The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: December 1, 2019

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the 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!

 

Song Score
1. Luke Combs, “Ever Though I’m Leaving” 0 (5/10)
2. Old Dominion, “One Man Band” +1 (6/10)
3. Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young” +2 (7/10)
4. Keith Urban, “We Were” 0 (5/10)
5. Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” -2 (3/10)
6. Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You” +1 (6/10)
7. Jon Pardi, “Heartache Medication” +1 (6/10)
8. Kenny Chesney, “Tip Of My Tongue” -2 (3/10)
9. Dan + Shay ft. Justin Bieber, “10,000 Hours” -2 (3/10)
10. Sam Hunt, “Kinfolks” -2 (3/10)
11. Jason Aldean, “We Back” -1 (4/10)
12. Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” -1 (4/10)
13. Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” +1 (6/10)
14. Kane Brown, “Homesick” +1 (6/10)
15. Jordan Davis, “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” +1 (6/10)
16. Maren Morris, “The Bones” 0 (5/10)
17. Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins, “Hell Right” -2 (3/10)
18. Luke Bryan, “What She Wants Tonight” -2 (3/10)
19. Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” +3 (8/10)
20. Kelsea Ballerini, “Homecoming Queen?” +1 (6/10)
21. Brett Young, “Catch” +1 (6/10)
22. Jake Owen, “Homemade” 0 (5/10)
23. Riley Green, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” 0 (5/10)
24. Ryan Hurd, “To A T” 0 (5/10)
25. Travis Denning, “After A Few” 0 (5/10)
26. Scotty McCreery, “In Between” +1 (6/10)
27. Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” +1 (6/10)
28. Caylee Hammack, “Family Tree” 0 (5/10)
29. LoCash, “One Big Country Song” 0 (5/10)
30. Carly Pearce & Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” 0 (5/10)
31. Michael Ray, “Her World Or Mine” 0 (5/10)
32. Eric Church, “Monsters” 0 (5/10)
33. Gabby Barrett, “I Hope” +2 (7/10)
34. Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” +1 (6/10)
35. Morgan Wallen, “Chasin’ You” 0 (5/10)
36. Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” -2 (3/10)
37. Florida Georgia Line, “Blessings” +1 (6/10)
38. Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” +2 (7/10)
39. Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” 0 (5/10)
40. Billy Currington, “Details” -1 (4/10)
41. Chris Young, “Drowning” 0 (5/10)
42. Justin Moore, “Why We Drink” -1 (4/10)
43. Miranda Lambert, “It All Comes Out In The Wash” 0 (5/10)
44. Hootie & The Blowfish, “Hold On” +1 (6/10)
45. Rodney Atkins, “Thank God For You” 0 (5/10)
46. Jon Langston, “Now You Know” -2 (3/10)
47. Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” +1 (6/10)
48. Caroline Jones, “Chasin’ Me” 0 (5/10)
50. Eli Young Band, “Break It In” 0 (5/10)
50. Rayne Johnson, “Front Seat” -1* (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) 0
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +3
Change From Last Week -5 😡

*This is a placeholder grade since I haven’t  officially reviewed “Front Seat” yet, but based on my initial reaction, this might actually be optimistic…

Best Song: “More Hearts Than Mine,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Hell Right,” 3/10
Mode Scores: 0 (18 songs)

Gone:

  • Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell, “What Happens In A Small Town” (recurrent)
  • Midland, “Mr. Lonely” (RIP)
  • Dylan Scott, “Nothing To Do Town” (good riddance)

Leaving:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Tip Of My Tongue” (this seems premature, but come on, you can’t take a nearly-500-point loss and expect to come back, can you?)
  • Miranda Lambert, “It All Comes Out In The Wash” (down from #24 to #43)

In Real Trouble:

  • Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” (up from #29 to #27, but gained only twenty-eight spins and fifty-four points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins, “Hell Right” (down from #15 to #17, gained only twenty-six spins and suffered a triple-digit point loss)
  • Ryan Hurd, “To A T” (down from #23 to #24, lost its bullet)
  • In truth, nobody below #35 had a particularly good week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Chasin’ You” (up from #40 to #35)
  • Jake Owen, “Homemade” (up from #26 to #22)
  • Scotty McCreery, “In Between” (up from #30 to #26)
  • Michael Ray, “Her World Or Mine” (up from #35 to #31)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Even Though I’m Leaving” (grabs a third week at #1, and may keep Billboard for an extra week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: I think I’ll let Brad Paisley have the first word today:

On one hand, the constipation that we expected a week ago actually appeared this time: Old Dominion and Thanos continued grappling at the top of the chart, nobody but Dustin Lynch moved up in the top fourteen, and songs at the bottom of the chart found spins hard to come by once more. However, the collapse of several songs deeper in the chart (Lambert, Midland, Scott) kicked the escalator out of neutral and into gear in the chart’s lower region, leading to some decent spot gains on the back end. For example, Justin Moore gained five spots despite gaining only twenty-eight spins and 154 points, and Langston leaped from outside the Top 50 up to #46 on the strength of…twenty-three extra spins?

So what gives? One possibility: December is always a weird month thanks to the annual influx of holiday standards, but these often consume spins invisibly because they rarely pop up on the charts. Even without the splashy debut of the past few months, the radio benches will get a bit shorter for mainstream songs as Rudolph and Frosty get their time in the sun

However, my biggest concern is the -5 trade of Midland for Langston that hit the Pulse like a sledgehammer and puts it in real danger of going negative for the first time since I started this feature. Thankfully, there’s still some hope left: McBryde is finally finding some traction after her big win at the CMA Awards, and a 10/10 song would make things look better in a hurry. Additionally, some of the current worst offenders (Hunt, Dan + Shay, Lynch, and Bryan) are rising so fast that their chart stays are projected to be short ones, especially since they’ll be competing to knock each other off the throne (assuming Thanos ever gives it up, of course). I’m hoping that this will be enough to stave off the negative numbers—we’ve already seen a yield curve inversion in the stock market; I’d rather not see one here too.

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

3 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: December 1, 2019

    1. Any single he picks right now will be number 1. Hopefully he goes with “1,2 Many” to bring Brooks and Dunn another number 1

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  1. I think “We Were” is in some trouble. No big gains in the last few weeks and it’s really not selling that well. Not a big hit. “One Big Country Song” and “I Hope” will be number 1s I believe

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