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

Best Song: “More Hearts Than Mine,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Now You Know,” 3/10
Mode Scores: 0 (17 songs)

Gone:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Ridin’ Roads” (recurrent)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You” (down from #3 to #8)
  • Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl In This Town” (holds at #29, but the label has pulled the plug)

In Real Trouble:

  • Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (up from #31to #30, but gained only fifteen spins and fifty-seven points)
  • Rodney Atkins, “Thank God For You” (down from #41 to #43, lost its bullet)
  • Hootie & The Blowfish, “Hold On” (down from #44 to #48, lost its bullet)
  • Runaway June, “Head Over Heels” (down from #46 to #50, lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (up from #7 to #5, but a weak week plus the fact that it’s been over a year since its release tells me this thing’s just about out of gas)
  • LoCash, “One Big Country Song” (holds at #25, but gained only twenty-three spins and seventy-three points)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” (up from #32to #31, but gained only fifty-five spins and seventy-five points)
  • Jon Langston, “Now You Know” (down from #36 to #38, gained only twenty-five spins and forty-four points)
  • Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (holds at #39, but gained only twenty-three spins and sixty-two points)
  • Eli Young Band, “Break It In” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twenty spins and eighty-eight points)
  • Chris Janson, “Done” (up from #48 to #46, but gained only eight spins and seventy-nine points)
  • Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (holds at #47, but gained only thirteen spins and forty spins)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Nobody But You” (up from #50 to #34)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: So the escalator got back on track for one whole week before Dan + Shay + Bieber decided to wreck the party.

The decision to let “10,000 Hours” linger for an extra week at #1 sent shockwaves down the chart, putting spins at a premium and stress-testing every track that didn’t have a solid airplay foundation. Older artists took the brunt of this decision (both Atkins and Hootie & The Blowfish lost their bullets, and Yearwood decided to bow out of the competition), but everyone from Allen to Runaway June took a noticeable hit (especially Runaway June, who nearly fell off the chart entirely). However, this also obscured some very good news: Replacing Lynch and Stapleton (isn’t it time the latter put out a real radio single for a change?) with Little Big Town and Carmichael was a huge boost to the Pulse, and with some other really bad songs nearing the end of their runs (Dan + Shay, Hunt, Allen, Aldean, Bryan), I see the chart staying in positive double digits for a while now. The good stuff isn’t popular yet, but by the time March rolls around, country radio will be much easier on the ears.

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