Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the now-defunct 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 official numbers are from Mediabase’s weekly chart publication. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!
Best Song: “Burn Out,” 10/10
Worst Song: “One That Got Away,” 1/10
Mode Score: 0 (14 songs)
- Thomas Rhett, “Sixteen” (recurrent)
- Jason Aldean, “Girl Like You” (down from #1 to #2)
- Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne, “Burning Man” (down from #1 to #7)
- Midland, “Burn Out” (#7 after 42 weeks)
- Chris Stapleton, “Millionaire” (#6 after 41 weeks)
- Tyler Rich, “The Difference” (#22 after 40 weeks and about to be steamrolled by Brown)
- Rodney Atkins ft. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, “Caught Up In The Country” (#26 after 40 weeks, got passed by three songs, and seems to be fading)
- Jordan Davis, “Take It From Me” (#5 after 37 weeks, questionable if it’s got enough left to make #1)
In Real Trouble:
- Keith Urban, “Never Comin’ Down” (down from #18 to #19, gained only twenty-six spins and fifty-five points, and was passed by Rice and Johnson)
- Rascal Flatts, “Back To Life” (holds at #31, but gained only two spins and thirty-nine points and was run over by Morris)
- Brandon Lay, “Yada Yada Yada” (down from #37 to #38, gained only twenty-eight spins and fifteen points, and passed by Church and Chris Young)
- Brad Paisley, “Bucked Off” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
- Billy Currington, “Bring It On Over” (holds at #49, but lost its bullet)
In Some Trouble:
- Randy Houser ft. Hillary Lindsey, “What Whiskey Does” (holds at #32, but gained only sixty-one spins and 131 points)
- Cole Swindell, “Love You Too Late” (down from #39 to #40, gained only fifty-two spins and 93 spins)
- Garth Brooks, “Stronger Than Me” (holds at #44, but gained only five spins and eight points this week)
- Lauren Alaina, “Ladies In The 90s” (holds at #45, but gained only thirty-four spins and lost points for the second consecutive week)
- Everybody from #46 to #50 had a fairly rough week.
In No Trouble At All:
- Chris Young, “Raised On Country” (up from #41 to #34)
- Chris Lane, “I Don’t Know About You” (up from #51 to #46)
- Brett Young, “Here Tonight” (up from #16 to #12)
- Kane Brown, “Good As You” (up from #27 to #23)
- Maren Morris, “GIRL” (up from #34 to #30)
Is Luke Combs:
- Luke Combs, “Beautiful Crazy” (up from #6 to #3)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Ashley McBryde, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” (8/10)
- Jimmie Allen, “Make Me Want To” (4/10)
- Walker Hayes, “90s Country” (3/10) (oh joy…)
On The Way:
- HARDY, “REDNECKER” (2/10)
- Travis Denning, “After A Few” (5/10)
- Brooks & Dunn ft. Luke Combs, “Brand New Man” (what year is this again?)
- Logan Mize, “Better Off Gone”
- Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow” (8/10)
- Aaron Watson, “Kiss That Girl Goodbye” (7/10)
Overall Thoughts: Okay, I’ve got no idea where the charts are going anymore.
The top of the charts is fairly easy to predict: Scotty McCreery posted a “#1 and still going strong!” ad in Country Aircheck, and given his point margin right now, he’s a safe bet to score a second week at number one. Beyond that, the chart is probably Luks Combs’s for as long as he wants it: At only eleven weeks on the chart and no credible challengers behind it (Davis, Stapleton, and Midland are aging, and Luke Bryan is officially the other Luke in the genre now), “Beautiful Crazy” has the potential to be an old-school long-timer at #1.
Lower down, however, the crystal ball gets a bit murky, as Radio PDs seemed to be fishing for better content:
- Gains lower on the chart are smaller and more spread out.
- DOA songs like “The Difference” and “Caught Up In The Country” are starting to get second looks.
- Trend-hopping songs from established artists that check all of the usual boxes (looking at you, Chris Young) are getting eaten up by stations.
This leads me to believe that just about anything could emerge out of the pack right now, and while the songs getting first dibs seem to be the worst of the bunch (why does Chris Lane have to emerge now?), there are also some glimmers of hope as well (Ashley McBryde is thisclose to the Top 50, and who would have predicted Runaway June would get a chance to crack the Top 30?). With the positivity of the chart hanging in the balance, we can only hope for the best.
So what do you think? Are the numbers better or worse than you expected? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!