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
- Luke Combs, “Better Together” (recurrent)
- Kenny Chesney, “Happy Does” (recurrent)
- Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” (down from #1 to #5)
- Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” (down from #9 to #19)
In Real Trouble:
- Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (up from #34 to #33, but lost its bullet again)
- Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only forty-nine spins and ninety-seven points)
- Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (up from #43 to #41, but gained only two spins and seventy-five points)
- Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only twenty-four spins and seventy-four points)
- LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #45, but lost its bullet)
- Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (up from #50 to #48, but gained only three spins and eighteen points)
- Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (down from #49 to #50, lost its bullet)
In Some Trouble:
- Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (holds at #7, but gained only sixty spins and eighty-seven points)
- Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days”
- So this is interesting: Nearly everyone below #35 struggled except for the two-artist songs (Brooks/Yearwood, Allen/Paisley, Rodgers/Combs, and Johnson/McEntie). It’s not a perfect fit because Block did kinda-sorta OK and Rice/FGL didn’t do well, but I’m not sure I consider the Rice/FGL track an actual song…
In No Trouble At All:
- Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Fredom Was A Highway” (up from #48 to #43)
- Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” (up from #21 to #17)
- Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” (up from #33 to #29)
- Luke Combs, “Better Together” (finally goes recurrent, but “Forever After All” releases next week)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (6/10)
- Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (7/10)
- Lindsay Ell, “Want Me Back” (5/10)
On The Way:
- Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t”
- Track45, “Met Me Now”
- Brett Eldredge, “Good Day”
Overall Thoughts: Is it just me, or are the charts feeling really stale and lethargic right now?
The escalator was slightly functional this week as Thanos and Chesney bowed out, but in its place we got meh tracks that have been floating around the bottom edge of the charts for quite a while now. There’s just very little on the mainstream airwaves to get excited about, and despite all the times I’ve complained about the ‘express lane’ that popular acts use, part of me is rooting for Thanos’s next single (good or bad) to rock the charts and inject a little dynamism into the rankings. I’m also hoping the seasonal turnover will help the radio shed some of its dead weight (looking at you, Dylan Scott), because there’s just not much to say or get hyped about right now.
Meanwhile, the news on the pandemic front is a mixed bag right now. On one hand, a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has now been approved, and vaccine production has ramped up so much that President Biden has accelerated his timeline and proclaimed that there we be enough vaccines for every adult in America by the end of May. On the other hand, however, the average daily case counts have plateaued at about the same level as the peak counts of last summer (i.e., they’re still way too high), the death toll now stands at over 516,000, and some states are prematurely declaring victory and lifting their mask mandates and business restrictions, despite the fact that the virus comes roaring back every time we do this. Now is not the time to be taking our foot off the gas, especially with vaccine accessibility improving at its current rate. Instead, we should be sticking to what works: Mask mandates, limits on gathering size, and stringent social distance guidelines.
The end is in sight, folks—don’t start slacking now. Stay vigilant, and stay safe.