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: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10
- Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” (recurrent)
- Taylor Swift, “betty” (recurrent)
- Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” (dropped below #50)
- Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani, “Happy Anywhere” (down from #1 to #3)
- Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown” (down from #5 to #7)
In Real Trouble:
- Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (up from #22 to #21, but lost its bullet)
- Maren Morris, “To Hell & Back” (up from #30 to #29, but bullet-less for a second straight week)
- Dierks Bentley, “Gone” (up from #31 to #30, but lost spins and gained only 66 points)
- Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (up from #36 to #35, but lost spins and gained only twenty-three points)
- Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (up from #46 to #42, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-three points)
- Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only thirty-three spins and fifty-five points)
- Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (holds at #49, but lost its bullet with a 175+ point loss)
In Some Trouble:
- Kenny Chesney, “Happy Does” (holds at #8, but gained only seventeen spins and lost points)
- Keith Urban ft. Pink, “One Too Many” (up from #28 to #27, but lost its bullet)
- Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (up from #29 to #28, but lost its bullet)
- Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only seven spins and lost points)
- Honestly, no one below #38 had a stellar week except maybe Aldean and Jones
In No Trouble At All:
- Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #43 to #38)
- Caroline Jones, “All Of The Boys” (up from #50 to #46)
- Both Counts and Shane qualify for this list based on spot gains, but their raw numbers are too shaky for them get a full listing.
- Luke Combs, “Better Together” (up from #10 to #7, and honestly hasn’t looked nearly as strong as I expected)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen” (4/10)
- Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (5/10)
- Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt”
- Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5”
- Mitchell Tenpenny, “Broken Up”
On The Way:
- Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” (3/10)
- Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name”
- Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her”
Overall Thoughts: The Pulse may show no change, but country music took a big L this week:
Charlie Pride, country music’s first Black superstar (and who remains one of the only Black artists to find success in the genre), passed away last Saturday at age 86, becoming one of the over 303,000 Americans to die from the coronavirus this year.
Pride was one of the greatest artists in country music period: He ranks in the Top Ten all-time for Billboard #1 singles, he sold an estimated 70 million records (the only RCA artist that sold more was Elvis Presley), and he did all this while also serving as a trailblazer in a genre and a nation that still haven’t reckoned with the institutional racism baked into its foundations. Andrea Williams wrote an excellent obituary for Pride and I don’t have a ton that I can add to it, but I will say two things:
- The thing that always stood out for me was that Pride had the extraordinary ability to cover any song made famous by any artist and make it sound both uniquely his own and yet incredibly faithful to the original version. My list of artists who could pull this off stands at two: Pride, Alan Jackson, and that’s it.
- While we may never find a direct link between Pride’s illness and his performance at the 2020 CMA Awards, the decision makers at that organization need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves why they dragged an elderly gentleman to an indoor, mostly-maskless gathering in the middle of a raging pandemic.)
Charley Pride was a national treasure, and we are all poorer for this loss. Rest in peace, Mr. Pride.