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!
Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10
- Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (recurrent)
- Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (recurrent)
- Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love” (down from #1 to #6)
- Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (down from #8 to #20)
- Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (holds at #14, but gained only seventy-two spins and forty-two points)
- Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #33 to #31 with a solid week, and is fighting to get off of this list)
In Real Trouble:
- Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (down from #7 to #8 and lost its bullet with a 400+ point loss, calling its #1 potential into question)
- Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #12 to #10, but lost its bullet with a 200+ point loss, but it didn’t have much #1 potential to begin with)
- Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #21 to #19, but gained only thirty-two spins and lost points)
- Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (up from #30 to #29, but lost its bullet again with a 250+ point loss, and always seems to be the first song overboard when someone needs to make room on a playlist)
- Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange” (up from #35 to #33, but gained only thirty-five spins and eighty points)
- Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only twenty-nine spins and fifty-four points)
- Kolby Cooper, “Excuses” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only twenty spins and lost points)
- Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (down from #42 to #43, lost its bullet)
- Elle King & Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (down from #45 to #46, lost its bullet)
- Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey” (holds at #49, but gained only nine spins and twelve points)
In Some Trouble:
- Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” (up from #13 to #12, but gained only eight spins and ten points)
- Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #29 to #28, but gained only six spins and lost points)
- Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #32 to #30, but gained only eleven spins and thirty-two points)
- Matt Stell, “Man Made” (holds at #34, but gained only five spins and seven points)
- Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only thirty spins and seventy-three points)
- Easton Corbin, “I Can’t Decide” (up from #50 to #48, but gained only twenty-six spins and seventy-seven points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know” (up from #17 to #11)
- Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You” (up from #9 to #5)
- Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #31 to #27)
- Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #36 to #32)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Tyler Hubbard, “Dancin’ In The Country” (5/10)
- Toby Keith, “Oklahoma Breakdown” (5/10)
- Granger Smith, “Forever Forward”
- Kylie Morgan, “If He Wanted To He Would” (6/10)
On The Way:
- Kelsea Ballerini, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” (7/10)
- Russell Dickerson, “God Gave Me A Girl” (5/10)
Overall Thoughts: You could tell which promotional teams decided to take an early holiday and which teams didn’t this week. For an end-of-year, holiday-dominated week, there were a surprising amount of big moves made, bookended by Bryan’s six-spot leap to #1 and Zimmerman’s leap to #40 from below the chart cutoff. There were a lot of three- and four-spot jumps in between, which I’m not sure how to interpret: Do these labels have more confidence in these songs (for example, Zimmerman is red-hot right now and Elektra/Warner wants to ride the wave) or less confidence in them (which I think is where Bryan’s big push comes from—they just want to take advantage of a slow week, grab the #1 participation trophy and move on)? We won’t really know until January arrives and the competition picks up again, but it’s an interesting development from what I thought would be a slow week. (I don’t expect it continue next week, but I suppose I didn’t expect it this week either, so who knows?)
On the coronavirus front, the bad news continues to roll in: New cases averages are back up to over 60,000 a day, and daily death averages are climbing as well. Hospitalizations are up too, especially among the most-vulnerable populations: “older people and those with existing health problems.” Flu hospitalizations are going up too, remaining “at the highest level for this time of year in a decade,” and even though RSV cases appear to be declining, hospital beds are at about 80% capacity nationwide, straining a system that was already reeling from the last few years and wasn’t in great shape to begin with. With these kinds of viruses circulating and this kind of demand on our healthcare system, it’s a really bad time to get sick, which means it’s a really good time to revisit our best practices of the last two-plus years if you haven’t done so already:
- Wear a high-quality mask and maintain proper social distance from others when in public. A high-quality mask that fits well can still provide solid protection, even if you’re the only one wearing one.
- If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, get it as soon as possible. If you’re not vaccinated against COVID-19 yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity, get your booster shot once you become eligible, and schedule your appointment to get the omicron-specific booster as soon as possible. Experts remain optimistic that the latest shots will still offer some protection against omicron’s BQ variants. (There’s no available vaccine for RSV yet.)
- Hand-washing and surface disinfecting turned out to be less than effective at preventing COVID-19 transmission, but they’re still very effective against RSV and the flu, so be sure to follow proper handwashing guidelines to help keep you from getting sick.
With the holiday season on our doorstep, a lot of vulnerable people are going to be put at high risk of getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying. With the current tools at our disposal, the power to minimize this needless suffering and death is in our hands, and we shouldn’t hesitate to use it to keep our loved ones safe.