The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 29, 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. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
2. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
3. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
4. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
5. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
6. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
7. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
8. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
9. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
10. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
11. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
12. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
13. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
14. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
15. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
16. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
17. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
18. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
19. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
20. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
21. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
22. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
23. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
24. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
25. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
26. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
27. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
28. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
29. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
30. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
31. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
32. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
33. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
34. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
35. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
36. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
37. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
38. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
39. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
40. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
41. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
42. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
43. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
44. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
45. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
46. Taylor Swift & Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” -1 (4/10)
47. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” -1 (4/10)
48. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)
49. Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll” -1 (4/10)
50. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +4
Overall Pulse +3
Change From Last Week
+4 😎

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” (recurrent)
  • Adele ft. Chris Stapleton, “Easy On Me” (down below #50)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominon, “I Can’t” (finally recurrent)
  • Old Dominon, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (down from #4 to #7)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (up from #15 to #14, but gained only twelve spins and lost points)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (holds at #20, lost spins and gained only eight points)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (up from #34 to #33, but gained only twenty-seven spins and 110 points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (up from #40 to #36, but lost its bullet)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (up from #39 to #37, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (up from #42 to #39, but gained only twenty-six spins and lost points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable” (up from #48 to #41, but gained only twenty spins and eighty-nine points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (up from #46 to #43, but gained only four spins and nine points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (up from #45 to #44, but lost its bullet)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (up from #50 to #47, but gained only ten spins and ninety-two points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” (up from #48 to #42, but gained only fourteen spins and seventy-three points)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (up from #44 to #40, but gained only forty-three spins and 111 points)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (up from #49 to #45, but gained only seven spins and lost points)
  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll” (debuts at #49, but gained only two spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (up from #33 to #28)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #43 to #38)
  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (up from #36 to #32)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (only a single-week #1; is the king’s grip on the throne starting to loosen?)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Midland, “Sunrise Tells The Story”
  • Niko Moon, “PARADISE TO ME”
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days”

On The Way:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t”
  • Lee Brice, “Soul”
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”

Overall Thoughts: How can a week have a lot of action and no action at all at the same time? When the dam breaks and a bunch of tracks depart at once, leaving plenty of spots for other songs to fill despite posting awful gains themselves, which leads to rare sights like Brothers Osborne jumping four slots and losing their bullet at the same time. The same spin inequities and playlist shortening that we’ve been discussing all along are still here, and most of the eye-popping position gains fall into the ‘nothing to see here’ category (but some don’t; in particular Rhett and Johnson appear to be legit after back-to-back strong weeks). There are still some songs that I’d like to see on the exit ramp (Barnes, Lane) and a few that look shaky even in the top half of the chart (Block, Clark, Allen/Paisley, and even Pardi), so woth a few more big songs on the horizon there could still be some significant movement before the holiday deep freeze takes hold.

On the coronavirus front…you already know what’s coming, right? “Omicron” went from an anonymous middle-of-the-alphabet character to humanity’s greatest fear in the space of a week, as a new coronavirus variant was discovered and scientists quickly discovered that it was already everywhere, including in the United States. The current messaging is that we still don’t know much about the variant and that it’s too early to panic, but with the delta variant already driving cases and hospitalizations back up here in the States, the prevailing emotion I’m hearing from people is despair: Are we ever going to get out of this mess? If the answer if eventually going to be “yes,” you know what we have to do:

  • Wear a high-quality mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public. (And if you’re going to gather for the holidays, take steps to minimize the risks to yourself and others.)
  • 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. The shots may be less effective against mutated variants, but they’ll still provide a sizeable degree of protection, and manufacturers are already preparing to tweak their formulas to target different variants as needed.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

If omicron winds up being delta’s successor, there’s a good chance that we’ll be in for a repeat of the last few months, and could endure further stress on our lives and our health care systems. It’s important to remember, however, that we’re not powerless in this fight: If we continue to follow best practices and take the necessary steps to protect our communities, we can help limit the amount of needless suffering and eventually bring this pandemic to a close.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 22, 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, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
2. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
3. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
4. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
5. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
6. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
7. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
8. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
9. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
10. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
11. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
12. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
13. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
14. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
15. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
16. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
17. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
18. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
19. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
20. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
21. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
22. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
23. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
24. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
25. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
26. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
27. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
28. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
29. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
30. Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” 0 (5/10)
31. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
32. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
33. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
34. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
35. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
36. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)
37. Adele ft. Chris Stapleton, “Easy On Me” +1 (6/10)
38. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
39. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
40. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
41. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
42. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
43. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
44. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
45. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
46. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
47. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
48. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
49. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
50. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +4
Overall Pulse -1
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” (recurrent)
  • Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” (down to #54)

Leaving:

  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” (down from #6 to #9)
  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (down from #23 to #41)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #15, but lost its bullet)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (down from #19 to #20, gained only fifteen spins and 103 points)
  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (down from #32 to #34, lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #37 to #38, bullet-less for a second consceutive week)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (down from #38 to #39, lost its bullet)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (holds at #46, but gained only eight spins and twenty-six points)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (down from #49 to #50, lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #11 to #10, but gained only thirteen spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (up from #27 to #25, but gained only forty-three spins and ninety points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (holds at #43, but gained only twenty-eight spins and 111 points)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (holds at #44, but gained only twenty-six spins and fifty points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable” (down from #45 to #48, gained only thirteen spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never” (debuts at #30)
  • Adele ft. Chris Stapleton, “Easy On Me” (debuts at #36)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (up from #39 to #33)
  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (up from #40 to #36)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (has to pull out the big label to leap from #4 to #1; this is easily his weakest single to date)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t”
  • Lee Brice, “Soul”
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”

Overall Thoughts: This was a week of not-so-radical redistribution: As Hurd/Morris, Hayes, and Old Dominion start releasing spins into the wild, big debuts from Swindell/Wilson and Adele/Stapleton and a big push from Thanos (which feels like one of those artificial pushes that Combs has never needed befoe) were there to hoover them all up, and the result was a lot more of the same: Decent gains at the top, pitiful numbers at the bottom, and a bunch of songs facing a critical question/Clash single: Should I stay or should I go? With a few more singles slated to land this year and holiday tracks primed to tighten the spin squeeze further, I don’t expect the numbers to get any better in the short-term, and there are definitely some artists who would be better off pulling the plug now and preparing to make a bigger splash in 2022.

On the coronavirus front…folks, we are definitely in trouble again: New coronavirus case averages are up 25% over the last two weeks, and the CDC is now forecasting that hospitalizations and deaths will rise over the next month, with 800,000 deaths nationally being a real possibility. With vaccinations rates growing at a snail’s pace (we just barely reached the 59% mark) and Thanksgiving gatherings being ready-made risks for spreading the virus, the next month is going to be a dicey one, and if we’re going to have any chance of avoiding this 800,000 mark, we’ve got to do all we can to protect ourselves and others:

  • Wear a mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public. (And if you’re going to gather for the holidays, take steps to minimize the risks to yourself and others.)
  • 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.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

I know people are tired and just want this whole pandemic mess to be over, but it’s not going to end unless we all take concrete steps to help make it happen. We still have some say over how bad this winter ends up being, and if we all do the right things, perhaps we can keep the unnecessary death and suffering to a minimum.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 15, 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. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
2. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
3. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
5. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
6. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
7. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
8. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
9. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
10. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
11. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
12. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
13. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
14. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
15. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
16. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
17. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
18. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
19. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
20. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
21. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
22. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
23. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
24. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
25. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
26. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
27. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
28. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
29. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
30. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
31. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
32. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
33. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
34. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
35. Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” -1 (4/10)
36. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
37. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
38. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
39. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
40. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)*
41. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
42. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
43. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
44. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
45. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
46. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
47. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
48. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)*
49. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” 0 (5/10)*
50. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +4
Overall Pulse -1
Change From Last Week
-2 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (dropped to #51)

Leaving:

  • Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” (holds at #2, but is slowly losing steam)
  • Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (down from #8 to #23)

In Real Trouble:

  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (up from #20 to #19, but lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #37 to #39, lost its bullet)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #39 to #41, gained only twenty-five spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (down from #43 to #46, gained only eight spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #24 to #25, gained only thirty spins and four points)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (holds at #38, but gained only eighteen points and twenty-six points)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (down from #40 to #42, gained only twelve spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (down from #41 to #43, gained only thirty-five spins and forty-three points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (down from #44 to #47, gained only two spins and lost points)
  •  

In No Trouble At All:

  • Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton, “I Bet You Think About Me” (debuts at #35)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (holds at #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t”
  • Lee Brice, “Soul”

Overall Thoughts: With Hurd/Morris’s massive push to #1, Aldean/Underwood doing their best Thanos impression, and Swift/Stapleton hitting the chart with a big splash, spins were hard to come by up and down the chart (we saw four songs either lose spins or gain less than 100 spins in the teens, and even two songs in the Top 10 posted sub-100 scores, not including Aldean/Underwood’s losses). As usual, the songs in the bottom half (and especially in the bottom quarter) struggled the most, and while there are some songs that have overstayed their welcome (Monument really needs to pull the plug on Smith/Old Dominion, but Barnes, Lane, and possibly even Brothers Osborne need to start thinking about their next move), there are also some others (notably Bentley/HARDY/BRELAND, McGraw, and Dan + Shay) that have taken far longer to launch than I expected. These days, if you can’t find a ramp onto the express lane, you’re stuck in traffic for months on months, and if you’re lucky enough to make it to the Top 10 after all that, everyone’s moved on by the time you get there. With the holidays coming and most new releases being saved for 2022, the charts are likely to stay pretty static over the next few weeks (especially if Aldean/Underwood somehow get their bullet back), so everyone will have the time to reflect and decide whether to push on or let go.

On the coronavirus front…folks, we may be in trouble again: New coronavirus case averages are on the rise again, and with Europe staring down a fifth wave of the virus, the specter of such a surge is starting to rise here in the States. With our stubbornly-low vaccination rates (the rise in fully-vaccinated numbers seem to be slowing down a bit, even with the number of shots going up thanks to booster shots and child vaccinations) and a likely rise in both travel and large gatherings over the holidays, I’d say the odds are good that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Thus, we need to do everything we can to limit the virus’s spread and protect the people we care about, meaning:

  • Wear a mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public. (And if you’re going to gather for the holidays, take steps to minimize the risks to yourself and others.)
  • 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.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

Every precaution we take, no matter how small it is, helps fight back against the pandemic, and if we all come together (metaphorically) and do what we must to keep ourselves and our community safe, we will get through this one day, no matter how bleak things may look right now.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 8, 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. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
2. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
3. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
5. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
6. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
7. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
8. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
9. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
10. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
11. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
12. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
13. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
14. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
15. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
16. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
17. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
18. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
19. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
20. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
21. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
22. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
23. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
24. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
25. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
26. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
27. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
28. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
29. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
30. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
31. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
32. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
33. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
34. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
35. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
36. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
37. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
38. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
39. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
40. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
41. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
42. Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)*
43. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
44. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
45. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
46. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
47. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” 0 (5/10)*
48. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
49. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)*
50. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +2
Overall Pulse +1
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (recurrent)
  • George Strait, “The Weight Of The Badge” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (holds at #8, but it’s down to #12 on the daily charts with 1000+ spin losses, so it looks like they pulled the plug)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #15, but gained only fifty-one spins and seventy-six points)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #33 to #35, gained only nine spins and lost points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #38 to #39, gained only thirteen spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (down from #42 to #43, gained only twentu-one spins and twenty-three points)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (holds at #47, but lost its bullet)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only thirty-seven spins and eighty-one points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #10 to #12, gained only twenty-two spins and seventy-five points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (debuts at #30)
  • Cody Johnson, “‘Til You Can’t” (up from #48 to #42)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (holds at #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t”

Overall Thoughts: Winter may be coming, but I didn’t expect a freeze this hard this early.

The spins that seemed to have vanished over the last week or so have returned, and they brought the whole family with them. Even with Rhett’s big debut and Aldean/Underwood’s slow descent, there were a lot of high-quality spins to go around. The problem, unfortunately, is that they didn’t go around that much: Gains were concentrated in the Top 10 and with A-listers as low as Rhett’s #30 debut, and a whopping fifteen songs posted 1000+ point gains (and nine broke the 1500 mark). (McGraw’s 19 adds, Shelton’s 17 and Bryan’s 13 were nothing to sneeze at either.) Those at the bottom of the chart/food chain didn’t fare as well, but the quality of the spins that were out there at least allowed most songs to post triple-digit point gains. In the end, only half of my prediction came true: The chaos (and position movement) was minimal, but the bigger names asserted their dominance, and everyone else is just fighting to get by. The only silver lining for those who are struggling: The charts are likely to slow down as we get into the holiday season and the end of the year, giving folks a respite and an opportunity to find their footing before the competition picks up again in January.

On the coronavirus front, it’s hard to tell exactly where we’re going at this point: The significant drop in the daily case average seemed to have dissipated (in fact, the two-week rolling average is actually up this week), and a few new hot spots are beginning to emerge (northern New England appears to be in the virus’s crosshairs right now). The fully-vaccinated numbers haven’t risen much this week (they went from 58% to 58.4%), but the number of shots given out has gone up significantly over the last few weeks, driven likely by booster shots and from newly-eligible children ages 5 through 11 getting the shot. With studies raising concerns about how vaccine effectiveness may fade over time, it remains critical to keep taking precautions and following best practices when going about your day:

  • Wear a 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.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

I’ve had a surprising number of people raise the question of “Is this ever going to end?” in conversations over the last week. My answer is always the same: As hard as it is to believe, we will get through this eventually, and by doing the right things to keep ourselves and our communities safe, we can minimize the unnecessary loss and suffering along the way.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 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. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
2. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
3. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
4. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
5. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
6. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
7. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
8. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
9. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
10. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
11. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
12. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
13. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
14. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
15. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
16. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
17. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
18. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
19. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
20. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
21. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
22. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
23. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
24. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
25. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
26. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
27. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
28. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
29. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
30. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
31. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
32. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
33. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
34. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
35. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
36. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
37. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
38. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
39. Luke Bryan, “Up” -1 (4/10)
40. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
41. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
42. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
43. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
44. George Strait, “The Weight Of The Badge” 0 (5/10)
45. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
46. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
47. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” 0 (5/10)*
48. Cody Johnson, “Til You Can’t” +2 (7/10)*
49. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
50. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +2
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (recurrent)
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (recurrent)
  • Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (down from #10 to #18)
  • Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (down from #4 to #9)

In Real Trouble:

  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (down from #4 to #5, lost its bullet)
  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (holds at #8 and regains its bullet, but gains only seventy-seven spins and fifty-five points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #11 to #9, but lost its bullet)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (up from #16 to #15, but lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina ft. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #31 to #32, bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (up from #36 to #33, but gained only fifty-four spins and ninety-four points)
  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only six spins and twenty points)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only twelve spins and thirty-three points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (up from #40 to #38, but barely holds its bullet by breaking even on spins and losing points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (up from #45 to #42, but lost its bullet)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (up from #46 to #43, but lost its bullet)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #47 to #46, but lost its bullet)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only three spins and forty-eight points)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (up from #50 to #47, but gained only eleven spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (down from #48 to #49, lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #27 to #25, but lost a spin and gained only five points)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (up from #29 to #27, but gained only nineteen spins and thirty-seven points)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (up from #41 to #40, but gained only thirty-two spins and seven points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only thirty-two spins and sixty-two points)
  • Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” (debuts at #50, but gained only eleven spins and thirty points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #42 to #34)
  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (up from #35 to #29)
  • Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” (up from #21 to #17)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #5 to #4)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Gabby Barrett, “Footprints On The Moon” (6/10)
  • Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait”
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (8/10)
  • Niko Moon, “PARADISE TO ME”

On The Way:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer”
  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll”
  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman Like You”

Overall Thoughts: I’m leaving this picture up here for another week, because I think things are about to get even crazier:

https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/484/617/ace.jpg

Image from Know Your Meme

The country may be looking for its missing workers, but here at the Korner we’re on the lookout for the radio’s missing spins, because there don’t seem to be any to go around right now. Bullets are being lost up and down the charts (even as high as #2!), and points gains are surprisingly meager across the board. We lost three songs this week, and I expect us to lose a lot more in the next few weeks. What the heck is going on? Let’s break things down:

  • Aldean and Underwood decided to extend their stay at the top an extra week, with always tightens the supply of free spins to go around. (Hayes’s numbers are also notable, given that he’s at #4 on the Hot 100 right now.)
  • We’ve had a couple of massive debuts from some high-profile artists (Shelton, Lambert), a couple of big weeks for the few songs that are gaining ground (Bryan, Pearce/McBryde), and a surprise video for a George Strait single from over two years ago that are all hoarding spins, making it hard for anyone else to make any progress. (Progress is still being made, but it’s more because songs are falling off the charts than because songs are rushing from below to fill the void.)
  • There are several strong recurrents that are taking up a lot of space on the airwaves, including Thanos’s “Forever After All” (which went recurrent four months ago, yet would still be at #14 it it were chart-eligible).
  • There was some talk in CA recently about how stations with heavy “gold” rotations were seeing success, so perhaps stations are bringing in more classic, non-chart-eligible songs to fill their playlist holes.
  • Finally, we’re due for a seasonal rotation for the fall and winter, so perhaps summer songs like “I Was On A Boat That Day” are losing steam as the weather turns colder.

I expect the chaos to continue into the next few weeks, because there are a lot of tracks that look weak right now, and with the biggest names preparing for a long stretch of domination (see: Thomas Rhett’s return later this week), the chart may well turn into a Squid Game-esque fight for survival for those on the outside looking in.

On the coronavirus front, for the news is optimistic: Daily death averages are dropping again after last week’s jump, and while the vaccination rate still sits are a pitiful 58%, the number should rise significantly over the next few weeks now that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children ages 5 through 11. The good news, however, is relative: NPR reports that over 70,000 new cases are still being diagnosed each day, and a daily death count of over 1,300 people is far too high to feel good about, especially with the risk factors on the horizons (colder weather, new virus variants). We can’t afford to let down our guard, and you know what that means:

  • Wear a 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.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

I know we’ve now gone through nineteen months of dread and uncertainty, but we can’t give up now, not when increasing vaccine access could give us a much-needed boost towards finally turning the corner on this pandemic. We owe it to ourselves and each other to continue fighting the good fight and trying to bring this trying time to a close sooner rather than later.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 25, 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. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
2. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
3. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
4. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
5. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
6. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
7. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
8. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
9. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
10. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
11. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
12. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
13. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
14. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
15. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
16. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
17. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
18. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
19. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
20. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
22. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
23. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
24. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
25. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
26. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
27. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
28. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
29. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
30. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
31. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
32. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
33. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
34. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
35. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
36. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
37. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
38. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
39. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
40. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
41. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
42. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
43. Luke Bryan, “Up” 0 (5/10)*
44. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
45. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
46. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
47. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
48. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
49. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
50. Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” 0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +1
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (recurrent)
  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (crashes hard from #1 to #10)
  • Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (down from #4 to #9)

In Real Trouble:

  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (up from #10 to #8, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (holds at #13, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Can” (up from #24 to #23, but gained only three spins and 118 points)
  • Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” (down from #29 to #30, bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
  • Lauren Alaina ft. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #34 to #31 despite losing its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only ten spins and lost points)
  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (up from #41 to #37 despite gaining only fourteen spins and eighty-two points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (up from #43 to #40 despite losing its bullet again)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only eight spins and fifty-six points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only eight spins and twenty-four points, and is so desperate for good press they ran a ‘Top 10 new adds for 13 weeks!” ad in CA)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only three spins and forty-eight points)
  • Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone” (debuts at #50, but gained only six spins and eight-seven points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (up from #35 to #34, but gained only eight spins and nineteen points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Up” (debuts at #43)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (up from #39 to #32)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” (up from #9 to #3; was this a failed push for #1?)
  • Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” (up from #42 to #38)

Is Thanos (at least for now):

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #8 to #5)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Crowded out of Country Aircheck once again…

On The Way:

  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll”
  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman Like You”

Overall Thoughts:

https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/484/617/ace.jpg

Image from Know Your Meme

Does anyone else feel a imminent reckoning on the horizon? Because that’s the feeling I get when I look at the charts right now, with meager gains and lost bullets scattered as far as the eye can see (inlcuding some surprising songs, such as “I Was On A Boat That Day” and “Like A Lady,” coming up empty for two weeks in a row). The conversion to fall and winter playlists is coming fast, and as many as five tracks could be swept away by this time next week. The numbers aren’t quite as bad this week, but I would actually call them more concerning because there were no massive debuts causing the problem: “Up” had been out for a week or two already, Lambert was regressing to the mean after last week’s debut, Shelton’s gains weren’t all that impressive, and only the Zac Brown Band put up numbers that really caught my eye. Some of this is undoutedly seasonal, but I think of this is indicative of the larger problem we’ve been tracking: People simply aren’t that excited about what they’re hearing right now, and PDs are shortening their playlists and reaching for familiar names in hopes of keeping their audiences around.

On the coronavirus front, the warning lights are starting to blink again, with the daily death average reversing course and increasing again (even as the new case averages continue to drop), new hot spots emerging (Arizona is the latest state to go under the microscope), and a vaccination rate that remains stubbornly low at 57.4%. The bigger concern, however, sits across the pond, where the United Kingdom is experiencing a second surge of the Delta variant only a few months after the first one, and a new “Delta plus” variant is starting to circulate (although questions remain about still how much more transmissible this is from the original variant). Could we see another surge in the States as well? With colder weather coming and Delta plus already here, I wouldn’t bet against it. (Case in point: Guess who got a call from a contact tracer and is back in quarantine again?)

If we’re ever going to get out of this endless surge-and-wane cycle, we’ve got to double down on the basics and keep following our tried-and-true best practices:

  • Wear a 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.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it. (Let me say this again for the governors in the back: Do. Something.)

At this point, I have no idea when or if we’ll get back to any sort of normalcy, but if we’re going to have any shot at doing so, we’ve got to come together and do the right things to keep each other safe. Common human decency demands that we do nothing less.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 18, 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. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
2. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
3. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
4. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
5. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
6. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
7. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
8. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
9. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
10. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
11. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
12. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
13. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
14. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
15. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
16. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
17. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
18. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
19. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
20. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
21. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
22. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
23. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
24. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
25. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
26. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
28. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
29. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
30. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
31. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
32. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)*
33. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
34. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
35. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
36. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
37. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
38. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
39. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
40. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
41. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
42. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
43. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
44. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
45. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
46. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
47. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
48. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
49. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
50. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +2
Overall Pulse +1
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (down from #3 to #6)

Out Of Bullets:

  • Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” (down from #7 to #10, 250+ point loss)
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (down from #12 to #13, 500+ point loss)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #17, single-digit point loss)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Can” (down from #22 to #24, 100+ point loss)
  • Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” (up from #30 to #29, 400+ point loss)
  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (down from #32 to #33, 80-point loss, second week in a row with an empty gun)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (holds at #46, 31-point loss)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable” (down from #47 to #49, 74-point loss)

Running Out Of Bullets:

  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #37 to #38, gained only nine spins and 108 points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #42 to #43 despite a decent 200+point gain, and it’s been buried in the forties for a long time)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twelve spins and forty-four points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only twenty-one spins and 107 points)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only nine spins and 101 points)

Pinned Down Behind Cover:

  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (up from #16 to #15, but gained only forty-eight spins and forty-one points)
  • Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” (up from #26 to #25, but gained only nine spins and fifty-seven points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only forty-four spins and ninety-seven points)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (holds at #34, but gained only thirteeen spins and forty-eight points)
  • Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” (down from #35 to #36, gained only two spins and lost 100 points)
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” (down from #38 to #40, gained only eight spins and broke even on points)
  • Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” (down from #39 to #41, gained only ten spins and lost points)
  • Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” (down from #42 to #43, gained only twenty-nine spins and sixty-six points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (holds at #45, but gained only twenty-nine spins and 101 points)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (holds at #50, but gained only forty-two spins and 106 points)

Both Barrels Blazing:

  • Mirand Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (debuts at #32)
  • Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” (up from #44 to #39)
  • Morgan Wallen, “Snd In My Boots” (down from #25 to #21)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #10 to #8)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Crowded out of Country Aircheck once again…

On The Way:

  • Luke Bryan, “Up”
  • Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll”
  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman Like You”

Overall Thoughts: Did someone turn the dial on the time machine back a decade? Because this week was mostly defined by the former power couple of Shelton and Lambert, with “Come Back As A Country Boy” posting a 1300+ point gain in the low forties/high thirties and lambert riding a massive 1500+ spin wave to debut at #32. Throw in a massive push from Shane to leap from #4 all the way to the summit, and this week turned into the driest spin drought that I’ve ever seen. If you weren’t comfortably in the Top Ten and didn’t have a ton of star power to lean on, you were holding on your dear life, and a lot of songs lost their grip (especially in the lower half in the chart). The spigot should open back up a bit more next week as Shane and Lambert come back to earth (as of today, Aldean & Underwood are easing into the top spot with a more-measured spin increase), and as that song and “Fancy Like” cycles off the chart, things should return to some semblance of normalcy and give everyone a fighting chance at success.

On the coronavirus front, the trend lines for new case and death averages continue to drop, but with over 80,000 cases and 1,500 deaths per day, it’s still too early to breathe easy, especially with a nationwide vaccination rate still at only 57%. Much of the focus recently has been on potential booster shots, with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters joining Pfizer on the FDA-approved shelf and the official green light being given to getting any booster brand regardless of what your initial vaccine shots were. With the country now prepping to offer the vaccine to children ages 5 through 11, we’ve got a lot more tools at our disposal for combatting the coronavirus, as long as we can convince people to use them.

Given all of this, this is no time to let up on the guidelines and best practices we’ve been using thus far:

  • Wear a 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.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

We’ve got the nationwide numbers moving in the right direction, and we should’t do anything to jeopardize this momentum. Keep doing the right things to protect yourself and others, and we may yet bring this draining, depressing, and deadly pandemic to an end.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 11, 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. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
2. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
3. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
4. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
6. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
7. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
8. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
9. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
10. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
11. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
12. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
13. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
14. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
15. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
16. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
17. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
18. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
19. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
20. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
21. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
22. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
23. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
24. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
25. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
26. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
28. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
29. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
30. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
31. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
32. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
33. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
34. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
35. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
36. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
37. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
38. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
39. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
40. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
41. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
42. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
43. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
44. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
45. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
46. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
47. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
48. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
49. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
50. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) -2
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse -1
Change From Last Week
-4 😡

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (recurrent)
  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (down from #6 to #15)

In Real Trouble:

  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” (holds at #32, but lost its bullet)
  • Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” (holds at #33, but lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (holds at #37, but lost its bullet again)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #44 to #42, but gained only one spin and five points)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only seven spins and fifty-nine points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twenty-five spins and lost points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #50 to #47, but gained only thirty-one spins and sixty points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only one spin and eighteen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (down from #11 to #12, gained only thirty spins and lost nearly 200 points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #15 to #14, but gained only fourteen spins and ninety-four points)
  • Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” (down from #21 to #22, barely kept its bullet by breaking even on spins and gaining two points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #48 to #45, but gained only fifteen spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (rejoins the chart at #49, but gained only twenty-six spins and sixty-one points)
  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (debuts at #50, but gained only nine spins and fifteen points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Nobody qualified this week.

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (holds at #10 and got run over by “Same Boat”?! Someone’s getting snapped out of existence over at Columbia Nashville…)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Janson rode in to save the day last week, but both he and Wilson rode off into the sunset this week, and just like that the Pulse is below zero for the first time here at Kyle’s Korner. Whether this is a temporary blip or not is still to be seen (it depends on if when “Bye Mom” rebounds), but I think the bigger issue in the spin distribution this week: With McCreery and Rodgers heading for the exit, Shelton regressing to the mean after a big debut, and no major debuts shaking up the charts (although McEntire and Parton made a surprise appearance at #52), it seemed like a good week for a lot of songs to grab a lot of spins. Instead, however, we saw a ton on consolidation at the top, with the Top 11 (plus Davis/Bryan and Hunt) vacuuming up the majority of freed-up spins, leaving those near the bottom of the charts (and even a few in the top half) struggling to post even mediocre numbers. It’s more evidence towards what we said last week: “People just aren’t that enthused with what Nashville is serving them right now,” and something has even a slight smell of a “hit,” it’s getting pumped out onto the airwaves over and over until it’s out of gas. Given how “meh” the Top Ten is right now, it’s a recipe for absolute boredom, and not a great way to convert new listeners to the format.

On the coronavirus front, while some surprising hot spots are still raging (for example, Vermont’s pandemic numbers are the worst they’ve been since the start of this whole thing), on the whole the country is seeing a lower number of daily new cases and deaths, with both numbers dropping by double-digit percentages in the last two weeks. However, the vaccination rate nationwide is moving stubbornly slow right now (NPR has it at 56.5% right now), which means we could still see another rise in case as the weather cools down and people begin moving indoors. If we want to keep the good news flowing and the case counts dropping, we need to keep following essential public health guidelines:

  • Wear a 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 hey, getting a flu shot isn’t a bad idea either!)
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

Even with reduced case/death numbers, the current counts remain far too high to take much comfort in right now. We need to continue doing everything we can to keep pushing these numbers down and keep ourselves and the people we care about safe.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 4, 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. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
2. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
3. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
4. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
6. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
7. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
8. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
9. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
10. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
11. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
12. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
13. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
14. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
15. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
16. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
17. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
18. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
19. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
20. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
21. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
22. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
23. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
24. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
25. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
26. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
27. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
28. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
29. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
30. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
31. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
32. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
33. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
34. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
35. Blake Shelton, “Come Back As A Country Boy” -4 (1/10)
36. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
37. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
38. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
39. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
40. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
41. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
42. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
43. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
44. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
45. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
46. Chris Janson, “Bye Mom” +3 (8/10)*
47. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
48. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
49. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
50. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) 0
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +3
Change From Last Week
-4 😡

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Come Back As A Country Boy,” 1/10

Gone:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (recurrent)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (down from #6 to #18)

In Real Trouble:

  • Lauren Alaina ft. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #35 to #36, lost its bullet)
  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only thirty-five spins and 176 points)
  • Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” (down from #45 to #47, lost its bullet)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (down from #48 to #49, barely keeps its bullet by breaking even on spins and losing points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Toby Keith, “Old School” (down from #37 to #39, lost spins and gained only four points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” (down from #42 to #44, gained only three spins and lost points)
  • Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” (down from #44 to #45, gained only fifty-seven spins and eighty-three points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #49 to #50, gained only nine spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” (up from #18 to #14)
  • Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “But Dirt” (up from #24 to #20)
  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (up from #46 to #42)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #12 to #10)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Crowded out of Country Aircheck again…

On The Way:

  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days”

Overall Thoughts: There are two developments to discuss this week:

  • I was sure that Shelton’s tire fire of a song would finally be the stake through the Pulse’s heart…and then Janson rode up to save the day with his best single since “Drunk Girl.” There’s been a noticeable influx of quality onto the chart recently to counter the usual doses of mediocrity (thanks to Rucker, Jones, Pearce/McBryde, Brothers Osborne, Janson, and eventually Cam, the #40-#50 score is an impressive +8, compared to the -2 score of the Top Ten). The Pulse still took a big hit and is very shaky right now, but the seeds of a potential comeback are being planted.
  • CA had an interesting feature on the recent success of some “Classic Country outlets and heavily gold-leaning stations,” and tossed out a couple of theories as to why this was the case:
    • The demographics for these stations seem to trend a bit older, which makes senseyounger generations are more likely to be using a streaming service (though this study lumps both and video streaming services together), so older consumers may be more likely to stick with the airwaves.
    • Longstanding, well-known radio shows and personalities, which give these stations a unique feel and help them build connections with their audience.
    • The “comfort food” theory, suggesting that people are seeking comfort in the known/familiar when everything around them is unknown/unfamiliar. This caught my attention because modern country attempted a similar trick with the Cobronavirus era, but it faded relatively quickly because the songs pitched a temporary reprieve from reality and reality ended up outlasting the high. Older material has connections to a wider range of listeners and has already been culled down to the timeless classics (and thus individual songs are generally stronger and less ephemeral).

While the article didn’t come out and explicitly declare older music to be superior to the new stuff, there were some heavy insinuations towards that conclusion some from of the interviewees:

“We keep our currents longer than we ever have because they test and it’s getting tougher to find replacements.”  —Dale Carter, KFKF

“This isn’t the heyday of country music…So much of it isn’t story- or lyric-based, as it has been in the past. We’re finding that songs from the middle ‘90s to 2010s are more in-line with the audience.”  Charlie Cook, WSM-FM

These are likely biased viewpoints, but it’s worth noting that Chris Owen has been noticing a growing movement based in the 2000s-era sound, suggesting that more people in the industry share Cook’s assessment.

In other words, a lot of people seem to be drawing the same conclusion that we’ve gotten from the charts: People just aren’t that enthused with what Nashville is serving them right now, and they’re scouring the market looking for something different. Whether this will lead to any sort of direction shift in the genre remains an open question, but it’s worth keeping an eye on nevertheless.

On the coronavirus front, the U.S. reached the 700,000 death mark over the last week, but current signs indicate that the current Delta surge may be starting to lose steam, with both daily new case and death averages falling over the last few weeks. The vaccination rate didn’t move a whole bunch this week (NPR puts it at an even 56% right now), but this should change soon, as vaccine mandates seem to be pushing people to get their shots and not leading to a mass staff exodus. If the FDA and CDC approve the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 soon (and the data looks promising thus far), that could help drive vaccination rates up even more.

Could we be seeing a double comeback both on the radio and in our fight against the coronavirus? Perhaps, but to give ourselves the best shot at beating the virus, we need to keep following essential public health guidelines:

  • Wear a mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public.
  • If you’re not vaccinated yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

The light at the end of the tunnel grew brighter rather than darker for a change, and we need to do everything we can to build momentum and keep this push going. If we all do what we can to protect ourselves and our communities, there’s a chance that we can finally bring this painful chapter in history to a close.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 27, 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. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
2. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
3. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
4. Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You” +1 (6/10)
5. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
6. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
7. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
8. Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” -2 (3/10)
9. Old Dominion, “I Was On A Boat That Day” -2 (3/10)
10. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
11. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
12. Luke Combs, “Cold As You” 0 (5/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Same Boat” +1 (6/10)
14. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
16. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
17. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
18. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
19. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
20. Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave” 0 (5/10)
21. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
22. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
23. Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” +1 (6/10)
24. Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt” 0 (5/10)
25. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
26. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
27. Morgan Wallen, “Sand In My Boots” 0 (5/10)
28. Eric Church, “Heart On Fire” +1 (6/10)
29. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” +1 (6/10)
30. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
31. Garth Brooks, “That’s What Cowboys Do” +2 (7/10)
32. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
33. Sam Hunt, “23” -1 (4/10)
34. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
35. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
36. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
37. Toby Keith, “Old School” 0 (5/10)
38. Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” 0 (5/10)
39. Dierks Bentley ft. BRELAND & HARDY, “Beers On Me” -1 (4/10)
40. Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece” +1 (6/10)
41. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
42. Brothers Osborne, “I’m Not For Everyone” +3 (8/10)
43. Dan + Shay, “Steal My Love” 0 (5/10)
44. Tenille Arts, “Back Then, Right Now” -1 (4/10)
45. Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty” 0 (5/10)
46. Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” +2 (7/10)
47. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
48. Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” -1 (4/10)
49. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
50. Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +1
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +6
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (recurrent)
  • Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (down from #6 to #14)

In Real Trouble:

  • Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (down from #37 to #38, broke even on spins and gained only eight points)
  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (holds at #48, but gained only five spins and twenty-six points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (down from #14 to #15, gained only eleven spins and sixty-seven points)
  • Dan _ Shay, “Steal My Love” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only forty-four spins and eighty-two points)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (holds at #47, but gained only thirty-two spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Cam, “Till There’s Nothing Left” (debuts at #50, but lost spins and gained only twelve points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like” (up from #17 to #8)
  • Sam Hunt, “23” (up from #40 to #33)
  • Kane Brown, “One Mississippi” (up from #27 to #23)
  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (up from #50 to #46)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Cold As You” (up from #13 to #12, and is threatening to be his first non-monster hit)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Chris Janson, “Bye Mom”
  • Niko Moon, “Paradise To Me”

Overall Thoughts: It seems that anyone looking to kill the Pulse better bring a stake and a garlic necklace, because this thing just won’t go down. Bryan’s recurrance and heavy spin leakage from both Rhett and Wilson meant that most songs were able to post decent gains this week, although there were definitely some songs that prospered more than others (how many spots did Hayes gain this week again?), and the return of Jones and debut of Cam kept the Pulse on a positive trajectory. I still don’t see it lasting (Rhett and possibly Wilson will exit next week, and Denning’s garbage track is lurking just beneath the chart surface), but the Pulse has proven to be much more resilient than I anticipated.

On the coronavirus front, the data suggests we seem to be reaching a peak in this latest surge, as the daily new case average continue to fall and the daily death average is showing signs of leveling off. The country’s vaccination rate, however, only sits at around 56% overall, and with colder weather about to push people indoors and create conditions that are ripe for virus transmission, it’s hard to say whether cases and deaths will keep decreasing or begin increasing once again. Of course, we know which one of the outcomes we prefer (hint: it’s not increasing), so to help ensure that we get it, we need to keep following essential public health guidelines:

  • Wear a mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public.
  • If you’re not vaccinated yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity.
  • If you’re in a position to do something to minimize the spread of COVID-19, do it. More incentives, more mandates, reducing access barriers, painstakingly breaking down the impossibility of putting a microchip in the vaccine…whatever it is you can do to help, do it.

There’s a chance that our current surge is starting to recede, so we to do everything we can to make sure it keeps receding and no other surges emerge. By taking steps to protect yourself and your community, we can prevent a lot of needless death and suffering, and finally bring this pandemic under control.