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
- LoCash, “One Big Country Song” (recurrent)
- Jon Langston, “Now You Know” (recurrent)
- Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” (down from #1 to #2)
- Chris Janson, “Done” (down from #2 to #7)
- Midland, “Cheatin’ Songs” (down from #26 to #28, gained only one spin and 102 points, and after eight months it appears to be done)
- Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (holds at #32, but lost its bullet with a 250+ point loss, and given its recent weakness I don’t think it will recover)
In Real Trouble:
- Brad Paisley, “No I In Beer” (up from #22 to #21 and had a passable week for a change, but it needs to show more strength before I take it off this list)
- Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” (down from #36 to #37 and lost its bullet again. Is this thing history already?)
- Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only forty-five spins and 110 points, making me think last week was an aberration)
- Brett Young, “Lady” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only twenty-six spins and 109 points)
- Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (up from #49 to #48, but lost its bullet)
- Jake Owen, “Made For You” (debuts at #50 despite losing its bullet with a 100+ point loss)
In Some Trouble:
- Florida Georgia Line, “I Love My Country” (but a gain of five spins and sixty-one points suggests country doesn’t love them back)
- Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” (down from #12 to #13, gained only thirty-five spins and thirty-nine points)
- Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (holds at #19, but gained only twenty-two spins and twenty-four points)
- Eric Church, “Stick That In Your Country Song” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only eleven spins and sixty-five points)
- Parmaless ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only fifty-nine spins and eighty-nine points)
- Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only six spins and seventeen points)
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only nine spins and lost points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” (rebounds from #46 to #39)
- Chris Lane, “Big, Big Plans” (up from #28 to #24)
- Dan + Shay, “I Should Probably Go To Bed” (up from #32 to #27)
- Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (up from #7 to #3)
Bubbling Under 50:
It’s finally back!
- Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (5/10)
- Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (2/10)
- Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys”
- Ryan Hurd, “Every Other Memory”
On The Way:
- LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On”
- Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry”
Overall Thoughts: While this week was relatively quiet by 2020 standards, there are still a couple of interesting plot points to discuss:
- There’s a distinct power vacuum at the top of the charts right now, and Thanos made a big move to fill it, jumping 4 spots this week with a nearly 2800-point gain.With Janson and Maddie & Tae on the way out, Justin Moore already being bullet-less on the rolling daily chart, and Rhett, Urban, and suddenly FGL looking surprisingly weak, Luke Combs is looking to book another multi-week stay at #1 with “Lovin’ On You.” The exact length of that stay is completely dependent on whether or not Brown can make a credible challenge with “Cool Again”—if he can, Combs will still probably get two weeks at the top; if he can’t, Thanos could well spend a month at the summit until Brice or Aldean get there.
- There’s been a surprising amount of weakness in the middle of the chart recently (Langston and Old Dominion are gone, and look for Midland and Alaina to join them soon), and it seems to be spreading: Not only did FGL lay a massive egg this week, but McGraw, McBryde, Rice, and Kip Moore have looked a bit shaky in the teens (and Paisley at #21 has been on my watch list for a while). A couple of songs deeper in the charts (Morris, Young, and especially Eldredge) don’t look terribly healthy either, and the spin inequities we’ve been tracking for a while don’t help matters. While there are still a few tracks making strong moves (Shelton, Dan + Shay, and Chesney are the most obvious, but Brice and Lane also posted impressive numbers this week), overall the chart feels incredibly weak, and I don’t see a lot of long-lasting hits here threatening to claim spots on the Power Gold lists (and with Swindell and LBT on the horizon, that probably won’t change next week).
Unfortunately, while the charts were quiet, the coronavirus was not: The death toll now exceeds 178,000 here in the US, and although case numbers continue to drop, the virus is still making its presence known, most visibly in the way it’s sending colleges reeling. My big problem with what’s going on right now is that much of it was predictable:
- Open up college campuses, and the virus is going to spread.
- Come together for a large gathering (like, say, a motorcycle rally) without masks or social distancing, and the virus is going to spread.
- Try to conduct a sports season without a solid bubble, and the virus is going to spread.
- Let things like eviction moratoriums and extra unemployment insurance money expire (and then take forever to put even reduced versions of the benefits in place), and people aren’t going to be able to pay their bills.
Making some mistakes at the start of this whole mess was to be expected, but the fact that we keep making mistake after mistake month after month is just mind-boggling. We need to get our act together as a nation, abide by the guidelines of health officials, provide help and relief to the people who need it, and do more to end this procession of unnecessary deaths.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!