The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: January 19, 2020

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. Dan + Shay ft. Justin Bieber, “10,000 Hours” -2 (3/10)
2. Jon Pardi, “Heartache Medication” +1 (6/10)
3. Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You” +1 (6/10)
4. Maren Morris, “The Bones” 0 (5/10)
5. Sam Hunt, “Kinfolks” -2 (3/10)
6. Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” -2 (3/10)
7. Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” -1 (4/10)
8. Kane Brown, “Homesick” +1 (6/10)
9. Jason Aldean, “We Back” -1 (4/10)
10. Luke Bryan, “What She Wants Tonight” -2 (3/10)
11. Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” +1 (6/10)
12. Jordan Davis, “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” +1 (6/10)
13. Jake Owen, “Homemade” 0 (5/10)
14. Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” +3 (8/10)
15. Brett Young, “Catch” +1 (6/10)
16. Riley Green, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” 0 (5/10)
17. Carly Pearce & Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” 0 (5/10)
18. Kelsea Ballerini, “Homecoming Queen?” +1 (6/10)
19. Travis Denning, “After A Few” 0 (5/10)
20. Ryan Hurd, “To A T” 0 (5/10)
21. Morgan Wallen, “Chasin’ You” 0 (5/10)
22. Gabby Barrett, “I Hope” +2 (7/10)
23. Scotty McCreery, “In Between” +1 (6/10)
24. Eric Church, “Monsters” 0 (5/10)
25. LoCash, “One Big Country Song” 0 (5/10)
26. Thomas Rhett ft. Jon Pardi, “Beer Can’t Fix” +1 (6/10)
27. Michael Ray, “Her World Or Mine” 0 (5/10)
28. Caylee Hammack, “Family Tree” 0 (5/10)
29. Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” +1 (6/10)
30. Florida Georgia Line, “Blessings” +1 (6/10)
31. Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” +1 (6/10)
32. Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” 0 (5/10)
33. Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” -2 (3/10)
34. Justin Moore, “Why We Drink” -1 (4/10)
35. Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” +2 (7/10)
36. Jon Langston, “Now You Know” -2 (3/10)
37. Billy Currington, “Details” -1 (4/10)
38. Chris Young, “Drowning” 0 (5/10)
39. Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” +1 (6/10)
40. Rayne Johnson, “Front Seat” -2 (3/10)
41. Rodney Atkins, “Thank God For You” 0 (5/10)
42. Jameson Rodgers, “Some Girls” 0 (5/10)
43. Eli Young Band, “Break It In” 0 (5/10)
44. Hootie & The Blowfish, “Hold On” +1 (6/10)
45. Miranda Lambert, “Bluebird” -1 (4/10)
46. Runaway June, “Head Over Heels” +2 (7/10)
47. Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” +2 (7/10)
48. Chris Janson, “Done” 0 (5/10)
49. Chris Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” 0 (5/10)
50. Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Nobody But You” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +6
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week -2 😦

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

Gone:

  • Thanos, “Even Though I’m Leaving” (someone finally snapped their fingers enough times to make this disintegrate)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” (down from #3 to #6)

In Real Trouble:

  • Caylee Hammack, “Family Tree” (up from #29 to #28 despite losing its bullet with a triple-digit point loss because it passed…)
  • Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” (down from #28 to #29, lost its bullet with a 200+ point loss)
  • Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only fifty-six spins and fifteen points)
  • Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” (up from #37 to #35, but lost its bullet with triple-digit point losses)
  • Billy Currington, “Details” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only fifty-three spins and seventy-six points)
  • Hootie & The Blowfish, “Hold On” (holds at #44, but lost its bullet and hasn’t had any momentum for a while)

In Some Trouble:

  • Luke Bryan, “What She Wants Tonight” (up from #12 to #10 despite a surprisingly weak showing, gaining only twenty-eight spins and thirteen points)
  • LoCash, “One Big Country Song” (up from #27 to #25, but gained only two spins and eighty points)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” (up from #33 to #32, but gained only twenty-one spins and seventeen points)
  • Chris Young, “Drowning” (up from #40 to #38, but lost its bullet)
  • Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (up from #41 to #38, but gained only ten spins and lost points)
  • Rodney Atkins, “Thank God For You” (up from #43 to #41, but gained only thirty-three spins and fifty-four points)
  • Eli Young Band, “Break It In” (up from #45 to #43, but barely keeps its bullet by breaking even on spins and losing points)
  • Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (down from #46 to #47, gained only twenty-nine spins and twenty-one spins)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Nobody But You” (debuts at #50)
  • Thomas Rhett ft. Jon Pardi, “Beer Can’t Fix” (up from #36 to #26)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Chasin’ You” (up from #26 to #21)
  • Jameson Rodgers, “Some Girls” (up from #47 to #42)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Bluebird” (up from #50 to #45)

Should Audition For The Walking Dead:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” (the song is nearly five years old and it’s back again? Someone needs to put a stake through this already…)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: After last week’s massive flushing, the escalator appears to be back on track this week.

Outside of a few moves in the lower half of the chart (to be honest, that #50 debut feels a bit low for a Shelton/Stefani collab), there was little movement to speak of on the charts. Losing Rhett was a slight blow to the Pulse, but it will recover quickly once Lynch leaves and Dan + Shay + Bieber starts falling (especially with Little Big Town and Carmichael waiting to pounce). The first floatsam of 2020 made its appearance on the blog this week, but most of it is small potatoes (Lynch’s single being the major exception), so I don’t think the chart has much to worry about in the short term.

Given the mix of loving vs. losing songs I’ve heard lately, however, I get the feeling that country genre (much like everything else in 2020) has no idea where it’s going right now. Leaning into Boyfriend country and veering back towards traditionalism seem equally likely at this moment, so I’ll be very curious to see what microtrend hits the radio next. (Let’s hope it’s a good one…)

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