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: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10
- Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (recurrent)
- Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (recurrent)
- Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” (down to #52)
- Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down to #53)
- Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” (down from #1 to #3)
- Walker Hayes, “AA” (holds at #5, but lost its bullet with an 1150+ point loss, is already down to #9 on the daily charts, and a new single-to-be-named-later has already been announced)
- Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” (down from #7 to #14)
- Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (down from #10 to #20)
- Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (down from #41 to #42, lost its bullet with a 350+ point loss, and a new single “Summer State Of Mind” has already been announced. Apparently “be a hit” is what a song can’t do)
- ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (up from #19 to #18, but gained only forty-five spins and 145 points. Carrie Underwood ran it over this week, but the real insult will be when Mediocre Mitch Tenpenny runs it over next week)
In Real Trouble:
- Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (up from #24 to #23, but gained only seventy-one spins and ninety-nine points)
- Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (down from #28 to #29, gained only forty-six spins and sixty-five points)
- Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #44 to #46, gained only five spins and thirty-six points)
- Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” (down from #45 to #48, lost its bullet)
- Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (down from #46 to #49, bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
In Some Trouble:
- Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (holds at #35, but gained only seven spins and sixty-five points)
- Conner Smith, “Learn From It” (up from #39 to #38, but gained only one spin and lost points)
- Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (down from #48 to #50, gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-one points)
In No Trouble At All:
- Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (up from #51 to #40)
- Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (up from #33 to #27)
- Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music (up from #13 to #9)
- Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” (up from #17 to #13)
- Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (up from #20 to #16)
- Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (debuts at #28, should dominate the globe by the 4th of July)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Cody Johnson, “Human”
- Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” (5/10)
- Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (5/10)
- Caitlyn Smith, “Downtown Baby” (5/10)
On The Way:
- Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”
- Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”
Overall Thoughts: This was the week that the bullies returned and kicked everyone out of the sandbox. With Thanos and Rhett leading the charge (although given the timing, Rhett never actually left) and Swindell and Davis drafting behind them, this ended up being a tight week for spins despite significant losses from Aldean and Urban and premature exists for Hayes and Lambert. Those last two expected departures, combined with Jones’s quick (and unsurprising) collapse and Lady A’s quick hook, seem to indicate that the window I mentioned a while back for new/lesser-known artists to offer something different from the usual radio drivel is closing (especially since there are still A-listers on the sideline: Johnson will be here next week, and Aldean and Luke Bryan should have new offerings out any minute now…). Radio seems to be coalescing around its hitmakers right now, and if you’re not one of them, you may want to abandon ship now (or wait until boarding one) and look for a better opportunity to make you next move. Look for more chaos next week as the current batch of leavers exit and more big names stage comebacks.
On the coronavirus front, there is some good news to report:
- Vaccines have now been approved for children from ages six months to five years old, which means we can finally offer the youngest members of society some protection from COVID-19.
- After holding our collective breath for the last month or so, it seems that the death numbers have stopped tracking closely with infection numbers, as they’ve remained relatively low despite the six-figure new daily case counts we’re still seeing.
As heartening as this news is, we can’t afford to lower our guard: Vaccines for young children are only useful if parents can be convinced to give their children the shot, and we could be set up for a big problem later this year: The BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants are creating a new surge of cases in Europe (which generally means another rise in cases in the U.S. in a few weeks), and waning immunity from vaccinations and the subvariants’ improved ability to evade existing antibodies could lead to a rough fall. Basically, we can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the pandemic like we’ve been trying to do for the last few months. There are still things we can (and should) do to protect ourselves:
- 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’re not vaccinated yet, get your shots at the earliest opportunity, get your booster shot once you become eligible, and if you’re over 50 and it’s been four months or more since your booster, think about getting a second booster now that the CDC has authorized it. (And be ready for updated omicron-specific boosters that are likely coming soon.)
Despite what many would like to believe, the pandemic isn’t over, and we must remain vigilant and do everything we can to protect ourselves and our communities. We can do this, but whether or not we actually will remains an open question.