The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 27, 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. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
2. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
3. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
4. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
5. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
6. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
7. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
8. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
9. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
10. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
11. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
12. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
14. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
16. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
17. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
18. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
19. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
20. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
21. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
22. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
23. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
24. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
25. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
26. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
27. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
28. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
29. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
30. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
31. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
32. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
33. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
34. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
35. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
36. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
37. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
38. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
39. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
40. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
41. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
42. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
43. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
44. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
45. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
46. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
47. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
48. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
49. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
50. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +6
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (recurrent)
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (down from #6 to #14)

In Real Trouble:

  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #37 to #38, broke even on spins and gained only eight points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (holds at #48, but gained only five spins and twenty-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (down from #14 to #15, gained only eleven spins and sixty-seven points)
  • Dan _ Shay, “Steal My Love” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only forty-four spins and eighty-two points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (holds at #47, but gained only thirty-two spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (debuts at #50, but lost spins and gained only twelve points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” (up from #17 to #8)
  • Sam Hunt, “23” (up from #40 to #33)
  • Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” (up from #27 to #23)
  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (up from #50 to #46)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #13 to #12, and is threatening to be his first non-monster hit)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom”
  • Niko Moon, “Paradise To Me”

Overall Thoughts: It seems that anyone looking to kill the Pulse better bring a stake and a garlic necklace, because this thing just won’t go down. Bryan’s recurrance and heavy spin leakage from both Rhett and Wilson meant that most songs were able to post decent gains this week, although there were definitely some songs that prospered more than others (how many spots did Hayes gain this week again?), and the return of Jones and debut of Cam kept the Pulse on a positive trajectory. I still don’t see it lasting (Rhett and possibly Wilson will exit next week, and Denning’s garbage track is lurking just beneath the chart surface), but the Pulse has proven to be much more resilient than I anticipated.

On the coronavirus front, the data suggests we seem to be reaching a peak in this latest surge, as the daily new case average continue to fall and the daily death average is showing signs of leveling off. The country’s vaccination rate, however, only sits at around 56% overall, and with colder weather about to push people indoors and create conditions that are ripe for virus transmission, it’s hard to say whether cases and deaths will keep decreasing or begin increasing once again. Of course, we know which one of the outcomes we prefer (hint: it’s not increasing), so to help ensure that we get it, we need to keep following essential public health guidelines:

  • 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, painstakingly breaking down the impossibility of putting a microchip in the vaccine…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

There’s a chance that our current surge is starting to recede, so we to do everything we can to make sure it keeps receding and no other surges emerge. By taking steps to protect yourself and your community, we can prevent a lot of needless death and suffering, and finally bring this pandemic under control.

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