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!
*Preliminary song grade; I’m hoping to replace this with a full review soon, but with Miranda Lambert and Carly Pearce threatening to break into the Top 50, it may take a while to get to this one. This 3-day-a-week schedule is starting to catch up to me…
Best Song: “Stick That In Your Country Song,” 10/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10
- Thomas Rhett ft. Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Keith Urban, and Chris Tomlin, “Be A Light” (recurrent)
- Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” (recurrent)
- Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles, “Do What You Can” (dropped below #50)
- Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (down from #8 to #13)
- Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good” (holds at #29, but is bullet-less for a second straight week)
In Real Trouble:
- Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (holds at #18, but loses it bullet with a 200+ point loss)
- Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” (holds at #35, but loses its bullet again)
- Brett Young, “Lady” (up from #42 to #37 with the first decent week it’s had in months, but it needs to show more strength before I pull if off this list)
- Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (up from #43 to #40, but gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
- Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only nine spins and eighteen points)
- Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (up from #46 to #43, but gained only nine spins and lost points)
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” (up from #48 to #46, but lost spins and gained only thirty-two points)
- Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” (debuts at #48, but without a bullet)
- Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” (debuts at #50, but without a bullet)
In Some Trouble:
- Honestly, if you’re below #26 and aren’t named FGL, Maren Morris, Brett Young, or maybe Morgan Wallen, you had a rough week.
In No Trouble At All:
- Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (up from #41 to #28)
- Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” (up from #28 to #21)
- Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (down from #1 to #3, working on a new world domination plan as we speak)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down”
On The Way:
- Carly Pearce, “Next Girl”
- Keith Urban ft. Pink, “One Too Many”
Overall Thoughts: Can a week be fluid and static at the same time? Because that’s the best way I can find to describe this one.
Seven songs have exited the charts in the last two weeks (look for Thanos and Rice to join these ranks shortly), which has opened up a ton of spots for new songs to in theory jump in, soak up some spins, and start building their case for becoming a hit. However, just because a song is released doesn’t mean radio has to play it, and despite the lack of a big new release, spins seems to be in even shorter supply at the bottom of the chart than they usually are. (Note that the top half of the chart barely moved at all, with eleven of the top twenty songs still stuck in the same spot as last week.) So what happened?
- While there were no major debuts that cracked the top fifty, a pair of songs debuted just underneath it:
- Florida Georgia Line also reprised their massive debut from two weeks ago, jumping an incredible thirteen spots with a 550+ spin gain.
- Some songs near the summit decided to gear up for a big push: Brown’s “Cool Again” gained nearly 800 spins, while Aldean’s “Got What I Got” grabbed almost 500.
Put it all together, and you’ve get the sense that the radio PDs of the world aren’t terribly happy with the current state of the radio. Playlists seem to be shorter than ever, and it takes a lot to break into the heavier rotation levels these days (hence we see well-known quantities making big, splashy debuts and not seeing much falloff in week two). It’s a surprisingly-good reflection of America these days: A great system for the haves, but not so much for the have-nots.
Speaking of America: My Twitter feed is a bizarre mix of music, gaming, and computer nerds, and the people on it are never talking about the same thing…until last night, when there was universal disgust at yesterday’s presidential debate, and it was generally aimed at the performance of the current president. I hate to sound like our friend The New England Patriot here, but how stupid do you have to be to whiff on the softest of softball questions, passing on an opportunity to condemn white supremecists and instead giving them a new slogan? Oh yeah, and the coronavirus pandemic, thanks in part to this adminstration consistenly bungling the country’s response, has now claimed over 206,000 American lives, and case numbers are now rising dramatically in the Midwest. If the last four years, and especially 2020, have taught us anything, it’s that Donald Trump is a liar, a bully, and a hazard to the health of both us and our democracy, and we really need to give him the boot this November.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!