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

Best Song: “Mr. Lonely,” 8/10
Worst Song: “REDNECKER,” 2/10
Mode Scores: 0 and +1 (16 songs apiece)

Gone:

  • Eric Church, “Some Of It” (recurrent)
  • Riley Green, “In Love By Now” (recurrent)
  • Brad Paisley, “My Miracle” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Maren Morris, “GIRL” (down from #14 to #24)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)”

In Real Trouble:

  • Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” (down from #17 to #18, gained only thirty spins and lost points, and passed by three songs)
  • Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (holds at #20, but gained only thirteen spins and lost points, and was passed by another two songs)
  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (down from #33 to #35, gained only two spins and lost points, and seems to be going in the wrong direction)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Alcohol You Later” (up from #43 to #42, but lost its bullet with a concerning 200+ point loss)

In Some Trouble:

  • Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (up from #24 to #22, but lost spins and gained only twenty-one points)
  • If you’re below #38 and aren’t named Brett Young, you had a rough week. If you’re Scotty McCreery, Jake Owen, or King Calaway, you had a really rough week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” (up from #22 to #17)
  • Old Dominion, “One Mand Band” (up from #37 to #33)

Is Luke Combs:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (holds at #1, and is fighting Dan + Shay tooth and nail to stay there)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts:

I’m starting to think airplay inequality is going to be a problem going forward. Kyle, July 31st 2019

And how! Kyle, five minutes ago

I predicted that Combs’s continued reign at #1 would send everyone else scrambling for cover, but I at least expected the rest of the charts to find cover. Instead, a bunch of folks did not: Five songs below #25 lost their bullets (and Brothers Osborne decided to give up the fight entirely), and ten songs (excluding Morris’s “GIRL”) lost either points or spins this time around. The carnage was especially apparent in the lower part of the chart, where four songs between #41 and #45 lost bullets (McCreery, Tenpenny, Owen, and King Calaway) and only Brett Young and Hammack managed point gains above 100. With a clash of the titans brewing between Combs and Dan + Shay for next week, expect things to get worse before they get better.

However, there are a couple of stories below the top fifty that I’m keeping an eye on:

  • Lil Nas X never made it to the airplay chart with “Old Town Road” (despite between the #1 song in the nation for nineteen weeks and counting), but Blanco Brown has a real shot to do so with “The Git Up,” as he’s currently knocking on the door at #51. Country radio being the notoriously risk-averse format that it is, having a song with a sound that far outside the box crack the Mediabase Top 50 would be a major accomplishment, and I’m really interested to see how far this track goes.
  • I haven’t been moved by many songs this year, but Andress’s “More Hearts Than Mine” was one of the few that did, and it’s currently awaiting its shot at glory at #54. Country radio’s allergy to female artists persists, but it might get overruled by its love for debut songs, so I’m hoping this one gets the recognition it deserves.

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