The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 20, 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. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
2. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
3. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
4. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
5. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
6. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
7. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
8. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
9. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
10. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
11. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
12. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
13. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
14. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
15. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
16. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
17. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
18. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
19. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
20. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
21. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
22. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
23. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
24. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
25. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
26. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
27. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
28. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
29. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
30. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
31. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
32. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
33. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
34. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
35. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
36. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
37. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
38. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
39. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
40. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
41. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
42. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
43. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
44. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
45. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
46. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
47. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)*
48. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
49. Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” +1 (6/10)
50. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +6
Overall Pulse +5
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “To Be Loved By You,” 3/10

Gone:

  • Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” (recurrent)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (down from #3 to #5)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (down from #1 to #6)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” (down from #24 to #26, lost its bullet)
  • Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” (holds at #32, but gained only twenty-two spins and 126 points)
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (down from #48 to #49, but lost its bullet again)

In Some Trouble:

  • Lauren Alaina ft. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #35 to #34, but gained only thirty-two spins and forty-six points)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #36 to #37, gained only thirteen spins and fifty-four points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #41 to #42, gained only thirty-five spins and eighty-five points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (holds at #46, but gained only eleven spins and lost points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only twenty-three spins and seventy-three points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (up from #39 to #35)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (holds at #13)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Crowded out of Country Aircheck once again…

On The Way:

  • Chris Young ft. Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”
  • Niko Moon, “Paradise To Me”

Overall Thoughts: This was an interesting week: With two A-listers (Rhett and Bryan) drifting towards recurrence this week, a ton of higher-quality spins were released back into the wild, allowing even songs that couldn’t bank a ton of airtime to at least point half-decent point gains. With both men stuck on the charts for now, however, the chart was stuck in stasis, with a good sixteen songs failing to budge from their slots (and a bunch more only moving one slot up or down). Rhett seems to be fading faster than Bryan, so there’s a good chance both tracks go recurrent next week, which should allow the escalator to start moving once again.

In terms of the overall chart score, Pearce & McBryde helped push the Pulse a bit higher this week, but I don’t see this being a long-term trend (especially since Jones ended up getting pushed out to make room). The Pulse remains in a precarious position, and it’s going to need a lot more intervention to stay positive.

On the coronavirus front, are there finally some reasons for optimism? Daily case counts are beginning to drop on a national level (although there are still some local hotspots), and while it will still take a few weeks for the daily death averages to start dropping, current models predict that we’re going to see a steady decline in cases and deaths over the next six months…provided people get their kids vaccinated and a new variant doesn’t pop up (Mu remains concerning, but for now Delta seems to be crowding it out) The vaccination rate sits a hair below 55% right now, but given the promising data from Pfizer regarding the vaccine’s effective for children and the eventual vaccine guidelines from OSHA, that number should start to climb in the next few weeks.

Still, the fact remains that the coronavirus will be with us for another winter, which means it’s imperative that we keep following best practices:

  • Wear a mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public.
  • If you’re not vaccinated yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers, creating an animated PSA…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

Those kinda-sorta optimistic models are dependent on us taking the necessary steps to contain and control the virus, so let’s all resolve to do our parts and make a big push to get this pandemic off life’s highway and on to the exit ramp where it belongs.