Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the 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 Bryan, “Down To One” (recurrent)
- Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #1 to #3)
- Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” (down from #7 to #10)
- Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” (down from #48 to #49, bullet-less for a second straight week, and is just holding up traffic at this point)
In Real Trouble:
- Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (holds at #15, but gained only thirty-six spins and sixty-five points)
- Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (holds at #22, but but loses its bullet again with a 200+ point loss)
- Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (down from #32 to #33, gained only forty-two spins and 135 points)
- Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (down from #34 to #35, gained only forty-six spins and seventy-six points)
- Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (up from #40 to #38, but gained only sixteen spins and lost points)
- Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only eight spins and twenty-six points)
- Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #45 to #42, but gained only twenty-one spins and fifty-seven points)
- LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #44 to #43, but lost its bullet)
- Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only fifty-three spins and seventy-two points)
- Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (up from #49 to #46, but gained only ten spins and thirty-three points)
- Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (up from #50 to #47, but lost spins and gained only fifty-three points)
In Some Trouble:
- Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (holds at #6, but gains only thirty-two spins and ten points
- Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” (holds at #29, but gained only forty-seven spins and 101 points)
- Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only fifty-three spins and thirty-six points)
- Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #41 to #40, but gained only twenty-two spins and seventy-one points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughts Know” (up from #37 to #32)
- Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (up from #9 to #5)
- Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #35 to #28. has officially submitted application to the Legion of Doom)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Caitlin Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (5/10)
- Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You”
- Lauren Alaina ft. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (5/10)
On The Way:
- Ryan Hurd ft. Maren Morris, “Chasing After You”
- Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece”
- Travis Denning, “ABBY”
Overall Thoughts: The dam didn’t quite break after last week, but the cracks in the ice are definitely starting to show.
With yet another week of minimal chart movement and a distinct lack of growth from many tracks despite the release of spins from Moon, Parmalee/Brown, and Lady A, what sticks out right now is the volatility at the tail end of the chart, especially from #40 on down. Songs that sit mostly stagnant for weeks on end suddenly take a big step forward, only to wind up losing much of the gains soon afterwards. LoCash may be the latest example of such behavior (they jumped 5 spots last week only to lose their bullet this week), but I’ve seen a number of songs at that level lose spots as quickly as they gain them, and only escape the cesspool of mediocrity through outside intervention (think Wilson’s post-‘On The Verge’ growth) or by waiting for a million years until everything above it has gone recurrent (think Scott’s molasses-slow climb to #12). The whole boom-and-bust cycle makes me wonder if there are some label shenanigans going on behind the scenes (“hey, play this artist more this week, would you?”), and our only hope is that the annual spring clearing of the airwaves will finally put a few of these tracks out to pasture.
On the pandemic front, lately we can’t seem to get a round of unqualified good news. Despite the continued success of the vaccine rollout (seriously, my mother actually managed to get an appointment the same day she became eligible!), we’re starting to see some new potential hot spots pop up, such as in Michigan and New York. With new dangerous variants of the virus circulating, this is no time to get complacent or rush back to business as usual. The end of this pandemic is in sight, and if we can keep doing the right things to keep ourselves and our communities safe (wearing masks, maintaining social distance, getting vaccinated as soon as possible), we can hopefully short-circuit this potential surge before it gets going.
Hang in there folks—remember, good things come to those who wait.