The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 6, 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!

SongScore
1. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
4. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
5. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
6. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
7. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
8. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
9. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
10. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
11. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
12. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
13. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
14. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
15. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
16. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
17. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
18. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
19. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
20. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
21. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
22. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
23. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
24. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
25. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
26. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
27. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
28. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
29. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
30. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
31. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
32. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
33. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
34. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
35. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
36. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
37. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
38. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
39. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
40. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
41. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
42. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
43. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
44. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
45. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
46. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
47. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
48. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
49. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
50. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+4 (9/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+6
Overall Pulse+1
Change From Last Week+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 9/10

Gone:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” (down from #1 to #5)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (down from #7 to #11)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (holds at #16, but lost its bullet)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #28 to #27 and had a decent week, but it’s struggled way too much to get off this list so easily)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #17, but lost its bullet)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #36 to #34, but gained only twenty-two spins and ninety-one points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only twenty-eight spins and ninety-five points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only six spins and eighty-two points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only three spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (holds at #29, but gained only thirty-five spins and lost points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-eight points)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only nine spins and twenty points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only twenty-eight spins and forty-three points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (holds at #43, but gained only thirty-five spins and sixty-nine points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #38 to #33)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (holds at #3)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”

Overall Thoughts: This smells like one of those underhanded weeks giving us yet another manufactured #1 hit. Consider the following:

  • Spins appear to be have been pretty tight despite no major debuts and a regression to the mean from Chesney/Old Dominion, and the major reason for this was an 1100+ spin gain for Moore to reach #1.
  • Big pushes to #1 are nothing new and aren’t particularly nefarious, but the fact that most songs were able to post decent spin gains tells me that high-quality spins were available, suggesting that Moore was drawing heavily from overnight rotations for their gains.

I’m not calling leaning on the 2 AM playlists that no one listens to for their #1 push is suspicious…but let’s just say that if country music were a game of Among Us, Moore would be getting unanimously voted out this round.

There’s more I could say about this week, but I think I’ll save most of it for my eventual review of “Wait In The Truck.” I’ll say this: Between this song and “Holy Water,” country music is getting quality from the most unexpected places this year.

On the coronavirus front, things remain relatively calm: Daily new case and death numbers continue to drop, and much of the focus right now is on the recently-approved omicron-specific booster shots (generally the answer to “when should you get one?” is “yesterday”). Things do appear to be trending in the right direction, but it’s still worth noting that the raw numbers are still way too high to take lightly, and it’s still too early to see how the start of the school year will impact these trends. Thankfully, we still have the tools we need to maximize our chances of keeping the virus at bay:

Things may appear to be at a lull right now, but that’s only because we’ve been in a really bad spot for the last two-plus years, and the potential for things to get worse once again is still there. We still need to remain vigilant, and to continue to do the right things to keep ourselves and our fellow citizens safe.

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