The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 31, 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. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
2. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
3. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
4. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
6. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
7. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
8. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
9. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
10. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
11. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
12. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
13. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
14. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
16. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
17. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
18. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
19. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
20. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
21. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
22. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
23. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
24. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
26. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
27. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
29. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
30. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
31. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
32. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
33. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
34. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
35. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
36. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
37. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
38. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
39. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
40. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
42. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
43. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
44. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
45. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” 0 (5/10)*
46. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
47. Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” 0 (5/10)
48. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
49. Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” 0 (5/10)*
50. Randy Houser, “Note To Self” +2 (7/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +3
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +10
Overall Pulse +13
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (recurrent)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (recurrent)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (down from #2 to #14)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #12 to #11 with another decent week. Does she still have a chance at #1?)
  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (down from #16 to #18, gained only nine spins and sixty-five points, and is apparently testing really badly with listeners. Could this one already be done?)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #38 to #35, but gained only fifteen spins and forty-nine points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #26 to #25, but gained only twenty-three spins and lost points)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only one spin and lost points)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only nine spins and lost points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only one spin and forty-four points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only fifteen spins and fifty-five points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only six spins and two points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only twelve spins and sixty-three points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Walker Hayes, “AA” (holds at #5, but gained only sixty-eight spins and fifty-five points. Was this a prep week for a bigger push to come?)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #22, but gained only twenty-seven spins and eighty-nine points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only eight spins and twenty-six points)
  • Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” (down from #46 to #47, gained only eleven spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • No one qualified this week.

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (down from #2 to #14, no sign of what’s coming next)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Cody Johnson, “Human”
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never Til Now”
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”
  • Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”
  • Thomas Rhett fr. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”

Overall Thoughts: The #1 slot is usually given it country music, but this week it was taken, with Rhett’s 1200+ spin onslaught bowling over Aldean’s mere 650+ gains to wrest away the Mediabase title for the week. It’s a classic recipe for a constipated chart, and songs up and down the line (including Hayes at #5!) struggled to post decent gains. This was a gut-check week, especially for songs in the middle of the pack like ERNEST, Lynch, or Brice: Your standing indicates that you should be polling well, but when programmers had a choice to put you on their playlists, they put your competition there instead, including a number of songs currently below you. Songs in the lower third are almost certain to struggle during weeks like this, but if you’re up a bit higher, this is an indication that you might not be #1 material. I expect things to loosen up next week as Rhett swaps over to his Riley Green collab, but we’ll see how much room opens up at the bottom for newer tracks.

On the coronavirus front, the bad news just keeps pouring in, with all indicators (new daily case and death averages, total hospitalizations) continuing to move in the wrong direction. This virus is doing everything it can to get back onto the front page, but we just keep ignoring it, with Congress ignoring a upcoming shortfall in coronavirus response funding and industries such as travel pushing to remove the few health-related restrictions that remain in place. The country has moved on despite growing evidence that moving on is a bad idea, so if you’re going to protect yourself from COVID-19, the onus will be on you. Luckily, our tried-and-true best practices remain as solid as ever:

To all those who are still worried about the coronavirus, I urge you not to give up the fight just yet. Keep taking steps to keep yourselves, your loved ones, and your communities safeyour caution just might mean the difference between someone remaining healthy or suffering needlessly.

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