(Editor’s Note: Thanks to the crammed schedule of our writing staff, Kyle’s Korner will be cutting back for the summer from five to three posts a week, likely on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. We hope to return to a full schedule of posts by this fall.)
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!
Best Song: “One Night Standards,” 10/10
Worst Song: “I Love My Country,” 2/10
Mode Score: 0 (14 songs)
- Luke Combs ft. Eric Church, “Does To Me” (recurrent)
- Dillon Carmichael, “I Do For You” (dropped to #51)
- Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” (dropped to #52)
- Travis Denning, “After A Few” (down from #4 to #7)
- Carly Pearce & Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (down from #1 to #8)
- Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” (down from #10 to #15)
- Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (down from #26 to #28)
- Luke Combs, “Six Feet Apart” (down from #41 to #50)
In Real Trouble:
- Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (holds at #19, but lost its bullet)
- Jon Langston, “Now You Know” (down from #32 to #33, lost its bullet)
- Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (down from #33 to #38 and lost its bullet, but the losses aren’t quite enough for me to write it off)
- Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (down from #42 to #43, gained only eleven spins and sixteen points)
In Some Trouble:
- Florida Georgia Line, “I Love My Country” (up from #11 to #10, but the loss of its bullet was a major surprise)
- Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (down from #22 to #23, broke even on spins and gained only fifty-seven points)
- Old Dominion, “Some People Do” (down from #35 to #37, gained only fifty spins and fifty-eight points)
- LANco, “What I See” (down from #38 to 39, gained only nine spins and lost points)
- Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” (down from #39 to #40, lost its bullet)
- No one below #46 had a particularly good week.
In No Trouble At All:
- Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (debuts at #31)
- Chris Janson, “Done” (up from #15 to #9)
- Sam Hunt, “Hard To Forget” (up from #8 to #4)
- Lady A, “Champagne Night” (up from #36 to #32)
- Kane Brown, “Worldwide Beautiful” (up from #46 to #42)
- Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (debuts at #35)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Dillon Carmichael, “I Do For You” (7/10)
- Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” (4/10)
- Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” (7/10)
On The Way:
- Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (5/10)
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most”
Overall Thoughts: The past week was defined by one thing: volatility.
On the country music charts, the declines (Thanos/Church’s exit, Denning and Peacre/Brice’s slow descent, the unexpected drop by Underwood, the overdue drop by Gone West) and the big debuts (Rascal Flatts, Wallen, and Thanos again) were only the part of the story: The chart looked more like Daytona than an escalator, as artists were frequently swapping positions and seeing massive position gains/losses (who expected Janson to jump up six spots, or Alaina to drop five, or McCreery to jump up from #5 to grab the top spot?). Point and spin gains were all over the place, with songs in the forties (Brown, Wallen) seeing 700+ point gains as Florida Georgia Line of all people lost their bullet at #10. In some ways, this was a gut check week: You weren’t necessarily in trouble if you had a rough week, but you lost a lot of ground regardless, and you had to ask yourself some tough questions about why the radio picked your peers’ songs over your own.
We’re seeing similar volatility in reality: While the coronavirus itself isn’t going anywhere (and has now claimed over 121,000 lives), the spread and impact of the virus varies wildly from state to state. While the Northeast is starting to clamp down on new cases, the Sun Belt and West Coast are seemingly losing the handle on the pandemic and are seeing extreme spikes in new case counts. For all the hand-wringing about reopening the country, we’re going to have to have serious discussions about “re-closing” certain areas if these trends continue, because a raging pandemic during the summer is going to wreak all sorts of havoc in the fall.
Not all change is bad, however: The recent Supreme court cases protecting Dreamers from deportation and the LGBTQ community from discrimination are steps in the right direction, and the push to rename army bases and tear down monuments that honor the Confederacy feels like something we should have done a long time ago anyway. My hope is that we come out of all this craziness as a more just and equitable society than we were before.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!