The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 28, 2022

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

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

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

SongScore
1. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
2. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
3. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
4. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
5. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
6. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
7. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
8. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
9. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
10. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
11. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
12. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
14. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
15. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
16. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
17. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
18. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
19. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
20. Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”0 (5/10)
21. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
22. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
23. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
24. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
25. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
26. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
27. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
28. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
29. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
30. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
31. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
32. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
33. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
34. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
35. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
36. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
37. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
38. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
39. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
40. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
41. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)
42. Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”-1 (4/10)
43. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
44. Kolby Cooper, “Excuses”0 (5/10)*
45. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)
46. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)
47. Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”+2 (7/10)
48. Brantley Gilbert & Blake Shelton ft. Vince Gill, “Heaven By Then”-3 (2/10)
49. Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”0 (5/10)
50. Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)3
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)-4
Overall Pulse-1
Change From Last Week-3 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (recurrent)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (down from #2 to #4)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #16 to #15 with a mediocre week, will get run over by Combs next week)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #36 to #34 with a relatively strong week; could this thing actually have some life left?)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (down from #23 to #24, lost its bullet again, and is threatening to join the zombie list again)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (holds at #31, but gained only twenty-one spins and twenty-nine points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (down from #20 to #21, gained only forty-two spins and 104 points, and feels like it’s hit a wall recently)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (holds at #32, but gained only twenty spins and twelve points, and has had a really inconsistent run so far)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only twelve spins and sixty-one points)
  • Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only twelve spins and fifteen points)
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (up from #48 to #46, but gained only eighteen spins and forty points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know” (up from #25 to #20)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)”
  • Russell Dickerson, “God Gave Me A Girl”
  • Tyler Hubbard, “Dancin’ In The Country”

Overall Thoughts: This is a bit of a strange week, as spins ended up being fairly tight despite no major debuts, two significant losses from exiting songs, and only two songs gaining over 600 spins. True, Dean’s 1600+ spin push to take #1 is the biggest summit push we’ve seen in a while, but I’m wondering if there were some other factors at play: Did stations change their playlists for the Thanksgiving holiday, or are some starting to work in their holiday songs now that the turkey has been consumed? While there are still a few songs set to debut this year, I expect things to remain pretty chill around here for the rest of year, and the holidays ramp up and labels prepare for their 2023 rollouts.

On the coronavirus front, the data is a little spotty due to the holiday, but the trend appears to be more of the same, with national new case numbers staying flat (that double-digit % spike in deaths is concerning though). The buzzword right now, however, is…well, we’re still deciding between “tridemic” and “tripledemic”: COVID-19 has yet to surge as we’ve expected, but our flu numbers are spiking right now, and RSV is still causing trouble even as its nationwide numbers begin to drop. The results are not encouraging: It’s not even December yet, and already over three-quarters of our inpatient and ICU beds are in use, with a shortage of pediatric beds also causing trouble (“Five states are at 90% capacity or higher. Currently the most overwhelmed state is Maine, at 109% capacity…”). If things are this bad without a major COVID-19 surge, we’re really going to be in trouble when those case numbers start climbing again (don’t forget, we’ve got two new variants taking over that are even more transmissible than their predecessors…), which means that we need to be extra-vigilant about doing what we can to limit the spread of all these viruses:

It’s looking like we’ve got a rough winter in the cards this season, and although people would really like to pretend that all this pandemic stuff is behind them, a) it’s not, and b) it’s no longer the only respiratory virus in town looking to wreak havoc. With the holiday season on the horizon, we need to do everything we can to limit the threat of these pathogens and keep the people we care about safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 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!

SongScore
1. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
2. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
3. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
4. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
5. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
6. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
7. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
8. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
9. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
10. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
11. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
12. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
13. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
14. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
15. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
16. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
17. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
18. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
19. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
20. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
21. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
22. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
23. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
24. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
25. Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”0 (5/10)
26. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
27. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
28. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
29. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
30. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
31. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
32. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
33. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
34. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
35. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
36. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
37. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
38. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
39. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
40. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
41. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
42. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
43. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)
44. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
45. Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”0 (5/10)*
46. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)
47. Kolby Cooper, “Excuses”0 (5/10)*
48. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)
49. Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”+2 (7/10)
50. Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)3
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)-1
Overall Pulse2
Change From Last Week+6 😎

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (recurrent)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (recurrent)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (recurrent)
  • Brantley Gilbert & Blake Shelton ft. Vince Gill, “Heaven By Now” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (down from #4 to #10)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (down from #29 to #39)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (holds at #16 with a solid week, but I don’t think this one will make it out of the teens)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #38 to #36, but gained only twenty-nine spins and nineteen points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #37 to #34, but lost its bullet)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #40 to #37, but gained only nineteen spins and eighty-eight points)
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now” (re-enters at #50, but lost its bullet with a 200+ point loss)

In Some Trouble:

  • Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #32 to #31, but lost spins and gained only sixty-two points)
  • Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” (re-enters at #49, but gained only fourteen spins and six points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know” (up from #35 to #25)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #45 to #38)
  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (up from #23 to #18)
  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine” (up from #48 to #43)
  • Jimmie Allen, “Down Home” (up from #9 to #5)
  • Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Ba” (up from #34 to #30)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (up from #36 to #32)
  • Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange” (up from #39 to #35)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart” (up from #49 to #45)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)”
  • Russell Dickerson, “God Gave Me A Girl”

Overall Thoughts: Okay, now we’re really starting to see some action. After three losses last week, we lost four more this time around, with two more set to depart within the next week or so. With no major debuts, spins were fairly plentiful this week, with a ton of growth concentrated in the teens (seven out of ten songs from #11 to #20 put up 1000+ gains!) and the usual suspects (Combs, Wallen) putting up 2000+ point scores (Allen’s 2000+ points were a bit more surprising). We’ve still got a few notable debuts coming up before the end of the year, but for the most part I think the turnover is finally over…at least until 2023. Look for things to settle down as the holiday season begins and the holiday music starts invading the playlists.

On the coronavirus front, national new case and death numbers are slightly up this week, and while the virus isn’t surging just yet, the combination of COVID-19, RSV, and the flu is already pushing the healthcare system to the brink once again, especially our pediatric units. It’s gotten to the point where people are urging the Biden administration to make a emergency declaration to help address the issue, which means that when we do see a significant rise in coronavirus cases (I still say it’s a matter of when, not if), we’re going to be back in a really bad spot. With Thanksgiving on our doorstep, we need to do everything we can to protect our loved ones and reduce the strain on our health care workers, which means:

It was about this time last year when things started to go off the rails and the original omicron surge started, so we need to be extra careful this time around, especially with several respiratory viruses going around. We all need to take the necessary precautions and continue to follow our best practices to combat these threats and protect the people we care about.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 14, 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!

SongScore
1. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
2. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
3. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
4. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
5. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
6. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
7. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
8. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
9. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
10. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
11. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
12. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
14. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
15. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
16. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
17. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
18. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
19. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
20. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
21. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
22. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
23. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
24. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
25. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
26. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
27. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
28. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
29. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
30. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
31. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
32. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
33. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
34. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
35. Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”0 (5/10)
36. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
37. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
38. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
39. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
40. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
41. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
42. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
43. Branley Gilbert & Blake Shelton ft. Vince Gill, “Heaven By Then”-3 (2/10)*
44. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
45. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
46. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
47. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
48. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)
49. Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”0 (5/10)*
50. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)3
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)-7
Overall Pulse-4
Change From Last Week-4 😑

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (recurrent)
  • Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)” (down to #51)
  • Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” (down to #54)

Leaving:

  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (down from #1 to #4)
  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (down from #2 to #3)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (down from #16 to #29)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (up from #19 to #18, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week with a 400+ point loss, and is still down 250+ points on the daily charts. It’s toast)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down from #26 to #46)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Brett Young, “You Didn’t” (up from #18 to #16 with a mediocre week, and if you’re only at #16 after being releases a year agoβ€”heck, my review is eleven months old nowβ€”you deserve to be on this list)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #39 to #38, but gained only forty-nine spins and 223 points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up” (down from #9 to #10 and lost its bullet. Does this one have enough left to get to #1?)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (down from #35 to #36, gained only forty-six spins and ninety-two points)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (up from #42 to #41, but gained only twenty-five spins and ninety-one points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” (down from #7 to #8, gained only fifteen spins and lost points. Does this one have enough left to reach #1?)
  • Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle” (down from #12 to #13, gained only fifteen spins and fourteen points)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life” (down from #24 to #25, gained only forty-two spins and seventy-seven points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (holds at #40, but gained only twelve spins and fifteen points)
  • Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twenty spins and fifty-six points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (down from #45 to #47, lost spins and gained only twenty-six points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine” (down from #47 to #48, gained only twenty-five spins and twenty-five points)
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (down from #48 to #50, gained only five spins and eighty-five points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know” (up from #54 to #35)
  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (up from #29 to #23)
  • Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do” (up from #23 to #19)
  • Parke McCollum, “Handle On You” (up from #28 to #24)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #37 to #33)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “We Got History”
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)”

Overall Thoughts: Okay, now we’re starting to see some action. All three of the songs I called out two weeks ago (Lynch, Brice, Ballerini) appear to be officially on their way out (along with Dickerson/Scott, which I didn’t expect to implode), and with a one-week limit seemingly be re-imposed on the top spot and several big names making big splashes back into the Top 50, we’re going to see some serious turnover between now and the end of the year. The problem is that with said big names jumping back into the action so quickly (Combs, Shelton,and Wallen, plus whatever Cole Swindell decides to follow up “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” with), it doesn’t feel like a great time to be bringing a new artist to the radio (or even an existing artist with minimal star power). All of the spins released by Wallen, Andress/Hunt, Dickerson/Scott, and Ballerini were immediately grabbed by the big debuts, leaving artists on the bottom half of the charts scrambling a little to pad their totals for this week.

So who else do I think is on the chopping block in the short term? I’d say the ZBB and Chris Stapleton are in a bit of trouble right now (those tracks have been a lot weaker than their competition lately), and honestly I’m a little worried about Jelly Roll at #8 (his climb has slowed significantly over the last few months). I also think time’s running out on Young (that song was released a year ago and hasn’t even made the Top 15 yet?!), and that Chesney/Old Dominion collab has looked surprisingly shaky ever since it arrived (and Old Dominion has exactly zero radio momentum right now).

As for the songs that are filling in the gaps right now…let’s just say I’m going to have a lot to say about that Gilbert/Shelton track soon, and none of it will be good. Swapping that in for Milligan was a bad deal in every sense of the word, but I think Milligan’s track will be back soon, and I’ll have much kinder words for it than I will for “Heaven By Then.”

On the coronavirus front, national new case numbers continue to stay relatively flat, while daily deaths seems to have dropped significantly over the last two weeks. However, new omicron subvariants (BQ.1 and BQ1.1) have bypassed BA.5 to become the dominant variations in the country, and it was right about this time last year when folks came together for Thanksgiving and the first omicron wave starting taking off, so we aren’t out of the woods by any means. Even worse, other respiratory viruses are wreaking havoc right now: New case, hospitalization, and death numbers for the flu have doubled for the second week in a row, and flu hospitalizations have reached their highest levels since 2010 (and it’s still wayyyy early in the season, long before the flu usually starts to take hold). RSV hospitalizations for children were already raising alarms, and now it’s hitting the elderly hard as well. Basically, this is going to be a rotten winter even if we don’t get a coronavirus surge (and betting against such a surge is a risky wager). However, our best practices can help against all three of these viruses:

We haven’t seen an official coronavirus surge yet, but there’s enough stuff going around already to make this a perilous time. It remains vitally important that we continue to take steps to keep our communities safe and reduce the threat of these respiratory infections.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: November 7, 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!

SongScore
1. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
2. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
3. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
4. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
5. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
6. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
7. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
8. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
9. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
10. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
11. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
12. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
13. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
14. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
15. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
16. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
17. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
18. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
20. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
21. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
22. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
23. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
24. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
25. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
26. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
28. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
29. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
30. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
31. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
32. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
33. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
34. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
35. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
36. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
37. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
38. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
39. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
40. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
41. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
42. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
43. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
44. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
45. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
46. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
47. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)
48. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)
49. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)
50. Drake Milligan, “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”+2 (7/10)*
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)1
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)-1
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week+2 πŸ™‚

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Morgan Wallen, “You Proof” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down from #21 to #26)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (down from #15 to #17, bullet-less for a second consecutive week. It’s trying to staunch the bleeding on the daily charts, but this one is on life support)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (down from #18 to #19, lost its bullet)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #39, but gained only twenty-two spins and forty-six points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” (down from #26 to #27, lost its bullet)
  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (down from #29 to #31, gained only seven spins and eighteen points)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (down from #34 to #35, lost its bullet)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (down from #41 to #42, lost its bullet)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (down from #42 to #44, gained only eleven spins and forty-three points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (down from #32 to #33, gained only nine spins and eighty-eight points)
  • Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine” (holds at #49, but gained only twenty-eight spins and forty points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (up from #37 to #29)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”

Overall Thoughts: Wow, this might be my best prediction yet: I called out Lynch, Brice, and Ballerini for taking up space on the charts, and all three took notable losses during a week that wasn’t super tight on spins. Ballerini is done, and while it looks like the other two are kinda-sorta recovering on the daily charts, I don’t think either one lasts much longer.

Wallen essentially replaced himself this week with “Thought You Should Know” reaching #54, and Ballerini’s losses countered most of Combs’s gains, so for the most part there were spins to go around (yet we still had six songs lose their bullets, not including Wallen and Ballerini). With only an Eldredge-for-Milligan trade this week, I expect to see a bit more chaos on the charts before the holiday slowdown, and honestly, I think we could use it.

On the coronavirus front, NPR didn’t update its coronavirus page this week, so I had to draw information from the New York Times’s site, and the picture in paints is…well, complicated. National numbers appear to be relatively flat (slight increase in new daily cases and hospitalizations, 14% drop in daily deaths), but there’s some serious variations in state-by-state numbers, with some states seeing cases increase over 50% over the the last two weeks (mainly in the South and West) while others seeing cases decrease over 20% (mainly in the Northeast and Northwest). I’m not sure exactly what defines a COVID-19 ‘wave,’ but we’re certainly seeing some concerning trends in parts of the country, and given how quickly this virus can spread, I don’t think I’d feel too safe anywhere right now. You can, however, increase your level of safety by using our oft-repeated best practices:

So is a wave coming? Is it already here? Regardless, there’s never a bad time to start taking steps to protect yourself and the people you care about, and you sooner you start, the better prepared you’ll be when the you-know-what hits the fan.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 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!

SongScore
1. Ross Chastain, “Martinsville 2022”+5 (10/10)
2. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
3. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
4. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
5. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
6. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
7. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
8. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
9. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
10. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
11. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
12. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
14. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
15. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
18. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
20. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
22. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
23. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
24. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
26. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
28. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
29. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
30. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
31. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
32. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
33. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
34. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
35. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
36. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
37. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
38. Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”0 (5/10)
39. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
40. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
41. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
42. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
43. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
44. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
45. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
48. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
49. Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”0 (5/10)*
50. Dylan Scott, “Can’t Have Mine (Find You A Girl)”0 (5/10)*
51. Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)-2
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)0
Overall Pulse-2
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (recurrent)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (down to #55)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (recurrent)
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Officially nothing qualified this week, but there are a lot of tracks on shaky ground…

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #15, but lost its bullet again)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #40 to #39, but gained only thirty-seven spins and 130 points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #46 to #45, but is bullet-less for a second consecutive week)

In Real Trouble:

  • Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'” (up from #6 to #5, but lost its bullet)
  • Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner” (holds at #8, but lost its bullet)
  • Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It” (holds at #17, but lost its bullet)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (holds at #18, but gained one spin and lost points)
  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #21 to #20, but gained only four spins and two points. This is closer to the zombie list than you might think)
  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #23 to #22, but lost its bullet)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (holds at #38, but lost its bullet)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only twenty-three spins and seventy-nine points)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (up from #44 to #42, but gained only nine spins and twenty-three points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange” (up from #47 to #46, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (down from #32 to #33, gained only twenty-two spins and sixty-one points)
  • Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only nineteen spins and ninety-nine points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #48 to #47, but gained only forty-one spins and fifty-five points)
  • Elle King ft. Dierks Bentley, “Worth A Shot” (debuts at #50, but gained only nine spins and seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (debuts at #37)
  • Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange” (up from #49 to #44)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Hate My Heart”
  • Morgan Wallen, “Thought You Should Know”

Overall Thoughts: The phrase I would use to describe this week is “reluctant turnover.” Wallen caught a tough break when Chastain rode the Martinsville wall to claim this week’s top spot…yet the bit turned into a sad statement when Chastain just replaced Swindell and meant that almost no one in the top 30 needed their chart number updated. The top of the charts feel like they’re locked in cement right now, and much of the movement below #30 was caused more by departures than by the strength of the tracks that persisted. Wallen’s extended stay at the top and Combs’s big-but-not-massive debut meant that spins were really hard to come by (I wondered if Taylor Swift’s massive album launch stole some spins away as well, but it sounds like that album’s being driven by streaming and sales rather than airplay…for now), and a lot of songs found themselves with empty guns and no bullets this week.

We lost four songs this week, but I still think bigger moves are imminent here. Wallen will fade away as Swindell did, and there are a lot of songs that are treading water right now and probably need to cut bait and get out of the water (there’s a surprisingly number of these tracks concentrated in the teens, with Lynch, Brice, and now Ballerini seemingly just taking up space). There’s going to be some space freed up in the short-term…and I only wish that there was decent stuff available to take its place.

On the coronavirus front, if you haven’t started worrying yet, maybe it’s time: New cases and deaths leveled off after a slow but steady drop over the last few weeks, and a new omicron subvariant (actually two, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1) is starting to make waves in New York City and California (you know, the kind of high-density, high-travel areas that tend to be bellweathers for stuff like this) and is likely flying under the radar in other areas due to limited reporting. Hospitalizations are only up slightly nationwide, but there are some significant localized increases in some states, so I imagine anyone who isn’t seeing their numbers go up yet will see them rise soon. In other words, it’s a great time to double down on our battle-tested best practices to keep ourselves safe:

Like it or not, we’re in for another challenging winter (especially with the resurgence of the viruses like the flu and RSV), and need to do all we can to minimize the strain and suffering caused by COVID-19. The power is in our hands, but whether or not we use it is up to us.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 24, 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!

SongScore
1. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
4. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
5. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
6. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
7. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
8. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
9. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
10. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
11. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
12. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
14. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
15. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
16. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
17. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
18. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
19. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
20. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
22. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
23. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
24. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
26. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
28. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
29. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
30. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
31. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
32. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
33. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
34. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
35. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
36. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
37. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
38. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
39. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
40. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
42. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
43. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
44. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
45. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
48. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
49. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
50. Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”0 (5/10)*
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)-4
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)+3
Overall Pulse-1
Change From Last Week0

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (holds at #2, but lost 1500+ points and will likely leave next week)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (down from #24 to #31)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #32 to #41)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #15, but gained only fifteen spins and 110 points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #42 to #40, but gained only forty-two spins and seventy-one points. I don’t think this one lasts to see 2023)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #45 to #46, lost its bullet again, and may very well be history)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (down from #19 to #21, gained only nine spins and lost points, and seemed to have hit a wall in the last month or so)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (holds at #36, but lost its bullet)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (up from #39 to #37, but gained only thirty-five spins and sixty-five points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #43 to #42, but gained only forty-seven spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only sixteen spins and sixty-nine points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking” (holds at #4, but lost its bullet with a 450+ point loss. Does it have enough left to get to #1?)
  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (down from #17 to #18, gained only twenty-five spins and one point)
  • Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only twenty-nine spins and forty-eight points)
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now” (up from #51 to #50, but gained only twenty-six spins and sixty-two points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “Handle On You” (up from #33 to #29)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #37 to #33)
  • Corey Kent, “Wild As Her” (up from #38 to #34)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (picked up 81 adds this week, will likely be on the chart next week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, “You, Me, And Whiskey”

Overall Thoughts: There are weeks where you’re not right at all, and then there are weeks like this one where you’re not right enough. I declared that there wouldn’t be a shakeup on the charts this week, but I didn’t expect the top half of the charts to be frozen in amber while two songs that just won’t die (Wallen and Swindell) hold the top two spots. There was more movement in the bottom half of the chart this week, but even with Underwood’s departure and the premature exits of Block and Ray, there still seemed to be a significant number of songs struggling to find spins (most of the position gains were due to losses from above). There will definitely be some action next week with several departures scheduled, but I don’t think the newer/lesser-known artists currently stuck around #50 will get much of a break: Thanos will return, Pardi will likely break into the top 50, and Moore/Block may find some traction as well. Still, there are a lot of songs on the charts that have overstayed their welcome, so the change may be long and drawn-out, but it is coming.

On the coronavirus front, the overall numbers for new cases and deaths still appear to be improving nationally, but a dive into state-by-state breakdowns indicates that things are a bit of a mixed bag right now. There’s also a new fear that the COVID/flu “twindemic” health experts were concerned about might actually end up as a “tripledemic” thanks to “a surge in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),” especially among young children. We remain in a precarious position for the moment, and with the threat of respiratory viruses rising in general, we’ve got even more reasons to hold fast to our best practices:

  • 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 schedule your appointment to get the omicron-specific booster as soon as possible. (And get your flu shot while you’re at it!)

We may not be in an official COVID surge yet, but all the signs are pointing in that direction, and we need to do more to prepare ourselves for when it arrives. We really need everyone to do the right thing and take all necessary steps to keeps themselves and the people they care about safe before it’s too late.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 17, 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!

SongScore
1. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
4. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
5. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
6. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
7. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
8. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
9. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
10. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
11. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
12. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
14. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
15. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
16. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
17. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
18. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
19. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
20. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
21. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
22. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
23. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
24. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
25. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
26. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
27. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
28. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
29. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
30. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
31. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
32. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
33. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
34. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
35. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
36. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
37. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
38. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
39. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
40. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
41. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)
42. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
43. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
44. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
45. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
46. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
47. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)*
48. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
49. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
50. Zach Bryan, “Something In The Orange”0 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)+4
Overall Pulse-1
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (down from #21 to #30)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (up from #16 to #15, but gained only fifty-five spins and ninety-four points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #31 to #32, lost its bullet with a 550+ point loss, and just seems like it’s been stuck in neutral for a while, passively riding the escalator)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #42 and had a kinda-sorta okay week, but it’ll need to string a few of these together to get out of the hole it’s in)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #46 to #45, but lost spins and gained only thirty-nine points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #20 to #19, but lost its bullet)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only seventy-two spins and ninety-four points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (holds at #39, but lost spins and gained only twenty-nine points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (up from #41 to #40, but gained only sixteen spins and thirty-one points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #26 to #24, but gained only five spins and lost points)
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold” (up from #27 to #25, but gained only fifty-six spins and ninety-seven points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (up from #36 to #35, but gained only seventeen spins and eleven points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only twenty-one spins and sixty-seven points)
  • Parmalee, “Girl In Mine” (down from #45 to #46, gained only fourteen spins and lost points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only forty spins and thirty-eight points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You” (up from #25 to #21)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone” (set to release next Monday)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”
  • George Birge, “Mind On You”
  • Breland, “For What It’s Worth”

Overall Thoughts: You know, I keep predicting a moment of mass movement on the charts, and it keeps on not happening. Only Thanos left this week (and we all know he’ll be back next week), and despite significant losses from Underwood and Swindell (and a noteable drop from Ray), spins were surprisingly hard to come by (and the struggles were unsurprisingly concentrated in the lower half of the chart). I’m going to flip my prediction and say we’re not getting a huge shakeup next week: Swindell probably hangs on for one more week, so only Underwood will depart (unless Ray has reached the end of the road as well), and given Thanos’s propensity for procuring pre-release airplay, he probably takes the free slot over the contenders that remain stuck below #50. In two weeks, however…I think the chaos starts swirling.

On the coronavirus front, the national numbers appear to be improving on both the case and death fronts, but the predicted winter surge is getting closer: The Northeast has tended to be the canary in the cola mine when it comes to COVID-19, and a quick scan of the region (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York City, etc.) indicates that both cases and hospitalizations are back on the upswing. Like it or not, the coronavirus is still a problem, and given our paltry vaccination rates, we’re still putting ourselves and our communities at more risk than we should be. (Don’t look now, but there are a few new variants that are getting some attention…) Luckily, the things we have (or should have) been doing all along remain as effective at combating the virus as ever:

  • 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 schedule your appointment to get the omicron-specific booster as soon as possible. (And get your flu shot while you’re at it!)

At this point, our next major bout with COVID-19 is a matter of when, not if, and we need to do everything we can to mitigate its impact. It remains as important as ever for us all to stay vigilant, make careful decisions, and do everything we can to keep the people we care about safe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 10, 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!

SongScore
1. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
2. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
3. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
4. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
5. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
6. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
7. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
8. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
9. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
10. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
11. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
12. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
13. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
14. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
15. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
18. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
19. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
20. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
21. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
22. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
23. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
24. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
25. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
26. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
27. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
28. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
29. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
30. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
31. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
32. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
33. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
34. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
35. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
36. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
37. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
38. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
39. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
40. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
41. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
42. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
43. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)*
44. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
45. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
48. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)*
49. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”0 (5/10)
50. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)+5
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Nothing left this week!

Leaving:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (holds at #3, but remains bullet-less and should go recurrent next week)
  • Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story” (down from #5 to #21)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #16, but gained only twenty-four spins and 102 points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (holds at #42, but gained only thirty-three spins and 112 points)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (down from #43 to #46, gained only twenty-one spins and eight points)

In Real Trouble:

  • Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” (down from #24 to #28, lost its bullet with a 200+ point loss. What happened here?)
  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (down from #36 to #38, gained only twenty-three spins and twenty-six points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (holds at #39, but lost spins and gained only two points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby” (holds at #33, but gained only thirty-five spins and eighty-seven points)
  • Randy Houser, “Note To Self” (down from #40 to #41, barely keeps its bullet by breaking even on spins and losing points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be” (up from #49 to #43)
  • Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You” (up from #30 to #25)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (holds at #3, next single announced for 10/24)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”
  • Luke Combs, “Going, Going, Gone”

Overall Thoughts: This was a weird week: There were no recurrents and very little chart movement, but there were enough spins lying around for most tracks in the Top 50 to post decent gains. Underwood’s and Combs’s heavy losses are the likely culprits here, and with both slated to leave soon (with Swindell’s big hit soon to follow), I think next week the dam bursts and we see a fair bit of movement and new arrivals. (There are a few zombie and near-zombie tracks that probably aren’t long for this world either, so that should add a bit more chaos to the next few weeks.) I feel like there’s been a backlog of tracks that have been knocking on the door of the Top 50 for a while now, so a lightning-round post to cover them all is probably in the cards as well.

On the coronavirus front, for now it’s more of the same: New case reports are dropping, deaths remain stubbornly high, and the number of tools at our disposal continue to grow (booster shots have now been approved for children as young as five). However, more people are starting to sound the alarm about a potential winter surge, and with our vaccination rates still lower than they should be (only 68% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and only 33% are boosted), we’re still more vulnerable to a surge than we should be. With influenza and other respiratory diseases also posing a threat as well, there are a lot of ways that things could go sideways in the next few months, and if we don’t want to get caught in the crossfire, we’ll want to stick to our best practices:

  • 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 schedule your appointment to get the omicron-specific booster as soon as possible. (And get your flu shot while you’re at it!)

We’re leaving the door wide open for another brutal round with COVID-19 right now, and we really shouldn’t be okay with this. However, we still have the power to change course and do the right thing to keep our communities safe, and right now that should be our primary goal.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: October 3, 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!

SongScore
1. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
2. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
3. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
4. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
5. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
6. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
7. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
8. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
9. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
10. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
11. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
12. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
13. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
14. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
15. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
18. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
20. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
21. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
22. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
23. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
24. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
25. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
26. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
27. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
28. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
29. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
30. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
31. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
32. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
33. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
34. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
35. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
36. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
37. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
38. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
39. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
40. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
41. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
42. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
43. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
44. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
45. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
46. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
47. Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”-1 (4/10)*
48. Miranda Lambert, “Strange”+1 (6/10)*
49. Shane Profitt, “How It Oughta Be”0 (5/10)*
50. Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”+2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)-7
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)+8
Overall Pulse+1
Change From Last Week+1 πŸ™‚

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (recurrent)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (recurrent)
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” (recurrent)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down to #54)

Leaving:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (down from #1 to #3)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #16, but gained only twenty-six spins and forty points)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #45 to #42 with a decent week, but needs to show a lot more strength before getting off this list)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #46 to #43, but lost its bullet)

In Real Trouble:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST” (up from #21 to #20, but lost its bullet)
  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (down from #24 to #26, lost its bullet)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (down from #30 to #31, gained only thirty-six spins and sixty-seven points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Cody Johnson, “Human” (holds at #36, but gained only twenty spins and forty-six points)
  • Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life” (down from #38 to #39, gained only fourteen spins and eighty-seven points)
  • Matt Stell, “Man Made” (up from #47 to #44, but gained only fifty-two spins and ninety-two points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “Handle On You” (up from #41 to #35)
  • Blake Shelton, “No Body” (up from #29 to #25)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (down from #1 to #3)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Jon Pardi, “Your Heart Or Mine”

Overall Thoughts: Despite some big pushes in the top half of the chart, this week seems to have been pretty favorable for most songs, likely attributable to the dead weight that went recurrent this week (Tenpenny, Ray, and Old Dominion are gone, and given how much Little Big Town struggled, they were barely here in the first place). The Pulse changes have been minimal recently, but I’m time I changed my tune on at least one thing: Given the decent numbers being put up by the bottom half of the chart right now, I’m starting to feel (slightly) more optimistic about the direction of the genre as we wrap up the year (although the newest entries this week are a mixed bag). With the fall rotation in full swing, perhaps we’ll see fewer pointless party tracks and more tracks with some substance behind them for a while.

On the coronavirus front, things have been fairly static for a while, and while new case reports are still dropping, deaths remain stubbornly high at around 400 a day. Things may seem relatively quiet right now, but there was a concerning article in The Atlantic today that highlighted some of the warning lights that are flashing right now: Hospitalizations are increasing in parts of Europe (which usually predates a surge here by a few weeks), the flu came back with a vengeance in the Southern Hemisphere (which means we could be in for that long-predicted “twindemic” this winter), and our healthcare systems still haven’t recovered from the last two years of stress and suffering. We’re still at risk for another rough winter, and if we want to avoid it, we’ve got to double down on our tried-and-true best practices:

Our guard has dropped along with our coronavirus case numbers, and we’re leaving ourselves wide open for a terrifying one-two punch in the months to come. We need to stay vigilant and keep doing everything we can to keep ourselves and the people around us safe and healthy, and try to put an end to this pandemic once and for all.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: September 26, 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!

SongScore
1. Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make”+1 (6/10)
2. Cole Swindell, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”-1 (4/10)
3. Morgan Wallen, “You Proof”-1 (4/10)
4. Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9”-1 (4/10)
5. Ingrid Andress ft. Sam Hunt, “Wishful Drinking”0 (5/10)
6. Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You”0 (5/10)
7. Carrie Underwood, “Ghost Story”0 (5/10)
8. Jackson Dean, “Don’t Come Lookin'”+1 (6/10)
9. Thomas Rhett ft. Riley Green, “Half Of Me”0 (5/10)
10. Luke Bryan, “Country On”-2 (3/10)
11. Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall In Love”-3 (2/10)
12. Jelly Roll, “Son Of A Sinner”+2 (7/10)
13. Gabby Barrett, “Pick Me Up”0 (5/10)
14. Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”0 (5/10)
15. Zac Brown Band, “Out In The Middle”0 (5/10)
16. Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode”-1 (4/10)
17. Jordan Davis, “What My World Spins Around”-1 (4/10)
18. Jason Aldean, “That’s What Tequila Does”0 (5/10)
19. Lee Brice, “Soul”0 (5/10)
20. Russell Dickerson ft. Jake Scott, “She Likes It”-1 (4/10)
21. Kelsea Ballerini, “HEARTFIRST”0 (5/10)
22. Nate Smith, “Whiskey On You”0 (5/10)
23. Brett Young, “You Didn’t”+1 (6/10)
24. Priscilla Block, “My Bar”0 (5/10)
25. Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck”0 (5/10)
26. Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge”-1 (4/10)
27. Chris Stapleton, “Joy Of My Life”+1 (6/10)
38. Dierks Bentley, “Gold”+1 (6/10)
29. Blake Shelton, “No Body”-1 (4/10)
30. Michael Ray, “Holy Water”+2 (7/10)
31. Carly Pearce, “What He Didn’t Do”+1 (6/10)
32. HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson, “Wait In The Truck”+3 (8/10)
33. Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You”+1 (6/10)
34. Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”-1 (4/10)
35. Joe Nichols, “Good Day For Living”0 (5/10)
36. Cody Johnson, “Human”0 (5/10)
37. Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You”0 (5/10)
38. Walker Hayes, “Y’all Life”-3 (2/10)
49. Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”0 (5/10)
40. Dan + Shay, “You”0 (5/10)
41. Parker McCollum, “Handle On You”0 (5/10)
42. Randy Houser, “Note To Self”+2 (7/10)
43. Corey Kent, “Wild As Her”0 (5/10)
44. Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings”+1 (6/10)
45. Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A”0 (5/10)
46. Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You”0 (5/10)
47. Matt Stell, “Man Made”0 (5/10)
48. Eric Church, “Doing Life With Me”+1 (6/10)
49. Parmalee, “Girl In Mine”-1 (4/10)
50. Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1β€”#25)-5
Future Pulse (#26β€”#50)+5
Overall Pulse0
Change From Last Week-1 😦

*Preliminary Grade

Best Song: “Wait In The Truck,” 8/10
Worst Song: “Fall In Love,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Justin Moore, “With A Woman You Love” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Mitchell Tenpenny, “Truth About You” (down from #4 to #6)
  • Frank Ray, “Country’d Look Good On You” (down from #22 to #37)
  • Old Dominion, “No Hard Feelings” (down from #27 to #44)

Zombie Tracks:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Party Mode” (holds at #16 with a “meh” week)
  • Dillon Carmichael, “Son Of A” (up from #46 to #45, but gained only seventeen spins and sixty-five points)
  • Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah” (down from #48 to #50 with a nearly 350-point loss, so this one might finally be dead)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “My Bar” (up from #26 to #24, but gained only twenty-three spins and lost points)
  • Michael Ray, “Holy Water” (up from #33 to #30, but lost its bullet)
  • Brett Eldredge, “Songs About You” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only twelve spins and twenty-eight points. This one’s a candidate for the zombie list soon)

In Some Trouble:

  • Lee Brice, “Soul” (holds at #19, but gained only fifty-six spins and eighty points)
  • Sam Hunt, “Water Under The Bridge” (up from #28 to #26, but gained only twenty-one spins and fifty-five points)
  • Dan + Shay, “You” (down from #39 to #40, barely keeps its bullet by losing spins and breaking even on points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown, “Thank You” (up from #45 to #33)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like A Truck” (up from #29 to #25)
  • Dierks Bentley, “Gold” (up from #32 to #28)
  • Kenny Chesney & Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends” (up from #43 to #39)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “The Kind Of Love We Make” (spends a second week at #1, but it denied a Billboard #1))

Bubbling Under 50:

  • Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”
  • Ashley Cooke & Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”
  • Ryan Griffin, “Salt, Lime And Tequila” (5/10)
  • Scotty McCreery, “It Matters To Her”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Strange”

On The Way:

  • Jake Owen, “Up There Down Here”
  • Maren Morris, “I Can’t Love You Anymore”

Overall Thoughts: Did I say spins would be a bit harder to find this week? They wound up being a lot harder to gather, thanks to a logjam at the top of the chart (Wallen made a big move, while Thanos and Swindell mostly held serve at #1 at #2) and a few 1000+ points gains below them (most notably Brown & Brown gaining over 1700 points despite being outside the Top 30). The traffic jam at the top limited escalator movement this week, but with several songs set to leave next week (Tenpenny, Ray, Old Dominion) and at last one of the folks at the top likely to begin their descent, I expect a bit more in the way of spin availability and position movement going forward.

This week was Country Aircheck‘s biannual analysis of the gold charts, and there were a couple of noteworthy trends:

  • This was a big report for debuts, with 14 tracks making their first appearance on the Gold charts. That would seem to indicate that there’s a fair bit of turnover in the Gold rotations right now…except that there were only three debuts in the last chart, and while we saw an even bigger debut surge a year ago (24 new entries, including 7 of the top 10), a fair few of these have either already been cycled off of the Gold 100 or are on the verge on being tossed out (granted, these are snapshots that are very spread out and the rankings can be surprisingly volatile, so reading into any trends shown here can be tricky). I’m very curious to see just how much staying power recent tracks here, because the drop in song quality I’ve seen over the last few years makes me wonder if anything from this era will reach legendary status.
  • Women (five artists and seven songs) and groups (five artists and ten songs) continue to have minimal presence on the charts, and I don’t see either of these improving in the near future, as the artists here are either past their prime (Underwood, Lambert, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band), have lost all of their momentum recently (Morris, Barrett, Old Dominion), or never had any momentum to being with (Rexha, LoCash). There are some promising names that might be eligible in a year or two (Carly Pearce? Lainey Wilson?), as well as some not-so-promising ones (Parmalee will probably claim a spot with “Take My Name”), but I don’t think the current balance will change all that much.
  • The 90s are dead, long live the 90s. The final holdout from the era (Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That) finally fell out of the Top 100 this time around, which means we’re getting mixed signals about neotraditional nostalgia: There have been some recent singles that have found success with 90s callbacks (“Like I Love Country Music,” “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”), but there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite for the OG tracks, and despite the success of these songs we don’t see a ton of people rushing to follow their lead. For better or worse, the genre continues to move in a slicker direction with less sound variety than the era they supposedly hold in high esteem.

On the coronavirus front, the pandemic has faded into the background so completely that not even NPR bothered to update their case/death count page this week (the New York Times site continues to show declining new case and death counts, but the daily death count seems to be leveling off around 400…). Much of the country seems to have moved on from the pandemic, but the raw numbers (about 50,000 new case a day on top on the 400 deaths) still seem far too high to warrant ignoring. I’d really like to see us come together and make a big drive to drive these numbers all the way down, and we know exactly how to do it:

There may be a level of acceptance of the current COVID caseload among Americans, but such acceptance feels unacceptable to me. If we made one more concerted effort to squash this virus, we could finally bring this pandemic (and all of its associated needless suffering) to an end.