The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 25, 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. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
2. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
3. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
5. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
6. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
7. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
8. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
9. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
10. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
12. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
13. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
14. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
15. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
16. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
17. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
18. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
19. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
20. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
21. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
22. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
23. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
24. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
27. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
28. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
29. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
30. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
31. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
32. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
33. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
34. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
35. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
36. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
37. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
38. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
39. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
40. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
41. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
42. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
43. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
44. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
45. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)*
47. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
48. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
49. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)*
50. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +12
Overall Pulse +13
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

  • Sam Hunt, “23” (recurrent)
  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (recurrent)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (recurrent)
  • Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” (recurrent)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (up from #5 to #2, but this was its final push)

  • Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home)” (down from #7 to #8

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (holds at #11, but gained only twenty-five spins and lost points. Would someone put this garbage out of its misery already?)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #10 to #9)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only twenty spins and twenty-nine points)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (down from #39 to #41, lost its bullet again)

In Real Trouble:

  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (up from #21 to #20, but lost its bullet again. This thing had solid momentum not long agowhat happened?
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #48 to #47, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (down from #16 to #17, gained only fifty-five spins and 130 points. This may have run out of gas)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (down from #17 to #18, gained only twenty-three spins and fifty-one points. This one’s low on fuel as well)
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (up from #35 to #32, but gained only twenty-six spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (debuts at #49, but gained only nineteen spins and fifty-six points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (debuts at #50, but took several months to get here, and gained only ten spins and forty-three points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #51 to #43)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #45 to #39)
  • Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” (up from #40 to #35)
  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (up from #42 to #37)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Parmalee, “Take My Name” (up from #20 to #16)
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #38 to #34)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #42 to #38)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (holds at #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”
  • Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up”
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking”
  • Jameson Rodgers, “Missing One”

On The Way:

  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”
  • Thompson Square, “Country In My Soul”

Overall Thoughts: This was a week of action on the charts, as Arts joined Hunt, Bryan, and Midland on the way to the exit (LBT fell off the chart as well, though they’ll likely be back soon). Unfortunately, what we got to replace all of them wasn’t all that exciting (Stapleton was the only non-neutral score), ultimately making this a week of addition by subtraction. None of this will repeat itself next week: Swindell and Wilson apear to be angling for another week atop the mountain (likely keeping upward movement to a minimum), and King/Lambert and Church are the next candidates to leave. The wild cards, however, are the zombie tracks, as both the best song (Janson) and the worst song (Shelton) could call it quits any day now, which would throw the Pulse for a loop.

I’m also curious how long HARDY sticks around: That song is already sixteen months old, and will likely need another 7-8 weeks to reach #1. It’s stuck behind Swindell/Wilson, Thanos, Pearce/McBryde, Urban, and Rhett, and will be passed by at least Hayes and Aldean before it reaches its peak. If I had to bet, I think Wallen will get by it as well (they’re labelmates, but Wallen’s got too much momentum right now), but McGraw and Morris pose no threat to it, and Parmalee is probably too far behind it to pass it in time. Is Big Loud willing to wait that long for a Mediabase #1? I have my doubts.

On the coronavirus front, I advise folks to fasten their seatbelts and keep their hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times: New case averages continue to rise nationally, and now hospitalizations appear to be rising in some locations. Deaths aren’t going up just yet, but they’re usually a few weeks behind hospitalizations, which means we may be headed for another deadly round with this virus. Unfortunately, while mask requirements are being reinstated in some places, for the most part these guidelines remain voluntary, putting the burden on the individual to decide what they should do based on their own tolerance for risk. Personally, I was still uncomfortable with the level of virus transmission even before this latest increase, so I’m still on the soapbox preaching caution:

It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks going forward as virus circulation increases and people do their best to ignore it until it’s too late. Your personal decisions still matter, however, and by following our tried-and-true best practices, you can still help keep yourself and the people you care about safe.

3 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 25, 2022

  1. “Flower Shops” struggling is incredibly puzzling to me as well. Seemed like it was a no-brainer candidate for a future #1. My only thought is that maybe Big Loud doesn’t want an over saturation of Wallen on the radio. “Wasted On You,” as much as I don’t care for it, has been blazing up the charts, and after that peaks, they’re probably gonna release “Don’t Think Jesus” to radio considering it’s gone viral on TikTok and is already a #1 on the freaking HOT 100. Plus he has other red-hot recurrents that are still getting play, like “Sand In My Boots” and “Chasin’ You.”

    Liked by 1 person

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