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!
Best Song: “Mr. Lonely,” 8/10
Worst Song: “REDNECKER,” 2/10
Mode Scores: 0 and +1 (15 songs apiece)
- Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her” (recurrent)
- 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:
- Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (3/10)
- Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” (8/10)
- Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young” (7/10)
- Blanco Brown, “The Git Up”
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
|“Raised On Country”||+44||+91|
|“Prayed For You”||+57||+137|
|“Slow Dance In A Parking Lot”||+37||+98|
|“One Man Band”||+23||+161|
|“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
|“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
|“Closer To You”||+27||+131|
|“To A T”||+35||+172|
|“After A Few”||-4||-91|
|“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!
|“I Don’t Remember Me Before You”||-32||-205|
|“Make Me Want To”||+16||+119|
|“Nothing To Do Town”||+8||-19|
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!