The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: December 5, 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. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
2. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
3. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
4. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
5. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
6. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
7. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
8. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
9. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
10. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
11. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
12. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
13. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
14. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
15. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
16. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
17. Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”0 (5/10)
18. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
19. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
20. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
21. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
22. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
23. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
24. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
25. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
26. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
27. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
28. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
29. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
30. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
31. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
32. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
33. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
34. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
35. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
36. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
37. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
38. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
39. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
40. Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”-1 (4/10)
41. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)
42. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
43. Kolby Cooper, “Excuses”0 (5/10)
44. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)
45. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)
46. Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”+2 (7/10)
47. Brantley Gilbert & Blake Shelton ft. Vince Gill, “Heaven By Then”-3 (2/10)
48. Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”0 (5/10)
49. Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey”0 (5/10)*
50. Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)4
Future Pulse (#26—#50)-4
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week+1 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

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


  • Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (recurrent)


  • Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (holds at #2, but is bullet-less with a 2000+ point loss, so it’s on the way out)
  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (down from #1 to #8)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #15 to #14 with an solid week, but the three songs behind it put up 1000+ points and it will probably get steamrolled by one or two of them soon)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (holds at #24, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #34 to #33, but gained only thirty-six spins and seventy-seven points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (holds at #21, but lost its bullet)
  • Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” (holds at #23, but lost its bullet)
  • Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange” (holds at #35, but lost its bullet)
  • Kolby Cooper, “Excuses” (up from #44 to #43, but lost its bullet)
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now” (up from #49 to #48, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (up from #9 to #7, but gained only seventeen spins and seventy-six points)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #13 to #12, but gained only thirty-nine spins and thirty-eight points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine” (holds at #41, but gained only twenty-five spins and fifty-nine points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only ten spins and lost points)
  • Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only eleven spins and seventy-one points)
  • Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only thirty-three spins and seventy-three points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • No one qualified this week.

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)”
  • Russell Dickerson, “God Gave Me A Girl”
  • Tyler Hubbard, “Dancin’ In The Country”

Overall Thoughts: Did I say last week was strange? Because this one was even stranger. Not only did we have no major debuts, but we had some massive spins losses for Dean (and a fair few from Rhett/Green), meaning that there were a lot of spins released into the wild…and yet from roughly #21 on down, many tracks on the chart struggled to find traction and put up numbers ranging from mediocre to awful. (Those above #21 generally had pretty good weeks, setting up what might be the biggest week of spin inequity I’ve ever seen.) What happened? I think it’s a confluence of two events:

  • The growing share of the airwaves being dedicated to holiday tracks, and…
  • Several strong recurrent tracks continue to suck the oxygen out of the room (“She Had Me At Heads Carolina,” “You Proof”).

In other words, there’s a lot of demand for a limited supply of playlist space, and if you weren’t already in high or heavy rotation, you’re going to find it hard to make progress for the rest of the year. I expect this malaise to continue spreading until we get past the holidays and into 2023.

On the coronavirus front, in perhaps the most unsurprising development of the year, the Thanksgiving holiday has set off a notable increase in coronavirus cases, with a nearly 30% increase in case over the last two weeks and a 27% spike in hospitalizations in the last week. Deaths have not risen yet (in fact, they’re down over 10% in the last two weeks), but they usually lag a little bit behind cases and hospitalizations, and with hospitals already stressed by the current “tripledemic” (RSV appears to be waning a little bit, but the flu unfortunately seems to be gaining strength), it wouldn’t take much of a rise in COVID-19 levels to move those death numbers back in the wrong direction. I know I say this every week, but I’ll say it again anyway: We need to take all possible precautions against these diseases to reduce the strain on our health care system and limit the amount of pain suffered by the people around us, which means:

This is the season where we focus on family the most, and if you want to keep the people you care about safe, you’ll need to take these viruses seriously and mitigate the risk of infection in any way you can. By following these best practices, you’ll be making a real difference in the quest to protect yourself, your loved ones, and you community.

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