The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 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!

1. Ross Chastain, “Martinsville 2022”+5 (10/10)
2. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-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. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
18. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
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. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
33. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
34. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
35. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
36. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
37. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
38. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
39. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
40. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
41. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
42. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
43. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
44. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
45. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
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. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)*
50. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)*
51. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-2
Future Pulse (#26—#50)0
Overall Pulse-2
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

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


  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (recurrent)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (down to #55)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (recurrent)
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now” (down to #51)


  • Officially nothing qualified this week, but there are a lot of tracks on shaky ground…

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #15, but lost its bullet again)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only thirty-seven spins and 130 points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #46 to #45, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)

In Real Trouble:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (up from #6 to #5, but lost its bullet)
  • Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” (holds at #8, but lost its bullet)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (holds at #17, but lost its bullet)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (holds at #18, but gained one spin and lost points)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #21 to #20, but gained only four spins and two points. This is closer to the zombie list than you might think)
  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #23 to #22, but lost its bullet)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (holds at #38, but lost its bullet)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only twenty-three spins and seventy-nine points)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only nine spins and twenty-three points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (up from #47 to #46, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (down from #32 to #33, gained only twenty-two spins and sixty-one points)
  • Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only nineteen spins and ninety-nine points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only forty-one spins and fifty-five points)
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (debuts at #50, but gained only nine spins and seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (debuts at #37)
  • Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange” (up from #49 to #44)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”
  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”

Overall Thoughts: The phrase I would use to describe this week is “reluctant turnover.” Wallen caught a tough break when Chastain rode the Martinsville wall to claim this week’s top spot…yet the bit turned into a sad statement when Chastain just replaced Swindell and meant that almost no one in the top 30 needed their chart number updated. The top of the charts feel like they’re locked in cement right now, and much of the movement below #30 was caused more by departures than by the strength of the tracks that persisted. Wallen’s extended stay at the top and Combs’s big-but-not-massive debut meant that spins were really hard to come by (I wondered if Taylor Swift’s massive album launch stole some spins away as well, but it sounds like that album’s being driven by streaming and sales rather than airplay…for now), and a lot of songs found themselves with empty guns and no bullets this week.

We lost four songs this week, but I still think bigger moves are imminent here. Wallen will fade away as Swindell did, and there are a lot of songs that are treading water right now and probably need to cut bait and get out of the water (there’s a surprisingly number of these tracks concentrated in the teens, with Lynch, Brice, and now Ballerini seemingly just taking up space). There’s going to be some space freed up in the short-term…and I only wish that there was decent stuff available to take its place.

On the coronavirus front, if you haven’t started worrying yet, maybe it’s time: New cases and deaths leveled off after a slow but steady drop over the last few weeks, and a new omicron subvariant (actually two, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1) is starting to make waves in New York City and California (you know, the kind of high-density, high-travel areas that tend to be bellweathers for stuff like this) and is likely flying under the radar in other areas due to limited reporting. Hospitalizations are only up slightly nationwide, but there are some significant localized increases in some states, so I imagine anyone who isn’t seeing their numbers go up yet will see them rise soon. In other words, it’s a great time to double down on our battle-tested best practices to keep ourselves safe:

Like it or not, we’re in for another challenging winter (especially with the resurgence of the viruses like the flu and RSV), and need to do all we can to minimize the strain and suffering caused by COVID-19. The power is in our hands, but whether or not we use it is up to us.

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