The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 21, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
2. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
3. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
4. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
6. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
7. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
8. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
9. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
10. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
11. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
12. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
13. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
14. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
15. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
16. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
17. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
18. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
19. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
20. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
21. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
22. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
23. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
24. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
26. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
27. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
28. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” +1 (6/10)
29. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
30. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
31. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
32. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
33. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
34. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
35. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
36. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
37. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
38. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
39. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” 0 (5/10)
40. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” 0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
42. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
43. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around” -1 (4/10)*
44. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” 0 (5/10)*
45. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
46. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
47. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)
48. Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” 0 (5/10)
49. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
50. Randy Houser, “Note To Self” +2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +3
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +9
Overall Pulse +12
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • 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)

Leaving:

  • 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)

Zombie Tracks:

  • 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)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (debuts at #28, should dominate the globe by the 4th of July)

Bubbling Under 50:

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:

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:

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.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 13, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
2. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
3. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
4. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
6. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
7. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
8. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
9. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
10. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
11. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
12. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
13. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
14. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
16. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
17. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
18. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
19. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
20. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
21. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
22. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
23. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
24. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
25. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
26. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
27. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
28. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
29. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
30. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
31. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
32. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
33. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
34. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
35. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
36. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
38. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
39. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
40. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
41. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
42. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” 0 (5/10)
43. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
44. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
45. Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” 0 (5/10)*
46. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
47. Randy Houser, “Note To Self” +2 (7/10)
48. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)
49. Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” 0 (5/10)
50. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +3
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +10
Overall Pulse +13
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • No recurrents this week!

Leaving:

  • Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” (down from #2 to #7)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (down from #6 to #14)

Zombie Tracks:

  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (holds at #19, gained only seventy-nine spins and 297 points. It’s a good week for this song, but it’s still weaker than most of its competition)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #37 to #30 with an absolutey massive week. Where did this come from?)

In Real Trouble:

  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (down from #21 to #24, lost its bullet)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (down from #40 to #41, lost its bullet)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (up from #45 to #44, but gained only six spins and fifty-four points)
  • Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” (down from #44 to #45, gained only ten spins and ten points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (down from #43 to #46, lost its bullet)
  • Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” (down from #47 to #49, lost its bullet)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (down from #48 to #50, lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Walker Hayes, “AA” (holds at #5, but gained only three spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” (holds at #28, but gained only one spins and seventy-six points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (holds at #38, but barely keeps its bullet by breaking even on spins and losing points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Dylan Scott, “New Truck” (up from #12 to 8)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”

Overall Thoughts: Aldean’s extended stay at #1 brought about a rare week of no turnover, but this is likely the calm before the storm: Rhett and potentially Urban will be leaving next week, and despite the two songs releasing a lot of spins back into the wild, songs at the bottom of the chart still struggled to find any airwave traction. With some bigger-named artists preparing to re-enter the fray (Rhett’s already back at #51), I think we’ll see some serious turnover over the next month.

There wasn’t a ton of movement overall, but I nearly did a spit-take when I saw Jones had jumped seven spots after “Come In” had been dead in the water for so long. The scuttlebutt on the Pulse Music Boards indicate that this is a final push for the song, which just seems weird to me: Why spend the resources for a massive push just to get a song into the top thirty? It didn’t resonate with the public and likely won’t inspire anyone new to tune in to her next single, so it feels like a wasted and misguided effort. Then again, this still constitutes the biggest radio hit of Jones’s career, so perhaps this is still a success for her and her team.

On the coronavirus front, the news is mostly about what isn’t happening more than what is. New daily case and death averages are mostly flat (although both are up slightly) but concerns remain about the cases we’re missing, and restrictions continue to be lifted despite the still-sizable surge (the testing requirement for incoming international travelers is the latest one to be removed). Thankfully, there’s some encouraging news on the vaccine front, with the FDA approving the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 to 17 and both Pfizer and Moderna expected to soon get vaccine approval for children as young as six months old. It’s a huge development, but one whose impact will depend on how many children get it, so if the FDA and CDC approve it, I encourage parents of young children to have them get the shot, for both their own protection and for the protection of those around them. For everyone else, I continue to preach the usual best practices:

We’ve got a fair amount of effective tools against the coronavirus, and hopefully the vaccines will be available to the youngest among us soon. Even if we’re not required to take these precautions, I implore folks to take them anyway to keep our kids, our elders, and everyone in between safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: June 6, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
2. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
3. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
4. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
6. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
7. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
8. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
9. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
10. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
11. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
12. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
13. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
14. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
16. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
17. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
18. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
19. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
20. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
21. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
22. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
23. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
24. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
26. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
27. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
28. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
29. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
30. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
31. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
32. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
33. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
34. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
35. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
36. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
37. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
38. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
39. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
40. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
42. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” 0 (5/10)
43. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
44. Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” 0 (5/10)*
45. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
46. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
47. Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” 0 (5/10)
48. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
49. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” 0 (5/10)
50. Randy Houser, “Note To Self” +2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +3
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +10
Overall Pulse +13
Change From Last Week
0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” (down from #1 to #6)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (holds at #11 with another decent week, and is threatening to escape this list without going recurrent)
  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (down from #18 to #19, gained only ten spins and lost points)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (down from #35 to #37, lost its bullet again)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (holds at #43, but gained only fifteen spins and seven points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #48, but gained only one spin and lost points)
  • Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” (holds at #47, but gained only thirteen spins and seventeen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” ((holds at #33, but gained only eighteen spins and twenty-two points)
  • Honestly, no one below #44 had a good week.

In No Trouble At All:

  • Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (up from #42 to #34)
  • Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” (up from #49 to #44)
  • Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” (up from #6 to #2, but that’s as far as it’s going to go given that Aldean has a “keep spinning!” ad in CA this week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Cody Johnson, “Human”
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”
  • Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”
  • Thomas Rhett fr. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”

Overall Thoughts: Aldean may have had his #1 stolen last week, but he wasn’t going to put up it with this week, withstanding a massive push from Urban to take the top spot while also declaring his intention to stay there for an extra week. With no major debuts to speak of (neither Johnson nor Rhett/Riley cracked the Top 50, which was a bit of surprise), spins were much more plentiful this week, although most tracks stayed on the escalator and didn’t make huge jumps up the board. I expect more of the same next week: Urban will fall back to earth, Parmalee and Wallen will be content to wait their turns, and the rest of the chart will hope that the airwave strength of the top five doesn’t turn June into an extended drought. Given that there are some heavy hitters that are on the sidelines right now (when was the last time we had a Thanos-less chart?), I expect some big announcements soon.

On the coronavirus front, things are as precarious as ever. New daily case and death averages seem to have leveled off (case averages are slightly down, deaths are slightly up), but we’re still seeing over 100,000 new cases every day, and yet another set of omicron subvariants is starting to emerge (now it’s BA.4 and BA.5, and while earlier variants first exploded in the Northeast, these are spreading mostly in the southern U.S. right now). The good news is that an omicron-targeting booster is on the way and showing great promise…but the bad news is that we can barely get people to take the first vaccine and booster, so the effectiveness of this new shot will depend on how many people we can convince to get it. If the FDA and CDC find Moderna’s data compelling and authorize the new vaccine, I’d encourage people to get it, and in the meantime we should all keep doing what works:

We may not be forced to take precautions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take them anyway, and everything we do can help keep ourselves and others from needlessly suffering at the hands of COVID-19. It’s becoming clear that the coronavirus (and thus the pandemic) is going to be hanging around in some shape or form for a long time, so we must keep doing the right things to protect our communities from the virus’s wrath.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 31, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

Song Score
1. Thomas Rhett, “Slow Down Summer” 0 (5/10)
2. Jason Aldean, “Trouble With A Heartbreak” +1 (6/10)
3. Parmalee, “Take My Name” 0 (5/10)
4. Morgan Wallen, “Wasted On You” -1 (4/10)
5. Walker Hayes, “AA” -1 (4/10)
6. Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts” 0 (5/10)
7. Scotty McCreery, “Damn Strait” +1 (6/10)
8. Tim McGraw, “7500 OBO” 0 (5/10)
9. Jake Owen, “Best Thing Since Backroads” -1 (4/10)
10. Maren Morris, “Circles Around This Town” +1 (6/10)
11. Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” +2 (7/10)
12. Dylan Scott, “New Truck” 0 (5/10)
13. Chris Young & Mitchell Tenpenny, “At The End Of A Bar” 0 (5/10)
14. Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” 0 (5/10)
15. Jon Pardi, “Last Night Lonely” 0 (5/10)
16. Kane Brown, “Like I Love Country Music” +2 (7/10)
17. Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” +1 (6/10)
18. ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” 0 (5/10)
19. Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” 0 (5/10)
20. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” +1 (6/10)
21. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” 0 (5/10)
22. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” -1 (4/10)
23. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” +1 (6/10)
24. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” 0 (5/10)
25. Lee Brice, “Soul” 0 (5/10)
26. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” 0 (5/10)
27. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” 0 (5/10)
29. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” +2 (7/10)
30. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” 0 (5/10)
31. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” 0 (5/10)
32. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” 0 (5/10)
33. Brett Young, “You Didn’t” +1 (6/10)
34. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” 0 (5/10)
35. Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” +1 (6/10)
36. Priscilla Block, “My Bar” 0 (5/10)
37. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” +1 (6/10)
38. Conner Smith, “Learn From It” 0 (5/10)
39. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” -1 (4/10)
40. Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” 0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Holy Water” +2 (7/10)
42. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” -1 (4/10)
43. Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” 0 (5/10)
44. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” 0 (5/10)
45. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” 0 (5/10)*
46. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living” 0 (5/10)
47. Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” 0 (5/10)
48. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” 0 (5/10)
49. Restless Road, “Growing Old With You” 0 (5/10)*
50. Randy Houser, “Note To Self” +2 (7/10)*
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +3
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +10
Overall Pulse +13
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Son Of A Sinner,” 7/10
Worst Song: “AA,” 4/10

Gone:

  • Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (recurrent)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (recurrent)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (down from #2 to #14)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Miranda Lambert, “If I Was A Cowboy” (up from #12 to #11 with another decent week. Does she still have a chance at #1?)
  • ERNEST ft. Morgan Wallen, “Flower Shops” (down from #16 to #18, gained only nine spins and sixty-five points, and is apparently testing really badly with listeners. Could this one already be done?)
  • Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” (up from #38 to #35, but gained only fifteen spins and forty-nine points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #26 to #25, but gained only twenty-three spins and lost points)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only one spin and lost points)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only nine spins and lost points)
  • Lady A, “What A Song Can Do” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only one spin and forty-four points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only fifteen spins and fifty-five points)
  • Chayce Beckham & Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only six spins and two points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #49 to #48, but gained only twelve spins and sixty-three points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Walker Hayes, “AA” (holds at #5, but gained only sixty-eight spins and fifty-five points. Was this a prep week for a bigger push to come?)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #22, but gained only twenty-seven spins and eighty-nine points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only eight spins and twenty-six points)
  • Clay Walker, “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory” (down from #46 to #47, gained only eleven spins and lost points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • No one qualified this week.

Is still Thanos?:

  • Luke Combs, “Doin’ This” (down from #2 to #14, no sign of what’s coming next)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Cody Johnson, “Human”
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never Til Now”
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”
  • Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”
  • Thomas Rhett fr. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”

Overall Thoughts: The #1 slot is usually given it country music, but this week it was taken, with Rhett’s 1200+ spin onslaught bowling over Aldean’s mere 650+ gains to wrest away the Mediabase title for the week. It’s a classic recipe for a constipated chart, and songs up and down the line (including Hayes at #5!) struggled to post decent gains. This was a gut-check week, especially for songs in the middle of the pack like ERNEST, Lynch, or Brice: Your standing indicates that you should be polling well, but when programmers had a choice to put you on their playlists, they put your competition there instead, including a number of songs currently below you. Songs in the lower third are almost certain to struggle during weeks like this, but if you’re up a bit higher, this is an indication that you might not be #1 material. I expect things to loosen up next week as Rhett swaps over to his Riley Green collab, but we’ll see how much room opens up at the bottom for newer tracks.

On the coronavirus front, the bad news just keeps pouring in, with all indicators (new daily case and death averages, total hospitalizations) continuing to move in the wrong direction. This virus is doing everything it can to get back onto the front page, but we just keep ignoring it, with Congress ignoring a upcoming shortfall in coronavirus response funding and industries such as travel pushing to remove the few health-related restrictions that remain in place. The country has moved on despite growing evidence that moving on is a bad idea, so if you’re going to protect yourself from COVID-19, the onus will be on you. Luckily, our tried-and-true best practices remain as solid as ever:

To all those who are still worried about the coronavirus, I urge you not to give up the fight just yet. Keep taking steps to keep yourselves, your loved ones, and your communities safeyour caution just might mean the difference between someone remaining healthy or suffering needlessly.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 23, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

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

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

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

Leaving:

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

Zombie Tracks:

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

In Real Trouble:

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

In Some Trouble:

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

In No Trouble At All:

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

Is still Thanos?:

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

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

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

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

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

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

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 16, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

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

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

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

Leaving:

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

Zombie Tracks:

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

In Real Trouble:

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

In Some Trouble:

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

In No Trouble At All:

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

Is still Thanos?:

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

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

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

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

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

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

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 9, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

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

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

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

Leaving:

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

Zombie Tracks:

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

In Real Trouble:

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

In Some Trouble:

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

In No Trouble At All:

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

Is still Thanos?:

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

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

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

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

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

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

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

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 2, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

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

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

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

Leaving:

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

Zombie Tracks:

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

In Real Trouble:

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

In Some Trouble:

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

In No Trouble At All:

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

Is still Thanos?:

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

Bubbling Under 50:

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

On The Way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 25, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

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

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

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

Leaving:

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

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

Zombie Tracks:

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

In Real Trouble:

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

In Some Trouble:

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

In No Trouble At All:

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

Is still Thanos?:

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

Bubbling Under 50:

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

On The Way:

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

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

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

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

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

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 18, 2022

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.

The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.

This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!

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

*Preliminary Grade

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

Gone:

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

Leaving:

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

Zombie Tracks:

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

In Real Trouble:

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

In Some Trouble:

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

In No Trouble At All:

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

Is still Thanos?:

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

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

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

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

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

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