The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: September 1, 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. Justin Moore, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” +1 (6/10)
2. Luke Bryan, “Knockin’ Boots” 0 (5/10)
3. Dierks Bentley, “Living” +2 (7/10)
4. Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” +2 (7/10)
5. Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” -2 (3/10)
6. Carrie Underwood, “Southbound” 0 (5/10)
7. Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” -1 (4/10)
8. Cole Swindell, “Love You Too Late” +2 (7/10)
9. Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” +2 (7/10)
10. Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” -1 (4/10)
11. Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” 0 (5/10)
12. Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” +1 (6/10)
13. Keith Urban, “We Were” 0 (5/10)
14. Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing” +2 (7/10)
15. Chris Young, “Raised On Country” 0 (5/10)
16. Kenny Chesney, “Tip Of My Tongue” -2 (3/10)
17. Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You” +1 (6/10)
18. Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” +1 (6/10)
19. Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” 0 (5/10)
20. Miranda Lambert, “It All Comes Out In The Wash” 0 (5/10)
21. Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” +1 (6/10)
22. Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young” +2 (7/10)
23. Midland, “Mr. Lonely” +3 (8/10)
24. HARDY, “REDNECKER” -3 (2/10)
25. Old Dominion, “One Man Band” +1 (6/10)
26. Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” -1 (4/10)
27. Jon Pardi, “Heartache Medication” +1 (6/10)
28. Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” -2 (3/10)
29. Jordan Davis, “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” +1 (6/10)
30. Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know” +1 (6/10)
31. Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins, “Hell Right” -2 (3/10)
32. Ryan Hurd, “To A T” 0 (5/10)
33. Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” +1 (6/10)
34. Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” -1 (4/10)
35. Travis Denning, “After A Few” 0 (5/10)
36. Brett Young, “Catch” +1 (6/10)
37. Kane Brown, “Homesick” +1 (6/10)
38. Scotty McCreery, “In Between” +1 (6/10)
39. Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” +3 (8/10)
40. Riley Green, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” 0 (5/10)
41. Caylee Hammack, “Family Tree” 0 (5/10)
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. Michael Ray, “Her World Or Mine” 0 (5/10)
46. King Calaway, “World For Two” 0 (5/10)
47. Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” -2 (3/10)
48. Blanco Brown, “The Git Up” (5/10)
49. Filmore, “Slower” -1 (4/10)
50. Billy Currington, “Details” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +13
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +14
Change From Last Week -3 😦

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

Gone:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (dragged kicking and screaming from the chart)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Talk You Out Of It” (recurrent)
  • Morgan Evans, “Day Drunk” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Dan + Shay, “All To Myself” (down from #5 to #7)
  • Chris Young, “Raised On Country” (down from #9 to #15)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (up from #21 to #19, but lost its bullet)
  • HARDY, “REDNECKER” (up from #26 to #24, but gained only thirty-one spins and 160 points, got passed by Midland, and now has Old Dominion breathing down its neck)
  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (up from #36 to #34, but gained only twenty-thre spins and 131 points)
  • King Calaway, “World For Two” (holds at #46, but gained only ten spins and twenty-two points)
  • Blanco Brown, “The Git Up” (up from #50 to #48, but gained only two spins and twenty-two points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” (holds at #12, but gained only fifteen spins and thirty-one points)
  • Ryan Hurd, “To A T” (holds at #32, but gained only forty spins and lost points, and got passed by three songs)
  • Michael Ray, “Her World Or Mine” (up from #48 to #45, but gained only forty-three spins and ninety-four points)
  • Filmore, “Slower” (up from #52 to #49, but gained only eight spins and twenty-one points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” (up from #49 to #39)
  • Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins, “Hell Right” (up from #39 to #31)
  • Caylee Hammack, “Family Tree” (up from #47 to #41)
  • Riley Green, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” (up from #45 to #40)

Is Still Luke Combs:

  • Luke Combs, “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (falls victim to presidential term limits and is removed from the chart, but new single is already announced)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Holy wow, things have gone from constipation to diarrhea in a matter of weeks around here.

Combs is gone, FGL is out, and Morgan Evans finally got the message, opening up a whole bunch of slots at the bottom for folks (expect more of the same next as Chris Young, Dan + Shay, and possibly Aldean drop out). While the immediate void has been by toxic sludge bubbling up from the storm drain (Rice, Filmore, and Currington), there’s a reason to think times are going to get brighter in the near future:

  • There was some strong moves near the bottom of the chart, with Andress, Green, and Hammack all making strong-but-unexpected moves in the upward direction. (Shelton bounced up too, but we all knew that was coming.) Not all of them are huge upgrades, but they’re a lot better than, say, Filmore’s junk.
  • If it wasn’t apparent from my recent reviews of Tanya Tucker and Ashley McBryde or from Andress and Hammack’s big moves (or Gone West’s last week), it should be from the number of female artists sitting just outside the Top 50: The ladies of country music are killing it right now, and they’ve got some pretty solid songs coming down the pipeline (I’m curious to see how Ballerini’s new single stacks up in comparison). While Nashville will never give up its faceless male artist assembly line, they really need to start thinking about a similar system for female talent, because right now the ROI would be pretty high.

Moore and Bryan’s fight for #1 might tighten things back up around the airwaves, but change is coming sooner rather than later, and it doesn’t sound bad at all.

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