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

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

Gone:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Here And Now” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • 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.

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (up from #18 to #15)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts:

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…

7/21 Tally
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:

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!

One thought on “The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: July 20, 2020

  1. The fewer spins to go around makes complete sense. Many reporting stations are turning to nationally-programmed logs from corporate, and thus stations that do that no longer have their own registered spins. One spin from the national log counts for all of the stations. Syndicated shows, like Bobby Bones and Cody Alan, have been getting more popular as well. It’s really unfortunate, and it’s sucking all the regionalism out of radio that makes it unique and listenable. A song that tests well here in Pittsburgh might test horribly in Boston, or vice versa. For example, Boston is big on pop-country…Chris Lane, Walker Hayes, Kelsea Ballerini. But none of those artists have ever been that popular in Pittsburgh, a market that loves Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw more than anyone else. Just another factor into the decline of the industry…hoping it will get so bad more listeners will turn away and force programmers to think differently.

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