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

Best Song: “One Night Standards,” 10/10
Worst Song: “Now You Know,” 3/10
Mode Score: 0 (16 songs)

Gone:

  • Sam Hunt, “Kinfolks” (recurrent)
  • Garth Brooks ft. Blake Shelton, “Dive Bar” (recurrent)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” (who cares at long it stays gone this time)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Fire’t Up” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Maren Morris, “The Bones” (down from #8 to #9)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (down from #10 to #18)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Blessings” (down from #23 to #27)

In Real Trouble:

  • Riley Green, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” (up from #12 to #11, but is bullet-less with triple-digit point losses for a second straight week))
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “Homecoming Queen?” (up from #19 to #18, but gained only eight spins and fifteen points)
  • Billy Currington, “Details” (holds at #36, but lost its bullet and is starting to age)
  • Jameson Rodgers, “Some Girls” (up from #40 to #39, but lost its bullet)
  • Eli Young Band, “Break It In” (down from #43 to #44, lost its bullet with triple-digit losses)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jason Aldean, “We Back” (holds at #6, but gained only forty-one spins and thirty-five spins, and seems to be limping to the finish line)
  • Travis Denning, “After A Few” (up from #17 to #16, but gained only one spins and seems poised to break Jimmie Allen’s record for longest chart run ever)
  • Honestly, no one below Kenny Chesney at #19 had a great week besides Sam Hunt, Keith Urban, and Maddie & Tae.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Sam Hunt, “Hard To Forget” (makes chart debut at #42)
  • Keith Urban, “God Whispered Your Name” (up from #39 to #33)
  • Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Nobody But You” (up from #18 to #14)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs ft. Eric Church, “Does To Me” (up from #16 to #15)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: In a world where milk, bread, and toilet paper seem to be in short supply, yet another week of radio spin shortages comes as no surprise.

With Brown holding court at #1 for another week and Morris refusing to go quietly into the night, an out-of-order escalator was to be expected. What I did not expect, however, was for the airwave divide to be this stark: While artists like Hunt and Urban enjoyed four-digit point gains despite their low positions, sub-100 spin gains were the norm all the way up into the twenties (and even beyond, as folks like Aldean, Pearce/Brice, Denning, Ballerini, and McCreery had rough weeks).

Such extreme playlist shortening makes we wonder if not only the number of songs is being pared down, but if the overall time devoted to music is shrinking as well (is the current pandemic leading radio to spend more time on news updates?). One possible explanation: With COVID-19 pushing local radio personalities away from the office, perhaps PDs are relying on more national radio shows (the Bobby Bones or Cody Alan types) to fill the gaps. This would explain the drastic point concentrations: One national spin consumes broadcast time across many stations, making those spins more valuable and severely limiting time for other songs to be played.

In truth, all of this is a moot pointpeople are worried less about long-term commercial viability and more about short-term mortality. I don’t recall the record high Pulse score right now, but +25 has got to be close, but I’m going to pass on the celebration right now. This score will come crashing down eventually, but as long as we’re all still around to see it happen, I’d call that a win.

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