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

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” (down from #3 to #7)
  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (down from #16 to #28)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (down from #17 to #29)

Zombie Tracks:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #6 to #7, earning the dubious distinction of losing spots during its max push week)
  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (holds at #15, but gained only eleven spins and lost points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #38 to #40, lost spins and only gained and twelve points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #47, but gained only two spins and thirty points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only twenty-two spins and thirty-four points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only twenty-six spins and thirty points)

In Some Trouble:

  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (up from #20 to #18, but gained only twenty-one spins and 114 points. We’re gonna have to talk about this one…)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #25 to #23, but gained only seven spins and thirty-one points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #44 to #45, gained only twenty-five spins and ninety-six points)
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking” (debuts at #50, but barely kept its bullet by losing spins and breaking even on points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (debuts at #38)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (up from #28 to #22)
  • Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” (up from #9 to #5)
  • Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (up from #21 to #17)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” (up from #39 to #35)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (holds at #3, and looks to be settling for a one-week #1 as he’s got a max-spin ad in CA this week. Has he lost the crown of country music?)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Callista Clark, “Gave It Back Broken”
  • LoCash ft. Mike Love & Bruce Johnson, “Beach Boys”
  • Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide”

Overall Thoughts: This was yet another feast week on the chart, with the losses from Shelton, Church, and Bentley/HARDY/BRELAND releasing plenty of spins back into the wild and only a single solid-but-not-spectacular debut from Brown to monopolize them. Outside of a few large position gains in the middle of the charts due to Church’s and Shelton’s falls, there isn’t much to say at the 10,000-ft. level, so let’s talk about a few songs in particular:

  • I never thought I would see the day with Thanos gained only six spins in a week. The man seems content to take his turn atop the charts these days, and while that’s still considered a massive success for most artists (heck, this week marks McBryde’s first appearance at #1), it’s kind of a letdown for a guy who could snap his fingers and spend a month at #1 not that long ago. While this sort of thing happens to everyone eventually (it feels like every A-list artist has a brief moment where they leap into the stratosphere and can do not wrong), the speed at which Combs fell back to the pack caught me more than a little off guard. I would say the “Current King of Country Music” title is officially disputed, and unfortunately I think Wallen (ugh) might be the strongest challenger at this point. We’ll see what the next few weeks have in store.
  • Speaking of Wallen, is he the reason “Flower Shops” has lost all of its momentum recently? Sam Wilson proposed this theory a few weeks ago, and the Pulse Music Board for this track seems to have settled on this as well. If so, I can’t imagine ERNEST is terribly happy with this situation: “Wasted On You” is likely to spend at least another month climbin to #1, and then it will burn another few weeks on its slow descent into recurrency, which means that if Wallen overexposure is the issue, ERNEST could be stuck on pause until July. What’s the point of riding another star’s coattails to success if said artist ends up putting you on ice and squandering your momentum to cover their own bases? I’m not sold on either the artist or the song, but I do feel like someone is doing ERNEST dirty.

On the coronavirus front, we’re officially in the throes of another surge, with both new daily case and death averages going up (hospitalization numbers are rising as well). Depending on who you ask, we’re either on the verge of surpassing or have already surpassed one million deaths in America from COVID-19, and predictions for what’s coming next (A summer surge in the southern U.S.? 100 million new infections this fall/winter?) are not good. With few restrictions in place, we’re on our own in determining what we should or shouldn’t do to manage our risks and our health, so I’m sticking to my usual script for the forseeable future:

The pandemic may not be the lead headline anymore with everything that’s going on (heck, it’s even a shorter segment here than it’s been in a while), but the level of virus in our communities right now is not something we can ignore. If we’re ever going to find a way out of this mess, we need to adhere to best practices and continue to do all we can to keep everyone safe.

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