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

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (recurrent)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (down from #6 to #15)

In Real Trouble:

  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (holds at #32, but lost its bullet)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (holds at #33, but lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (holds at #37, but lost its bullet again)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #44 to #42, but gained only one spin and five points)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only seven spins and fifty-nine points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twenty-five spins and lost points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #50 to #47, but gained only thirty-one spins and sixty points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only one spin and eighteen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (down from #11 to #12, gained only thirty spins and lost nearly 200 points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #15 to #14, but gained only fourteen spins and ninety-four points)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (down from #21 to #22, barely kept its bullet by breaking even on spins and gaining two points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #48 to #45, but gained only fifteen spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (rejoins the chart at #49, but gained only twenty-six spins and sixty-one points)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (debuts at #50, but gained only nine spins and fifteen points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Nobody qualified this week.

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (holds at #10 and got run over by “Same Boat”?! Someone’s getting snapped out of existence over at Columbia Nashville…)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Janson rode in to save the day last week, but both he and Wilson rode off into the sunset this week, and just like that the Pulse is below zero for the first time here at Kyle’s Korner. Whether this is a temporary blip or not is still to be seen (it depends on if when “Bye Mom” rebounds), but I think the bigger issue in the spin distribution this week: With McCreery and Rodgers heading for the exit, Shelton regressing to the mean after a big debut, and no major debuts shaking up the charts (although McEntire and Parton made a surprise appearance at #52), it seemed like a good week for a lot of songs to grab a lot of spins. Instead, however, we saw a ton on consolidation at the top, with the Top 11 (plus Davis/Bryan and Hunt) vacuuming up the majority of freed-up spins, leaving those near the bottom of the charts (and even a few in the top half) struggling to post even mediocre numbers. It’s more evidence towards what we said last week: “People just aren’t that enthused with what Nashville is serving them right now,” and something has even a slight smell of a “hit,” it’s getting pumped out onto the airwaves over and over until it’s out of gas. Given how “meh” the Top Ten is right now, it’s a recipe for absolute boredom, and not a great way to convert new listeners to the format.

On the coronavirus front, while some surprising hot spots are still raging (for example, Vermont’s pandemic numbers are the worst they’ve been since the start of this whole thing), on the whole the country is seeing a lower number of daily new cases and deaths, with both numbers dropping by double-digit percentages in the last two weeks. However, the vaccination rate nationwide is moving stubbornly slow right now (NPR has it at 56.5% right now), which means we could still see another rise in case as the weather cools down and people begin moving indoors. If we want to keep the good news flowing and the case counts dropping, 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. (And hey, getting a flu shot isn’t a bad idea either!)
  • 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…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

Even with reduced case/death numbers, the current counts remain far too high to take much comfort in right now. We need to continue doing everything we can to keep pushing these numbers down and keep ourselves and the people we care about safe.