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
- Maddie & Tae, “Die From A Broken Heart” (recurrent)
- Jake Owen, “Made For You” (down to #51)
- Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” (rode a huge surge from #12 to #7, but has a “thank you country radio!” ad in Country Aircheck and has already dropped to #9 on the rolling chart)
- Justin Moore, “Why We Drink” (down from #7 to #15)
- Brad Paisley, “No I In Beer” (down from #22 to #23, lost its bullet with a nearly 400-point loss – summer’s over, and so is this track)
- Midland, “Cheatin’ Songs” (up from #27 to #26, but lost its bullet again, this time with a nearly 200-point loss)
- Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (up from #33 to #31, but only gained thirty spins and ninety-four points – it’s a zombie at this point)
In Real Trouble:
- Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (down from #18 to #20, gained only thirty-seven spins and seventy-two points)
- Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” (up from #39 to #38, but lost its bullet again)
- Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” (holds at #41, but gained only nine spins and fifty points)
- Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #42 to #43, lost its bullet again)
- Parmaless ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #43 to #45, gained only sixteen spins and seventeen points)
- Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (up from #48 to #47, but lost its bullet)
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” (holds at #49, but lost spins and gained only four points)
In Some Trouble:
- Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (holds at #34, but gained only thirty spins and fifty-three points, and got run over by Rucker and Ballerini)
- Dylan Scott, “Nobody” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only sixteen spins and thirty-one points, and is still outside the top #35 after nearly eight months)
In No Trouble At All:
- Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” (up from #36 to #32)
- Taylor Swift, “Betty” (up from #44 to #40)
- Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (holds at #2, sits contentedly at #1 on Billboard while watching the peons scramble for the Mediabase throne)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Jake Owen, “Made For You” (5/10)
- Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys”
- Robert Counts, “What Do I Know”
- Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (2/10)
On The Way:
- LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On”
- Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” (5/10)
- Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live”
Overall Thoughts: Fall is usually when the reruns end, but this week was pretty much a replay of last week.Maddie & Tae stepped aside, but a big push from both Rhett et al. and McBryde kept spins at a premium, meaning that a lot of songs on the bottom of the charts are barely keep their heads above water. I think it’s time to play a little game of “Stay In or Get Out?”
- Kip Moore, “She’s Mine”: It’s been over a year since this track dropped, and the album’s been out since May. It’s time to find a follow-up single. Get Out.
- Brad Paisley, “No I In Beer”: Paisley may not actually have a choice here given the way the song tanked this week, but this thing hit a hard ceiling in the low twenties a while ago, and the summer season is fading fast. There’s no “I” in beer, but there’s two in “hit single.” Get Out.
- Midland, “Cheatin’ Songs”: This has been out since January, and it hasn’t been able to escape the mid-twenties for several months now. It’s time to find a third single and Let It Roll (but not “Let It Roll,” that one’s pretty mediocre). Get Out.
- Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good”: Alaina just dropped a new EP last week, and with this song (which came from her last EP) struggling to find traction, it’s time to roll out something fresh. Get Out.
- Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That”: This one officially dropped in 2019, but it really hasn’t registered as a struggling song until this week. That said, it’s #9 peak in Canada was back in May, and Wikipedia shows that her Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between album has already been mined for four singles. I suppose it can Stay In for now, but Arts’s team should be ready to pull the plug the minute they have something ready behind it.
- Dylan Scott, “Nobody”: Golly, this thing still hasn’t caught fire after eight months? I’m sooooooo surprised. Get Out and stay out.
- Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle”: What the heck happened here? This thing had a huge debut back in April, but it’s been on life support ever since it fell back to the pack. I’d say Stay In just on timing alone (four months on the chart isn’t that long in an era where tracks sometimes hang around for twice that time), but someone’s head should roll at Warner for such a botched rollout.
- Maren Morris, “To Hell And Back”: I’m not sure what’s going on here either. How do you go from a crossover hit that reached #12 on the Hot 100 to struggling to break the top 40 on country airplay? (I’ve heard that radio doesn’t like to have words like “Hell” in their song titles, but that can’t be the only issue here, can it?) This one’s only from March, so it can Stay In for now, but if it’s still outside the Top 30 by November, they should make a change.
- Brett Young, “Lady”: I guess he should have released “Don’t Wanna Write This Song” after all, huh? It’s only four months old as well, so I think I’d Stay In and hope that sentimental songs come back in season in the fall.
- Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way”: Yet another May release that seems to be stuck in neutral on the charts. I’d say Stay In simply based on a lack of chart time for now, but its future doesn’t look all that bright to me.
- Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us”: Yet another March release, but neither Allan and Cyrus have Morris’s track record to lean on. Given how “meh” this track is and how much better Allen can be, I’d Get Out and roll the dice on a new single for the fall.
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most”: This one’s a June release from a group that really doesn’t have anything to lose at this point. Stay In – why the heck not?
Unfortunately, this discussion is mostly fiddling (…okay, given the lack of fiddle in country music these days, maybe it’s more like “using a drum machine”) while Rome burns: The coronavirus death toll now exceeds 189,000 in America, and only looks to get worse as we move into fall and the eventual flu season. I haven’t had any hope for 2020 for months now, but now my hopess for 2021 are starting to fall too: Despite this administration’s pronouncements, a vaccine likely isn’t showing up until the end of this year at the earliest, and given a) the challenge of mass-manufacturing and mass-distributing such a vaccine, and b) convincing a substantial number of skeptics to actually get the vaccine, I’m starting to think next spring is going to look an awful lot like this spring, and that we’ll all be stuck bouncing off the walls in our homes (if you’re lucky enough to still have one) for the foreseeable future.
When it comes to both country music and COVID-19, I don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel right now.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!