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

Best Song: “Stick That In Your Country Song,” 10/10
Worst Song: “I Love My Country,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Carly Pearce & Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (recurrent)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Drinking Alone” (recurrent)
  • Gone West, “What Could’ve Been” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Here And Now” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Scotty McCreery, “In Between” (down from #10 to #14)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kane Brown, “Worldwide Beautiful” (up from #42 to #40, but lost spins and gained only fifty-two points)
  • Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only three spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (holds at #17, but only gained twenty-four spins and ninety-five points. I’d say that his concert stunt is hurting him, but given Chris Janson’s current surge, it’s probably just because this song is terrible to begin with)
  • Old Dominion, “Some People Do” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only forty-one spins and thirty-nine spins)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (up from #34 to #33, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-four points)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only ten spins and sixteen points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (up from #48 to #37)
  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (up from #45 to #39)
  • Jon Langston, “Now You Know” (up from #36 to #31)
  • Chris Lane, “Big, Big Plans” (up from #39 to #34)
  • Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” (up from #40 to #35)
  • Lady A, “Champagne Night” (up from #32 to #28)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Love You Like I Used To” (up from #33 to #29)
  • Granger Smith, “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads” (up from #49 to #45)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (up from #27 to #20, and must be in the running for a Cabinet appointment or something by now)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Let’s try and break down this week:

  • The disappearance of Pearce/Brice, Underwood, and Gone West opened up a ton of spots and spins on the charts. With no massive debuts and Church regressing back to the mean, everyone had the chance to show some solid growth, and most songs took advantage of it.
  • However, some songs fared much better than others: There was a surprising cluster of 1000+ point gainers in the high teens (highlighted by Thanos’s 2300+ point showing at #20), and another cluster of queue-jumpers around #30 (Lady A, Dickerson, Langston, Alaina, Lane, and Wallen, plus Rascal Flatts’s rebound to #37).
  • Meanwhile, some surprising songs struggled somewhat, most notably Old Dominion and Lynch as everyone around them rocketed up the ladder (and this was a week after Old Dominion jumped up spots themselves). It’s starting to feel like songs take turns surging and struggling every week, as if the world’s PDs are picking random songs out of a hat to push every week (given the ownership consolidation of stations over the years, part of me thinks this might actually be true). Unless you’re a monster hit riding a wave of momentum (or you’re Thanos), you’re at the mercy of the market, and said market feels strangely fickle right now.

From a radio perspective, I think things calm down next week as the chart cuts down on its departures and Church and Rascal Flatts start vacuuming up spins. From a pandemic perspective, however, the exact opposite is happening: Deaths have now topped 131,000, and yesterday was perhaps the worst one yet with 60,000 new cases and over 1,100 new fatalities. Frankly, America is in BIG trouble right now, and although some hard-hit areas are reimposing restrictions and mandating masks in public, it will probably be another two or three weeks before we see the results of this due to the lag in detecting the virus and how long it usually takes to fight it off. Buckle your seatbelts and stock your pantries, because July is going to be a very rough month, and I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel.

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