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: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10
- Lee Brice, “One Of The Girls” (recurrent)
- Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” (down to #52)
- Lee Brice, “One Of Them Girls” (holds at #2, but is bullet-less)
- Tim McGraw, “I Called Mama” (down from #14 to #12)
- Eric Church, “Stick That In Your Country Song” (down from #24 to #39)
In Real Trouble:
- Kip Moore, “She’s Mine” (up from #17 to #15, but lost its bullet)
- Morgan Wallen, “7 Summers” (down from #27 to #28, lost its bullet)
- Taylor Swift, “Betty” (down from #33 to #34, gained only one spins and fifty-six points)
- Brett Eldredge, “Gabrielle” (down from #36 to #37, bullet-less for a second straight week)
- Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (down from #41 to #44, lost its bullet)
- Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (down from #39 to #42, lost its bullet)
- Jake Owen, “Made For You” (down from #42 to #43, gained only twenty-four spins and fifty-one points)
- Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (down from #43 to #44, gained only thirty-seven spins and twenty points)
- Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (down from #44 to #46, lost its bullet)
- Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (down from #46 to #47, gained only fifty-three spins and 144 points)
- Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You The Most” (down from #47 to #48, lost its bullet)
In Some Trouble:
- Parker McCollum, “Pretty Heart” (up from #9 to #8, but gained only eight spins and lost points)
- Jon Pardi, “Ain’t Always The Cowboy” (holds at #10, but lost its bullet)
- Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (up from #25 to #23, but gained only fifty-one spins and fifty-seven points)
- Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (holds at #38, but gained only forty spins and fifty-one points)
- Carly Pearce, “The Next Girl” (down from #48 to #49, gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
- Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” (down from #49 to #50, gained only six spins and twenty-nine points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Dierks Bentley, “Gone” (debuts at #29)
- Luke Bryan, “Down To One” (debuts at #32)
- Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Easy In The 90s” (up from #45 to #40)
- Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” (up from #22 to #18)
- Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (up from #28 to #24)
- Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (up from #30 to #26)
- Luke Combs, “Better Together” (up from #26 to #22)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You”
- Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” (5/10)
- Cody Johnson and Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo”
- Elvie Shane, “My Boy”
On The Way:
- Nothing, given the way the heavy hitters are crashing the party…
Overall Thoughts: When the inevitable movie adaptation of 2020 comes out (with yours truly being played by 1980s-era Rick Moranis), this week will be billed as “The Perfect Storm.”
Combs and Hunt continued their pushes from last week, but they joined together with Bentley and Bryan’s simultaneous massive debuts to make the Mediabase chart look like the Sahara desert. The results were predictably ghastly numbers in the bottom half of the chart and even a few surprising slumps near the top of the chart, including two (McCollum and Pardi) in the top ten! All of this continues to reinforce the narrative that country radio isn’t sold on its current selection and is looking for familiar faces to bolster its shortened playlists, and everyone else is only drifting slowly upwards like water in a clogged sink. (If you struggled this week, no matter where you are on the charts, you have to wonder how much support you really have at radio.) The K-shaped recovery our economy is going through is showing up here too: Those at the top are doing fine, but those at the bottom are getting squeezed off the air.
Of course, there are a lot of more important things going on right now as well:
- The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, with over 226,000 Americans now dead and case numbers surging to a level beyond what we experienced in the spring and summer. Despite what the current president would have you believe, we are in deep sh*t right now, as the death toll is certain to start rising in line with the increased cases and hospitalizations. This is not the time to cut corners in your pandemic prevention strategies: Keep your masks on, your hands washed, and your participation in social gatherings to an absolute minimum.
- We’re now less than a week away from Election Day, and as the pandemic grows, Donald Trump’s poll numbers shrink. Early voting tallies suggest we could see the highest vote turnout in over a century, and FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts are pointing towards a complete Democratic sweep of D.C. Given the current struggles of the Post Office (seriously, it took them two freaking weeks to deliver my new old Brooks & Dunn CD), the window for mailing in your vote has likely passed, so if you want to make sure to voice is heard, make a plan to safely vote in person or hand-deliver your ballot.
We likely won’t know the results for some time after Nov. 3, so take a deep breath, find something interesting to watch or listen to (spoiler alert: you likely won’t find it on mainstream country music right now), and settle in as the ballots are tallied.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!