The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 14, 2021

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. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
2. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
3. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
4. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
5. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
6. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
7. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
8. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
9. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
10. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
11. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
12. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
13. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
14. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
15. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
16. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
17. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
18. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
19. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
20. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
21. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
22. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
23. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
24. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
25. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
26. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
27. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
28. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
29. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
30. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
31. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
32. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
33. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
34. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
35. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
36. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
37. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
38. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
39. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
40. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
41. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
42. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
43. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
44. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
45. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
46. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
47. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
48. Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” +1 (6/10)
49. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
50. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +9
Overall Pulse +11
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “To Be Loved By You,” 3/10

Gone:

  • Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Dylan Scott, “Nobody” (down from #4 to #8)

In Real Trouble:

  • Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” (down from #11 to #12, gained only fifty-one spins and lost points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #37 to #38, lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twenty-eight spins and 126 points)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (holds at #45, but gained only twenty-three spins and forty-two points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (holds at #46, but lost its bullet)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (holds at #47, but bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Basically, if you were below Ballerini at #42, you had a rough week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #8 to #4)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (holds #1 for a second week, leading to calls to have Combs mediate the Biden/Putin summit)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
  • Gabby Barrett, “Footprints On The Moon”
  • Brantley Gilbert ft. Toby Keith & HARDY, “The Worst Country Song Of All Time” (doesn’t HARDY already have this title with “REDNECKER”?)

Overall Thoughts: As expected, spins were at a premium this week with Thanos holding court at #1 and yet another massive debut hitting the charts (the surprise was that the debut was not Nelly/FGL or King/Lambert, but an unexpected drop from the Zac Brown Band), so the key was survival this week was prioritizing quality over quantity: A number of songs were not able to earn triple-digit spin gains, but still posted respectable point gains because they got the spins that mattered. The big questions this week:

  • Has “Forever After All” denied some songs the #1 position, or merely delayed them? Bentley and Young/Brown had large but not outlandish gains last week, and Thanos is closing to peaking on the daily Mediabase charts, so I think the tracks at #2 and #3 still have another push in them. There’s still a chance everyone will share the top spot, albeit a week or two late.
  • Is “One Too Many” past its sell-by date? Urban and Pink’s single posted terrible numbers for a second week in a row, and now stick out like a sore thumb in the top half of the charts (everyone else managed to earn at least 300 points, even “Undivided”). Given that the song has already topped the country charts in both Australia and Canada, might Capitol decide they’re satisfied and pull the plug?
  • After all my predictions of doom and gloom, the Pulse has managed to defy gravity for a few weeks. Can it last? With “Fill Them Boots,” “No Sad Songs,” and “Old School’s In” on the horizon, my prediction is “not really,” but there ‘s enough of a buffer now where the Pulse might manage to avoid going negative. Maybe.

As the capacity crowd and massive beer cup snake at Wrigley Field demonstrated over the weekend, the coronavirus continues to recede in the U.S., with new daily case and death averages falling to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic (the overall death count has now reached 600,000). Vaccination totals are climbing, restrictions are being lifted, and life seems to be generally going back to normal (in my case, this means avoiding the outside world voluntarily rather than by order of the governor). Is it time to declare victory and finally revert these posts to the ‘Current Pulse’ title we last saw back on March 10th of 2020?

The answer is a resounding “no,” for a couple of reasons:

Ultimately, the pandemic remains a pandemic, and so we should continue to treat it like one. I implore folks who have not yet been vaccinated to receive the shot at their earliest opportunity, and continue wearing your mask and keeping your distance until you’re fully vaccinated. I also call on local, state, and national leaders to ensure that everyone has easy access to these vaccines. For all our efforts, our current success against the coronavirus remains potentially fragile, so let’s all keep doing our part to make sure this progress continues.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 7, 2021

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. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
2. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
3. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
4. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
5. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
6. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
7. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
8. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
9. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
10. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
11. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
12. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
13. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
14. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
15. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
16. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
17. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
18. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
19. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
20. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
21. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
22. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
23. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
24. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
25. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
26. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
27. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
28. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
29. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
30. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
31. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
32. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
33. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
34. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
35. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
36. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
37. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
38. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
39. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
40. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
41. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
42. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
43. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
44. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
45. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
46. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
47. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
48. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
49. Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” +1 (6/10)
50. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +5
Overall Pulse +10
Change From Last Week
+4 😎

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “To Be Loved By You,” 3/10

Gone:

  • Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (recurrent)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Dylan Scott, “Nobody” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” (down from #4 to #13)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (down from #15 to #17, lost its bullet, and honestly just misread the moment)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (holds at #36, but gained only twenty spins and twenty-nine points)
  • Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only eight spins and twenty-three points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only forty-four spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (up from #49 to #47, but lost its bullet)
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only eleven spins and eleven points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” (up from #13 to #12, but gained only eighteen spins and 107 points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #38 to 37, but gained only twenty-one spins and forty-eight points)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only ten spins and three points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (up from #32 to #26)
  • Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” (up from #17 to #12)
  • Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” (up from #10 to #6)
  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (up from #26 to #22)
  • Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” (up from #48 to #44)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #2 to #1, earning Combs a permanent seat on the UN Security Council)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Nelly & Florida Georgia Line, “Lil Bit”
  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”

Overall Thoughts: Some surprise good news in the form of Rucker and Brothers Osborne’s latest singles have put the Pulse on firmer ground for the moment, but we’ve got some serious trouble on the horizon. (Spoiler alert: “Angry Kyle” is definitely making an appearance on my eventual Sanders and Moon reviews, and there’s a fair chance he shows up for the Nelly/FGL collab too…) Spins seemed a bit more plentiful on the whole this week, but with Thanos likely to sit at the top of the escalator for a while (based on today’s daily chart, I don’t see Bentley making up a nearly four-digit spin deficit in four days), expect a bit of chart constipation over the next few weeks as things back up behind “Forever After All” and Nelly/FGL and King/Lambert angle for splashy debuts.

We’re seeing a similar dynamic on the coronavirus front:

The U.S. needs to pull out all the stops to get vaccine shots into the arms of as many people as possible, whether that’s through improving access to vaccines, creating more incentives to convince people to get the vaccine, or other means (and honestly, doing all of the above is probably the best strategy). I implore people to get their vaccine shot at the earliest opportunity (and to wear masks and maintain social distance until they are fully vaccinated), and I implore businesses and governments to make those opportunities as plentiful and easy to access as possible. Ending this pandemic won’t be easy, but we’ve made great progress in the U.S. so far, and we need to keep up the good work to prevent this virus from surging once more.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 1, 2021

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. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
2. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
3. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
4. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
5. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
6. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
7. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
8. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
9. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
10. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
12. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
13. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
14. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
15. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
16. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
17. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
18. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
19. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
20. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
21. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
22. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
23. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
24. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
26. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
27. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
28. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
29. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
30. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
31. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
32. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
33. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
34. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
35. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
36. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
37. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
38. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
39. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
40. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
41. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
42. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
43. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
44. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
45. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
46. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
47. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
48. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
49. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
50. Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
+3 🙂

Best Song: “Things A Man Oughta Know,” 7/10
Worst Song: “To Be Loved By You,” 3/10

Gone:

  • Jake Owen, “Made For You” (recurrent)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (recurrent)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (down from #3 to #7
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #43 but still bullet-less; I still think it’s toast)

In Real Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” (up from #12 to #11, but loses its bullet in a surprise move)
  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (down from #39 to #40, loses its bullet with a nearly 400-point loss)
  • Brett Young, “Not Yet” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only forty-two spins and twenty-four points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (up from #49 to #47, but gained only six spins and sixty-three points)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (holds at #50, but gained only nine spins and seventy-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (up from #9 to #8 with a 1400+ point gain, but “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” is scheduled to release June 14th)
  • Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” (up from #13 to #12, but gained only eighteen spins and 107 points)
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (holds at #15, but gained only fifty-four spins and fifty-one points)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #35 to #33, but gained only fifteen spins and 111 points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #37 to #35, but gained only twenty spins and twenty-three points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only thirteen spins and lost points)
  • Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him”
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (debuts at #50, but took nearly six months just to get there, and gained only sixteen spins and sixty-two points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” (up from #46 to #41)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway (up from #34 to #30)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (up from #41 to #37)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (holds at #2, but takes #1 on Billboard and will probably be there for the entire month)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Nelly & Florida Georgia Line, “Lil Bit”
  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”

Overall Thoughts: The loss of Rascal Flatts put the Pulse on the brink of the brink of disaster, but the subsequent collapse of Little Big Town and LoCash puts the Pulse on a bit firmer ground this week, even with the drop in Old Dominion’s preliminary grade. Still, despite the continuing turnover as spring gives way to summer, the airwaves are incredibly bland right now (nearly half the tracks have a 0 score), and I don’t have a ton of hope that what’s on the horizon will help (Nelly/FGL and King/Lambert will definitely shake things up, but said shakeups are just as apt to be negative as positive).

Truthfully, this prolonged period of “meh” has raised an existential question here at Kyle’s Korner: Is it time to pass the Pulse torch on to someone else? It’s a useful exercise (and a good place to collect my recent reviews), but as someone who’s increasingly out-of-step with mainstream radio, I don’t think I’m the right person to do it anymore. If this is something that someone out there would be interested in doing, let me know.

On the coronavirus front, whether the latest news is good or bad depends on whether you’ve been vaccinated or not:

“The [Washington] Post’s analysis concluded that the case rate among ‘susceptible, unvaccinated people is 69% higher than the standard figures being publicized. With that adjustment, the national death rate is roughly the same as it was two months ago and is barely inching down. The adjusted hospitalization rate is as high as it was three months ago. The case rate is still declining after the adjustment.'”  Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, May 31 2021

Basically, COVID-19 remains just as big a risk for unvaccinated people now as it did before, despite the rosy picture being painted by the overall numbers. This analysis is yet another reason why folks should go out and get their vaccine shots as soon as possible, and continue to wear their masks and keep their distance until then. (Side note: I received my second shot this week, and outside of some injection site soreness I’m feeling pretty good!) The coronavirus is still out wreaking havoc, so it’s imperative that as many people as possible get vaccinated so we can avoid a repeat of the nightmare that was 2020.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 24, 2021

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. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
2. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
3. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
4. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
5. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
6. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
8. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
9. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
10. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
11. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
12. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
13. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
14. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
15. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
16. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
17. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
18. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
19. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
20. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
21. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
22. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
23. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
24. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
26. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
27. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
28. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
29. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
30. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” 0 (5/10)*
31. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
32. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
33. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
34. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
35. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
36. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
37. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
38. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
39. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
40. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
41. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
42. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
43. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
44. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
45. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
46. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
47. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
48. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
49. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
50. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +4
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -1
Overall Pulse +3
Change From Last Week
-4 😡

Best Song: “Things A Man Oughta Know,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (down from #1 to #3
  • Jake Owen, “Made For You” (down from #2 to #6)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (down from #40 to #43 with a 400+ point loss; it’s toast)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (down from #42 to #48 with a 500+ point loss; also toast)

In Real Trouble:

  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (down from #29 to #32, bullet-less for a second consecutive week and might also be toast)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up fro #41 to #40, but gained only one spin and thirty-one points)
  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only three spins and lost points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (down from #48 to #49, gained only three spins and lost points)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (holds at #50, but gained only twelve spins and fifty-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (holds at #9, but gained only seventy-six spins and lost points, and might be replaced by her Elle King collab soon)
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (holds at #28, but gained only sixty-two spins and lost points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #32 to #34, gained only twenty-seven spins and fifty-nine points)
  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (holds at #39, but gained only twenty-nine spins and lost points)
  • Brett Young, “Not Yet” (down from #46 to #47, gained only thirty-one spins and seventy-nine points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (debuts at #30)
  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (up from #33 to #29)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #4 to #2, primed to hold the top spot for the next month)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now”

Overall Thoughts: The loss of Rascal Flatts puts the Pulse on the brink of the brink of disaster, but otherwise there wasn’t a lot to report, as chart movement was generally minimal and having one only recurrent track made spins tight across the board (a number of songs in the teens and twenties looked a little shaky). The immediate future, however, looks to be a bit of a roller coaster: I expect some big moves next week as Owen goes recurrent, Old Dominion regresses to the mean after a big debut, and Janson and LoCash finally get booted out of the top fifty, but with Thanos primed to take the top spot (history suggest he’ll let Scott have Mediabase and just hold Billboard for a month, but I really hope he blocks “Nobody,” which I reviewed back in February of 2020 and does not deserve to be #1), the chart will probably back up behind him for a while afterwards.

Country Aircheck discussed the questionable practices of WCTK a few weeks ago, but this week they profiled a couple of other stations whose methods seem a bit more encouraging, especially from WXBQ on Johnson City, Tennessee:

“The emphasis on personalities isn’t an accident, as WXBQ maintains a live airstaff 24 hours a day. ‘We try to keep everything local,’ [WXBQ PD Nikki Thomas] says.”  Chris Huff, article author

“This may sound crazy to some people, but we still sit down and listen to music, talk about that music and, if we think it’s going to work, we’ll play it…At any given time, you can look at our playlist and see [non-charted songs], because we’re looking at our data and not everybody else’s…We don’t bury [a song] in overnights. We play it, then we test it, and if it works, we keep it. If not, we let it go. That’s the big secret.” —Thomas

“We get to super-serve Akron; people [here] really seem to cherish their Akron stations…Part of the magic of ‘QMX has been the live and local talent…Scott [Wynn] and Sarah [Kay] in the morning have been out in this community for years, and even though last year we couldn’t be with the world turned upside down, [WQMX] became listeners’ comfort zone.”  —WQMX (Akron, Ohio) PD Jeff Lynn

In a word: YES! Radio stations should be tuned into the wants and needs of their local communities, and having live/local staff that can engage with that community and playlists that accurately reflect the area’s tastes regardless of what’s popular nationally are huge steps in that direction. It heartens me to see stations having success with this formula, and I’d like to see more stations follow this model.

Speaking of heartening trends, the good news continues on the coronavirus front:

We’re still a ways from where we need to be (and the rest of the world is still really struggling with the virus), but right now all signs are indicating that we’re well on our way to getting there. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine shots yet, be sure to do so as soon as possible, and keep your masks on and your distance from other people until you’re fully vaccinated. We’re making great progress towards ending the pandemic here in the U.S., so let’s keep the momentum going!

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 17, 2021

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. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
2. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
3. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
5. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
6. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
8. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
9. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
10. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
11. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
12. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
13. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
14. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
15. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
16. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
17. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
18. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
19. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
20. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
21. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
22. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
23. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
24. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
25. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
26. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
27. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
28. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
29. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
30. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
31. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
32. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
33. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
34. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
35. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
36. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
37. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
38. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
39. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
40. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
41. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
42. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
43. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
44. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
45. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
46. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
47. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
48. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
49. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
50. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +6
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
-2 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Jake Owen, “Made For You” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (down from #23 to #38)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (holds at #15, but loses its bullet)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #30 to #29, but lost its bullet)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (holds at #41, but gained only twenty-three spins and 121 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only forty-nine spins and 190 points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only six spins and fifteen points)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #46 to #47, gained only twenty-five spins and 115 points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (up from #50 to #48, but gained only seventeen spins and 106 points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (up from #24 to #22, but gained only twenty-two spins and eight-four points)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #36 to #34, but gained only sixteen spins and sixty-six points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only two spins and lost points)
  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only twenty-six spins and twenty-one points)
  • Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” (holds at #49, but gained only thirteen spins and seven points)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (up from #51 to #50, but lost spins and gained only twenty-five points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (up from #31 to #27)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #5 to #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • The feature got bumped from Country Aircheck again this week.

On The Way:

  • Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave”
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now”

Overall Thoughts: With only one recurrent track and Owen’s slow descent from the summit, this turned out to be a stabilizing week for the charts, especially at the top of the charts (Hunt and Owen’s swap and Thanos and Scott’s swap were the only position changes in the top 20). Rascal Flatts managed to avoid recurrence this week and put off the inevitable Pulse collapse for another week, but the release of spins from both RF and Owen didn’t seem to help the lower half of the chart, with most of the tracks below #25 struggling to break the 100-spin mark for gains this week. In other words, it’s more of the same in country music, as radio playlists continue to grow smaller and more homogeneous.

Speaking of growing smaller, the good news is that coronavirus cases continue to decline in America, with the two-week averages for new diagnoses and deaths both down by over 10% (the official death toll now stands at over 586,000). Vaccinations, in contrast, are growing, with 37.5% of the U.S. population now fully vaccinated and much of New England (basically everyone except New Hampshire) closing in on the 50% mark. The country still has a long way to go, but it’s doing well enough now that President Biden is ramping up the nation’s vaccine deliveries to the rest of the world, with plans to send roughly 80 million doses abroad by the end of June. Given how badly the pandemic is going in the rest of the world (India just set a record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a country in a single day), I applaud this decision, because it makes the world safer (COVID-19 anywhere is a potential threat everywhere) and perhaps restores some of the trust we’ve lost over the last few years.

Folks who are considered fully vaccinated are now free to “resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic,” but if you haven’t reached that point yet, keep following best practices to keep yourself and your vulnerable loved ones safe: Wear a mask, maintain social distance, and get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. We have the power to both minimize the threat of COVID-19 at home and make strides against the virus around the world, and we shouldn’t squander either opportunity.

Finally, a blog housekeeping note for those who don’t follow me on Twitter:

Assuming that Friday’s post (likely a review of Stapleton’s new song) comes out on time, next Monday will mark the 1000th post here at Kyle’s Korner, and I have no idea how to mark the occasion. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below!

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 10, 2021

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. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
2. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
3. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
4. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
5. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
6. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
8. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
9. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
10. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
11. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
12. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
13. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
14. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
15. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
16. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
17. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
18. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
19. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
20. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
21. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
22. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
23. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
24. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
25. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
26. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
27. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
28. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
29. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
30. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
31. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
32. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
33. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
34. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
35. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
36. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
37. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
38. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
39. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
40. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
41. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
42. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
45. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
46. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
47. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
48. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
49. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
50. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +12
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -3
Overall Pulse +9
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (recurrent)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (recurrent)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (down from #14 to #21)
  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (collapses from #2 to #23)

In Real Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only thirty-seven spins and 116 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #43, but lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only fifteen spins and ninety-six points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (down from #49 to #50, gained only twelve spins and sixteen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (up from #9 to #8, but gained only thirty-four spins and forty-one points)
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (up from #18 to #15, but gained only forty-nine spins and ninety-four points)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only forty spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey & Rain” (up from #40 to #38, but gained only seventeen spins and seventy-five points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only nineteen spins and ninety-four points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #46 to #40)
  • Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” (up from #12 to #7)
  • Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” (up from #19 to #15)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (up from #22 to #17)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (up from #24 to #19)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #7 to #5)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kip Moore, “Good Life”
  • Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave”

Overall Thoughts: Folks, we are officially on the precipice of disaster: With Rascal Flatts and Arts on their way out and a ton of zeros on the board (nearly half the chart is at 5/10!), it looks like we’re in for an extremely boring summer in mainstream radio. The spring churn continues with a number of songs leaping four or more spots this week, but by and large the stuff that’s climbing and the stuff that’s rushing in to fill the void at the bottom is not that good. It’s got me thinking that country songs aren’t meant to be listened too anymore; it’s just meant to be background noise that can be easily ignored while you do other important (or not-so-important) things. (It would explain the rapid decline of story songs in the genre—who has the time or attention span to listen to one of those anymore?) It’s frustrating from a critical standpoint (listening and thinking deeply about songs is 80% of what I do around here), but there’s good money in mediocrity these days, which is why the Pulse is likely to dip below zero as the temperatures rise.

The good news is that coronavirus cases are also continuing to trend downwards, with new diagnoses down almost 30% over the last two weeks (sadly the decline in deaths is not as dramatic, bringing the overall toll to over 582,000 in the U.S.). Vaccination numbers continue to creep upwards (44.7% of the adult population in the U.S is now fully vaccinated), and with Pfizer’s vaccine now approved for children as young as 12, expect the country’s total numbers to climb even further. NPR reports that 46.1% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and guess who now counts among that 46.1%?

I was mildly annoyed at the state for making me wait as long for an appointment as I did, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due: When the day came, I found the process easy, efficient, and 100% effective. Both the signup and the follow-up booking process were quick and painless, and the staff members I encountered were friendly, professional, and very good at what they did. (I really liked the informational papers they provided, which included answers to some common questions such as side effects, vaccine ingredients, and exactly what an “Emergency Use Authorization” was. It was the sort of thing I’d like to see distributed a bit more widely to folks who are on the fence about the shot.) I had a needle stuck in my arm within ten minutes of arriving, and outside of some injection-site soreness, I haven’t felt any side effects at all. My opinion on the whole process is best summed up by the hardest working man in show business:

I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet gotten a vaccine appointment to do so as their earliest convenience, and to continue following best practices (masks, social distancing, etc.) until we finally put this pandemic behind us. A return to something resembling normal is coming, and the sooner folks get vaccinated, the sooner we can all take the exit ramp off of this road of ruin.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 3, 2021

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. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
2. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
3. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
4. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
5. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
6. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
7. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
8. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
9. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
10. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
11. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
12. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
13. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
14. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
15. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
16. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
20. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
21. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
22. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
23. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
24. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
25. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
26. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
27. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
28. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
29. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
30. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
33. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
34. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
35. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
36. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
37. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
38. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
39. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
40. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
41. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
42. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
45. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
46. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
47. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
48. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
49. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
50. Clay Walker, “We All Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +14
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -4
Overall Pulse +10
Change From Last Week
0

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (recurrent)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (recurrent)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (recurrent)
  • Brett Young, “Not Yet” (down to #53)

Leaving:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (crashes hard from #1 to #14)
  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (down from #2 to #3)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (holds at #8, but remains bullet-less and should go recurrent soon)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #46 to #42, but gained only forty-eight spins and 186 points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only twenty-four spins and fifty-two points)
  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #49 to #46, but gained only twenty-five spins and sixty-one points)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #50 to #47, but gained only four spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #47 to #44, but gained only nine spins and fifty-nine points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (debuts at #49, but gained only twenty-three spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (re-enters at #50, but gained only twenty-five spins and eight points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (up from #34 to #30)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #39 to #35)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time With You” (up from #43 to #39)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #9 to #7)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Dustin Lynch ft. Mackenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You”

Overall Thoughts: So the good news is that the ice jam continues to break up and that the chart’s spring rotation is in full swing. The bad news is that most of the junk bubbling up from the chart’s nether regions is no better than what it’s replacing, and with Arts and Rascal Flatts primed to head for the exists (taking +6 worth of Pulse with them), we’re about to find ourselves teetering on the verge of a negative score once again. There were more spins to go around this week with three tracks getting the boot and Brett Young regressing to the mean, but the bottom of the chart still wound up looking like a barren wasteland, with twelve zeros and just a single track (Andress) rated higher than a 6/10. I’m not seeing a ton of encouraging releases on the horizon either, so expect the Pulse to be in a precarious position for a while.

This week’s Country Aircheck featured a deep dive into the inner workings of WCTK, a radio station in Providence, Rhode Island, that has been putting up numbers that are apparently impressive (I’m not even going to pretend that I have any idea what market share numbers mean), and tried to discern their formula for success. The results seem to track with what we’ve been seeing here at the Pulse, and to be honest, I don’t find them terribly encouraging.

  • “We gravitate toward the up-tempo stuff…That’s been the secret sauce here…We relegate [a ballad] to nights if we have to play it.” WCTK PD Kevin Palana

I’ve got nothing against an fun, high-energy track, but I’ve also got a soft spot for the slower stuff, and I prefer more variety in my playlists. Having what sounds like a blanket ban on midday ballads doesn’t feel like a great choice to me, but I suppose I’m not dominating a Northeastern radio market either.

  • “WCTK also has one of the highest percentages of gold content on the panel, and the up-tempo policy applies there, as well. Palana notes his gold category is ‘99% up-tempo.’ With the challenges of the past year, Palana says, ‘It’s a nice distraction from people’s problems. We try to keep the station upbeat as much as possible. I think it helps.'”  Chris Huff, the article author

Ah, so that’s the guy I should blame for making us all suffer through the Cobronavirus movement. While I understand that people need a respite from the weight of the world, country music has been trying to make it a permanent vacation over the last year, and at some point we need to stop ignoring our problems and start addressing them.

The article also featured a chart that backed up the gold-content assertion: An analysis of a week’s worth of spins found that almost 50% of the songs played fell into the gold category, and with a little over 25% of the spins dedicated to currents, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for newer material. However, given the soundalike songs I’ve been reviewing lately, I can’t say that I blame them much.

  • “We play the superstars; that’s what our listeners expect to hear…Some of the newer artists we’ve never played. And we’re not playing a lot of stuff on the charts.” Palana

Yeah, we noticed: Playlists have been getting shorter across the board, and established are using an express lane to reach the top of the charts while newer and less-well-known artist are stuck clamoring for scraps at the bottom. There’s not a lot of room in the genre right now, and that extends to the “lean and mean” staff Palana credits (the whole station is pretty much run by 4 people, and Palana implied that the station goes without a DJ at times).

Overall, having fewer people playing fewer songs by fewer artists covering fewer topics doesn’t feel like a recipe for success to me, and while WCTKs numbers look good on the surface, the overall picture doesn’t strike me as very rosy.

By popular demand, we’re going to start looking at the vaccination numbers a bit more in addition to our usual coronavirus case tracking, and overall the numbers are good, but we’ve still got a ways to go:

  • New case numbers continue to decline, but its fairly slow descent and we’re still at a concerningly-high average somewhere in the neighborhood of about 40,000 diagnoses a day. The daily death, unfortunately, seems to have mostly leveled out, settling around 1,000 deaths a day (the total count sits at 578,500). Again, it’s a far cry from where we were, but it’s still a long way from where we need to be, so we need to keep doing the right things (washing our hands, wearing our masks, keeping our distance from others, and above all getting the vaccine as soon as possible) to try to push these numbers as low as we can.
  • So how is the vaccine rollout going? I’d call the answer “relatively well, but absolutely mediocre”: The United States currently has nearly 41% of its adult population fully vaccinated, which isn’t bad compared to the rest of the world (in terms of total population, we rank 10th), but it’s still well short of the magical moving target of “herd immunity,” which is now estimated at roughly 80% given the current transmissibility of the variants that dominate the country right now. As a result, the focus now is more on containment than anything else, and reaching a point where enough people are vaccinated such that any outbreaks that do occur are small and manageable, and any long-term effects or fatalities are minimized.

Vaccine hesitancy remains a major concern, with polling showing that “1 in 5 Americans remain unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine.” There’s a glimmer of hope there (so you’re saying 80% are willing to get it?), but given the children under 16 are not yet eligible for the vaccine (though that may change soon), it’s imperative that we get as many eligible folks vaccinated as possible, to protect those who aren’t yet able to get the shot. If you’re still on the fence about it, I implore you to talk to your local health care provider so that they understand your concerns and can give you the facts about it.

I’ve had a couple people tell me they’re in the “not yet” camp because they’re worried that the vaccine hasn’t been tested enough to know its true effects, despite the fact that tens of thousands of people participated in clinical trials and now millions of folks have received does. I tell them that for what it’s worth, if they need one more datapoint, I’ll give it to them: By this time next week yours truly will finally have received their first shot (appointments remain surprisingly hard to find around here), so I’ll let them (and you) know how it goes. I’m more than happy to do my part to combat this virus, protect the people I care about, and bring this pandemic to an end, and I hope that all of you are excited to do the same.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 26, 2021

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. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
2. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
3. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
4. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
5. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
6. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
7. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
8. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
9. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
10. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
11. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
12. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
13. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
14. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
15. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
16. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
17. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
20. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
21. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
22. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
23. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
24. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
25. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
26. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
27. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
28. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
29. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
30. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
31. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
32. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
33. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
36. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
39. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
40. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
41. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
42. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
43. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
44. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
45. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
46. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
47. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
48. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
49. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
50. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +9
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +10
Change From Last Week
+4 😎

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (recurrent)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #4 to #8)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (down from #9 to #19)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (down from #16 to #24)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (down from #27 to #31)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw & Tyle Hubbard, “Undivided” (up from #21 to #18, but lost its bullet)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only fifty-three spins and 160 points, and got run over by Rhett and Bryan)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (down from #31 to #33, lost its bullet with a 250+ point loss)
  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (holds at #34, but gained only six spins and one point)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #43 to #41, but gained only thirty-eight spins and 106 points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only thirty-four spins and 142 points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #46 to #45, but lost spins and gained only seven points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only one spin and lost points)
  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #50 to #49, but lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #49 to #50, gained only thirty-five spins and 100 points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban & Pink, “One Too Many” (up from #20 to #16, but gained only twenty-eight spins and 116 points, and has looked relatively weak compared to its peers)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #37, but gained only twnety-nine spins and 103 spins)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (up from #41 to #28)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (up from #35 to #27)
  • Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” (up from #18 to #13)
  • Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #22 to #17)
  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (up from #45 to #40)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #13 to #9)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • None listed by Country Aircheck for a third straight week? Has the feature been discontinued?

On The Way:

  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots”

Overall Thoughts: The dam finally burst this week. Five songs are definitely on their way out (and “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” may be following them out the door as well), and a big push from Arts and a big rebound for Bryan meant spins were hard to find at the bottom of the chart, putting much of the flotsam there (especially Janson and LoCash) at risk of going under. The loss of Florida Georgia Line and the rise of semi-decent songs from HARDY and Brett Young bumped the Pulse back into double-digits for the first time in a while, but I’ll wait to see how it handles the upcoming loss of Arts before I declare that we’ve broken out of our early-year slump (again, dumping that LBT track would go a long way towards that goal…)

On the pandemic front, the numbers we’ve been tracking are trending in the right direction, with the daily case and death averages continuing to decline (the total death count now stands at over 572,000). The country is now awash in vaccines, and focus has shifted to two major issues:

  • There are still a lot of people who aren’t ready to get the vaccine, and the number “isn’t shrinking at the rate we might have hoped.” We’re still a long way off from herd immunity, and if people put off or refuse these shots at this rate, we’re going to slow down this timetable and prolong this pandemic unnecessarily. (The whole “skipping the second shot” phenomenon also confuses me: You convinced yourself to get the shot once, but not to finish the job and do it twice?) The vaccines and safe and effective, and getting one will help protect you, your family, and your community, so I implore you to get the vaccine at the earliest opportunity.
  • The vaccine rollout has been succesful in America so far, but it’s barely started in other parts of the world, and countries such as Brazil and India have been completely overwhelmed by COVID-19. With an apparent vaccine surplus here in the U.S. (including a ton of AstraZeneca doses that haven’t even been approved for use here), I encourage the Biden administration to continuing sharing their stockpile as they’ve done with Canada, Mexico, and now India, since a) an unchecked virus anywhere is a potential threat to people everywhere, and b) “vaccine diplomacy” would go a long way towards restoring global trust and confidence in the United States.

In the meantime, we need to keep following best practices to keep everyone safe: Keep your mask on, keep your distance from others, and keep your sleeves rolled up in anticipation of your vaccine shot. We’ve still got a few miles left in this marathon, and we’re only going to make it to the finish line if we all (metaphorcally) stick together.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 19, 2021

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. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
2. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
3. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
4. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
5. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
6. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
7. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
8. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
9. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
10. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
11. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
12. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
13. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
14. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
15. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
16. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
17. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
18. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
19. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
20. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
21. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
22. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
23. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
24. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
25. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
26. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
27. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
29. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
30. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
33. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
36. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
39. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
40. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
41. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
42. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
43. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
44. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
45. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
46. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
47. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
48. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
49. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
50. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +7
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -1
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (dropped below #50)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (collapsed hard from #1 to #16)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (down from #3 to #9)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (down from #6 to #11)
  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (up from #8 to #6, but bullet-less and fading)

In Real Trouble:

  • Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” (holds at #24, but gained only forty-one spins and 109 points)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (down from #26 to #27, bullet-less with a 500-plus point loss)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (holds at #30, but gained only twenty-one spins and sixty-nine points)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (holds at #31, but gained only sixty-four spins and sixty-one points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #39 to #40, gained only twenty-seven spins and lost points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (down from #45 to #46, gained only thirty-three spins and 104 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (down from #44 to #47, gained only seven spins and lost points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (down from #46 to #48, lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #48 to #49, gained only seven spins and loses points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” (holds at #23, but gained only twenty-five spins and lost points)
  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (holds at #34, but gained only twenty-nine spins and one point)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (down from #41 to #42, gained only sixteen spins and eleven points)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (down from #42 to #43, gained only tewnty-three spins and thirty-four points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (down from #43 to #44, gained only eighteen spins and sixty-nine points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (debuts at #35)
  • Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (up from #10 to #5)
  • Eric Church, “Hell Of A Ride” (up from #12 to #7)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #14 to #13)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • None listed by Country Aircheck for a second straight week.

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: The cracks in the Mediabase ice are getting bigger by the day: We’ve got four songs falling out of the top twenty (and a fifth that should be), and a bunch of songs in the lower half of the charts (and even some in the middle) that are barely hanging on. The problem, of course, is that I’m not 100% sold on the songs booking stays for the summer: Sure, Rhett’s entry was fine, but McColloum’s was not, and Robb and HARDY’s mediocre mush is likely still lurking right outside the door. (Maddie & Tae and Carmichael inspire a little confidence, but not Niko Moon…). Still, with the slump the chart has been in this year, there isn’t a whole lot of room for regression, so let’s hope the upcoming summer sounds are better than those of the spring.

Similarly, the pandemic is another situation that a) is in desperate need of a breakthrough, and b) may finally be on the verge of one. New cases remain essentially flat and there are still some troublesome hot spots on the map right now, but deaths still seem to be inching downwards as the ranks of the vaccinated swell (over 50% of adults in the country have now had at one least one vaccine dose). The focus is now starting to shift to those who remain unprotected: The anti-vaxxers and vaccine-hesitant, those too young to qualify for the vaccine, and those in other areas of the world whose rollouts have been relatively slow. There are going to be a lot of people who will be waiting a while longer for their shots, so I encourage everyone to continue the usual best practices to protect vulnerable individuals: Wear masks, wash your hands, and limit your gathering sizes and frequency. Better times are on the horizon, and we all need to continue doing our part to ensure we all get there safely.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 12, 2021

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. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
2. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
3. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
4. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
5. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
6. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
7. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
8. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
9. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
10. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
11. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
12. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
13. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
14. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
15. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
19. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
20. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
21. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
22. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
23. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
24. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
25. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
26. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
27. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
28. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
29. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
30. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
33. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
36. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
39. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
40. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
42. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
43. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
44. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
45. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
46. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
47. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
48. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
49. Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” 0 (5/10)
50. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +7
Future Pulse (#26—#50) 0
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #2 to #7)
  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #6 to #8)

In Real Trouble:

  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (holds at #31, but lost its bullet again)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (holds at #48, but lost its bullet)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (down from #47 to #49, bullet-less for a second straight week)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (holds at #50, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” (down from #18 to #19, gained only eleven spins and eighty-four points)
  • Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” (up from #25 to #24, but gained only sixty-eight spins and eighty-five points)
  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (holds at #29, but lost spins and gained only twenty-six points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #37 to #39, broke even on spins and gained only forty-seven points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #44, but gained only twenty spins and sixty-nine points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #45, but gained only eight spins and thirteen points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (holds at #46, but gained only twnety-five spins and thirty points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (debuts at #35)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #20 to #14)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • None listed by Country Aircheck this week.

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Is the spring thaw finally about to happen? With three tracks falling in the top ten (and a few more that look weak on the other end of the charts, and Stapleton likely to crash hard after his push to #1), it sure looks like it. The problem, however, is that the A-listers of the genre are simply using the express lane to jump right back into the fray (Bryan had a big debut this week; expect Rhett and possibly Ballerini/Chesney to do the same next week), and the floatsam keep piling in the lower half of the charts (songs like Janson’s, LoCash’s, and possibly Robb’s stick out this week, but for crying out loud, how many times does “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” have to lose its bullet before Little Big Town realizes it’s a dead song walking?). The charts remain in need of a good flushing, and despite all the songs scheduled to leave, I’m not sure it’s going to get one.

The coronavirus needs to be flushed from the nation as well, but it looks like that’s going to take a while too, with new cases on the upswing, daily death counts leveling off at an unacceptably-high number (the total count stands at over 563,000 now), and new hotspots beginning to flare up (most notably Michigan, but the Northeast as a region isn’t doing so well either). However, the vaccine will officially be eligible to everyone 18 and older next week, so if your moment to get an appointment hasn’t arrived yet, it will soon. Sadly, the distance between being eligible for an appointment and actually getting the vaccine can be far apart (for example, I’m stuck waiting another month for my shot), so we need to keep following best practices: Wear your masks, wash your hands, avoid large crowds, and do what you can to keep the people you care about safe.

Another pandemic returned to the headlines this week: The scourge of systemic racism, as shown by the recent shooting of Daunte Wright and the release of video showing police pepper-spraying Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario during a traffic stop. After all the marches and outrage that came about after the killing of George Floyd, we’re still stuck in the same place we were nearly a year ago, the same place we’ve been stuck for decades and even centuries. These acts may have left the front pages, but they’re still happening, and for all our high and mighty talk of last summer, we’ve made embarrassingly little progress towards rectifying the situation.

This sort of prejudiced bullshit needs to stop, and it needed to stop a long time ago. Black lives matter, even if our police departments don’t seem to think so. I don’t know if it’s police training or police culture or what, but we need to figure out why this sort of stuff keeps happening, and then take tangible, concrete steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Otherwise, we’ll be right back here next year, mourning another life taken too soon.