The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 24, 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. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
9. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
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. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
17. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
18. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
19. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
20. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
22. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
23. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
24. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
26. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
28. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
29. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
30. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
31. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
32. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
33. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
34. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
35. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
36. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
37. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
38. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
39. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
40. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
42. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
43. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
44. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
45. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
48. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
49. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
50. Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-4
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+3
Overall Pulse-1
Change From Last Week0

*Preliminary Grade

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


  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (recurrent)


  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (holds at #2, but lost 1500+ points and will likely leave next week)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (down from #24 to #31)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #32 to #41)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #15, but gained only fifteen spins and 110 points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only forty-two spins and seventy-one points. I don’t think this one lasts to see 2023)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #45 to #46, lost its bullet again, and may very well be history)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down from #19 to #21, gained only nine spins and lost points, and seemed to have hit a wall in the last month or so)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (holds at #36, but lost its bullet)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only thirty-five spins and sixty-five points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only forty-seven spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only sixteen spins and sixty-nine points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (holds at #4, but lost its bullet with a 450+ point loss. Does it have enough left to get to #1?)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (down from #17 to #18, gained only twenty-five spins and one point)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only twenty-nine spins and forty-eight points)
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now” (up from #51 to #50, but gained only twenty-six spins and sixty-two points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “Handle On You” (up from #33 to #29)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #37 to #33)
  • Corey Kent, “Wild As Her” (up from #38 to #34)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (picked up 81 adds this week, will likely be on the chart next week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey”

Overall Thoughts: There are weeks where you’re not right at all, and then there are weeks like this one where you’re not right enough. I declared that there wouldn’t be a shakeup on the charts this week, but I didn’t expect the top half of the charts to be frozen in amber while two songs that just won’t die (Wallen and Swindell) hold the top two spots. There was more movement in the bottom half of the chart this week, but even with Underwood’s departure and the premature exits of Block and Ray, there still seemed to be a significant number of songs struggling to find spins (most of the position gains were due to losses from above). There will definitely be some action next week with several departures scheduled, but I don’t think the newer/lesser-known artists currently stuck around #50 will get much of a break: Thanos will return, Pardi will likely break into the top 50, and Moore/Block may find some traction as well. Still, there are a lot of songs on the charts that have overstayed their welcome, so the change may be long and drawn-out, but it is coming.

On the coronavirus front, the overall numbers for new cases and deaths still appear to be improving nationally, but a dive into state-by-state breakdowns indicates that things are a bit of a mixed bag right now. There’s also a new fear that the COVID/flu “twindemic” health experts were concerned about might actually end up as a “tripledemic” thanks to “a surge in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),” especially among young children. We remain in a precarious position for the moment, and with the threat of respiratory viruses rising in general, we’ve got even more reasons to hold fast to our best practices:

  • 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!)

We may not be in an official COVID surge yet, but all the signs are pointing in that direction, and we need to do more to prepare ourselves for when it arrives. We really need everyone to do the right thing and take all necessary steps to keeps themselves and the people they care about safe before it’s too late.

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