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

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

Gone:

  • Tenille Townes, “Somebody’s Daughter” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Eric Church, “Some Of It” (down from #1 to #7)
  • Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” (down from #3 to #9)
  • Carly Pearce, “Closer To You” (down from #25 to #28)
  • Brad Paisley, “My Miracle” (down from #46 to #49)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (down from #18 to #20, gained only fifty-six spins and 190 points, got passed by Stell and Rascal Flatts, and has been treading water for a while now
  • )
  • Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only thirteen spins and thirty-three points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only three spins and 169 points)
  • Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” (down from #38to #39, gained only nine spins and fifty-nine points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” (down from #13 to #14, gained only forty spins and lost points)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing” (down from #19 to #21, gained only twenty-one spins and ninety-one points)
  • Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (down from #21 to #23, gained only thirty-eight spins and lost points)
  • Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” (holds at #26, gains only fifty-one spins and 103 points)
  • Midland, “Mr. Lonely” (holds at #29, gained only sixty spins and 155 points)
  • If you’re below #30 and aren’t on the “No Trouble” list below, you had a rough week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young” (up from #43 to #33)

Is Luke Combs:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (holds at #2, will take #1 this week, and may never let it go)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: I’m starting to think airplay inequality is going to be a problem going forward.

There’s always been a gap between the haves and have-nots on the country charts to some extent, but it got really wide this week:

  • Seven songs saw spin gains of over 400, and twelve saw points gains of over 1000.
  • On the flip side, twenty-two songs saw spin gains of 100 points or less, and nine saw point gains of 100 or less…and these numbers don’t include the four songs on the “Leaving” list.

 

I’m not sure if this is related to the slump that Country Aircheck has been reporting on for the last couple of days, but it feels like country stations are shortening their benches like it’s the NBA playoffs, hoping to coalesce around some brighter stars to boost name recognition and drive more engagement. While I’m not sure I agree with the approach (if part of the problem is that everything sounds the same, shouldn’t you be increasing the diversity of your playlist to showcase unique sounds?), the reality is that if a song isn’t from an A-lister and doesn’t show signs of momentum early, spare spins are going to be hard to come by.

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