The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 25, 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. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
2. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
3. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
4. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
5. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
6. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
7. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
8. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
9. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
10. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
11. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
12. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
13. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
14. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
15. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
16. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
17. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
18. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
19. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
20. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
22. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
23. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
24. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
25. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
26. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
27. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
28. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
29. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
30. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
31. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
32. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
33. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
34. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
35. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
36. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
37. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
38. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
39. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
40. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
41. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
42. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
43. Luke Bryan, “Up” 0 (5/10)*
44. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
45. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
46. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
47. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
48. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
49. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
50. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +1
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (recurrent)
  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (crashes hard from #1 to #10)
  • Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (down from #4 to #9)

In Real Trouble:

  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (up from #10 to #8, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (holds at #13, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Can” (up from #24 to #23, but gained only three spins and 118 points)
  • Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” (down from #29 to #30, bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Lauren Alaina ft. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #34 to #31 despite losing its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only ten spins and lost points)
  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (up from #41 to #37 despite gaining only fourteen spins and eighty-two points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (up from #43 to #40 despite losing its bullet again)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only eight spins and fifty-six points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only eight spins and twenty-four points, and is so desperate for good press they ran a ‘Top 10 new adds for 13 weeks!” ad in CA)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only three spins and forty-eight points)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (debuts at #50, but gained only six spins and eight-seven points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (up from #35 to #34, but gained only eight spins and nineteen points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (debuts at #43)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (up from #39 to #32)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” (up from #9 to #3; was this a failed push for #1?)
  • Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” (up from #42 to #38)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #8 to #5)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Crowded out of Country Aircheck once again…

On The Way:

  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll”
  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman Like You”

Overall Thoughts:

https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/484/617/ace.jpg

Image from Know Your Meme

Does anyone else feel a imminent reckoning on the horizon? Because that’s the feeling I get when I look at the charts right now, with meager gains and lost bullets scattered as far as the eye can see (inlcuding some surprising songs, such as “I Was On A Boat That Day” and “Like A Lady,” coming up empty for two weeks in a row). The conversion to fall and winter playlists is coming fast, and as many as five tracks could be swept away by this time next week. The numbers aren’t quite as bad this week, but I would actually call them more concerning because there were no massive debuts causing the problem: “Up” had been out for a week or two already, Lambert was regressing to the mean after last week’s debut, Shelton’s gains weren’t all that impressive, and only the Zac Brown Band put up numbers that really caught my eye. Some of this is undoutedly seasonal, but I think of this is indicative of the larger problem we’ve been tracking: People simply aren’t that excited about what they’re hearing right now, and PDs are shortening their playlists and reaching for familiar names in hopes of keeping their audiences around.

On the coronavirus front, the warning lights are starting to blink again, with the daily death average reversing course and increasing again (even as the new case averages continue to drop), new hot spots emerging (Arizona is the latest state to go under the microscope), and a vaccination rate that remains stubbornly low at 57.4%. The bigger concern, however, sits across the pond, where the United Kingdom is experiencing a second surge of the Delta variant only a few months after the first one, and a new “Delta plus” variant is starting to circulate (although questions remain about still how much more transmissible this is from the original variant). Could we see another surge in the States as well? With colder weather coming and Delta plus already here, I wouldn’t bet against it. (Case in point: Guess who got a call from a contact tracer and is back in quarantine again?)

If we’re ever going to get out of this endless surge-and-wane cycle, we’ve got to double down on the basics and keep following our tried-and-true 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, and be sure to get your booster shot once you become eligible.
  • 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. (Let me say this again for the governors in the back: Do. Something.)

At this point, I have no idea when or if we’ll get back to any sort of normalcy, but if we’re going to have any shot at doing so, we’ve got to come together and do the right things to keep each other safe. Common human decency demands that we do nothing less.

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