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

Gone:

  • Jason Aldean, “Rearview Town” (recurrent)
  • Filmore, “Slower” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Justin Moore, “The Ones Who Didn’t Make It Back Home” (down from #2 to #4)
  • Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks” (max-spin week is over)
  • Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” (holds at #16 but suffers a massive point loss, and is already down to #19 on the rolling charts)
  • HARDY, “REDNECKER” (down from #23 to #24, bullet-less for a second consecutive week, still bullet-less on the rolling charts, and is just out of gas)

In Real Trouble:

  • Ryan Hurd, “To A T” (down from #31 to #33, gained only seven spins and sixty-one points)
  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (down from #33 to #34, gained only six spins and lost points)
  • King Calaway, “World For Two” (holds at #46, but gained only fifteen spins and seventy-five points)
  • Blanco Brown, “The Git Up” (holds at #49, but barely regains its bullet by gaining two spins and seventeen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban, “We Were” (up from #13 to #12, but lost spins and gained only thirty-two points)
  • Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” (up from #20 to #19, but gained only fifty-six spins and twenty-three points)
  • Midland, “Mr. Lonely” (up from #22 to #21, but gained only twenty-one spins and lost points)
  • Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins, “Hell Right” (down from #29 to #30, gained only fifty-five spins and lost points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “In Between” (holds at #39, but loses its bullet)
  • Jake Owen, “Homemade” (down from #42 to #43 and loses its bullet)
  • Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (down from #44 to #45 and loses its bullet with a sizable point loss)
  • Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (down from #47 to #48, gained only four spins and seven spins)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jason Aldean, “We Back” (debuts at #29)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Even Though I’m Leaving” (up from #40 to #26 and appears bent on world domination once again)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts:

“Bryan looks to be making himself comfortable at the top right now, but I don’t think that will stop things up.” Kyle last week

“This is what I get for not taking supervillains into account.” Kyle today

I still believe there was enough slack space to absorb Aldean’s big debut with “We Back,” but I didn’t expect Thanos to leap up fourteen spots and consume 900+ spins in the process, leaving everyone below him (and more than a few folks above him) scrambling for airtime. (As happy as I was to see Runaway June go all-out to score a Top 5 peak, their max-push didn’t help matters either.)

The repercussions of this week could be substantial: The shock seems to have finally jarred Rascal Flatts from the charts (and I expect McGraw to join them soon, with strong contenders like Old Dominion and Pardi lurking behind him), and HARDY’s sputtering “REDNECKER” might finally be doomed as well (and not a single tear will be shed when it leaves). A few other surprises include:

  • Some cracks are starting to appear in Blake Shelton, Inc., as “Dive Bar” seems to be stuck in the same rut as “Thought About You,” and “Hell Right” settling in on the edge of the Top 30 with little momentum (expect Andress to eat that song’s lunch next week).
  • Whatever momentum Gone West had a week or two ago seems to have evaporated as well, as “What Could’ve Been” took a substantial hit as it dropped back to #45. With Lady Antebellum back in the Top 15, perhaps no one is in the mood for a Lady A imitator?
  • I’m honestly surprised that “Nothing To Do Town”‘s losses weren’t bigger this week. This thing has been DOA for several months now (Allen was stuck with Scott during the early run of both songs, but he’s moved comfortably into the Top 20 while Scott has floundered), and after almost nine months, the track really doesn’t have a future. I’d say Curb should just drop this and move on to the next project, but I said that about Big Machine and Tyler Rich a few months ago, and Rich hasn’t been seen since, so…
  • Is it time for Gilbert and Ell to start thinking about an exit strategy? Their rough-week rebound lasted a whole one week, and while their gains weren’t terrible, they paled in comparison to the artists (Janson and Stell) that ran them over. With Dickerson, Lady A, and Rhett now in their rear-view mirror, I’m not sure this song has enough juice left to ascend much higher.

I think things should loosen up a bit next week, but with Chris Young and FGL looking to jump back into the fray, the chart may be in for another rough week.

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