The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 26, 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!

SongScore
1. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
4. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
5. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
6. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
7. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
8. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
9. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
10. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
11. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
12. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
13. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
14. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
15. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
18. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
20. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
22. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
23. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
24. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
25. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
26. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
27. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
38. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
29. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
30. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
31. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
32. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
33. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
34. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
35. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
36. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
37. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
38. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
49. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
40. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
41. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
42. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
43. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
44. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
45. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
48. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
49. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
50. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+5
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (down from #4 to #6)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (down from #22 to #37)
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” (down from #27 to #44)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #16 with a “meh” week)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only seventeen spins and sixty-five points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #48 to #50 with a nearly 350-point loss, so this one might finally be dead)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #26 to #24, but gained only twenty-three spins and lost points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #33 to #30, but lost its bullet)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twelve spins and twenty-eight points. This one’s a candidate for the zombie list soon)

In Some Trouble:

  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (holds at #19, but gained only fifty-six spins and eighty points)
  • Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” (up from #28 to #26, but gained only twenty-one spins and fifty-five points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (down from #39 to #40, barely keeps its bullet by losing spins and breaking even on points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You” (up from #45 to #33)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” (up from #29 to #25)
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold” (up from #32 to #28)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (up from #43 to #39)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (spends a second week at #1, but it denied a Billboard #1))

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”
  • Ryan Griffin, “Salt, Lime And Tequila” (5/10)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange”

On The Way:

  • Jake Owen, “Up There Down Here”
  • Maren Morris, “I Can’t Love You Anymore”

Overall Thoughts: Did I say spins would be a bit harder to find this week? They wound up being a lot harder to gather, thanks to a logjam at the top of the chart (Wallen made a big move, while Thanos and Swindell mostly held serve at #1 at #2) and a few 1000+ points gains below them (most notably Brown & Brown gaining over 1700 points despite being outside the Top 30). The traffic jam at the top limited escalator movement this week, but with several songs set to leave next week (Tenpenny, Ray, Old Dominion) and at last one of the folks at the top likely to begin their descent, I expect a bit more in the way of spin availability and position movement going forward.

This week was Country Aircheck‘s biannual analysis of the gold charts, and there were a couple of noteworthy trends:

  • This was a big report for debuts, with 14 tracks making their first appearance on the Gold charts. That would seem to indicate that there’s a fair bit of turnover in the Gold rotations right now…except that there were only three debuts in the last chart, and while we saw an even bigger debut surge a year ago (24 new entries, including 7 of the top 10), a fair few of these have either already been cycled off of the Gold 100 or are on the verge on being tossed out (granted, these are snapshots that are very spread out and the rankings can be surprisingly volatile, so reading into any trends shown here can be tricky). I’m very curious to see just how much staying power recent tracks here, because the drop in song quality I’ve seen over the last few years makes me wonder if anything from this era will reach legendary status.
  • Women (five artists and seven songs) and groups (five artists and ten songs) continue to have minimal presence on the charts, and I don’t see either of these improving in the near future, as the artists here are either past their prime (Underwood, Lambert, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band), have lost all of their momentum recently (Morris, Barrett, Old Dominion), or never had any momentum to being with (Rexha, LoCash). There are some promising names that might be eligible in a year or two (Carly Pearce? Lainey Wilson?), as well as some not-so-promising ones (Parmalee will probably claim a spot with “Take My Name”), but I don’t think the current balance will change all that much.
  • The 90s are dead, long live the 90s. The final holdout from the era (Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That) finally fell out of the Top 100 this time around, which means we’re getting mixed signals about neotraditional nostalgia: There have been some recent singles that have found success with 90s callbacks (“Like I Love Country Music,” “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”), but there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite for the OG tracks, and despite the success of these songs we don’t see a ton of people rushing to follow their lead. For better or worse, the genre continues to move in a slicker direction with less sound variety than the era they supposedly hold in high esteem.

On the coronavirus front, the pandemic has faded into the background so completely that not even NPR bothered to update their case/death count page this week (the New York Times site continues to show declining new case and death counts, but the daily death count seems to be leveling off around 400…). Much of the country seems to have moved on from the pandemic, but the raw numbers (about 50,000 new case a day on top on the 400 deaths) still seem far too high to warrant ignoring. I’d really like to see us come together and make a big drive to drive these numbers all the way down, and we know exactly how to do it:

There may be a level of acceptance of the current COVID caseload among Americans, but such acceptance feels unacceptable to me. If we made one more concerted effort to squash this virus, we could finally bring this pandemic (and all of its associated needless suffering) to an end.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 19, 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!

SongScore
1. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
4. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
5. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
6. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
7. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
8. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
9. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
10. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
11. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
12. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
13. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
14. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
15. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
18. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
20. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
21. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
22. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
23. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
24. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
25. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
26. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
27. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
28. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
29. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
30. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
31. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
32. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
33. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
34. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
35. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
36. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
37. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
38. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
39. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
40. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
41. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
42. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
43. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
44. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
45. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
46. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
47. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
48. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
49. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
50. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+6
Overall Pulse+1
Change From Last Week0

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

  • Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” (recurrent)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” (down from #5 to #8)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (down from #16 to #22. Is it finally dead?)
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” (down from #12 to #27, appears to have been dropped in favor of the Chesney duet)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (up from #18 to #16 with a solid week of gains. Does it has enough to get to the Top 10?)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #26 to #24 with an okay week, but I’m not ready to pull this off of the list yet)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down from #45 to #46, gained only four spins and forty-eight points. Riser needs to do everyone a favor and put this thing out of its misery)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (holds at #48 with a mediocre week, but it’s dead in the water)

In Real Trouble:

  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #46 to #47, gained only seventeen spins and ninety-one points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #27 to #26, but gained only thirty-four spins and seventy-three points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (holds at #49, but gained only one spin and eighteen points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “wait in the truck” (up from #42 to #35)
  • Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around” (up from #23 to #18)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #3 to #1, but it feels like Swindell let him have it rather than Combs taking it)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”
  • Jake Owen, “Up There Down Here”
  • Maren Morris, “I Can’t Love You Anymore”

Overall Thoughts: This week was a bit of a breather after the dry spell of the last few weeks. Thanos is king of the hill once again, but instead of being the arbiter of who gets to be #1, this time he’s the one being let onto the throne while someone else (Swindell) holds the actual seat of power. The title of “Thanos” may soon be in play (and it really annoys me that Wallen is the betting favorite to claim it). Despite a big push for #1, we didn’t have any major debuts (the Browns only made it to #45), and there were several premature (but not wholly unexpected) exits from Ray and Old Dominion that ensured that spins were available for anyone who needed them. Anyone who didn’t get them—I’m looking at you, Dillon Carmichael and Brett Eldredge—should probably be putting together an exit strategy, because if you can’t find success in a week like this, good luck when the competition tightens up in the weeks to come. I don’t see any huge debuts on the horizon yet, but Thanos tends to have a quick turnaround with new singles, so I think spins will be a bit harder to find next week.

On the coronavirus front, daily new case and death numbers continue to drop, and the pandemic has faded into the background so completely that President Biden felt comfortable declaring it “over” on 60 Minutes last weekend. While I understand that he was trying to say that the virus wasn’t the threat that it was at the start of the pandemic, I still disagree with him: This pandemic is still very much ongoing, and with 60,000+ new cases and 400+ new deaths a day on average, we really shouldn’t feel comfortable about our current position (especially since we’ve been stuck here for a while—things aren’t improving much, if at all). We still need to be proactive in our fight against COVID-19, and luckily we’ve got the tools to do so:

The pandemic isn’t “over,” but we’re in perhaps the most optimistic position that we’ve been in since the start of this whole mess. If we keep taking the proper steps to keep everyone safe, perhaps I’ll feel comfortable agreeing with the president’s assertion sooner rather than later.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 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!

SongScore
1. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
4. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
5. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
6. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
7. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
8. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
9. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
10. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
11. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
12. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
13. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
14. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
15. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
16. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
17. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
18. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
19. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
20. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
21. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
22. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
23. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
24. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
25. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
26. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
27. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
28. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
29. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
30. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
31. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
32. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
33. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
34. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
35. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
36. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
37. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
38. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
39. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
40. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
41. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
42. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
43. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
44. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
45. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
48. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
49. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
50. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+6
Overall Pulse+1
Change From Last Week0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” (down from #1 to #5)
  • Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” (down from #5 to #9)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (holds at #16, but gained only six spins and 129 points)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (down from #17 to #18, gained only forty-six spins and 120 points, and has stuck in neutral in the high teens for what seems like forever)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #27 to #26 and had another decent week—could this one fight its way off the list?)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down from #44 to #45, gained only two spins and fifty-four points, and just hasn’t found an audience. This one needs to be tossed overboard)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #47 to #48 and lost its bullet again. This thing has been floating in the high forties for a while now, it should go overboard too)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (holds at #30, but lost its bullet)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #45 to #46, gained only one spin and seventeen points. I’m thisclose to declaring it DOA and tossing it overboard too)

In Some Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down from #24 to #25, gained only twenty spins and sixty-three points. This one hasn’t looked particularly strong as of late…)
  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only twenty-six spins and ninety-one points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only twenty-nine spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (re-enters at #50, but gained only seven spins and twenty-two points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “wait in the truck” (up from #50 to #42)
  • Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (up from #48 to #44)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (holds at #3 for a second week in a row, will likely wait its turn behind Swindell)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Not listed in Country Aircheck this week.

On The Way:

  • Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank God”
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”

Overall Thoughts: This smells like one of those underhanded weeks giving us yet another manufactured #1 hit, but the stench isn’t quite as strong this time around. More spins and points seemed to be available thank to significant losses from Moore and Pardi, and more song appeared to take advantage of them. Still, this #1 still feels a little slimy (especially with a split chart this week; Swindell grabbed #1 on Billboard so Tenpenny’s team was left to out-spin them on Mediabase), and there’s still a noticeable difference between the songs doing okay and the songs who are really profiting right now (aside from Tenpenny, ten other tracks were able to gain 1000+ points, and another song (at #44!) racked up over 800. It feels like an amalgamation over nearly every trend we’ve covered on the Pulse: Playlist shortening, spin inequality, the “express lane” that A-list artists take advantage of, etc. The Pulse is slightly better this week with the trade of Young/Tenpenny for Church, but I really don’t see an ton of optimism on the horizon, which means that if things are going to improve, it’s going to come from a place we didn’t expect, which has kinda been 2022’s calling card thus far.

On the coronavirus front, daily new case numbers continue to drop (although the death numbers appear to have stagnated), and the outlook worldwide has improved to the point that the WHO has gone on record saying that “the end [of the pandemic] is in sight.” While I wouldn’t go that far yet (I don’t think we’ll see the full effects of the back-to-school season for another week or so, and the number of notices I’m getting about active cases in our community has been growing rapidly over the last week…), there are definitely some reasons for optimism right now. However, we shouldn’t take this as a cue to relax just yet—as WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus put it, this is a marathon we’re running, and “Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work.” That means that we should stick to our best practices for now to make sure we finish this race:

As tired as all of you may be, I’m asking you to stick with us a little bit longer for the sake of the world. We might finally have a chance to bring this pandemic to an end, and we don’t want to miss it.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 6, 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!

SongScore
1. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
4. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
5. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
6. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
7. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
8. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
9. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
10. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
11. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
12. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
13. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
14. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
15. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
16. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
17. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
18. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
19. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
20. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
21. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
22. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
23. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
24. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
25. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
26. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
27. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
28. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
29. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
30. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
31. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
32. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
33. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
34. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
35. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
36. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
37. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
38. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
39. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
40. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
41. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
42. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
43. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
44. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
45. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
46. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
47. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
48. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
49. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
50. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+4 (9/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+6
Overall Pulse+1
Change From Last Week+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 9/10

Gone:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” (down from #1 to #5)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (down from #7 to #11)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (holds at #16, but lost its bullet)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #28 to #27 and had a decent week, but it’s struggled way too much to get off this list so easily)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #17, but lost its bullet)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #36 to #34, but gained only twenty-two spins and ninety-one points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only twenty-eight spins and ninety-five points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only six spins and eighty-two points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only three spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (holds at #29, but gained only thirty-five spins and lost points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-eight points)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only nine spins and twenty points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only twenty-eight spins and forty-three points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (holds at #43, but gained only thirty-five spins and sixty-nine points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #38 to #33)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (holds at #3)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”

Overall Thoughts: This smells like one of those underhanded weeks giving us yet another manufactured #1 hit. Consider the following:

  • Spins appear to be have been pretty tight despite no major debuts and a regression to the mean from Chesney/Old Dominion, and the major reason for this was an 1100+ spin gain for Moore to reach #1.
  • Big pushes to #1 are nothing new and aren’t particularly nefarious, but the fact that most songs were able to post decent spin gains tells me that high-quality spins were available, suggesting that Moore was drawing heavily from overnight rotations for their gains.

I’m not calling leaning on the 2 AM playlists that no one listens to for their #1 push is suspicious…but let’s just say that if country music were a game of Among Us, Moore would be getting unanimously voted out this round.

There’s more I could say about this week, but I think I’ll save most of it for my eventual review of “Wait In The Truck.” I’ll say this: Between this song and “Holy Water,” country music is getting quality from the most unexpected places this year.

On the coronavirus front, things remain relatively calm: Daily new case and death numbers continue to drop, and much of the focus right now is on the recently-approved omicron-specific booster shots (generally the answer to “when should you get one?” is “yesterday”). Things do appear to be trending in the right direction, but it’s still worth noting that the raw numbers are still way too high to take lightly, and it’s still too early to see how the start of the school year will impact these trends. Thankfully, we still have the tools we need to maximize our chances of keeping the virus at bay:

Things may appear to be at a lull right now, but that’s only because we’ve been in a really bad spot for the last two-plus years, and the potential for things to get worse once again is still there. We still need to remain vigilant, and to continue to do the right things to keep ourselves and our fellow citizens safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: August 29, 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!

SongScore
1. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
4. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
5. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
6. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
7. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
8. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
9. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
10. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
11. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music”+2 (7/10)
12. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
13. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
14. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
15. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
16. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
17. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
18. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
19. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
20. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
21. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
22. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
23. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
24. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
25. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
26. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
27. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
28. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
29. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
30. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
31. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
32. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
33. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
34. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
35. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)*
36. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
37. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
38. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)*
39. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
40. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
41. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
42. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
43. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
44. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)*
45. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)*
46. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
47. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
48. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
49. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)*
50. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-3
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+2
Overall Pulse-1
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (down from #6 to #13)
  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (down from #24 to #44)

Leaving:

  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (down from #1 to #7)
  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (down from #4 to #11)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (up from #17 to #16, but gained only fifty-nine spins and 157 points)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #29 to #28, but gained only fifty-seven spins and 161 points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #36 to #34, but gained only twenty-two spins and ninety-one points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #46, but gained only twenty spins and seventy points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (holds at #47, but gained only twenty-one spins and 160 points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (holds at #48, but gained only twenty-two spins and 109 points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” (up from #14 to #13, but gained only one spin and fifty-five points. Maybe they gave up their gains for the Chesney collab?)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #20 to #19, but gained only twnety-nine spins and seventy-eight points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “Handle On You” (up from #49 to #45)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #7 to #3, its biggest jump in a while)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”

Overall Thoughts: This week felt very uneven: There weren’t a lot of songs who fell into my trouble categories, but there were quite a few that weren’t far off from those cutoffs. There weren’t any huge debuts this week (I don’t think Chesney/Old Dominion qualifies at #45), but there’s a marked difference between songs that are pushing for the top and songs that are just hoping to ride the escalator there eventually (and increasingly it’s less of a top half/bottom half split; if you’ve got name recognition or stumble into some momentum, you can have a big week no matter where you are). The Pulse dipped slightly into negative territory with Morris’s exit, and while It wouldn’t take much to get back onto the positive side of the ledger, I honestly don’t see a ton of relief on the horizon, and I expect the score to be tenuous for the short- and medium-term.

On the coronavirus front, this week was a mixed bag: Daily new case and death numbers are dropping and omicron-targeted boosters have been approved by the FDA, but the raw numbers (90K+ new daily cases, 350+ people dying a day) are still way too high, and the fight over coronavirus funding has caused the administration to pause its program to mail tests to consumers free of charge, partially because they’re worried about the same potential winter surge that I am. Schools are starting up around the country right now (and very few have any restrictions in place), so I expect that we’ll have a clearer picture of how the rest of the year will look like in a few weeks. These upcoming boosters will add to our tried-and-true toolkit and help protect us from the virus, but the tools we already had remain as effective as ever:

With our current combination of more/better options and no motivation/will to use them, it’s hard to say what state we’ll be in one or two months from now. It’s imperative that we all make the right decisions and do everything we can to avoid the foreboding future that’s currently being predicted.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: August 22, 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!

>
SongScore
1. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
2. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
3. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
4. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music”+2 (7/10)
5. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
6. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
7. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
8. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
9. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
10. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
11. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
12. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
13. Dylan Scott, “New Truck”0 (5/10)
14. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
15. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
16. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
17. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
18. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
19. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
20. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
21. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
22. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
23. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
24. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
25. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
26. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
27. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
28. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
29. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
30. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
31. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
32. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
33. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)*
34. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
35. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
36. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
37. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
38. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
39. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
40. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
41. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)*
42. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
43. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
44. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town”+1 (6/10)
45. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
46. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
47. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
48. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
49. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)*
50. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)-3
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+3
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (recurrent)
  • Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up” (down to #51)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (down to #52)

Leaving:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (down from #6 to #13)
  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (down from #24 to #44)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (up from #19 to #17 with a decent week, but after what happened it’s never leaving this list)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #30 to #29, but lost its bullet)

In Real Trouble:

  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #45 to #47, gained only two spins and lost points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (holds at #48, but gained only twenty-seven spins and eighty points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (down from #16 to #18, gained only four spins and lost points)
  • Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” (holds at #34, but gained only twenty-thre spins and ninety-four points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (holds at #36, but barely keeps its bullet by breaking even on spins and losing points)
  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only four spins and lost points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down from #44 to #46, gained only fourteen spins and twenty-four points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (debuts at #33)
  • Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” (up from #28 to #22)
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold” (up from #47 to #41)
  • Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do” (up from #46 to #42)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #8 to #7, and has only been inching forward over the past month)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”

Overall Thoughts: This was an…interesting week, to say the least. Spins were relatively abundant this week (Shelton had a big debut, but Brown, Scott, and Morris completely flooded the market), and while a lot of songs on the back half of the chart didn’t get a lot of them, the ones they got were high-quality, allowing most everyone to post decent point gains. The truly interesting part, however, is that there was a stark divide between the songs that posted decent point gains and the songs that absolutely cleaned up this week. Most notably, the common thread for those near the middle/bottom of the chart is that they are relative newcomers to the party (Shelton, Bentley, McCollum, Kent, and even the tracks from Smith, Aldean, and Zimmerman are fairly recent). We’re seeing a lot more examples of songs racing up the charts like its 1995, and the fact that some newer names got some serious airtime this week tells me that’s there a lot of flotsam floating around on the charts that the nation’s PDs are not impressed with. Look for a higher turnover rate than usual in the near future, especially as the summer winds down.

Speaking of long chart runs, it was the lead story in CA this week, as radio insiders tried to pinpoint exactly why the escalator has gotten so slow. Fingers were pointed at short listening times (and subsequent at Nielsen for collecting this data and letting programmers optimize based on it), an over-reliance on nighttime airplay that few people actually listen to, a switch from a star-based system to a song-based system (I disagree with this one; the stars are still getting the lion’s share of airtime), industry consolidation (yeah), playlist shortening (double yeah), an increase in non-radio opportunities to push new artists (and this more songs are pushed overall), and so on. I think some of these ideas are valid, but I also think that there’s just a lot of cruft out there that’s getting pushed by labels that no one actually wants to hear, so stations are caught between appeasing Music Row and responding to the data from their listeners, and thus they play songs just enough to let them move forward without annoying their audience. (This would also explain why “currents” are getting a smaller slice of airtime while “recurrent” and “gold” songs, i.e. proven hits, get a bit more space to shine.) Given some of the terrible scores I’ve been handing out lately, I really think Nashville needs to take a look in the mirror and ask itself if it’s really putting its best foot forward and making a quality product that will demand its fair share of the airwaves.

On the coronavirus front, this week was a repeat of last week: Daily new case numbers continue to fall, daily death rates continue to rise, and no one wants to talk about it. The major news, however, concerns the latest weapon against the virus: The word is that the FDA is planning to authorize omicron-updated booster shots around Labor Day (the CDC will need to sign off too, but they’ve got some meetings in early September as well), and “the Biden administration is preparing to distribute the updated booster shots to teenagers and adults as part of its fall booster campaign.” While this timeline feels a hair too slow given that school is about to start, in the absence of any other restrictions or guidance, it’s the only measure people are even willing to entertain anymore, so here’s hoping this shot rollout is swift and smooth. The good news is that if you’re still worried about the virus, our tried-and-true best practices remain as effective as ever:

Regardless of how others feel about the virus, the good news is that we still have the tools available to keep ourselves and the people we care about safe. If we all continue to take the proper precautions, we have the power to minimize the needless suffering and officially bring this pandemic to a close.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: August 15, 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!

SongScore
1. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music”+2 (7/10)
2. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
3. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
4. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
5. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
6. Dylan Scott, “New Truck”0 (5/10)
7. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
8. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
9. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
10. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
11. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
12. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
13. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
14. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
15. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
18. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
19. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
20. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
21. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads”-1 (4/10)
22. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
23. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
24. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town”+1 (6/10)
25. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
26. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
27. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
28. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
29. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
30. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
31. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
32. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
33. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
34. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
35. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
36. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
37. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
38. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
39. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
40. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
41. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
42. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
43. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)*
44. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
45. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
46. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
47. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)*
48. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
49. Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up”0 (5/10)
50. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25)0
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+1
Overall Pulse+1
Change From Last Week+1 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” (recurrent)
  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (down from #6 to #24)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (down from #13 to #21)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (up from #20 to #19, but gained only 50 spins and 242 points, and doesn’t look terribly strong)

In Real Trouble:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (holds at #12, but gained only twenty-four spins and 103 points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #43 to #45, lost spins and gained only sixteen points)
  • Carly Pearce, What He Didn’t Do” (holds at #46, but gained only twenty-one spins and 102 points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #47 to #48, lost its bullet)
  • Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up” (holds at #49, but gained only six spins and thirty-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (holds at #30, but gained only ten spins and ninety points, and is very close to going on the zombie list)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” (holds at #35, but gained only twenty spins and eighty-seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Country On” (up from #22 to #15)
  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (up from #10 to #5)
  • Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (up from #23 to #18)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #48 to #43)
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #14 to #10)
  • Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (up from #15 to #11)
  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (up from #17 to #13)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #9 to #8)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” (5/10)
  • Ryan Griffin, “Salt, Lime And Tequila”
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made”
  • Thompson Square, “Country In My Soul”
  • Niko Moon, “EASY TONIGHT” (sigh)

On The Way:

  • Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”

Overall Thoughts: This was a weird week, to say the least. Spins seemed to be fairly tight despite the losses from Scott, Owen, and Morris, and songs going all the way into the lower teens had trouble finding them. However, the spins that were available seem to have been high-quality ones, because most tracks were still able to put up decent point increases despite limited airtime gains. (While the bigger names were the bigger draws, there were some genuine surprises among this week’s winners—for example, where the heck did Nichols find almost 650 points at #38?) The Pulse got a slight boost from some decent offerings by Bentley and Church, but I’m not sure about how I feel about the near-future with the tracks sitting just below #50 (that “Salt, Lime And Tequila” title from Griffin is a red flag, and you all know how I feel about Niko “ALL CAPS” Moon at this point). Despite McCollum’s decent add numbers, I’m still standing by my “quiet” prediction from last week, but the calm can flip to chaos pretty quickly around here…

On the coronavirus front, daily new case numbers continue to fall while daily death rates continue to rise, which indicates that the current BA.5 surge may be starting to loosen its grip—however, since deaths tend to lag behind new cases, I think those death numbers may be climbing for the rest of the month. While many people have returned to their normal lives and the CDC has moved away from “restrictive measures such as quarantines and social distancing,” I just don’t think we should be throwing caution to the wind when we’re still seeing over 100,000 new cases of the virus per day, especially given that we’re approaching the seasons in which viruses like this one flourish. Since we seem to be leaving the choices up to individuals now, I’m continuing to call for people to make responsible decisions:

I get that people are tired of dealing with this virus, but acting like the pandemic is over only ensures that it ends as slowly and painfully as possible. Our best move is to continue following best practices and taking steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones, with the goal of limiting the virus’s spread and sparing folks from its wrath.

The (Belated) Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: August 8, 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!

SongScore
1. Dylan Scott, “New Truck”0 (5/10)
2. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music”+2 (7/10)
3. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait”+1 (6/10)
4. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
5. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
6. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town”+1 (6/10)
7. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
8. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
9. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
10. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
11. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
12. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
13. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads”-1 (4/10)
14. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
15. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
16. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
17. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
18. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
19. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
20. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
21. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
22. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
23. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
24. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
25. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
26. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
27. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
28. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
29. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
30. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
31. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
32. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
33. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
34. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
35. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
36. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
37. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
38. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
39. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
40. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
41. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
42. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
43. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
44. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
45. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
46. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
47. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
48. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)*
49. Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up”0 (5/10)
50. Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25)+2
Future Pulse (#26—#50)-2
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week-3 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (recurrent)
  • Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” (recurrent)
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (falls hard from #1 to #13)
  • Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” (down from #2 to #3)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (up from #7 to #6 with a strong week decent week, but can it keep going?)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (down from #18 to #20 despite a half-decent week, but its future remains uncertain)

In Real Trouble:

  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only fifteen spins and twenty-four points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only fourteen spins and forty-nine points)
  • Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up” (reappears at #49, but lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” (reappears at #50, but loses its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (up from #13 to #12, but gained only thirty-seven spins and forty-nine points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (up from #35 to #33, but gained only ten spins and thirty-six points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only twenty-five spins and sixty-eight points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (down from #43 to #44, but gained only five spins and lost points)
  • Carly Pearce, What He Didn’t Do” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twenty-two spins and thirty-six points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (up from #25 to #17)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #50 to #42)
  • Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does” (up from #39 to #34)
  • Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You” (up from #42 to #38)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #10 to #9)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Nothing earth-shattering listed in CA right now.

Overall Thoughts: After a few weeks of chaos, the chart seemed to settle down this week. A few songs said their goodbyes, a few others were pulled in by the resulting inertia, Hayes challenged Zimmerman for the “worst song of the year” title (that review may take a while), and no major debuts made it to the Top 50 (the fact that Bentley’s still outside the chart tells me his star is really beginning to wane, especially after the slow run of “Beers” On Me”). While there are a few tracks with potential that are just below #50 and still waiting their turn to board the escalator, I expect things to be pretty quiet for a while, especially with no major debuts listed in CA for the rest of the month (there’s always that chance for a surprise drop, but most of the big names have already made their move).

On the coronavirus front, we seem to have hit a plateau with the BA.5 variant, as daily death rates are rising nationwide while daily case numbers remain fairly steady. Reaching a steady state of 100,000+ new cases and 400+ deaths a day doesn’t seem like a great place to be, but most of the country doesn’t seem to care anymore, with the virus generating few headlines and the CDC moving away from “restrictive measures such as quarantines and social distancing” in favor of frequent testing (and re-testing), and also recommending that contact tracing be “limited to hospitals and certain high-risk group-living situations”. I get that the CDC doesn’t want this virus to be as disruptive as it was last year, but I don’t think throwing out every last restriction is a good idea either, because it gives the virus free rein to spread and wreak havoc until we’ve got no choice but to return to harsher measures. With back-to-school season on the horizon, I still think we’re in for a rough fall, and thus I’m still out here on the soapbox preaching for people to take care of themselves and each other:

Contrary to what people want to believe, there’s still a lot of virus circulating out there, and it can still do a lot of damage to someone if they’re not careful. Continue to exercise caution, and make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep the people you care about safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: August 1, 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!

SongScore
1. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads”-1 (4/10)
2. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait”+1 (6/10)
3. Dylan Scott, “New Truck”0 (5/10)
4. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music”+2 (7/10)
5. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely”0 (5/10)
6. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar”0 (5/10)
7. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town”+1 (6/10)
8. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love”+1 (6/10)
9. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
10. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
11. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
12. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
13. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
14. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
15. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
16. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
17. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
18. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
19. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
20. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
21. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
22. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
23. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
24. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
25. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
26. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
27. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO”0 (5/10)
28. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
29. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
30. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
31. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
32. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows”0 (5/10)
33. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
34. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
35. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
36. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
37. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
38. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
39. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)*
40. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
41. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
42. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
43. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
44. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
45. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
46. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
47. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
48. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
49. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days”0 (5/10)
50. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25)+2
Future Pulse (#26—#50)+1
Overall Pulse+3
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (recurrent)
  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops”(recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (down from #14 to #27)
  • Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” (down from #17 to #32)
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (down from #32 to #49)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (up from #8 to #7 with a decent week, but does it have enough gas left to reach #1?)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You (a literal zombie after coming back from the dead to magically reappear at #18, and no ones seems to be sure how it happened)

In Real Trouble:

  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #46 to #48, gained only fourteen spins and fifty-eight points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down from #45 to #46, gained only forty spins and seventy-six points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (up from #35 to #25)
  • Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does” (up from #48 to #39)
  • Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (up from #28 to #22)
  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (up from #50 to #44)
  • Luke Bryan, “Country On” (up from #26 to #21)
  • Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” (up from #36 to #31)
  • Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (up from #21 to #17)
  • Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around” (up from #37 to #33)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #11 to #10)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold”

Overall Thoughts: The charts took a cue from the MLB trade deadline this week, because there was a flurry of comings and goings to report (especially in the middle and at the bottom of the chart). The early/rapid departures of ERNEST, McGraw, Chesney, and Wade released a ton of spins back into the wild, and nearly everyone was able to take advantage of these spins and put together at least a semi-decent week (and if you didn’t, you should probably be the next song out the door). From a position point of view, however, this was a week for the rich to get richer, as several A-list and veteran artists (Wallen, Aldean, Rhett, Urban, Bryan) made substantial jumps up the escalator in comparison to their lesser-known peers. This indicates that playlists remain short and familiarity reigns supreme, and while there were some exceptions (Zimmerman *sigh*), acts on the lower rungs of the ladder still found themselves getting shortchanged.

On the coronavirus front, new daily case and death counts remain relatively flat, and a notable drop in cases worldwide raises the possibility that our latest surge could be abating…but it that same report, the WHO reported that “recent surveillance of COVID-19 has been severely compromised by countries reducing their testing, reporting and other coronavirus alert systems.” In other words, things might be getting better, but they also might be getting worse and we just haven’t noticed it yet. With the back-to-school season beginning and the current circulation level of the virus still disturbingly high, I still expect this fall to be a problematic one, no matter how much people try to ignore it. With few restrictions in place, it’s up to individuals to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19, which means our tried-and-true best practices are still worth repeating:

With the coronavirus (and now monkeypox) wreaking havoc in our communities, it remains vitally important to take the proper precautions to keep yourself and the people around you safe. Any preventative steps you take now could save someone from needlessly suffering later, and perhaps even save their life.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: July 25, 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!

Song Score
1. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
2. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
3. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
4. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
5. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
6. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
7. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
8. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
9. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
10. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
11. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” +1 (6/10)
12. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
13. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
14. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
15. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” -1 (4/10)
16. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
17. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
18. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
19. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
20. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
21. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
22. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
23. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
24. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
25. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
26. Luke Bryan, “Country On” -2 (3/10)
27. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
28. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” 0 (5/10)
29. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
30. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
31. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
32. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
33. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
34. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
35. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” 0 (5/10)*
36. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” -3 (2/10)
37. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around” -1 (4/10)
38. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” 0 (5/10)
39. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
40. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” -1 (4/10)
41. Cody Johnson, “Human” 0 (5/10)
42. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
43. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You” 0 (5/10)
44. Randy Houser, “Note To Self” +2 (7/10)
45. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
46. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
47. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)
48. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does” 0 (5/10)*
49. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do” +1 (6/10)*
50. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +3
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (recurrent)
  • Conner Smith “Learn From It” (recurrent)
  • Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (falls hard from #1 to #14)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (holds at #3, but bullet-less with a 2000+ point loss)
  • Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” (down from #15 to #17, lost its bullet with a nearly 950 point loss)
  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (down from #18 to #20, inexplicable “thank you radio!” ad posted in Country Aircheck after it was radio who told them to take a hike)
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (down from #27 to #32, lost its bullet with a nearly 1750 point loss)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (up fro #9 to #8, but gained only five spins and lost points, and seems to have hit a wall over the last month)

In Real Trouble:

  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #25 to #24, but lost its bullet)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #33 to #31, but gained only seventeen spins and lost points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (holds at #39, but gained only twelve spins and fifty points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #45 to #44, but gained only eight spins and lost points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twenty-one spins fifty points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only eleven spins and forty-two points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” (down from #28 to #29, gained only eleven spins and twenty-three points)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only eight spins and lost points)
  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only thirteen spins and fifty-six points)
  • Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do” (debuts at #49, but gained only twenty-five spins and forty-nine points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (up from #44 to #35)
  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (up from #21 to #15)
  • Luke Bryan, “Country On” (up from #32 to #26)
  • Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” (up from #40 to #36)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #49 to #45)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (up from #12 to #11)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold”

Overall Thoughts: Just when I declared that the pressure on the charts wouldn’t ease for a while, it eased in a big way this week, as several songs cracked under the pressure and started running for the exits. Some of these tracks had been signaling their intentions for a while (Ray, Smith, Restless Road, and especially ERNEST), but others were a bit more of a surprise (especially Chesney, which had only just begun showing signs of trouble). It was another big week for the A-listers, as artists like Bryan, Aldean, Wallen, Rhett, Urban, and whatever the heck Swindell qualifies as posted solid gains as others continued to struggle, and I expect the pressure campaign to continue next week with Hayes’s debut.

On the coronavirus front, new daily case and death counts appear to be stagnating this week, but hospitalizations are increasing in a lot of places (for example, New York and Florida), and BA.5 is continuing to increase its presence globally. Much of the recent news has focused on President Biden’s COVID bout and new studies about the origins of the disease, but the bottom line is that the virus is still causing problems and will likely continue doing so for some time. Although much of the country remains in denial about the threat of the virus, our trusted, tried-and-true protection methods and still available and still recommended:

With COVID-19 as prevalent as it is right now, we’re set up for a rough fall and winter season, one that bring both disruption and suffering to our daily lives. It’s still important to take precautions to keep yourself and your community safe, being not doing so will keep us all stuck in this endless cycle of surges and prolong the misery that we have to endure.