The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: December 12, 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. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
2. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
3. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
4. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
5. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
6. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
7. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
8. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
9. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
10. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
11. Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”0 (5/10)
12. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
13. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
14. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
15. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
16. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
17. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
18. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
19. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
20. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
21. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
22. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
23. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
24. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
25. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
26. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
27. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
28. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
29. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
30. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
31. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
32. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
33. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
34. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
35. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
36. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
37. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
38. Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”-1 (4/10)
39. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)
40. Bailey Zimmerman, “Rock And A Hard Place”0 (5/10)
41. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)
42. Kolby Cooper, “Excuses”0 (5/10)
43. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
44. Brantley Gilbert & Blake Shelton ft. Vince Gill, “Heaven By Then”-3 (2/10)
45. Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”+2 (7/10)
46. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)
47. Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”0 (5/10)
48. Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey”0 (5/10)
49. Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide”0 (5/10)
50. Morgan Evans, “Over For You”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25)3
Future Pulse (#26—#50)-3
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week0

*Preliminary Grade

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


  • Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (recurrent)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (recurrent)


  • Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (down from #8 to #20)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (holds at #14, but gained only seventy-two spins and forty-two points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #33 to #31 with a solid week, and is fighting to get off of this list)

In Real Trouble:

  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (down from #7 to #8 and lost its bullet with a 400+ point loss, calling its #1 potential into question)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #12 to #10, but lost its bullet with a 200+ point loss, but it didn’t have much #1 potential to begin with)
  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #21 to #19, but gained only thirty-two spins and lost points)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (up from #30 to #29, but lost its bullet again with a 250+ point loss, and always seems to be the first song overboard when someone needs to make room on a playlist)
  • Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange” (up from #35 to #33, but gained only thirty-five spins and eighty points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only twenty-nine spins and fifty-four points)
  • Kolby Cooper, “Excuses” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only twenty spins and lost points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (down from #42 to #43, lost its bullet)
  • Elle King & Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (down from #45 to #46, lost its bullet)
  • Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey” (holds at #49, but gained only nine spins and twelve points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” (up from #13 to #12, but gained only eight spins and ten points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #29 to #28, but gained only six spins and lost points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #32 to #30, but gained only eleven spins and thirty-two points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (holds at #34, but gained only five spins and seven points)
  • Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only thirty spins and seventy-three points)
  • Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide” (up from #50 to #48, but gained only twenty-six spins and seventy-seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know” (up from #17 to #11)
  • Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You” (up from #9 to #5)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #31 to #27)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #36 to #32)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: You could tell which promotional teams decided to take an early holiday and which teams didn’t this week. For an end-of-year, holiday-dominated week, there were a surprising amount of big moves made, bookended by Bryan’s six-spot leap to #1 and Zimmerman’s leap to #40 from below the chart cutoff. There were a lot of three- and four-spot jumps in between, which I’m not sure how to interpret: Do these labels have more confidence in these songs (for example, Zimmerman is red-hot right now and Elektra/Warner wants to ride the wave) or less confidence in them (which I think is where Bryan’s big push comes from—they just want to take advantage of a slow week, grab the #1 participation trophy and move on)? We won’t really know until January arrives and the competition picks up again, but it’s an interesting development from what I thought would be a slow week. (I don’t expect it continue next week, but I suppose I didn’t expect it this week either, so who knows?)

On the coronavirus front, the bad news continues to roll in: New cases averages are back up to over 60,000 a day, and daily death averages are climbing as well. Hospitalizations are up too, especially among the most-vulnerable populations: “older people and those with existing health problems.” Flu hospitalizations are going up too, remaining “at the highest level for this time of year in a decade,” and even though RSV cases appear to be declining, hospital beds are at about 80% capacity nationwide, straining a system that was already reeling from the last few years and wasn’t in great shape to begin with. With these kinds of viruses circulating and this kind of demand on our healthcare system, it’s a really bad time to get sick, which means it’s a really good time to revisit our best practices of the last two-plus years if you haven’t done so already:

With the holiday season on our doorstep, a lot of vulnerable people are going to be put at high risk of getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying. With the current tools at our disposal, the power to minimize this needless suffering and death is in our hands, and we shouldn’t hesitate to use it to keep our loved ones safe.

One thought on “The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: December 12, 2022

  1. It’s nice to look at this chart and see a good chunk of movement every week, because every time I look at Billboard’s chart, I just get sad… Morgan Wallen and Cole Swindell STILL hogging the top spots and not looking like they’re going to move anytime before the end of the year. Just great.


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