The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 23, 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. Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” -1 (4/10)
2. Russell Dickerson, “Love You Like I Used To” 0 (5/10)
3. Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Happy Anywhere” +1 (6/10)
4. HARDY ft. Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson, “One Beer” -1 (4/10)
5. Chris Lane, “Big, Big Plans” +1 (6/10)
6. Parker McCollum, “Pretty Heart” -1 (4/10)
7. Jon Pardi, “Ain’t Always The Cowboy” 0 (5/10)
8. Dan + Shay, “I Should Probably Go To Bed” 0 (5/10)
9. Lady A, “Champagne Night” 0 (5/10)
10. Kenny Chesney, “Happy Does” 0 (5/10)
11. Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” +2 (7/10)
12. Luke Combs, “Better Together” +0 (5/10)
13. Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” 0 (5/10)
14. Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” -1 (4/10)
15. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
16. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
17. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
18. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
19. Luke Bryan, “Down To One” 0 (5/10)
20. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
21. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
22. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
23. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
24. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
25. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
26. Morgan Wallen, “7 Summers” +1 (6/10)
27. Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” 0 (5/10)
28. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
29. Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” +2 (7/10)
30. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
31. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
32. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
33. Taylor Swift, “Betty” +1 (6/10)
34. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
35. Runaway June, “We Were Rich” +2 (7/10)
36. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
37. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
38. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
39. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
40. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
41. Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” 0 (5/10)
42. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
43. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
44. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
45. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)*
46. Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” -3 (2/10)
47. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
48. Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” 0 (5/10)
49. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
50. Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +7
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -1
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
-2 😦

*The Pulse only dropped by one point due to song transition. The second loss was due to “Hell Of A View” being revised from a +1 to a 0.
Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Matt Stell, “Everywhere But On” (recurrent)
  • Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” (down to #52)

Leaving:

  • Russell Dickerson, “Love You Like I Used To” (down from #1 to #2)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (holds at #20, but gained only thirty-five spins and thirty-one points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (up from #23 to #22, but lost its bullet)
  • Morgan Wallen, “7 Summers” (down from #24 to #26, but lost its bullet with a 250+ point loss)
  • Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” (holds at #29, but gained only twenty-three spins and sixty-six points)
  • Taylor Swift, “Betty” (up from #34 to #33, but gained only seventy-three spins and 145 points)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (up from #35 to #34, but lost its bullet)
  • Jake Owen, “Made For You” (up from #40 to #39, but lost its bullet)
  • Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only twenty-two spins and eighty-two points)
  • Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only twenty-four spins and 133 points)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #44, but gained only thirty-two spins and forty-one points)
  • Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only fifty-seven spins and eighty-four points)
  • Old Dominion, “Never Be Sorry” (holds at #48, but gained only forty-three spins and ninety-two points)
  • Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” (down from #49 to #50, gained only thirty-two spins and seventy-nine points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” (up from #12 to #11, but gained only fifty-seven spins and thirty-two points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (holds at #15, but gained only thirty-seven spins and lost points)
  • Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (up from #36 to #35, but gained only fourteen spins and 123 points)
  • Basically everyone below #43 who isn’t Lee Brice had a rough week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • No one qualified!

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Better Together” (up from #13 to #12)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You”

Overall Thoughts: If last week was a gut check, this week calls for some Ex-Lax.

Outside of Church’s market correction, there was very little movement on the charts this week (especially at the top; the Top 10 moved a total of four positions). Dickerson may be exiting normally, but Rhett and Church didn’t give up a ton of spins after their big debuts, meaning that many songs were left scrambling for every last airwave slot. What’s really striking to me right now is the extreme weakness at the bottom of the chart right now: The escalator is (slowly) moving, but the spin counts aren’t really growing to match this movement, and the result is that we’re now seeing songs in the twenties that probably should have been put out of their misery months ago (looking at you, Dylan Scott). With holiday music starting to arrive and several strong recurrents whose point totals would still put them in the Top 20 if they were eligible (case in point: “I Hope” hit #1 on Billboard seven months ago today, yet its current point total would still put it at #16 on Mediabase), radio real estate is a seller’s market right now, and will likely remain so through the end of 2020.

Unlike the Mediabase chart, however, the coronavirus pandemic is not sitting still, and the death toll now sits at nearly 260,000 (with a horrifying 2,146 deaths reported just yesterday). We’re paying for the sins of our summer and fall right now, and the upcoming holiday season poses yet another threat, with millions traveling for Thanksgiving despite the CDC recommending that we spend the day only with the people in our immediate household. It’s not impossible to get together safely, but it does require a lot of work and preparation beyond our normal holiday duties (maintaining social distance, paring down guest lists, holding festivities outside), and my fear is that not enough people are taking this threat seriously enough to do their due diligence. Remember, it’s not about saving this year’s holiday seasonit’s about preserving the people you care about to celebrate next year’s season.

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