The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 12, 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. Tim McGraw, “I Called Mama” +4 (9/10)
2. Lee Brice, “One Of Them Girls” -1 (4/10)
3. Jason Aldean, “Got What I Got” +2 (7/10)
4. Jameson Rodgers, “Some Girls” 0 (5/10)
5. Matt Stell, “Everywhere But On” 0 (5/10)
6. Russell Dickerson, “Love You Like I Used To” 0 (5/10)
7. Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” -1 (4/10)
8. Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Happy Anywhere” +1 (6/10)
9. HARDY ft. Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson, “One Beer” -1 (4/10)
10. Parker McCollum, “Pretty Heart” -1 (4/10)
11. Jon Pardi, “Ain’t Always The Cowboy” 0 (5/10)
12. Chris Lane, “Big, Big Plans” +1 (6/10)
13. Kenny Chesney, “Happy Does” 0 (5/10)
14. Dan + Shay, “I Should Probably Go To Bed” 0 (5/10)
15. Lady A, “Champagne Night” 0 (5/10)
16. Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” +1 (6/10)
17. Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” +2 (7/10)
18. Kane Brown, “Cool Again” -1 (4/10)
19. Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” 0 (5/10)
20. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
21. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
22. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
23. Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” -1 (4/10)
24. Eric Church, “Stick That In Your Country Song” +5 (10/10)
25. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
26. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
27. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
28. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
29. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
30. Morgan Wallen, “7 Summers” +1 (6/10)
31. Taylor Swift, “Betty” +1 (6/10)
32. Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” +2 (7/10)
33. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
34. Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” 0 (5/10)
35. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
36. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
37. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
38. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
39. Runaway June, “We Were Rich” +2 (7/10)
40. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
41. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
42. Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” 0 (5/10)
43. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
44. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
45. Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” -3 (2/10)
46. Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” +1 (6/10)
47. Luke Combs, “Better Together” +1 (6/10)*
48. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
49. Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” 0 (5/10)
50. Ryan Hurd, “Every Other Memory” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +15
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +2
Overall Pulse +17
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

*Preliminary grade

Best Song: “Stick That In Your Country Song,” 10/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You” (recurrent)
  • Chase Rice, “Lonely If You Are” (recurrent)
  • Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Lee Brice, “One Of Them Girls” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Kane Brown, “Cool Again” (down from #7 to #18)

In Real Trouble:

  • Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” (up from #35 to #34, but gains only six spins and eighty-three points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only thirty-one spins and seventy-five points)
  • Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” (holds at #46, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” (holds at #49, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (up from #39 to #38, but gained only twelve spins and sixty-five points)
  • Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (down from #42 to #43, gained only forty spins and eighty-eight points)
  • Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (holds at #45, but gained only twenty-six spins and seventy-seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” (up from #47 to #37)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (up from #25 to #20)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Love You Like I Used To” (up from #10 to #6)
  • Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” (up from #11 to #7)
  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (up from #37 to #33)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (up from #48 to #44)

Technically Qualifies for “In No Trouble At All,” but has been on the chart for so long that I refuse to put it on the list:

  • Dylan Scott, “Nobody” (up from #32 to #28)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Better Together” (debuts at #47, which is significantly lower than I expected…has Thanos misplaced the Infinity Gauntlet?)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (so was listening to the radio…)

Overall Thoughts: This was an interesting week: The spin inequities we’ve been documenting continue to be a problem, but the point numbers are much more equally distributed, suggesting that some songs are at least getting more-favorable playlist placement rather than being relegated to the 3 AM slot for eternity. “Better Together” debuting at #47 is a bit of a disappointment for Thanos, but it’s not overly surprising: Combs is basically competing against himself at this point, and “Lovin’ On You” is still hanging around and putting up incredible numbers (it would still be at #4 had it not been disqualified by the recurrent rules). Besides, other artists were more than willing to pick up the slack: Urban, Ballerini, and Chesney’s continued growth was not a surprise, but Dickerson’s eye-popping 2700+ point surge makes me wonder it that was a last-ditch effort to crack the Top 5).

To be honest, however, the overall vibe I get from the charts is one of inertiasongs aren’t climbing the charts as much as they’re being dragged up them to fill the void when someone goes recurrent. (How else can we explain Scott’s undeserved rise into the Top 30?) There’s just a lot of “meh” going around, both among new releases and those that are already on the chart, and it’s not a great look for country music heading into the winter.

Sadly, Dickerson’s surge was nothing compared to that of the coronavirus, which has now killed over 215,000 Americans and is setting off alarm bells across the Midwest as case numbers continue to grow. Unfortunately, growing case numbers seems to be part of the official White House strategy these days, which involves infecting as many people as possible in an attempt to reach “herd immunity.” Never mind the fact that there are now confirmed cases of people getting reinfected by the virus, or that pursuing such a strategy without a vaccine amounts to playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives and could easily push the death toll into the millionsPresident Trump wants to reopen the country, and he doesn’t care how many people have to die to make it happen. Perhaps that’s why another number that’s been growing lately is Joe Biden’s lead in the polls.

So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!