The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 22, 2020

(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!

Song Score
1. Scotty McCreery, “In Between” +1 (6/10)
2. Kenny Chesney, “Here And Now” 0 (5/10)
3. Luke Bryan, “One Margarita” 0 (5/10)
4. Sam Hunt, “Hard To Forget” 0 (5/10)
5. Miranda Lambert, “Bluebird” -1 (4/10)
6. LoCash, “One Big Country Song” 0 (5/10)
7. Travis Denning, “After A Few” 0 (5/10)
8. Carly Pearce & Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” 0 (5/10)
9. Chris Janson, “Done” 0 (5/10)
10. Florida Georgia Line, “I Love My Country” -3 (2/10)
11. Keith Urban, “God Whispered Your Name” 0 (5/10)
12. Justin Moore, “Why We Drink” -1 (4/10)
13. Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” +2 (7/10)
14. Thomas Rhett ft. Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Keith Urban and Chris Tomlin, “Be A Light” +1 (6/10)
15. Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” 0 (5/10)
16. Kane Brown, “Cool Again” -1 (4/10)
17. Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” +5 (10/10)
18. Tim McGraw, “I Called Mama” +4 (9/10)
19. Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” -2 (3/10)
20. Jameson Rodgers, “Some Girls” 0 (5/10)
21. Jason Aldean, “Got What I Got” +2 (7/10)
22. Matt Stell, “Everywhere But On” 0 (5/10)
23. Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” +1 (6/10)
24. Brad Paisley, “No I In Beer” 0 (5/10)
25. HARDY ft. Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson, “One Beer” -1 (4/10)
26. Lee Brice, “One Of Them Girls” -1 (4/10)
27. Parker McCollum, “Pretty Heart” -1 (4/10)
28. Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” +1 (6/10)
29. Midland, “Cheatin’ Songs” +4 (9/10)
30. Jon Pardi, “Ain’t Always The Cowboy” 0 (5/10)
31. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
32. Lady A, “Champagne Night” 0 (5/10)
33. Jon Langston, “Now You Know” -2 (3/10)
34. Russell Dickerson, “Love You Like I Used To” 0 (5/10)
35. Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” +2 (7/10)
36. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
37. Old Dominion, “Some People Do” +3 (8/10)
38. Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” +2 (7/10)
39. LANco, “What I See” -1 (4/10)
40. Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” 0 (5/10)
41. Chris Lane, “Big, Big Plans” +1 (6/10)
42. Kane Brown, “Worldwide Beautiful” +2 (7/10)
43. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
44. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
45. Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” +2 (7/10)
46. Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” -1 (4/10)
47. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
48. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
49. Granger Smith, “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads” 0 (5/10)
50. Luke Combs, “Six Feet Apart” +2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +11
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +15
Overall Pulse +26
Change From Two Weeks Ago
+2 🙂

Best Song: “One Night Standards,” 10/10
Worst Song: “I Love My Country,” 2/10
Mode Score: 0 (14 songs)

Gone:

  • 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)

Leaving:

  • 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)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (debuts at #35)

Bubbling Under 50:

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!

3 thoughts on “The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 22, 2020

  1. Dude chill the heck out. The number of deaths per day from covid is the lowest since the outbreak began, and it continues to decline. We’re not shutting down the country again and throwing millions more people out of work.

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    1. Depends on where you live. Like Kyle said, if you live in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, you’re likely fine. Southern states opened way too early and are starting to face the consequences.

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  2. Weird week for country. Honestly thought “Drinking Alone” would be a top 5 hit. Just wanted to fill you in on something – Entercom Communications, the 2nd-largest owner of radio stations in America and owner of several market-leading country stations, is rumored to being close to laying off most, if not close to all of their live air talent. iHeartMedia has started to do the same thing. Growing up with live, local radio, I personally can’t have it any other way – Spotify gets too dull and bland with no talent to break up the music, and national network radio is WAY to bland and uninteresting. The talent are bland (their blandness is made more blatant by the fact that often they only get 3 or 4 times to talk an hour…a clear indicator that no one wants to hear them anyway) and fake as heck and they play f-ing “Beer Can’t Fix” every hour. The bad situations TR describes in that song don’t come close to the frustration I feel when I have to hear that song. TR has had some amazing singles – “Remember You Young,” “Sixteen,” “Marry Me,” “Life Changes,” and I even have a soft spot for songs like “Crash & Burn,” “T-Shirt,” and “It Goes Like This.” The fact that the only one of his songs radio is heavily playing these days is “Beer Can’t Fix” shows that the medium truly has a problem. (Keep in mind “Beer Can’t Fix” was recorded a year before COVID was a figment of anyone’s imagination.) We need live, local, fun, upbeat personalities back, as we do a better variety of music. (I haven’t heard Brad Paisley in a while, and even straight-up legends like Garth and Tim are being kept to a minimum.) Maybe a “deep dive” of sorts about the state of radio and how it can fix itself is in order, although I do know you have a lot on your plate and don’t want to overwhelm you. Let me know what you think.

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