The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 18, 2022

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. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
2. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
3. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
5. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
6. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
7. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
8. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
9. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
10. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
12. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
13. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
14. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
15. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
17. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
18. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
19. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
20. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
21. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
22. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
23. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
24. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
27. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
28. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
29. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
30. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
31. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
32. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
33. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
34. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
35. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
36. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
37. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
38. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
39. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
40. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
41. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
42. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
43. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
44. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
45. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
46. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
47. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
48. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
49. Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” +2 (7/10)
50. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) 0
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +11
Overall Pulse +11
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (recurrent, but would still be at #8 if eligible)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (recurrent)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home)” (down from #1 to #7)
  • Sam Hunt, “23” (up from #4 to #3, but lost over 500 spins and 2000 points)
  • Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” (down from #43 to #49 with a 800+ point loss)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (holds at #11, but lost its bullet again)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #12 to #10 with some surprisingly solid gains. Given the depths HARDY can sink to*cough* “REDNECKER” *cough*maybe I should just be happy this is stalling the inevitable tire fire that would be a new single…)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (holds at #34, but it bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #40 to #37, gained fifty-two spins and 176 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only five spins and lost points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only twenty spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #45 to #44, but gained only twenty-one spins and broke even on points)
  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (up from #48 to #46, but gained only twenty-seven spins and seventy-two points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #17 to #16, but lost spins and gained only 101 points, and hasn’t looked strong recently)
  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only two spins and lost points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #50 to #47, but lost spins and gained only one point)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (up from #36 to #31)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #46 to #41)
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #42 to #38)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #49 to #45)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #6 to #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”

Overall Thoughts: With Hunt, King/Lambert, Bryan, and Johnson releasing spins back into the wild, this was a week for tracks to make up the ground they lost last week. On one hand, we got the same old story from the charts, and songs near the top reaped the benefits and songs near the bottom struggled to find traction. On the other hand, however, there were some notable success stories in the bottom half of the chart. Specifically, Dean and Jelly Roll, artists who have zero clout or track record but who are among the few artists who have released a song I like in 2022, made some serious waves (Little Big Town did too, but they’ve got 20+ years of history behind them). Does this mean that *gasp* PDs are broadening their search for fresh material and prioritizing quality over name recognition? The Pulse has been inching upward recently, so this seems like a trend worth watching. Look for more action next week as Hunt, King/Lambert, Bryan, and Midland (RIP) exit the stage.

On the coronavirus front, a lot of folks are holding their breath right now: New case averages continue to rise, and the million-dollar questions are a) “how high that [new case count] mountain’s gonna grow,” and b) if there will be a substantial rise in hospitalizations and deaths along with it. With many virus restrictions loosening (although some are tightening again) and the federal mass transit mask mandate removed, the onus has really shifted to individuals as to what they feel safe doing and what precautions they should take. For me, there’s still far too much virus circulation for my taste, so I’m sticking with the old standbys:

We’ve got a lot of the things we need to help protect ourselves and the people we care about, and we don’t have to stop using them just because we’re no longer forced to use them. The virus isn’t going anywhere, and neither should our resolve to do everything in our power to prevent its spread.

One thought on “The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 18, 2022

  1. I admit, “Sunrise” is far from my favorite Midland song, but I did hope it could be the single to reignite their momentum at radio. It’s quickly looking like a Dwight Yoakam situation for them, where they maintain a good image within the general industry and attract critical acclaim, but only see a few scattered hits here and there … even if I know “Burn Out” was their last true hit as of this writing.

    On a more positive note, I, too, am intrigued by Jackson Dean and Jelly Roll somehow blazing up the charts. I like that Dean leans into the swaggering outlaw aesthetic without relying on all of bragadocius machismo that can be a real toxic trait of that subgenre.

    As for our airlines … oh boy. With cases back on the rise, it’s just … not the time for that. And I’m afraid that’s only going to set things back further. 😣

    Liked by 2 people

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