The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 10, 2021

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!

Song Score
1. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
2. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
3. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
4. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
5. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
6. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
8. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
9. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
10. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
11. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
12. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
13. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
14. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
15. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
16. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
17. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
18. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
19. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
20. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
21. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
22. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
23. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
24. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
25. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
26. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
27. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
28. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
29. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
30. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
31. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
32. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
33. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
34. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
35. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
36. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
37. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
38. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
39. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
40. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
41. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
42. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
45. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
46. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
47. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
48. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
49. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
50. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +12
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -3
Overall Pulse +9
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (recurrent)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (recurrent)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (down from #14 to #21)
  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (collapses from #2 to #23)

In Real Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only thirty-seven spins and 116 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #43, but lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only fifteen spins and ninety-six points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (down from #49 to #50, gained only twelve spins and sixteen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (up from #9 to #8, but gained only thirty-four spins and forty-one points)
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (up from #18 to #15, but gained only forty-nine spins and ninety-four points)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only forty spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey & Rain” (up from #40 to #38, but gained only seventeen spins and seventy-five points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only nineteen spins and ninety-four points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #46 to #40)
  • Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” (up from #12 to #7)
  • Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” (up from #19 to #15)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (up from #22 to #17)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (up from #24 to #19)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #7 to #5)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kip Moore, “Good Life”
  • Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave”

Overall Thoughts: Folks, we are officially on the precipice of disaster: With Rascal Flatts and Arts on their way out and a ton of zeros on the board (nearly half the chart is at 5/10!), it looks like we’re in for an extremely boring summer in mainstream radio. The spring churn continues with a number of songs leaping four or more spots this week, but by and large the stuff that’s climbing and the stuff that’s rushing in to fill the void at the bottom is not that good. It’s got me thinking that country songs aren’t meant to be listened too anymore; it’s just meant to be background noise that can be easily ignored while you do other important (or not-so-important) things. (It would explain the rapid decline of story songs in the genre—who has the time or attention span to listen to one of those anymore?) It’s frustrating from a critical standpoint (listening and thinking deeply about songs is 80% of what I do around here), but there’s good money in mediocrity these days, which is why the Pulse is likely to dip below zero as the temperatures rise.

The good news is that coronavirus cases are also continuing to trend downwards, with new diagnoses down almost 30% over the last two weeks (sadly the decline in deaths is not as dramatic, bringing the overall toll to over 582,000 in the U.S.). Vaccination numbers continue to creep upwards (44.7% of the adult population in the U.S is now fully vaccinated), and with Pfizer’s vaccine now approved for children as young as 12, expect the country’s total numbers to climb even further. NPR reports that 46.1% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and guess who now counts among that 46.1%?

I was mildly annoyed at the state for making me wait as long for an appointment as I did, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due: When the day came, I found the process easy, efficient, and 100% effective. Both the signup and the follow-up booking process were quick and painless, and the staff members I encountered were friendly, professional, and very good at what they did. (I really liked the informational papers they provided, which included answers to some common questions such as side effects, vaccine ingredients, and exactly what an “Emergency Use Authorization” was. It was the sort of thing I’d like to see distributed a bit more widely to folks who are on the fence about the shot.) I had a needle stuck in my arm within ten minutes of arriving, and outside of some injection-site soreness, I haven’t felt any side effects at all. My opinion on the whole process is best summed up by the hardest working man in show business:

I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet gotten a vaccine appointment to do so as their earliest convenience, and to continue following best practices (masks, social distancing, etc.) until we finally put this pandemic behind us. A return to something resembling normal is coming, and the sooner folks get vaccinated, the sooner we can all take the exit ramp off of this road of ruin.

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