The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 17, 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!

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

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10


  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (recurrent)


  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (down from #21 to #30)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (up from #16 to #15, but gained only fifty-five spins and ninety-four points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #31 to #32, lost its bullet with a 550+ point loss, and just seems like it’s been stuck in neutral for a while, passively riding the escalator)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #42 and had a kinda-sorta okay week, but it’ll need to string a few of these together to get out of the hole it’s in)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #46 to #45, but lost spins and gained only thirty-nine points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #20 to #19, but lost its bullet)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only seventy-two spins and ninety-four points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (holds at #39, but lost spins and gained only twenty-nine points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #41 to #40, but gained only sixteen spins and thirty-one points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #26 to #24, but gained only five spins and lost points)
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold” (up from #27 to #25, but gained only fifty-six spins and ninety-seven points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #36 to #35, but gained only seventeen spins and eleven points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only twenty-one spins and sixty-seven points)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (down from #45 to #46, gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only forty spins and thirty-eight points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You” (up from #25 to #21)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (set to release next Monday)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”
  • George Birge, “Mind On You”
  • Breland, “For What It’s Worth”

Overall Thoughts: You know, I keep predicting a moment of mass movement on the charts, and it keeps on not happening. Only Thanos left this week (and we all know he’ll be back next week), and despite significant losses from Underwood and Swindell (and a noteable drop from Ray), spins were surprisingly hard to come by (and the struggles were unsurprisingly concentrated in the lower half of the chart). I’m going to flip my prediction and say we’re not getting a huge shakeup next week: Swindell probably hangs on for one more week, so only Underwood will depart (unless Ray has reached the end of the road as well), and given Thanos’s propensity for procuring pre-release airplay, he probably takes the free slot over the contenders that remain stuck below #50. In two weeks, however…I think the chaos starts swirling.

On the coronavirus front, the national numbers appear to be improving on both the case and death fronts, but the predicted winter surge is getting closer: The Northeast has tended to be the canary in the cola mine when it comes to COVID-19, and a quick scan of the region (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York City, etc.) indicates that both cases and hospitalizations are back on the upswing. Like it or not, the coronavirus is still a problem, and given our paltry vaccination rates, we’re still putting ourselves and our communities at more risk than we should be. (Don’t look now, but there are a few new variants that are getting some attention…) Luckily, the things we have (or should have) been doing all along remain as effective at combating the virus as ever:

  • Wear a high-quality mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public. A high-quality mask that fits well can still provide solid protection, even if you’re the only one wearing one.
  • If you’re not vaccinated yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity, get your booster shot once you become eligible, and schedule your appointment to get the omicron-specific booster as soon as possible. (And get your flu shot while you’re at it!)

At this point, our next major bout with COVID-19 is a matter of when, not if, and we need to do everything we can to mitigate its impact. It remains as important as ever for us all to stay vigilant, make careful decisions, and do everything we can to keep the people we care about safe.

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