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
- Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” (recurrent)
- Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (down from #1 to #6)
- Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #2 to #7)
- Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #6 to #8)
In Real Trouble:
- Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (holds at #31, but lost its bullet again)
- Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (holds at #48, but lost its bullet)
- Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (down from #47 to #49, bullet-less for a second straight week)
- HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (holds at #50, but lost its bullet)
In Some Trouble:
- Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” (down from #18 to #19, gained only eleven spins and eighty-four points)
- Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” (up from #25 to #24, but gained only sixty-eight spins and eighty-five points)
- Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (holds at #29, but lost spins and gained only twenty-six points)
- Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #37 to #39, broke even on spins and gained only forty-seven points)
- Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #44, but gained only twenty spins and sixty-nine points)
- LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #45, but gained only eight spins and thirteen points)
- Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (holds at #46, but gained only twnety-five spins and thirty points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Luke Bryan, “Waves” (debuts at #35)
- Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #20 to #14)
Bubbling Under 50:
- None listed by Country Aircheck this week.
On The Way:
- Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” (6/10)
- Thomas Rhett, “Country Again”
Overall Thoughts: Is the spring thaw finally about to happen? With three tracks falling in the top ten (and a few more that look weak on the other end of the charts, and Stapleton likely to crash hard after his push to #1), it sure looks like it. The problem, however, is that the A-listers of the genre are simply using the express lane to jump right back into the fray (Bryan had a big debut this week; expect Rhett and possibly Ballerini/Chesney to do the same next week), and the floatsam keep piling in the lower half of the charts (songs like Janson’s, LoCash’s, and possibly Robb’s stick out this week, but for crying out loud, how many times does “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” have to lose its bullet before Little Big Town realizes it’s a dead song walking?). The charts remain in need of a good flushing, and despite all the songs scheduled to leave, I’m not sure it’s going to get one.
The coronavirus needs to be flushed from the nation as well, but it looks like that’s going to take a while too, with new cases on the upswing, daily death counts leveling off at an unacceptably-high number (the total count stands at over 563,000 now), and new hotspots beginning to flare up (most notably Michigan, but the Northeast as a region isn’t doing so well either). However, the vaccine will officially be eligible to everyone 18 and older next week, so if your moment to get an appointment hasn’t arrived yet, it will soon. Sadly, the distance between being eligible for an appointment and actually getting the vaccine can be far apart (for example, I’m stuck waiting another month for my shot), so we need to keep following best practices: Wear your masks, wash your hands, avoid large crowds, and do what you can to keep the people you care about safe.
Another pandemic returned to the headlines this week: The scourge of systemic racism, as shown by the recent shooting of Daunte Wright and the release of video showing police pepper-spraying Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario during a traffic stop. After all the marches and outrage that came about after the killing of George Floyd, we’re still stuck in the same place we were nearly a year ago, the same place we’ve been stuck for decades and even centuries. These acts may have left the front pages, but they’re still happening, and for all our high and mighty talk of last summer, we’ve made embarrassingly little progress towards rectifying the situation.
This sort of prejudiced bullshit needs to stop, and it needed to stop a long time ago. Black lives matter, even if our police departments don’t seem to think so. I don’t know if it’s police training or police culture or what, but we need to figure out why this sort of stuff keeps happening, and then take tangible, concrete steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Otherwise, we’ll be right back here next year, mourning another life taken too soon.