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

*Preliminary Grade

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


  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (recurrent)
  • Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)” (down to #51)
  • Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” (down to #54)


  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (down from #2 to #3)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (down from #16 to #29)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #19 to #18, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week with a 400+ point loss, and is still down 250+ points on the daily charts. It’s toast)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down from #26 to #46)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #18 to #16 with a mediocre week, and if you’re only at #16 after being releases a year ago—heck, my review is eleven months old now—you deserve to be on this list)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #39 to #38, but gained only forty-nine spins and 223 points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (down from #9 to #10 and lost its bullet. Does this one have enough left to get to #1?)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (down from #35 to #36, gained only forty-six spins and ninety-two points)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only twenty-five spins and ninety-one points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” (down from #7 to #8, gained only fifteen spins and lost points. Does this one have enough left to reach #1?)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (down from #12 to #13, gained only fifteen spins and fourteen points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (down from #24 to #25, gained only forty-two spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (holds at #40, but gained only twelve spins and fifteen points)
  • Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twenty spins and fifty-six points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (down from #45 to #47, lost spins and gained only twenty-six points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine” (down from #47 to #48, gained only twenty-five spins and twenty-five points)
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (down from #48 to #50, gained only five spins and eighty-five points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know” (up from #54 to #35)
  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (up from #29 to #23)
  • Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do” (up from #23 to #19)
  • Parke McCollum, “Handle On You” (up from #28 to #24)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #37 to #33)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “We Got History”
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)”

Overall Thoughts: Okay, now we’re starting to see some action. All three of the songs I called out two weeks ago (Lynch, Brice, Ballerini) appear to be officially on their way out (along with Dickerson/Scott, which I didn’t expect to implode), and with a one-week limit seemingly be re-imposed on the top spot and several big names making big splashes back into the Top 50, we’re going to see some serious turnover between now and the end of the year. The problem is that with said big names jumping back into the action so quickly (Combs, Shelton,and Wallen, plus whatever Cole Swindell decides to follow up “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” with), it doesn’t feel like a great time to be bringing a new artist to the radio (or even an existing artist with minimal star power). All of the spins released by Wallen, Andress/Hunt, Dickerson/Scott, and Ballerini were immediately grabbed by the big debuts, leaving artists on the bottom half of the charts scrambling a little to pad their totals for this week.

So who else do I think is on the chopping block in the short term? I’d say the ZBB and Chris Stapleton are in a bit of trouble right now (those tracks have been a lot weaker than their competition lately), and honestly I’m a little worried about Jelly Roll at #8 (his climb has slowed significantly over the last few months). I also think time’s running out on Young (that song was released a year ago and hasn’t even made the Top 15 yet?!), and that Chesney/Old Dominion collab has looked surprisingly shaky ever since it arrived (and Old Dominion has exactly zero radio momentum right now).

As for the songs that are filling in the gaps right now…let’s just say I’m going to have a lot to say about that Gilbert/Shelton track soon, and none of it will be good. Swapping that in for Milligan was a bad deal in every sense of the word, but I think Milligan’s track will be back soon, and I’ll have much kinder words for it than I will for “Heaven By Then.”

On the coronavirus front, national new case numbers continue to stay relatively flat, while daily deaths seems to have dropped significantly over the last two weeks. However, new omicron subvariants (BQ.1 and BQ1.1) have bypassed BA.5 to become the dominant variations in the country, and it was right about this time last year when folks came together for Thanksgiving and the first omicron wave starting taking off, so we aren’t out of the woods by any means. Even worse, other respiratory viruses are wreaking havoc right now: New case, hospitalization, and death numbers for the flu have doubled for the second week in a row, and flu hospitalizations have reached their highest levels since 2010 (and it’s still wayyyy early in the season, long before the flu usually starts to take hold). RSV hospitalizations for children were already raising alarms, and now it’s hitting the elderly hard as well. Basically, this is going to be a rotten winter even if we don’t get a coronavirus surge (and betting against such a surge is a risky wager). However, our best practices can help against all three of these viruses:

We haven’t seen an official coronavirus surge yet, but there’s enough stuff going around already to make this a perilous time. It remains vitally important that we continue to take steps to keep our communities safe and reduce the threat of these respiratory infections.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.