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!
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)
- 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:
- Toby Keith, “Oklahoma Breakdown”
- Morgan Evans, “Over For You”
- Midland ft. Jon Pardi, “Longneck Way To Go” (6/10)
- Kylie Morgan, “If He Wanted To He Would”
- Bailey Zimmerman, “Rock And A Hard Place”
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:
- 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 haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, get it as soon as possible. If you’re not vaccinated against COVID-19 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. Experts remain optimistic that the latest shots will still offer some protection against omicron’s BQ variants. (There’s no available vaccine for RSV yet.)
- Hand-washing and surface disinfecting turned out to be less than effective at preventing COVID-19 transmission, but they’re still very effective against RSV and the flu, so be sure to follow proper handwashing guidelines to help keep you from getting sick.
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.