Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the defunct (now reborn!) 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!
Best Song: “Mr. Lonely,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Hell Right,” 3/10
Mode Scores: 0 (17 songs)
- Carrie Underwood, “Southbound” (recurrent)
- Hootie And The Blowfish, “Hold On” (down below #54)
- Chris Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” (down below #54)
- Chris Janson, “Good Vibes” (down from #1 to #2)
- Matt Stell, “Prayed For You” (down from #2 to #5)
- Tim McGraw, “Thought About You” (down from #14 to #15, and while it’s rebounded on the daily charts, the losses were significant enough to suggest this thing is effectively toast)
- Zac Brown Band, “Someone I Used To Know” (down from #30 to #46)
- King Calaway, “World For Two” (down from #45 to #50, with losses heavy enough to indicate that this is the end)
In Real Trouble:
- Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” (up from #5 to #4 and didn’t have a terrible week, but everyone around them had a great week and they’ll likely be run over by Thanos before they ever get to #1)
- Miranda Lambert, “It All Comes Out In The Wash” (down from #13 to #14, loses its bullet)
- Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” (holds at #16, but loses its bullet)
- Travis Denning, “After A Few” (holds at #33, but gained only nine spins and loses points)
- Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (up from #34 to #32 and had a decent week for a change, but this thing’s fate was sealed months ago; it’s a zombie)
- LoCash, “One Big Country Song” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only thirteen spins and lost points)
In Some Trouble:
- Kenny Chesney, “Tip Of My Tongue” (holds at #9, but gained only forty-six spins and forty-seven points)
- Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” (down from #22 to #24, gained only nineteen spins and seventy-eight points)
- Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” (up from #29 to #28, but gained only three spins and lost points)
- Caylee Hammack, “Family Tree” (down from #36 to #37, gained only twenty-four spins and ninety-one points)
- Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only seventeen spins and twenty-nine points)
- Eric Church, “Monsters” (up from #43 to #41, but gained only thirty-four spins and forty-six points)
- Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only twenty-five spins and eighty-four points)
- Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” (down from #46 to #47, gained only twelve spins and lost points)
- Billy Currington, “Details” (holds at #48, but gained only twenty-eight spins and thirty-nine points)
I Have No Freaking Clue:
In No Trouble At All:
- Sam Hunt, “Kinfolks” (up from #27 to #20)
- Florida Georgia Line, “Blessings” (up from #49 to #44)
- Morgan Wallen, “Chasin’ You” (up from #47 to #43)
- Luke Combs, “Even Though I’m Leaving” (up from #7 to #6, primed to make a move for #1 soon)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Caroline Jones, “Chasin’ Me” (5/10)
- Justin Moore, “Why We Drink” (4/10)
- Chris Young, “Drowning” (5/10)
- Rodney Atkins, “Thank God For You” (5/10)
On The Way:
- Runaway June, “Head Over Heels” (7/10)
- Chris Lane, “Big, Big Plans” (oh joy, I’m really looking forward to this…)
Overall Thoughts: Okay, I think it’s time to sound the alarm:
Luke Bryan’s grand re-entrance into the chart made spins pretty scarce for yet another week, but the bigger issue is a trend (or rather a re-trend) that seems to be gaining steam in the genre.
Brace yourselves, folks: I think the Metropolitan sound is making a comeback.
The latest tracks from Dan + Shay (+ Justin Bieber), Sam Hunt, and now Bryan are making big splashes and looking strong , joining similar tracks from Chris Lane, Dustin Lynch, Kenny Chesney, Jimmie Allen, Chase Rice, Billy Currington, and even Chris Young, and they all share some common elements: The slick guitars, the drum machines, the pushy male narrators creeping on the objects of their affection…wait, haven’t we heard all this somewhere before? Much like Trinity told Neo in The Matrix, we’ve been down there, we know that road, we know exactly where it ends, and we know that it is definitely not where we want to be. (And we don’t want to be in the Bro-Country muck that Jason Aldean is trying to revive with “We Back” either.)
Oh, and it gets worse: Take another look at the “In Real/Some Trouble” lists. Is it just me, or are there an awful lot of female artists sitting there? Yes, Rice and Currington are there too, but it still begs the question: Is country music on the verge of another purge of women from the radio (which was another defining feature of the Metro-Bro era)?
Call me paranoid or alarmist if you want to, but I’ve got a really bad feeling about what’s about to go down, and that +12 Pulse score feels awfully precarious right now.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!