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

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (recurrent)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (recurrent)
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (down from #1 to #10)
  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (holds at #2, but still bullet-less)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #7 to #19)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #15 to #14, gained 169 spins and 565 points. Not terrible, but most of her immediate competition was up 1000+ points this week)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #40 to #38, gained eighty-two spins and 231 points, so not a terrible week either)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #47, but gained only three spins and forty-eight points. Why does radio absolutely refuse to get behind this guy?)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #45 to #44, but gained only thirty-one spins and eighty-nine points

In Some Trouble:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #25 to #23, but gained only seven spins and thirty-one points)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” (holds at #35, but gained only twenty spins and thirty-three points)
  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” (down from #49 to #50, gained only one spin and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (up from #38 to #26)
  • Parmalee, “Take My Name” (up from #10 to #6)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #36 to #32)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (up from #46 to #42)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #3 to #1, but put another max-spin ad in Country Aircheck? Perhaps he’s not done with the crown just yet…)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Matt Stell, “Man Made”
  • Niko Moon, “EASY TONIGHT” (ugh)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”
  • Cody Johnson, “Human”

Overall Thoughts: This was an addition-by-subtraction week with Shelton’s exit (and I can tell how many people read this blog by how many people tagged me about this on Twitter), but it still feels like bland mediocrity is the order of the day based on all the zeros entering the chart (althrough Brown’s rapid rise is heartening). Thanos’s decision to extend his stay at #1 feels like a statement to me, telling the world that he’s not going to give up his kingship without a fight. Admittedly he’s not ruling over much of a kingdom right now, but there are some upcoming releases (Wilson, Johnson) that might have potential…and some (Moon) that have none at all…

On the coronavirus front, the current surge continues, and while thankfully new daily death averages are down from last week, both cases and hospitalizations are rising, which means a more-sustained rise in deaths is likely only a few weeks away. The current coronavirus coordinator in the White House is raising concerns about a lack of funding for COVID-19 supplies, which means we could be looking at more bad news if Congress doesn’t get its act together (and given the fact that we’re entering an election year and Congress hasn’t had it act together for years now, I don’t hold out a lot of hope on that front). It’s one more sign that we’re basically on our own now when it comes to dealing with this virus, so I’m still out here preaching the public health gospel.

My current prediction is that we’re going to be dealing with the coronavirus and its variants through the rest of this year and into 2023, so it’s on Washington to make sure we’re prepared for both the current surge and the one that’s likely coming when the seasons change. However, tools are no good if we don’t use them, so be sure to take advantage of the available resources and stick with our best practices to give yourself the best chance of navigating safely through these troubled times.

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