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: “Stick That In Your Country Song,” 10/10
Worst Song: “I Love My Country,” 2/10
- Kenny Chesney, “Here And Now” (recurrent)
- Luke Bryan, “One Margarita” (down from #1 to #2)
- Kane Brown, “Worldwide Beautiful” (holds at #42, but is leaking spins and is now bullet-less for a second straight week)
In Real Trouble:
- Jon Langston, “Now You Know” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only fifteen spins and thirty-eight points)
- Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only six spins and lost points)
- LANco, “What I See” (holds at #36, but loses its bullet)
- Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” (up from #44 to #41, but lost spins and gained only five points)
- Granger Smith, “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads” (holds at #43, but loses its bullet)
- Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #45 to #46, loses its bullet with a triple-digit point loss)
In Some Trouble:
- …we’ll talk about this in a second.
In No Trouble At All:
- …we’ll talk about this too.
- Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (up from #18 to #15)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (5/10)
- Jake Owen, “Made For You” (5/10)
- Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (5/10)
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” (6/10)
On The Way:
- Kenny Chesney, “Happy Does”
- Lindsay Ell, “Want Me Back” (5/10)
- Danielle Bradbery, “Never Have I Ever” (5/10)
- Travis Denning, “Where That Beer’s Been” (3/10)
Next week won’t be much better: “One Margarita” appears to be taking its time heading for the exit, and while Hunt will likely take the #1 spot, there still won’t be a ton of spins floating around for everyone else. —Kyle last week
Last week’s prediction turned out to be an understatement: Despite the summer heat, the chart was straight-up frozen this time around. Swapping Chesney for Runaway June was a net positive, but there was very little movement on the chart otherwise, with only three artists (Thanos, Morris, and Runaway June) gaining more than two spots, and no one gaining more than three. Additionally, the spin and point gain numbers are abysmal across the board, with songs at high as Rhett et al. at #9 failing to post triple-digit gains in either category, and an eye-opening seventeen tracks failing to gain even fifty of either category. This was a more-stressful stress-test than we got last week, and a lot of tracks didn’t fair so well.
So what’s going on? One possibility is an overall belt-tightening across the genre. Spins weren’t terribly plentiful last week, and they’re down by roughly another thousand this time:
|7/13 Chart||143,307 total spins|
|7/20 Chart||142, 359 total spins|
Last I checked, however, there were still 24 hours in a day, so where are all those extra spins going? Are they being eaten by recurrent songs? (Wallen’s “Chasin’ You” posted a 19,000+ point week despite leaving the chart over a month ago, while Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s “Nobody But You” topped 16,000 points despite exiting in late May.) Are songs from gold rotations being given more airtime (an outcome I kinda-sorta considered back in April)? Given some of the radio layoffs Sam Wilson mentioned a few weeks ago, perhaps stations are dedicating more time to advertisements to pay their bills? It’s hard to say at this point, but it’s a concerning trend that’s worth tracking.
Of course, there’s a third number we need to discuss…
||142, 070 coronavirus deaths|
COVID-19 is still raging in America and across the globe, and with fall coming into view on the horizon, we’re being forced to confront some tough issues:
- What does the next round of economic stimulus look like? There’s a bipartisan consensus that something more is needed, but what that “something” ends up being remains to be seen. Will the $600 increase in unemployment insurance be extended, phased out, or eliminated? Will the eviction moratorium be extended, or will we careen over an “eviction cliff” and throw millions out on the street at the worst possible time? How do we cushion the blow for landlords whose tenants can’t afford rent, small businesses that aren’t safe to reopen, and municipalities watching their tax base dry up? Congress needs to come up with some answers, and they don’t have a lot of time to do it.
- What does education look like this fall? The current case surge is making a lot of schools rethink their optimistic declarations from earlier this year, and pushing many of them to implement remote instruction for the fall (and nobody wants to talk about what next spring might look like…).
- What happens when flu season begins in earnest and we have two viruses circulating through our communities? Our health care workers and facilities are already under duress—can they handle another haymaker being thrown at them?
Buckle those seatbelts and put on those masks, folks. There’s turbulence in the forecast, and it may be 2021 before things smooth out.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!