +2 (7/10)
19. Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” 0 (5/10)
20. Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing” +2 (7/10)
21. Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” +1 (6/10)
22. Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” -1 (4/10)
23. Carly Pearce, “Closer To You” 0 (5/10)
24. Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” 0 (5/10)
25. Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You” +1 (6/10)
26. Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” -1 (4/10)
27. Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” +1 (6/10)
28. Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” 0 (5/10)
29. Kenny Chesney, “Tip Of My Tongue” -2 (3/10)
30. HARDY, “REDNECKER” -3 (2/10)
31. Midland, “Mr. Lonely” +3 (8/10)
32. Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” -1 (4/10)
33. Brothers Osborne, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” 0 (5/10)
34. Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” -1 (4/10)
35. Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know” +1 (6/10)
36. Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” +1 (6/10)
37. Ryan Hurd, “To A T” 0 (5/10)
38. Jordan Davis, “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” +1 (6/10)
39. Old Dominion, “One Man Band” +1 (6/10)
40. Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” -2 (3/10)
41. Jon Pardi, “Heartache Medication” +1 (6/10)
42. Travis Denning, “After A Few” 0 (5/10)
43. Brad Paisley, “My Miracle” +1 (6/10)
44. Brett Young, “Catch” +1 (6/10)
45. Scotty McCreery, “In Between” +1 (6/10)
46. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Alcohol You Later” -2 (3/10)
47. Jake Owen, “Homemade” (5/10)
48. LoCash, “One Big Country Song” 0 (5/10)
49. Riley Greeen, “In Love By Now” +2 (7/10)
50. Michael Ray, “Her World Or Mine” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +12
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +2
Overall Pulse +14
Change From Last Week -3 😦

Best Song: “Mr. Lonely,” 8/10
Worst Song: “REDNECKER,” 2/10
Mode Scores: 0 and +1 (15 songs apiece)

Gone:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Lee Brice, “Rumor” (down from #3 to #8)

In Real/Some Trouble:

  • We’ll get to this later…

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Tip Of My Tongue” (debuts at #29)

Is Luke Combs:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (up from #4 to #3, will likely take #1 next week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: This seems like an accurate description of the charts right now:

With “Some Of It” making a #1 push, “God’s Country” refusing to play nice, and “Tip Of My Tongue” crashing the party, there isn’t a lot of room in the box for anyone else right now. It’s the best example of a stress-test week I’ve ever observed, and it’s worth examining the weaker members of the field to see who sees this as a speed bump and who’s suddenly staring at a mountain.

Who Shouldn’t Worry

Song Spins Points
“GIRL” -27 -1
“Raised On Country” +44 +91
“Prayed For You” +57 +137
“Mr. Lonely” -4 -91
“Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” +37 +98
“One Man Band” +23 +161
“Ridin’ Roads” +13 +160
“Heartache Medication” +40 +199
“Catch” +10 +45
“Homemade” -3 -17
“Her World Or Mine” +32 +96

Morris and Chris Young are close enough to the top that they’ve already really succeeded with there songs, although I doubt either has the power left to reach #1 (especially with Combs poised for a long run). Midland, Davis, Old Dominion, Lynch, Pardi, Brett Young, Owen, and Ray are still relatively early in their chart runs, and have enough of a track record to indicate they’ll pull through (“Mr. Lonely” is a borderline case, though). Stell lacks such a track record, but “Prayed For You” has shown so much strength recently that it should be fine.

Too Old Not To Worry

Song Spins Points
“Thought About You” +41 +91
“Back To Life” +65 +143
“Someone I Used To Know” +10 -2
“Every Girl In This Town” 8 -88
“One Big Country Song” +18 +60

Older artists face an uphill battle on the chart to begin with, so any sing of weaknesses is a concern. I’ve been tracking McGraw and Rascal Flatts for a while now, and neither song has looked that great. The Zac Brown Band is in an even more precarious position than the aforementioned acts, and even though Yearwood had a splashy debut, she’s hasn’t been able to build off of that momentum yet. LoCash isn’t exactly an old group, but their track record has been pretty bad for several years, and I don’t see this song breaking that streak.

Too Young Not To Worry

 

Song Spins Points
“Closer To You” +27 +131
“REDNECKER” +16 -84
“To A T” +35 +172
“After A Few” -4 -91
“In Between” +40 +199
“Alcohol You Later” +23 +161
“In Love By Now” +13 +160

These are the artists who don’t have the track record to inspire confidence in their future success. Pearce and HARDY have looked a bit shaky for some time, Hurd’s climb thus far has been slow and arduous, Denning and Tenpenny haven’t found much traction yet, and Green took forever just to make it into the Top 50. McCreery’s a borderline case here, but his resume’s still a bit thin to make his path to glory a sure thing.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Song Spins Points
“Somebody’s Daughter” -184 -539
“I Don’t Remember Me Before You” -32 -205
“Make Me Want To” +16 +119
“Nothing To Do Town” +8 -19
“My Miracle” -15 +24

Townes has been on thin ice for the last month, and these losses are bad enough to suggest the clock may have run out on this song. The same goes for Brothers Osborne, as their single (which was released last October) has recently been oscillating being middling gains and teetering on the verge of collapse. Allen and Scott have started to climb the escalator a little bit, but both tracks are six months old now and a year-long slog into the Top 15 seems like their best-case scenario (and there’s nothing “best” to that). Paisley’s on the wrong side of Father Time, and he doesn’t seem to have the staying power that McGraw and Chesney have.

Things will get a little crazier next week as both Shelton and Church wrap up their runs, but this will likely just push Mize and Hammack back into the Top 50, don’t expect anything too shocking.

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