The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 22, 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. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
2. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
3. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
4. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
5. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
6. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
7. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
8. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
9. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
10. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
11. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
12. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
13. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
14. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
15. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
16. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
17. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
18. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
19. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
20. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
21. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
22. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
23. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
24. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
25. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
26. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
27. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
28. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
29. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
30. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
31. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
32. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
33. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
34. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
35. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
36. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
37. Adele ft. Chris Stapleton, “Easy On Me” +1 (6/10)
38. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
39. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
40. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
41. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
42. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
43. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
44. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
45. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
46. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
47. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
48. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
49. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
50. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +4
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:

  • Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” (recurrent)
  • Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” (down to #54)

Leaving:

  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” (down from #6 to #9)
  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (down from #23 to #41)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #15, but lost its bullet)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (down from #19 to #20, gained only fifteen spins and 103 points)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (down from #32 to #34, lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #37 to #38, bullet-less for a second consceutive week)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (down from #38 to #39, lost its bullet)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (holds at #46, but gained only eight spins and twenty-six points)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (down from #49 to #50, lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #11 to #10, but gained only thirteen spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (up from #27 to #25, but gained only forty-three spins and ninety points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (holds at #43, but gained only twenty-eight spins and 111 points)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (holds at #44, but gained only twenty-six spins and fifty points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable” (down from #45 to #48, gained only thirteen spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (debuts at #30)
  • Adele ft. Chris Stapleton, “Easy On Me” (debuts at #36)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (up from #39 to #33)
  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (up from #40 to #36)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (has to pull out the big label to leap from #4 to #1; this is easily his weakest single to date)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t”
  • Lee Brice, “Soul”
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”

Overall Thoughts: This was a week of not-so-radical redistribution: As Hurd/Morris, Hayes, and Old Dominion start releasing spins into the wild, big debuts from Swindell/Wilson and Adele/Stapleton and a big push from Thanos (which feels like one of those artificial pushes that Combs has never needed befoe) were there to hoover them all up, and the result was a lot more of the same: Decent gains at the top, pitiful numbers at the bottom, and a bunch of songs facing a critical question/Clash single: Should I stay or should I go? With a few more singles slated to land this year and holiday tracks primed to tighten the spin squeeze further, I don’t expect the numbers to get any better in the short-term, and there are definitely some artists who would be better off pulling the plug now and preparing to make a bigger splash in 2022.

On the coronavirus front…folks, we are definitely in trouble again: New coronavirus case averages are up 25% over the last two weeks, and the CDC is now forecasting that hospitalizations and deaths will rise over the next month, with 800,000 deaths nationally being a real possibility. With vaccinations rates growing at a snail’s pace (we just barely reached the 59% mark) and Thanksgiving gatherings being ready-made risks for spreading the virus, the next month is going to be a dicey one, and if we’re going to have any chance of avoiding this 800,000 mark, we’ve got to do all we can to protect ourselves and others:

  • Wear a mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public. (And if you’re going to gather for the holidays, take steps to minimize the risks to yourself and others.)
  • 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.

I know people are tired and just want this whole pandemic mess to be over, but it’s not going to end unless we all take concrete steps to help make it happen. We still have some say over how bad this winter ends up being, and if we all do the right things, perhaps we can keep the unnecessary death and suffering to a minimum.

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