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

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

Gone:

  • Brothers Osborne, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” (recurrent)
  • Sheryl Crow ft. Stevie Nicks and Maren Morris, “Prove You Wrong” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” (down from #1 to #5)
  • Chris Young, “Raised On Country” (down from #5 to #9)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” (down from #9 to #16)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (down from #20 to #21, gained only five spins and lost points)
  • Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (holds at #22, but loses its bullet)
  • HARDY, “REDNECKER” (down from #25 to #26, gained only thirty-three spins and forty-two points, and looks even softer on the rolling chart – it’s bulletless as of today)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know” (down from #32 to #34, lost spins and gained only fourteen points)
  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (down from #34 to #36, lost its bullet with significant enough losses to indicate its days are numbered)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jordan Davis, “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” (down from #30 to #33, gained only sixty-six spins and forty-six points)
  • LoCash, “One Big Country Song” (holds at #44, but gained only thirty-one spins and seventy-one points)
  • King Calaway, “World For Two” (down from #45 to #46, barely keeps its bullet by gaining one point despite losing spins)
  • Blanco Brown, “The Git Up” (down from #48 to #50, lost its bullet)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (up from #49 to #43)
  • Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” (up from #12 to #8)
  • Jon Pardi, “Heartache Medication” (up from #35 to #31)
  • Riley Green, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” (debuts at #45 with a 1200+ point gain

Is Still Luke Combs:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (holds at #2 and is slowly sinking, but it’s exiting on its own terms)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: The chart took a heavy dose of Ex-Lax this week, and things are finally starting to move again.

Brothers Osborne is gone, and Dan + Shay, Chris Young, and (called it!) Florida Georgia Line are hot on their heels heading for the exits. (Even Thanos/Luke Combs is starting to come back down to earth.) The result is that over five thousand spins were released back into the wild, spreading opportunity up and down the airwaves. Green and Gone West seem to be the primary beneficiaries of this move (both of which I’m rooting for—Green deserves the success despite the song’s mediocrity, and “What Could’ve Been” grows on me more every time I hear it), but I’ve got my eye on a couple of other songs as well:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Southbound”: The momentum for this song has slowed a bit in the last few weeks, but it’s already broken Underwood’s “stuck around #10” curse, and now sits at #7 with Aldean, Combs, and Dan + Shay falling in front of it and some soft competition (Runaway June, Swindell, Gilbert & Ell) behind it. It’s been a while since Underwood has reached the airplay mountaintop, but this one will not only reach it, it’ll do so sooner rather than later.
  • Old Dominion, “One Man Band”: This thing posted an 1100+ point gain of its own this week, and has been on fire since it entered the charts (very similar to “Southbound,” actually). This group doesn’t yet have a signature single to its name—could this finally be the one?
  • Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins, “Hell Right”: The fact that this thing mostly held serve after its big debut is a good sign, but it was universally condemned by the country critical community, which makes me question its long-term viability. Sure, a song review and $1.29 won’t even get you a cup of coffee these days, but when the critical voices agree this much and are this loud about their feelings, you have to believe radio stations are seeing a similar reaction in their callout scores.

I expect more movement like this in the immediate future, as the logjam at the top breaks up and stations start to shift their playlists for the fall.

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