The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 23, 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. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
2. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
3. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
4. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
6. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
7. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
8. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
9. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
10. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
11. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
12. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
13. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
14. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
16. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
17. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
18. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
19. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
20. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
21. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
22. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
23. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
24. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
27. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
29. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
30. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
31. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
32. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
33. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
34. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
35. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
36. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
38. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
39. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
40. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
41. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
42. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
43. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
44. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
45. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
46. Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Old Memory” 0 (5/10)
47. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
48. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
49. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
50. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +9
Overall Pulse +14
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (down from #10 to #23)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #19 to #33)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #14 to #12, had a decent showing this week)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (holds at #38, but lost its bullet again)

In Real Trouble:

  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (holds at #40, but lost its bullet)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (holds at #44, lost its bullet)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down from #47 to #59, lost its bullet)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #48 to #50, lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” (holds at #11, but gained only thirty-two spins and forty-four points)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #28 to #26, but gained only thirty-nine spins and seventy-nine points)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #33to #32, but gained only twenty-two spins and nineteen points)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #36 to #35, but gained only fifteen spins and six points)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only twenty-five spins and fifty-three points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only one spin and ten points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (holds at #45, but gained only twenty-six spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #46 to #47, gained only eleven spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (up from #26 to #18. This thing is rocketing up the charts right now

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (down from #1 to #2. What will his next move be?)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Matt Stell, “Man Made”
  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”
  • Cody Johnson, “Human”

Overall Thoughts: I think it’s safe to say we’re just about done with the transition to summer playlists (and not a moment too soon, with Memorial Day weekend on the way). Jones is the only song that I really expect to run out of steam in the next few weeks (I think Lambert will linger for an extra month or so), so I think what you see is about what you’ll get until the fall. It’s also worth noting that although the Pulse of the Top 10 is a mediocre -1 right now, the songs that are at the top (Aldean, Thanos, Parmalee, Hayes, Wallen) are ones that have shown notable strength during their climbs (I don’t have the total week numbers available, but these ones in particular have seen rapid and consistent growth over their runs). As much as I’m not sold on them, perhaps it’s a sign that the radio is finally letting the people decide what a hit is and letting their choices rise to the top? Finally, if there’s a place where quality meets popularity, it’s Brown’s latest single, and as a result that song has rocketed into the Top 20 in just a few short weeks. I’m very interested in seeing what it’s able to do once if gets to top.

On the coronavirus front, it’s more of the same with new daily case averages continuing to rise and hospitalizations now going up along with them. Death counts haven’t started tracking upward quite yet, but the focus recently has been on the virus’s impact on those that survive it: CDC data now indicates that roughly 20% of COVID-19 infections could lead to “long COVID” symptoms, and while the current vaccines are still effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, they’re not as effective at preventing long COVID. While avoiding COVID-19 altogether is easier said than done, protecting ourselves is going to be really hard in the free-for-all climate we’ve got going right now, so it looks like I’m not leaving this soapbox anytime soon:

I know that most folks aren’t in the mood to bring back strict restrictions or mandates, but that doesn’t mean we should leave ourselves unprotected in the middle of a surge. We need to continue doing all we can to protect ourselves from this virus, and try to limit the unnecessary (and potentially long-lasting) suffering that it causes.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 16, 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. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
2. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
3. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
4. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
5. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
6. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
7. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
8. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
9. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
10. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
11. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
12. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
13. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
14. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
15. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
16. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
17. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
18. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
19. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
20. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
21. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
22. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
23. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
24. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
27. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
28. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
29. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
30. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
31. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
32. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
33. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
34. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
35. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
36. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
37. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
38. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
39. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
40. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
41. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
42. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
43. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
44. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
45. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
46. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
47. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
48. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)
49. Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Old Memory” 0 (5/10)*
50. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +4
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +11
Overall Pulse +15
Change From Last Week
+3 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (recurrent)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (recurrent)
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (down from #1 to #10)
  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (holds at #2, but still bullet-less)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #7 to #19)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #15 to #14, gained 169 spins and 565 points. Not terrible, but most of her immediate competition was up 1000+ points this week)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #40 to #38, gained eighty-two spins and 231 points, so not a terrible week either)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #47, but gained only three spins and forty-eight points. Why does radio absolutely refuse to get behind this guy?)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #45 to #44, but gained only thirty-one spins and eighty-nine points

In Some Trouble:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #25 to #23, but gained only seven spins and thirty-one points)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” (holds at #35, but gained only twenty spins and thirty-three points)
  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” (down from #49 to #50, gained only one spin and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (up from #38 to #26)
  • Parmalee, “Take My Name” (up from #10 to #6)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #36 to #32)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (up from #46 to #42)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #3 to #1, but put another max-spin ad in Country Aircheck? Perhaps he’s not done with the crown just yet…)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Matt Stell, “Man Made”
  • Niko Moon, “EASY TONIGHT” (ugh)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”
  • Cody Johnson, “Human”

Overall Thoughts: This was an addition-by-subtraction week with Shelton’s exit (and I can tell how many people read this blog by how many people tagged me about this on Twitter), but it still feels like bland mediocrity is the order of the day based on all the zeros entering the chart (althrough Brown’s rapid rise is heartening). Thanos’s decision to extend his stay at #1 feels like a statement to me, telling the world that he’s not going to give up his kingship without a fight. Admittedly he’s not ruling over much of a kingdom right now, but there are some upcoming releases (Wilson, Johnson) that might have potential…and some (Moon) that have none at all…

On the coronavirus front, the current surge continues, and while thankfully new daily death averages are down from last week, both cases and hospitalizations are rising, which means a more-sustained rise in deaths is likely only a few weeks away. The current coronavirus coordinator in the White House is raising concerns about a lack of funding for COVID-19 supplies, which means we could be looking at more bad news if Congress doesn’t get its act together (and given the fact that we’re entering an election year and Congress hasn’t had it act together for years now, I don’t hold out a lot of hope on that front). It’s one more sign that we’re basically on our own now when it comes to dealing with this virus, so I’m still out here preaching the public health gospel.

My current prediction is that we’re going to be dealing with the coronavirus and its variants through the rest of this year and into 2023, so it’s on Washington to make sure we’re prepared for both the current surge and the one that’s likely coming when the seasons change. However, tools are no good if we don’t use them, so be sure to take advantage of the available resources and stick with our best practices to give yourself the best chance of navigating safely through these troubled times.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 9, 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. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
2. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
3. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
4. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
5. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
6. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
7. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
8. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
9. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
10. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
11. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
12. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
13. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
14. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
15. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
16. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
17. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
18. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
19. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
20. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
21. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
22. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
23. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
24. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
26. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
27. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
28. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
29. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
30. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
31. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
32. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
33. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
34. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
35. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
36. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
37. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
38. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
39. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
40. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
41. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
42. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
43. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
44. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
45. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
46. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
47. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
49. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
50. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
50. Eli Young Band, “Love Talking” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +4
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +8
Overall Pulse +12
Change From Last Week
+3 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” (down from #3 to #7)
  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (down from #16 to #28)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (down from #17 to #29)

Zombie Tracks:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #6 to #7, earning the dubious distinction of losing spots during its max push week)
  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (holds at #15, but gained only eleven spins and lost points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #38 to #40, lost spins and only gained and twelve points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #47, but gained only two spins and thirty points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only twenty-two spins and thirty-four points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only twenty-six spins and thirty points)

In Some Trouble:

  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (up from #20 to #18, but gained only twenty-one spins and 114 points. We’re gonna have to talk about this one…)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #25 to #23, but gained only seven spins and thirty-one points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #44 to #45, gained only twenty-five spins and ninety-six points)
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking” (debuts at #50, but barely kept its bullet by losing spins and breaking even on points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” (debuts at #38)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (up from #28 to #22)
  • Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” (up from #9 to #5)
  • Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (up from #21 to #17)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” (up from #39 to #35)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (holds at #3, and looks to be settling for a one-week #1 as he’s got a max-spin ad in CA this week. Has he lost the crown of country music?)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Callista Clark, “Gave It Back Broken”
  • LoCash ft. Mike Love & Bruce Johnson, “Beach Boys”
  • Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide”

Overall Thoughts: This was yet another feast week on the chart, with the losses from Shelton, Church, and Bentley/HARDY/BRELAND releasing plenty of spins back into the wild and only a single solid-but-not-spectacular debut from Brown to monopolize them. Outside of a few large position gains in the middle of the charts due to Church’s and Shelton’s falls, there isn’t much to say at the 10,000-ft. level, so let’s talk about a few songs in particular:

  • I never thought I would see the day with Thanos gained only six spins in a week. The man seems content to take his turn atop the charts these days, and while that’s still considered a massive success for most artists (heck, this week marks McBryde’s first appearance at #1), it’s kind of a letdown for a guy who could snap his fingers and spend a month at #1 not that long ago. While this sort of thing happens to everyone eventually (it feels like every A-list artist has a brief moment where they leap into the stratosphere and can do not wrong), the speed at which Combs fell back to the pack caught me more than a little off guard. I would say the “Current King of Country Music” title is officially disputed, and unfortunately I think Wallen (ugh) might be the strongest challenger at this point. We’ll see what the next few weeks have in store.
  • Speaking of Wallen, is he the reason “Flower Shops” has lost all of its momentum recently? Sam Wilson proposed this theory a few weeks ago, and the Pulse Music Board for this track seems to have settled on this as well. If so, I can’t imagine ERNEST is terribly happy with this situation: “Wasted On You” is likely to spend at least another month climbin to #1, and then it will burn another few weeks on its slow descent into recurrency, which means that if Wallen overexposure is the issue, ERNEST could be stuck on pause until July. What’s the point of riding another star’s coattails to success if said artist ends up putting you on ice and squandering your momentum to cover their own bases? I’m not sold on either the artist or the song, but I do feel like someone is doing ERNEST dirty.

On the coronavirus front, we’re officially in the throes of another surge, with both new daily case and death averages going up (hospitalization numbers are rising as well). Depending on who you ask, we’re either on the verge of surpassing or have already surpassed one million deaths in America from COVID-19, and predictions for what’s coming next (A summer surge in the southern U.S.? 100 million new infections this fall/winter?) are not good. With few restrictions in place, we’re on our own in determining what we should or shouldn’t do to manage our risks and our health, so I’m sticking to my usual script for the forseeable future:

The pandemic may not be the lead headline anymore with everything that’s going on (heck, it’s even a shorter segment here than it’s been in a while), but the level of virus in our communities right now is not something we can ignore. If we’re ever going to find a way out of this mess, we need to adhere to best practices and continue to do all we can to keep everyone safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 2, 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. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
2. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
3. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
4. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
5. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
6. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
7. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
8. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
9. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
10. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
11. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
12. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
13. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
14. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
15. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
16. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
17. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
18. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
19. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
20. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
21. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
22. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
23. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
24. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
27. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
28. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
29. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
30. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
31. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
32. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
33. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
34. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
35. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
36. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
37. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
38. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
39. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
40. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
41. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
42. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
43. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
44. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
45. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
46. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” 0 (5/10)*
47. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)*
48. Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” 0 (5/10)*
49. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
50. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) 0
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +9
Overall Pulse +9
Change From Last Week
-4 😡

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” 7/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home)” (recurrent)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (dropped below #50, likely recurrent next week)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down to #52)

Leaving:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (crashed hard from #2 to #16)
  • Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” (down from #3 to #7)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (down from #11 to #17)

Zombie Tracks:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #9 to #6, “max spins” ad in Country Aircheck this week)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #36 to #38, gained only ten spins and twenty-five points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #49 to #47, but gained only seventeen spins and twenty-nine points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only twenty-two spins and fifty-three points

In Some Trouble:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (down from #38 to #40, gained only twenty-two spins and seventy points)
  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only twenty-nine spins and seventy-seven)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only twenty-six spins and thirty points)
  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” (debuts at #50, but gained only eleven spins and twenty-six points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #43 to #37)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (up from #14 to #10)
  • Parmalee, “Take My Name” (up from #16 to #12)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #39 to #35)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #4 to #3)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking”
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (5/10)
  • Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up”
  • Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory”
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self”

On The Way:

  • Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music”
  • Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide”

Overall Thoughts: So apparently I was a week early on a few things:

The wild cards, however, are the zombie tracks, as both the best song (Janson) and the worst song (Shelton) could call it quits any day now, which would throw the Pulse for a loop.

Consider the Pulse thrown for a loop: The plug was unceremoniously pulled on both tracks last week, with Janson already gone and Shelton likely join him in a week or two.

I’m also curious how long HARDY sticks around: That song is already sixteen months old, and will likely need another 7-8 weeks to reach #1. …Is Big Loud willing to wait that long for a Mediabase #1? I have my doubts.

The max-spin ad in this week’s CA made the answer to that question a resounding “No.” Put it all together, and there’s a good chance the “Zombie Tracks” section disappears soon.

So what about the rest of the chart? Swindell and Wilson spent an extra week at the top, but the combined crashes of Church and Shelton kept the spin market from tightening up too much, and most songs were at least able to put together a passable week (the exceptions, as usual, clustered near the bottom of the chart). A few songs emerged from depths to join the Top 50, but none of them are really worth caring about, so I think that lightning round post I mentioned a few weeks ago is coming sooner rather than later. I expect to see continuing turnover as the zombies are finally defeated, but I’m not sure I foresee much of an improvement in the chart as a result (Shelton and Janson will essentially cancel each other out). The Music City meta is bland right now, and it’ll be that way for at least a few more weeks.

On the coronavirus front, new case averages continue to rise nationally, and while daily death averages are still down over the last two weeks, they’ve leveled off in more recent days, which indicates that they’ll soon follow the upward trend of cases and hospitalizations. The major story these days concerns subvariants of the virus’s omicron variant: After dealing with BA.1 and BA.2 for months, now officials are monitoring case increases driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants in South Africa and the BA 2.12.1 variant in the eastern United States. Many signs indicate that we’re staring another surge in the face, but unfortunately right now the burden remains on individuals to decide what they should do and what precautions they should take based on their own tolerance for risk. My tolerance for such risk remains low, so my guidance remains the same:

I know a lot of people want to be done with the pandemic and just ignore rising case numbers, but if we don’t keep taking precautions to limit the virus’s spread, we’ll be stuck with another surge that will be too big to ignore. I urge people to keep doing the right things to protect yourselves and the people you care about.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 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. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
2. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
3. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
5. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
6. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
7. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
8. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
9. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
10. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
12. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
13. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
14. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
15. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
16. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
17. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
18. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
19. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
20. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
21. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
22. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
23. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
24. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
27. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
28. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
29. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
30. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
31. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
32. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
33. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
34. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
35. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
36. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
37. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
38. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
39. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
40. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
41. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
42. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
43. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
44. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
45. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)*
47. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
48. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
49. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)*
50. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +12
Overall Pulse +13
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Sam Hunt, “23” (recurrent)
  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (recurrent)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (recurrent)
  • Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” (recurrent)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (up from #5 to #2, but this was its final push)

  • Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home)” (down from #7 to #8

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (holds at #11, but gained only twenty-five spins and lost points. Would someone put this garbage out of its misery already?)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #10 to #9)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only twenty spins and twenty-nine points)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (down from #39 to #41, lost its bullet again)

In Real Trouble:

  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (up from #21 to #20, but lost its bullet again. This thing had solid momentum not long agowhat happened?
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #48 to #47, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (down from #16 to #17, gained only fifty-five spins and 130 points. This may have run out of gas)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (down from #17 to #18, gained only twenty-three spins and fifty-one points. This one’s low on fuel as well)
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (up from #35 to #32, but gained only twenty-six spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (debuts at #49, but gained only nineteen spins and fifty-six points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (debuts at #50, but took several months to get here, and gained only ten spins and forty-three points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #51 to #43)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #45 to #39)
  • Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” (up from #40 to #35)
  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (up from #42 to #37)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Parmalee, “Take My Name” (up from #20 to #16)
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #38 to #34)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #42 to #38)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (holds at #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”
  • Kameron Marlowe, “Giving You Up”
  • Eli Young Band, “Love Talking”
  • Jameson Rodgers, “Missing One”

On The Way:

  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”
  • Thompson Square, “Country In My Soul”

Overall Thoughts: This was a week of action on the charts, as Arts joined Hunt, Bryan, and Midland on the way to the exit (LBT fell off the chart as well, though they’ll likely be back soon). Unfortunately, what we got to replace all of them wasn’t all that exciting (Stapleton was the only non-neutral score), ultimately making this a week of addition by subtraction. None of this will repeat itself next week: Swindell and Wilson apear to be angling for another week atop the mountain (likely keeping upward movement to a minimum), and King/Lambert and Church are the next candidates to leave. The wild cards, however, are the zombie tracks, as both the best song (Janson) and the worst song (Shelton) could call it quits any day now, which would throw the Pulse for a loop.

I’m also curious how long HARDY sticks around: That song is already sixteen months old, and will likely need another 7-8 weeks to reach #1. It’s stuck behind Swindell/Wilson, Thanos, Pearce/McBryde, Urban, and Rhett, and will be passed by at least Hayes and Aldean before it reaches its peak. If I had to bet, I think Wallen will get by it as well (they’re labelmates, but Wallen’s got too much momentum right now), but McGraw and Morris pose no threat to it, and Parmalee is probably too far behind it to pass it in time. Is Big Loud willing to wait that long for a Mediabase #1? I have my doubts.

On the coronavirus front, I advise folks to fasten their seatbelts and keep their hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times: New case averages continue to rise nationally, and now hospitalizations appear to be rising in some locations. Deaths aren’t going up just yet, but they’re usually a few weeks behind hospitalizations, which means we may be headed for another deadly round with this virus. Unfortunately, while mask requirements are being reinstated in some places, for the most part these guidelines remain voluntary, putting the burden on the individual to decide what they should do based on their own tolerance for risk. Personally, I was still uncomfortable with the level of virus transmission even before this latest increase, so I’m still on the soapbox preaching caution:

It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks going forward as virus circulation increases and people do their best to ignore it until it’s too late. Your personal decisions still matter, however, and by following our tried-and-true best practices, you can still help keep yourself and the people you care about safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 18, 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. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
2. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
3. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
5. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
6. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
7. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
8. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
9. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
10. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
12. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
13. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
14. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
15. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
17. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
18. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
19. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
20. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
21. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
22. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
23. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
24. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
25. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
26. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
27. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
28. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
29. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
30. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
31. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
32. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
33. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
34. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
35. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
36. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
37. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
38. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
39. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
40. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
41. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
42. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
43. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
44. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
45. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
46. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
47. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
48. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
49. Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” +2 (7/10)
50. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) 0
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +11
Overall Pulse +11
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (recurrent, but would still be at #8 if eligible)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (recurrent)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home)” (down from #1 to #7)
  • Sam Hunt, “23” (up from #4 to #3, but lost over 500 spins and 2000 points)
  • Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” (down from #43 to #49 with a 800+ point loss)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (holds at #11, but lost its bullet again)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #12 to #10 with some surprisingly solid gains. Given the depths HARDY can sink to*cough* “REDNECKER” *cough*maybe I should just be happy this is stalling the inevitable tire fire that would be a new single…)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (holds at #34, but it bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #40 to #37, gained fifty-two spins and 176 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only five spins and lost points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only twenty spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #45 to #44, but gained only twenty-one spins and broke even on points)
  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (up from #48 to #46, but gained only twenty-seven spins and seventy-two points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #17 to #16, but lost spins and gained only 101 points, and hasn’t looked strong recently)
  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only two spins and lost points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #50 to #47, but lost spins and gained only one point)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (up from #36 to #31)
  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #46 to #41)
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #42 to #38)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (up from #49 to #45)

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #6 to #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”

Overall Thoughts: With Hunt, King/Lambert, Bryan, and Johnson releasing spins back into the wild, this was a week for tracks to make up the ground they lost last week. On one hand, we got the same old story from the charts, and songs near the top reaped the benefits and songs near the bottom struggled to find traction. On the other hand, however, there were some notable success stories in the bottom half of the chart. Specifically, Dean and Jelly Roll, artists who have zero clout or track record but who are among the few artists who have released a song I like in 2022, made some serious waves (Little Big Town did too, but they’ve got 20+ years of history behind them). Does this mean that *gasp* PDs are broadening their search for fresh material and prioritizing quality over name recognition? The Pulse has been inching upward recently, so this seems like a trend worth watching. Look for more action next week as Hunt, King/Lambert, Bryan, and Midland (RIP) exit the stage.

On the coronavirus front, a lot of folks are holding their breath right now: New case averages continue to rise, and the million-dollar questions are a) “how high that [new case count] mountain’s gonna grow,” and b) if there will be a substantial rise in hospitalizations and deaths along with it. With many virus restrictions loosening (although some are tightening again) and the federal mass transit mask mandate removed, the onus has really shifted to individuals as to what they feel safe doing and what precautions they should take. For me, there’s still far too much virus circulation for my taste, so I’m sticking with the old standbys:

We’ve got a lot of the things we need to help protect ourselves and the people we care about, and we don’t have to stop using them just because we’re no longer forced to use them. The virus isn’t going anywhere, and neither should our resolve to do everything in our power to prevent its spread.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 11, 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. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
2. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
3. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
4. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
5. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
6. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
7. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
8. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
9. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
10. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
12. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
13. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
14. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
15. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
16. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
17. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
18. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
19. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
20. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
21. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
22. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
23. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
24. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
25. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
26. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
27. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
28. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
29. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
30. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
31. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
32. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
33. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
34. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
35. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
36. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
37. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
38. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
39. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
40. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
41. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
42. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
43. Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” +2 (7/10)
44. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
45. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
46. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
47. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
48. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
49. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
50. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +7
Overall Pulse +9
Change From Last Week
-2 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (down from #2 to #3)
  • Sam Hunt, “23” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (down from #19 to #22 with a 700+ point loss)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (down from #31 to #39)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (down from #10 to #11, gained only seventy-one spins and 455 points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (holds at #12, gained 166 spins and 658 points. Not a terrible week given the circumstances, but how long can this thing really hold on?)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (down from #32 to #34, lost its bullet again)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #38 to #40, barely regained its bullet by gaining twenty-seven points and losing spins)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (down from #40 to #41, gained only fifteen spins and fifty points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (holds at #18, but lost its bullet)
  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (hits the wall hard, dropping from #21 to #23 and losing its bullet with a nearly 375-point loss. This thing looked like it had some momentum; what happened?)
  • Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” (down from #41 to #43, lost its bullet. This one’s in danger of joining the zombie list)

In Some Trouble:

  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (holds at #24, but gained only seven spins and fifty points)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (down from #29 to #30, gained only thirty-three spins and fifty-two points)
  • Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” (down from #28 to #31, gained only seven spins and lost points)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (down from #37 to #38, gained only fourteen spins and sixty-two points)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (down from #43 to #45, gained only twelve spins and thirty-three points)
  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (down from #46 to #48, gained only six spins and two points)
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (down from #47 to #49, gained only three spins and broke even on points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (debuts at #29)

Is still Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (holds at #6)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”

Overall Thoughts: With no recurrent tracks and a big debut from Ballerini, this was a gut-check week for the charts, and a surprising number of songs failed the test. Yes, Johnson might get caught by the recurrent rules and Ballerini will regress to the mean, but I still think anyone who came up short this week needs to step back and rethink their radio strategy, because I’m still getting the sense that PDs are being more picky with their playlists and aren’t suffering songs that loiter for months on end the way they were before. Bryan may have just been stalling for time and will likely have new music out soon, but I’m getting the same vibe from Owen that I was getting from Bryan a few weeks ago, and somebody at Big Loud is probably being escorted out by security after ERNEST’s hard flop this week. Look for more movement next week, but also for more songs in the middle and at the bottom of the charts to give up the ghost, because the radio landscape seems to be getting harsher by the day.

On the coronavirus front…don’t look now, but we could be in trouble: New case averages are rising again, and now some are warning that we could be in the middle of another surge and not realize it because we’re not collecting the amount of data that we once did. The extremely-transmissible omicron BA.2 variant now accounts for over 85% of new cases in America, and while so far we’ve haven’t seen the surge that some countries in Europe did, it’s unclear whether the surge is still coming, not coming, or is already here (for what it’s worth, hospitalizations in this neck of the woods are rising again…). I know a lot of people would rather ignore the possibility of the pandemic dragging on even longer, but my fear is that it will one again reach a level we can’t ignore, and by then it will be too late to mitigate the damage. Instead, I’d advise folks to stay vigilant and be prepared:

With all the tools and strategies at our disposal, we aren’t powerless against this virus anymore. We can (and should) take steps to minimize its spread and protect the people we care about, because it’s ultimately the best way to bring the pandemic to an end.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 4, 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. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
2. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
3. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
4. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
5. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
6. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
7. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
8. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
9. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
10. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
11. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
12. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
13. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
14. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
15. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
16. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
17. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
18. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
19. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
20. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
21. Ernest ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
22. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
23. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
24. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
25. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
26. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
27. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
28. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
29. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
30. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
31. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
32. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
33. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
34. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
35. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
36. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
37. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
38. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
39. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
40. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
41. Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” +2 (7/10)
42. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
43. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
44. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
45. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
46. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
47. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
48. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
49. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
50. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +9
Overall Pulse +11
Change From Last Week
+5 😎

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (recurrent)
  • Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (down from #29 to #31 with a 450+ point loss)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (holds at #10 and had a decent week for a change. Does it have anything left?)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #13 to #12, gained 123 spins and 504 points. Still much weaker than its competition, especially given that the four songs right behind it all notched 1000+ point gains this week)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (up from #33 to #32, but gained only eighteen spins and fifteen points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #37 to #38, lost its bullet again)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (down from #39 to #40, gained only twenty-two spins and 143 points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (up from #20 to #19, but gained only twenty-four spins and 126 points. This one has looked shaky for a few weeks now; what happened?)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (debuts at #50, but without a bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (down from #5 to #7, gained only thirty-one spins and ninety-one points. This one’s starting to look shaky too…)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (debuts at #39)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (up from #42 to #35)

Is still Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #8 to #6)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby”
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”

Overall Thoughts: There wasn’t a ton of movement this week, but Johnson’s abdication of the throne meant a lot of prime airwave real estate got released back into the market, and it allowed most artists on the chart to post decent point gains even if their spin gains were small. I also get the sense that PDs are getting more picky about the tracks they put into heavy rotation, and thinking a lot of more about whether a song is really an interest-driven hit (versus a label-driven one). There was as much downward movement at the top of the chart as there was upward movement this week, with Church baring the brunt of the judgement, and there are a few songs in the middle of the chart (Bryan being the most-prominent example) that are beginning to face some tough questions. I expect to see a bit more movin’ and shakin’ next week as the ex-Johnson spins dry up and tracks have to fight over scraps again, and there are still a lot of tracks just hanging around that could fall apart at any moment.

On the coronavirus front, the current outlook is concerning: The descent of the daily new case average is slowing, and the death averages have actually increased over the last two weeks, and the extremely-transmissible omicron BA.2 variant now accounts for almost three-quarters of new cases in the America. While it’s still unknown if the expected rise in new cases will lead to increased hospitalizations and deaths, we should still be trying to get out in front of BA.2 and any other variants that might appear in the future, which is why it was disappointing to see the recent COVID funding bill pass without any funding for global vaccination efforts and potentially-limited funding to cover more shots here in the U.S if they’re needed. The best way to combat new variants (and it’s a matter of when, not if they emerge) is a) to work to vaccinate as many of the world’s people as possible, and b) to make sure we can pay for and provide enough shots here if people need them (although it sounds like we may need to tweak the shots to better match up against omicron), so currently we run the risk of letting new variants rise and being unprepared when they do.

We can only control what we can control, however, so for now I’ll keep preaching what I’ve always been preaching:

As much as we want to return to some semblance of normalcy, it’s going to depend on how well we’re able to limit the spread of the virus. By doing the right things to protect yourself and your loved ones (and properly funding efforts to do this; I’m looking at you, Congress), we give ourselves the best chance to reach “normalcy” sooner rather than later.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: March 28, 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. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
2. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
3. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
4. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
5. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
6. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
7. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
8. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
9. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
10. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
11. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
12. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
13. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
14. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
15. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
17. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
18. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
19. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
20. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
21. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
22. Ernest ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
23. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
24. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
25. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
26. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
27. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
28. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
29. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
30. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
31. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
32. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
33. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
34. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
35. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
36. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
37. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
38. Taylor Swift & Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” -1 (4/10)
39. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
40. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
41. Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” +2 (7/10)
42. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
43. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
44. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
45. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
46. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
47. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
48. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
49. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” +1 (6/10)*
50. Lady A, What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) 0
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +6
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” (recurrent)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (recurrent)
  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (down from #6 to #12)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (up from #11 to 10, but gained only ninety spins and 266 points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #15 to #13, gained 214 spins and 829 points. A decent week, but I still don’t think it’s going anywhere)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (holds at #29, but gained only nine spins and sixty-five points)
  • Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” (holds at #38, but lost its bullet)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (up from #42 to #39, but gained only thirty-four spins and 119 points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (up from #21 to #20, but gained only thirty-four spins and eighty-five points)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (up from #35 to #33, but gained only eighteen spins and eighty-one points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #41 to #37, but gained only twenty-four spins and sixty-four points)
  • Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only thirty-three spins and seventy-three points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twenty spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (re-enters at #48, but gained only seventeen spins and fifty-five points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (up from #32 to #24)
  • Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” (up from #13 to #9)
  • Walker Hayes, “AA” (up from #19 to #14)
  • Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” (up from #37 to #32)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #34 to #30)

Is still Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #9 to #8)

Might also be Thanos:

  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (holds at #1, but ‘Thank You Radio!” ad in CA suggests it’s leaving)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby”
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”

Overall Thoughts: This was a week that could have gone either way: Would Johnson’s extended stay at #1 back things up, or would continued losses up and down the chart free up enough spins to let others move around? In the end, it was a little bit of both: There was certainly some movement, but only from certain songs (most notably Wallen and Hayes…yeah, it wasn’t a good week), while others suddenly found themselves in a rough spot (at this point even Shelton has accepted that his song is toast, but when Luke Bryan posts back-to-back rotten weeks out of the blue, it gets your attention). Even after last week’s lightning round review post, there’s a lot of new stuff coming onto the charts right now, and while little of it has been terribly inspiring yet (spoiler alert: The TL;DR version of the Allen review that’s probably coming Friday is a lukewarm “it’s okay I guess”), it feels like PDs are pushing back against labels and being more picky about what crosses their desks, and we’ll hopefully see more opportunities for more artists as a result.

On the coronavirus front, we seemed to have reached a situation that could go either way as well: The daily new case and death averages continue to go down overall, but the omicron BA.2 variant is now officially the dominant strain in America, and over a dozen states are seeing their new case averages rise again. Is another surge on the horizon, or will the current decline end up dragging on for a bit longer? No one can say for sure, but as I stated last week, the current case numbers and the threat posed by the virus are still too high for my tastes, so I’m sticking with my strategy for a bit longer:

Society may be reopening, but the truth is that the virus is still out there and causing problems, and it can still do some serious damage if we let it. Let’s not give it that chance, and let’s keep doing the right things to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: March 21, 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. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
2. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
3. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
4. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
5. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
6. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
7. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
8. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
9. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
10. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
11. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
12. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
13. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
14. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
15. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
17. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
18. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
19. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
20. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
21. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
22. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
23. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
24. Ernest ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
25. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
26. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
27. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
38. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
29. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
30. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
31. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
32. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
33. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
34. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
35. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
36. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
37. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
38. Taylor Swift & Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” -1 (4/10)
39. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
40. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
41. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
42. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
43. Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story” +2 (7/10)
44. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)*
45. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
46. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
47. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
48. Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll” -1 (4/10)
49. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)*
50. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +3
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Bye Mom,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” (recurrent)
  • Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” (recurrent)
  • Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” (down from #6 to #10)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (down from #11 to #12)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (up from #13 to 11, but gained only thirty-one spins and lost points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #14 to #15, gained only eighty spins and 241 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet again)

In Real Trouble:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #17 to #16, but lost its bullet)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (holds at #29, but lost its bullet)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (down from #32 to #35, lost its bullet)
  • Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” (down from #37 to #38, lost spins and gained only nineteen points))
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #38 to #41, gained only twelve spins and lost points
  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll” (down from #45 to #48, bullet-less for a second consecutive week)

In Some Trouble:

  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (up from #7 to #5, but gained only thirteen spins and lost points)
  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (down from #20 to #21, gained only nineteen spins and lost points)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #36, but gained only fifty-five spins and sixty points)
  • Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only ten spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (debuts at #31)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” (up from #43 to #32)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (up from #30 to #26)

Is still Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (up from #12 to #9)

Might also be Thanos:

  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (up from #2 to #1, will likely be there next week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Adam Doleac, “Drinkin’ It Wrong”
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”

Overall Thoughts: You’d all better head for high ground, because the dam has officially burst.

Brown and Dan + Shay are gone, Ballerini/Chesney and Dickerson will be gone next week, McCollum is gone either next week or the one after that, a ton of songs (Shelton? Lambert? Keith? Arts? Swift/Stapleton? Jones? Janson? Rice?) appear to be on life support, and we even got a few disappointing numbers from out of left field (Eric Church? Luke Bryan?). I have no idea what’s going on here, but I’d like to think this is a sign that radio is starting to judge songs less by their label support and more by how they resonate with their audience. Whether this actually leads to more quality on the airwaves in an open question (neither Barrett nor Tenpenny’s new singles are worth writing home about, and Underwood’s solo re-emergence was a disappointment), but at least there’s more turnover amongst the mediocrity, and hopefully it leads to some decent breakthroughs.

On the coronavirus front, daily new case and death averages are still dropping, but what happens next will depend on the omicron BA.2 variant that’s sweeping the world. While the variant is becoming more prevalent in America and it’s likely that we’ll soon see an increase in cases similar to what we’re seeing in Europe, whether or not we see restrictions return will depend on the number of hospitalizations this increase in cases brings along. At this point, experts are saying that folks should make decisions about what they do or don’t do based on their own risk tolerance, and personally, 30,000+ new cases a day and the continued threat of long-term (or even medium-term) coronavirus exposure makes throwing caution to the wind a non-starter right now. I’m sticking with the usual best practices:

  • Wear a high-quality mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public.
  • If you’re not vaccinated yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity, and be sure to get your booster shot once you become eligible. At this point, you shouldn’t consider yourself “fully vaccinated” without that third shot.

Yes, there will eventually come a day when even I will decide that the risks have decreased enough to turn this feature back into the “Current Pulse,” but that day isn’t here just yet. The threat is still very real, and I’d still encourage folks to stay on the safe side for both their own sake and the sake of their loved ones.