The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 10, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
2. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
3. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
4. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
5. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
6. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
8. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
9. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
10. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
11. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
12. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
13. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
14. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
15. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
16. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
17. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
18. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
19. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
20. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
21. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
22. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
23. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
24. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
25. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
26. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
27. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
28. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
29. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
30. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
31. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
32. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
33. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
34. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
35. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
36. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
37. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
38. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
39. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
40. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
41. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
42. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
45. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
46. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
47. Callista Clark, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” -1 (4/10)
48. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
49. Dustin Lynch ft. MacKenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You” 0 (5/10)
50. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +12
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -3
Overall Pulse +9
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (recurrent)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (recurrent)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (down from #14 to #21)
  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (collapses from #2 to #23)

In Real Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #44 to #41, but gained only thirty-seven spins and 116 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #43, but lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only fifteen spins and ninety-six points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (down from #49 to #50, gained only twelve spins and sixteen points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (up from #9 to #8, but gained only thirty-four spins and forty-one points)
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (up from #18 to #15, but gained only forty-nine spins and ninety-four points)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #31 to #30, but gained only forty spins and ninety-eight points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey & Rain” (up from #40 to #38, but gained only seventeen spins and seventy-five points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (up from #41 to #39, but gained only nineteen spins and ninety-four points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #46 to #40)
  • Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” (up from #12 to #7)
  • Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” (up from #19 to #15)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” (up from #22 to #17)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (up from #24 to #19)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #7 to #5)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kip Moore, “Good Life”
  • Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave”

Overall Thoughts: Folks, we are officially on the precipice of disaster: With Rascal Flatts and Arts on their way out and a ton of zeros on the board (nearly half the chart is at 5/10!), it looks like we’re in for an extremely boring summer in mainstream radio. The spring churn continues with a number of songs leaping four or more spots this week, but by and large the stuff that’s climbing and the stuff that’s rushing in to fill the void at the bottom is not that good. It’s got me thinking that country songs aren’t meant to be listened too anymore; it’s just meant to be background noise that can be easily ignored while you do other important (or not-so-important) things. (It would explain the rapid decline of story songs in the genre—who has the time or attention span to listen to one of those anymore?) It’s frustrating from a critical standpoint (listening and thinking deeply about songs is 80% of what I do around here), but there’s good money in mediocrity these days, which is why the Pulse is likely to dip below zero as the temperatures rise.

The good news is that coronavirus cases are also continuing to trend downwards, with new diagnoses down almost 30% over the last two weeks (sadly the decline in deaths is not as dramatic, bringing the overall toll to over 582,000 in the U.S.). Vaccination numbers continue to creep upwards (44.7% of the adult population in the U.S is now fully vaccinated), and with Pfizer’s vaccine now approved for children as young as 12, expect the country’s total numbers to climb even further. NPR reports that 46.1% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and guess who now counts among that 46.1%?

I was mildly annoyed at the state for making me wait as long for an appointment as I did, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due: When the day came, I found the process easy, efficient, and 100% effective. Both the signup and the follow-up booking process were quick and painless, and the staff members I encountered were friendly, professional, and very good at what they did. (I really liked the informational papers they provided, which included answers to some common questions such as side effects, vaccine ingredients, and exactly what an “Emergency Use Authorization” was. It was the sort of thing I’d like to see distributed a bit more widely to folks who are on the fence about the shot.) I had a needle stuck in my arm within ten minutes of arriving, and outside of some injection-site soreness, I haven’t felt any side effects at all. My opinion on the whole process is best summed up by the hardest working man in show business:

I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet gotten a vaccine appointment to do so as their earliest convenience, and to continue following best practices (masks, social distancing, etc.) until we finally put this pandemic behind us. A return to something resembling normal is coming, and the sooner folks get vaccinated, the sooner we can all take the exit ramp off of this road of ruin.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: May 3, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
2. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
3. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
4. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
5. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
6. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
7. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
8. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
9. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
10. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
11. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
12. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
13. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
14. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
15. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
16. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
20. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
21. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
22. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
23. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
24. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
25. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
26. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
27. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
28. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
29. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
30. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
33. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
34. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
35. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
36. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
37. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
38. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
39. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
40. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
41. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
42. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
45. Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More” 0 (5/10)
46. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
47. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
48. Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney, “Half Of My Hometown” +1 (6/10)
49. Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” -1 (4/10)
50. Clay Walker, “We All Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +14
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -4
Overall Pulse +10
Change From Last Week
0

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (recurrent)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (recurrent)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (recurrent)
  • Brett Young, “Not Yet” (down to #53)

Leaving:

  • Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” (crashes hard from #1 to #14)
  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (down from #2 to #3)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (holds at #8, but remains bullet-less and should go recurrent soon)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #46 to #42, but gained only forty-eight spins and 186 points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #45 to #43, but gained only twenty-four spins and fifty-two points)
  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #49 to #46, but gained only twenty-five spins and sixty-one points)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (up from #50 to #47, but gained only four spins and lost points)

In Some Trouble:

  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #47 to #44, but gained only nine spins and fifty-nine points)
  • Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (debuts at #49, but gained only twenty-three spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (re-enters at #50, but gained only twenty-five spins and eight points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (up from #34 to #30)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #39 to #35)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time With You” (up from #43 to #39)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #9 to #7)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Dustin Lynch ft. Mackenzie Porter, “Thinking ‘Bout You”

Overall Thoughts: So the good news is that the ice jam continues to break up and that the chart’s spring rotation is in full swing. The bad news is that most of the junk bubbling up from the chart’s nether regions is no better than what it’s replacing, and with Arts and Rascal Flatts primed to head for the exists (taking +6 worth of Pulse with them), we’re about to find ourselves teetering on the verge of a negative score once again. There were more spins to go around this week with three tracks getting the boot and Brett Young regressing to the mean, but the bottom of the chart still wound up looking like a barren wasteland, with twelve zeros and just a single track (Andress) rated higher than a 6/10. I’m not seeing a ton of encouraging releases on the horizon either, so expect the Pulse to be in a precarious position for a while.

This week’s Country Aircheck featured a deep dive into the inner workings of WCTK, a radio station in Providence, Rhode Island, that has been putting up numbers that are apparently impressive (I’m not even going to pretend that I have any idea what market share numbers mean), and tried to discern their formula for success. The results seem to track with what we’ve been seeing here at the Pulse, and to be honest, I don’t find them terribly encouraging.

  • “We gravitate toward the up-tempo stuff…That’s been the secret sauce here…We relegate [a ballad] to nights if we have to play it.” WCTK PD Kevin Palana

I’ve got nothing against an fun, high-energy track, but I’ve also got a soft spot for the slower stuff, and I prefer more variety in my playlists. Having what sounds like a blanket ban on midday ballads doesn’t feel like a great choice to me, but I suppose I’m not dominating a Northeastern radio market either.

  • “WCTK also has one of the highest percentages of gold content on the panel, and the up-tempo policy applies there, as well. Palana notes his gold category is ‘99% up-tempo.’ With the challenges of the past year, Palana says, ‘It’s a nice distraction from people’s problems. We try to keep the station upbeat as much as possible. I think it helps.'”  Chris Huff, the article author

Ah, so that’s the guy I should blame for making us all suffer through the Cobronavirus movement. While I understand that people need a respite from the weight of the world, country music has been trying to make it a permanent vacation over the last year, and at some point we need to stop ignoring our problems and start addressing them.

The article also featured a chart that backed up the gold-content assertion: An analysis of a week’s worth of spins found that almost 50% of the songs played fell into the gold category, and with a little over 25% of the spins dedicated to currents, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for newer material. However, given the soundalike songs I’ve been reviewing lately, I can’t say that I blame them much.

  • “We play the superstars; that’s what our listeners expect to hear…Some of the newer artists we’ve never played. And we’re not playing a lot of stuff on the charts.” Palana

Yeah, we noticed: Playlists have been getting shorter across the board, and established are using an express lane to reach the top of the charts while newer and less-well-known artist are stuck clamoring for scraps at the bottom. There’s not a lot of room in the genre right now, and that extends to the “lean and mean” staff Palana credits (the whole station is pretty much run by 4 people, and Palana implied that the station goes without a DJ at times).

Overall, having fewer people playing fewer songs by fewer artists covering fewer topics doesn’t feel like a recipe for success to me, and while WCTKs numbers look good on the surface, the overall picture doesn’t strike me as very rosy.

By popular demand, we’re going to start looking at the vaccination numbers a bit more in addition to our usual coronavirus case tracking, and overall the numbers are good, but we’ve still got a ways to go:

  • New case numbers continue to decline, but its fairly slow descent and we’re still at a concerningly-high average somewhere in the neighborhood of about 40,000 diagnoses a day. The daily death, unfortunately, seems to have mostly leveled out, settling around 1,000 deaths a day (the total count sits at 578,500). Again, it’s a far cry from where we were, but it’s still a long way from where we need to be, so we need to keep doing the right things (washing our hands, wearing our masks, keeping our distance from others, and above all getting the vaccine as soon as possible) to try to push these numbers as low as we can.
  • So how is the vaccine rollout going? I’d call the answer “relatively well, but absolutely mediocre”: The United States currently has nearly 41% of its adult population fully vaccinated, which isn’t bad compared to the rest of the world (in terms of total population, we rank 10th), but it’s still well short of the magical moving target of “herd immunity,” which is now estimated at roughly 80% given the current transmissibility of the variants that dominate the country right now. As a result, the focus now is more on containment than anything else, and reaching a point where enough people are vaccinated such that any outbreaks that do occur are small and manageable, and any long-term effects or fatalities are minimized.

Vaccine hesitancy remains a major concern, with polling showing that “1 in 5 Americans remain unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine.” There’s a glimmer of hope there (so you’re saying 80% are willing to get it?), but given the children under 16 are not yet eligible for the vaccine (though that may change soon), it’s imperative that we get as many eligible folks vaccinated as possible, to protect those who aren’t yet able to get the shot. If you’re still on the fence about it, I implore you to talk to your local health care provider so that they understand your concerns and can give you the facts about it.

I’ve had a couple people tell me they’re in the “not yet” camp because they’re worried that the vaccine hasn’t been tested enough to know its true effects, despite the fact that tens of thousands of people participated in clinical trials and now millions of folks have received does. I tell them that for what it’s worth, if they need one more datapoint, I’ll give it to them: By this time next week yours truly will finally have received their first shot (appointments remain surprisingly hard to find around here), so I’ll let them (and you) know how it goes. I’m more than happy to do my part to combat this virus, protect the people I care about, and bring this pandemic to an end, and I hope that all of you are excited to do the same.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 26, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
2. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
3. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
4. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
5. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
6. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
7. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
8. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
9. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
10. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
11. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
12. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
13. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
14. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
15. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
16. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
17. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
20. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
21. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
22. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
23. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
24. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
25. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
26. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
27. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
28. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
29. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
30. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
31. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
32. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
33. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
36. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
39. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
40. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
41. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
42. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
43. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
44. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
45. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
46. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
47. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
48. Brett Young, “Not Yet” +1 (6/10)
49. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
50. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +9
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +1
Overall Pulse +10
Change From Last Week
+4 😎

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (recurrent)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #4 to #8)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (down from #9 to #19)
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (down from #16 to #24)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (down from #27 to #31)

In Real Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw & Tyle Hubbard, “Undivided” (up from #21 to #18, but lost its bullet)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only fifty-three spins and 160 points, and got run over by Rhett and Bryan)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (down from #31 to #33, lost its bullet with a 250+ point loss)
  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (holds at #34, but gained only six spins and one point)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #43 to #41, but gained only thirty-eight spins and 106 points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (holds at #42, but lost its bullet)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #44 to #43, but gained only thirty-four spins and 142 points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #46 to #45, but lost spins and gained only seven points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #47 to #46, but gained only one spin and lost points)
  • Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” (up from #50 to #49, but lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #49 to #50, gained only thirty-five spins and 100 points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Keith Urban & Pink, “One Too Many” (up from #20 to #16, but gained only twenty-eight spins and 116 points, and has looked relatively weak compared to its peers)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #37, but gained only twnety-nine spins and 103 spins)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (up from #41 to #28)
  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (up from #35 to #27)
  • Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” (up from #18 to #13)
  • Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #22 to #17)
  • Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” (up from #45 to #40)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #13 to #9)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • None listed by Country Aircheck for a third straight week? Has the feature been discontinued?

On The Way:

  • Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots”

Overall Thoughts: The dam finally burst this week. Five songs are definitely on their way out (and “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” may be following them out the door as well), and a big push from Arts and a big rebound for Bryan meant spins were hard to find at the bottom of the chart, putting much of the flotsam there (especially Janson and LoCash) at risk of going under. The loss of Florida Georgia Line and the rise of semi-decent songs from HARDY and Brett Young bumped the Pulse back into double-digits for the first time in a while, but I’ll wait to see how it handles the upcoming loss of Arts before I declare that we’ve broken out of our early-year slump (again, dumping that LBT track would go a long way towards that goal…)

On the pandemic front, the numbers we’ve been tracking are trending in the right direction, with the daily case and death averages continuing to decline (the total death count now stands at over 572,000). The country is now awash in vaccines, and focus has shifted to two major issues:

  • There are still a lot of people who aren’t ready to get the vaccine, and the number “isn’t shrinking at the rate we might have hoped.” We’re still a long way off from herd immunity, and if people put off or refuse these shots at this rate, we’re going to slow down this timetable and prolong this pandemic unnecessarily. (The whole “skipping the second shot” phenomenon also confuses me: You convinced yourself to get the shot once, but not to finish the job and do it twice?) The vaccines and safe and effective, and getting one will help protect you, your family, and your community, so I implore you to get the vaccine at the earliest opportunity.
  • The vaccine rollout has been succesful in America so far, but it’s barely started in other parts of the world, and countries such as Brazil and India have been completely overwhelmed by COVID-19. With an apparent vaccine surplus here in the U.S. (including a ton of AstraZeneca doses that haven’t even been approved for use here), I encourage the Biden administration to continuing sharing their stockpile as they’ve done with Canada, Mexico, and now India, since a) an unchecked virus anywhere is a potential threat to people everywhere, and b) “vaccine diplomacy” would go a long way towards restoring global trust and confidence in the United States.

In the meantime, we need to keep following best practices to keep everyone safe: Keep your mask on, keep your distance from others, and keep your sleeves rolled up in anticipation of your vaccine shot. We’ve still got a few miles left in this marathon, and we’re only going to make it to the finish line if we all (metaphorcally) stick together.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 19, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
2. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
3. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
4. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
5. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
6. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
7. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
8. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
9. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
10. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
11. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
12. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
13. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
14. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
15. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
16. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
17. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
18. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
19. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
20. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
21. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
22. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
23. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
24. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
25. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
26. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
27. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
29. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
30. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
33. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” +2 (7/10)
36. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
39. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
40. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
41. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
42. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
43. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
44. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
45. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
46. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
47. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
48. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
49. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
50. Parker McCollum, “To Be Loved By You” -2 (3/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +7
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -1
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (dropped below #50)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (dropped below #50)

Leaving:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (collapsed hard from #1 to #16)
  • Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” (down from #3 to #9)
  • Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (down from #6 to #11)
  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (up from #8 to #6, but bullet-less and fading)

In Real Trouble:

  • Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” (holds at #24, but gained only forty-one spins and 109 points)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (down from #26 to #27, bullet-less with a 500-plus point loss)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (holds at #30, but gained only twenty-one spins and sixty-nine points)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (holds at #31, but gained only sixty-four spins and sixty-one points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #39 to #40, gained only twenty-seven spins and lost points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (down from #45 to #46, gained only thirty-three spins and 104 points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (down from #44 to #47, gained only seven spins and lost points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (down from #46 to #48, lost its bullet)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #48 to #49, gained only seven spins and loses points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” (holds at #23, but gained only twenty-five spins and lost points)
  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (holds at #34, but gained only twenty-nine spins and one point)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (down from #41 to #42, gained only sixteen spins and eleven points)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (down from #42 to #43, gained only tewnty-three spins and thirty-four points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (down from #43 to #44, gained only eighteen spins and sixty-nine points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Thomas Rhett, “Country Again” (debuts at #35)
  • Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” (up from #10 to #5)
  • Eric Church, “Hell Of A Ride” (up from #12 to #7)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #14 to #13)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • None listed by Country Aircheck for a second straight week.

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: The cracks in the Mediabase ice are getting bigger by the day: We’ve got four songs falling out of the top twenty (and a fifth that should be), and a bunch of songs in the lower half of the charts (and even some in the middle) that are barely hanging on. The problem, of course, is that I’m not 100% sold on the songs booking stays for the summer: Sure, Rhett’s entry was fine, but McColloum’s was not, and Robb and HARDY’s mediocre mush is likely still lurking right outside the door. (Maddie & Tae and Carmichael inspire a little confidence, but not Niko Moon…). Still, with the slump the chart has been in this year, there isn’t a whole lot of room for regression, so let’s hope the upcoming summer sounds are better than those of the spring.

Similarly, the pandemic is another situation that a) is in desperate need of a breakthrough, and b) may finally be on the verge of one. New cases remain essentially flat and there are still some troublesome hot spots on the map right now, but deaths still seem to be inching downwards as the ranks of the vaccinated swell (over 50% of adults in the country have now had at one least one vaccine dose). The focus is now starting to shift to those who remain unprotected: The anti-vaxxers and vaccine-hesitant, those too young to qualify for the vaccine, and those in other areas of the world whose rollouts have been relatively slow. There are going to be a lot of people who will be waiting a while longer for their shots, so I encourage everyone to continue the usual best practices to protect vulnerable individuals: Wear masks, wash your hands, and limit your gathering sizes and frequency. Better times are on the horizon, and we all need to continue doing our part to ensure we all get there safely.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 12, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
2. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
3. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
4. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
5. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
6. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
7. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
8. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
9. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
10. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
11. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
12. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
13. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
14. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
15. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
19. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
20. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
21. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
22. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
23. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
24. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
25. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
26. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
27. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
28. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
29. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
30. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
33. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Luke Bryan, “Waves” -1 (4/10)
36. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
39. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
40. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
42. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
43. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
44. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
45. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
46. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
47. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
48. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
49. Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” 0 (5/10)
50. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +7
Future Pulse (#26—#50) 0
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
-1 😦

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” (down from #1 to #6)
  • Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #2 to #7)
  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #6 to #8)

In Real Trouble:

  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (holds at #31, but lost its bullet again)
  • Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (holds at #48, but lost its bullet)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (down from #47 to #49, bullet-less for a second straight week)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (holds at #50, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” (down from #18 to #19, gained only eleven spins and eighty-four points)
  • Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” (up from #25 to #24, but gained only sixty-eight spins and eighty-five points)
  • Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (holds at #29, but lost spins and gained only twenty-six points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (down from #37 to #39, broke even on spins and gained only forty-seven points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (holds at #44, but gained only twenty spins and sixty-nine points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #45, but gained only eight spins and thirteen points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (holds at #46, but gained only twnety-five spins and thirty points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Luke Bryan, “Waves” (debuts at #35)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #20 to #14)

Bubbling Under 50:

  • None listed by Country Aircheck this week.

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: Is the spring thaw finally about to happen? With three tracks falling in the top ten (and a few more that look weak on the other end of the charts, and Stapleton likely to crash hard after his push to #1), it sure looks like it. The problem, however, is that the A-listers of the genre are simply using the express lane to jump right back into the fray (Bryan had a big debut this week; expect Rhett and possibly Ballerini/Chesney to do the same next week), and the floatsam keep piling in the lower half of the charts (songs like Janson’s, LoCash’s, and possibly Robb’s stick out this week, but for crying out loud, how many times does “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” have to lose its bullet before Little Big Town realizes it’s a dead song walking?). The charts remain in need of a good flushing, and despite all the songs scheduled to leave, I’m not sure it’s going to get one.

The coronavirus needs to be flushed from the nation as well, but it looks like that’s going to take a while too, with new cases on the upswing, daily death counts leveling off at an unacceptably-high number (the total count stands at over 563,000 now), and new hotspots beginning to flare up (most notably Michigan, but the Northeast as a region isn’t doing so well either). However, the vaccine will officially be eligible to everyone 18 and older next week, so if your moment to get an appointment hasn’t arrived yet, it will soon. Sadly, the distance between being eligible for an appointment and actually getting the vaccine can be far apart (for example, I’m stuck waiting another month for my shot), so we need to keep following best practices: Wear your masks, wash your hands, avoid large crowds, and do what you can to keep the people you care about safe.

Another pandemic returned to the headlines this week: The scourge of systemic racism, as shown by the recent shooting of Daunte Wright and the release of video showing police pepper-spraying Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario during a traffic stop. After all the marches and outrage that came about after the killing of George Floyd, we’re still stuck in the same place we were nearly a year ago, the same place we’ve been stuck for decades and even centuries. These acts may have left the front pages, but they’re still happening, and for all our high and mighty talk of last summer, we’ve made embarrassingly little progress towards rectifying the situation.

This sort of prejudiced bullshit needs to stop, and it needed to stop a long time ago. Black lives matter, even if our police departments don’t seem to think so. I don’t know if it’s police training or police culture or what, but we need to figure out why this sort of stuff keeps happening, and then take tangible, concrete steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Otherwise, we’ll be right back here next year, mourning another life taken too soon.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: April 5, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
2. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
3. Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” 0 (5/10)
4. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
5. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
6. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
7. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
8. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
9. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
10. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
11. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
12. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
13. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
14. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
15. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
19. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
20. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
21. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
22. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
23. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
24. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
26. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
27. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
28. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
29. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
30. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
33. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
34. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
35. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
36. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
37. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
38. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
39. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
40. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
41. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
42. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
43. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
44. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
45. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
46. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
47. Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” 0 (5/10)
48. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
49. Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, “Chasing After You” 0 (5/10)
50. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +8
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (recurrent)
  • Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Brett Young, “Lady” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” (down from #2 to #3)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (holds at #7, but is still much weaker than its competition)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (up from #33 to #32, but gained only thirty-one spins and 114 poInts)
  • Kane Brown, “Worship You” (up from #34 to #33, but gained only twenty-six spins and seventy-eight points)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (up from #48 to #47, but lost its bullet)

In Some Trouble:

  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only twenty spins and eighty-five points)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (up from #37 to #36, but gained only thirty-three spins and forty-nine points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (down from #39 to #40, gained only twelve spins and eighty-two points)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (up from #51 to #50, but gained only twenty-two spins and eighty-seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #47 to #43

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #25 to #20)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

Overall Thoughts: This was an interesting week defined by two phenomena:

  • The deflation of Rhett & Brett Young’s recent chart-toppers released a bunch of spins back into the wild (Parmalee & Brown, not so much), and while the upper half of the chart certainly grabbed their share of the spoils (Owen got nearly 500 extra plays, Barrett got nearly 600), the spin division was a hair more equitable this time around, with nearly everyone on the chart reporting triple-digit point gains. Bryan will likely hit the airwaves like a tidal wave next week and put the breaks on this trend quickly, but with the summer approaching, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign of radio stations beginning to (ever-so-slightly) expand their playlists. Only time will tell.
  • The spin losses didn’t really translate in spot losses, however, which meant that the escalator ground to a halt this week, with Brothers Osborne’s recurrence accounting for most of the miniscule gains we saw. Rhett and Brett Young will likely disappear soon, but with Bryan looking for a big splash and Ballerini/Chesney also positioned for a decent debut, some songs might find themselves going backwards next week.

While some more tracks have popped up on the April radar (i.e. the Add Date box in Country Aircheck), I think Bryan and Ballerini/Chesney are the only ones primed for impact in the short term (Maddie & Tae & Brothers Osborne have struggled historically, Moon has to prove he can avoid a sophomore slump, Denning’s song hasn’t shown much airwave strength yet, etc.). It feels like a quieter transition than I expected, but with Florida Georgia Line and a bunch of mediocre tracks set to leave soon, there’s some potential for Pulse growth if the right songs start rising to the top.

Speaking of rising, the coronavirus continues to dominate the country, with new cases continuing to rise at a significant clip. The death count, however, has not yet followed suit (it’s at roughly 556,500 now), which means the future is a bit murky right now: Will the rapid pace of vaccinations and prioritization of vulnerable individuals keep the hospitalization and death counts from spiking, or is a full-blown fourth wave just around the corner? Personally, I’d rather break the wave before it hits, so let’s keep on combating the virus by doing the right things: Wearing our masks, washing our hands, avoiding crowds, and especially getting vaccinated (President Biden has declared that vaccines will be open to all by April 19th, which means my own eligibility date is finally coming up). While more people I talk to are being vaccinated, more people I talk to seem to be getting infected too, so we can’t afford to let off the gas right now. A return to normalcy is on the horizon, and we can all get there so long as we stick together and keep one another safe.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: March 29, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
2. Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” 0 (5/10)
3. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
4. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
5. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
6. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
7. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
8. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
9. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
10. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
11. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
12. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
13. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
14. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
15. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
16. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
19. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
20. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
21. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
22. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
23. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
24. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
25. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
26. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
27. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
29. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
30. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
31. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
32. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
33. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
34. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
35. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
36. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
37. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
38. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
39. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
40. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
41. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
42. Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” 0 (5/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
45. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
46. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
47. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
48. Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” 0 (5/10)
49. Lauren Alaina & Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” 0 (5/10)
50. Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +5
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +2
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
0

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” (recurrent)
  • Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” (recurrent)
  • HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” (down from #1 to #2)
  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #3 to #5)
  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (down from #22 to #26)

In Real Trouble:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (down from #6 to #7, lost spins and gained only 174 points, and just appears to be out of gas)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (up from #35 to #33, but gained only forty-one spins and forty-nine points)
  • Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” (holds at #36, but loses its bullet)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (holds at #43, but gained only twenty-two spins and seventy-four points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (down from #42 to #44, gained only twenty-four spins and twenty-three points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (down from #45 to #46, gained only nine spins and eighty points)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (down from #44 to #47, lost spins and gained only six points)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (down from #46 to #48, gained only twenty-four spins and seventy-seven points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (down from #18 to #19, gained only twenty-four spins and thirty-five points)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (holds at #27, but lost spins and gained only thirty-six points)
  • Kane Brown, “Worship You” (holds at #34, but gained only six spins and twelve points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You” (up from #53 to #42)
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (up from #48 to #41)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #28 to #25)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Travis Denning, “ABBY”

Overall Thoughts: This week is mostly a continuation of trends we’ve already pointed out: Little chart movement above #40 with lots of movement below it, massive gains for established artists (where the heck did Owen find 2000+ points lying around?) and minimal gains for everyone else, and a whole lot of flotsam still clogging up the charts. This week, I’d like to take a closer look at a few specific tracks:

  • “Lady,” Brett Young: This makes Young 7-for-7 in getting singles to #1, which makes me wonder what this means for Young’s position in genre history: Is this a predictor for all-time greatness? Frankly, no—I would argue it says more about how watered-down the “#1” distinction is these days, and perhaps how watered-down it’s always been. (Thanos went 7-7 with his first seven singles too, and no one would argue that Young is anywhere near his level of stardom.) With rankings this open to manipulation and any of them allowing you to claim the “#1 hit” title, “#1 single” doesn’t always mean “hit,” and while Young has had some legitimately huge songs (“In Case You Didn’t Know”), I have a feeling most of these original seven won’t stand the test of time.
  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over”: Anyone who’s ever reached X rank in Splatoon 2 and immediately gotten their head handed to them knows how Stapleton feels right now. “Starting Over” appears to be way over its head and has been stalled inside the Top 10 for nearly a month now, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon (note how much bigger the point gains were for Arts and Owen just below Stapleton). A #1 in still a possibility, but Mercury’s going to have to bring their promotional A game to make it happen.
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided”: These two really misread the moment: They went all-in on a plea for unity, and discovered that no one is in the mood to compromise, whether in Washington or in the rest of the nation. We remain an angry, bitter, polarized nation, which means that they’re really isn’t an audience for a song like this, and hence it seems to have stalled just above #20.
  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night”: I declared back in February that “if these losses grow and [“All Night”] quickly goes recurrent, it would not be a good look for country music.” Fast forward two months later, and the song appears to officially be on the way out, making zero headway after TJ Osborne came out as gay. Perhaps the song had already stalled out before the announcement, but it’s still not a good look for a genre that desperately wants to be seen as inclusive. (Meanwhile, Morgan Wallen continues to move a ton of albums while acts like Chapel Hart and Mickey Guyton still can’t find any radio traction.) Country music is many things, but moments like this remind us that “inclusive” isn’t one of them.
  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know”: Hey, a rare success story! Wilson certainly benefited from her selection as the next ‘On The Verge’ artist, but I did not expect her to explode like this (from #53 on March 1st to #29 as of today’s rolling chart), which makes me think two things:
    • This song could be an actual hit, unlike some of the rotating #1 songs we’ve seen recently like “Lady.”
    • Exactly how many artists are out there who would be doing the same thing is they were able to get an OTV-like push? With the charts being so stale lately, I would love to see PDs and stations take some more chances on below-the-radar talent, because a little exposure could end up going a long way.

April looks like a pretty quiet month for releases so far (only Hurd/Morris, Dennig, and the new Kelsea Ballerini/Kenny Chesney single look like they’ll be joining the charts in the short-term), so we may be waiting a while for the full seasonal airplay rotation to kick in.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to remind us that it isn’t going anywhere for a while: New case reports are back on the upswing, which usually means hospitalization and death increases aren’t far behind it (our current death toll sits at nearly 551,000). With newer, nastier variants of the virus taking the country by storm, we need to hang on tight and keep doing the right things (wearing masks, avoiding crowds, getting vaccinated ASAP) to avoid another deadly surge. As tired as we all are of being stuck at home for the past year, now isn’t the time to let up—if we can push the virus numbers down and the vaccination numbers up, a more-normal summer is well within our grasp.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: March 22, 2021

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

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

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

Song Score
1. Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” 0 (5/10)
2. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
3. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
4. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
5. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
6. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
7. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
8. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
9. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
10. Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” -1 (4/10)
11. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
12. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
13. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
14. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
15. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
16. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
17. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
20. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
21. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
22. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
23. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
24. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
26. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
27. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
28. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
29. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
30. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
31. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
32. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
33. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
34. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
35. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
36. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
37. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
38. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
39. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
40. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
41. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
42. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
43. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
44. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
45. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
46. Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” 0 (5/10)
47. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
48. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
49. Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” 0 (5/10)
50. HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” +1 (6/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +4
Future Pulse (#26—#50) +3
Overall Pulse +7
Change From Last Week
+1 🙂

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Luke Bryan, “Down To One” (recurrent)

Leaving:

  • Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” (down from #1 to #3)
  • Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” (down from #7 to #10)
  • Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” (down from #48 to #49, bullet-less for a second straight week, and is just holding up traffic at this point)

In Real Trouble:

  • Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (holds at #15, but gained only thirty-six spins and sixty-five points)
  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (holds at #22, but but loses its bullet again with a 200+ point loss)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (down from #32 to #33, gained only forty-two spins and 135 points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (down from #34 to #35, gained only forty-six spins and seventy-six points)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (up from #40 to #38, but gained only sixteen spins and lost points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only eight spins and twenty-six points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #45 to #42, but gained only twenty-one spins and fifty-seven points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #44 to #43, but lost its bullet)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (up from #46 to #44, but gained only fifty-three spins and seventy-two points)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (up from #49 to #46, but gained only ten spins and thirty-three points)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (up from #50 to #47, but lost spins and gained only fifty-three points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (holds at #6, but gains only thirty-two spins and ten points
  • Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” (holds at #29, but gained only forty-seven spins and 101 points)
  • Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (up from #38 to #37, but gained only fifty-three spins and thirty-six points)
  • Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” (up from #41 to #40, but gained only twenty-two spins and seventy-one points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughts Know” (up from #37 to #32)
  • Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” (up from #9 to #5)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #35 to #28. has officially submitted application to the Legion of Doom)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Ryan Hurd ft. Maren Morris, “Chasing After You”
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece”
  • Travis Denning, “ABBY”

Overall Thoughts: The dam didn’t quite break after last week, but the cracks in the ice are definitely starting to show.

With yet another week of minimal chart movement and a distinct lack of growth from many tracks despite the release of spins from Moon, Parmalee/Brown, and Lady A, what sticks out right now is the volatility at the tail end of the chart, especially from #40 on down. Songs that sit mostly stagnant for weeks on end suddenly take a big step forward, only to wind up losing much of the gains soon afterwards. LoCash may be the latest example of such behavior (they jumped 5 spots last week only to lose their bullet this week), but I’ve seen a number of songs at that level lose spots as quickly as they gain them, and only escape the cesspool of mediocrity through outside intervention (think Wilson’s post-‘On The Verge’ growth) or by waiting for a million years until everything above it has gone recurrent (think Scott’s molasses-slow climb to #12). The whole boom-and-bust cycle makes me wonder if there are some label shenanigans going on behind the scenes (“hey, play this artist more this week, would you?”), and our only hope is that the annual spring clearing of the airwaves will finally put a few of these tracks out to pasture.

On the pandemic front, lately we can’t seem to get a round of unqualified good news. Despite the continued success of the vaccine rollout (seriously, my mother actually managed to get an appointment the same day she became eligible!), we’re starting to see some new potential hot spots pop up, such as in Michigan and New York. With new dangerous variants of the virus circulating, this is no time to get complacent or rush back to business as usual. The end of this pandemic is in sight, and if we can keep doing the right things to keep ourselves and our communities safe (wearing masks, maintaining social distance, getting vaccinated as soon as possible), we can hopefully short-circuit this potential surge before it gets going.

Hang in there folks—remember, good things come to those who wait.

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: March 15, 2021

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog (side note: I’m sad to report that Josh will be stepping away from CP, but I wish him all the best in his next endeavor!) 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 ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
2. Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” 0 (5/10)
3. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
4. Luke Bryan, “Down To One” 0 (5/10)
5. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
6. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
7. Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” -1 (4/10)
8. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
9. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
10. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
11. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
12. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
13. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
14. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
15. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
16. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
17. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
20. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
21. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
22. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
23. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
24. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
26. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
27. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
28. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
29. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
30. Lady A, “Like A Lady” 0 (5/10)
31. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
32. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
33. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
34. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
35. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
36. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
37. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
38. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
39. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
40. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
41. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
42. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
43. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
44. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
45. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
46. Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” +1 (6/10)
47. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
48. Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” 0 (5/10)
49. Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” 0 (5/10)
50. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +6
Future Pulse (#26—#50) 0
Overall Pulse +6
Change From Last Week
+2 🙂

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” (recurrent)
  • Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (recurrent)
  • Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (down to #53, hopefully gone for good)

Leaving:

  • Nike Moon, “GOOD TIME” (down from #1 to #7)
  • Luke Bryan, “Down To One” (holds at #4, but remains bullet-less)
  • Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” (down from #5 to #11)
  • Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (down from #33 to #37 with a 750+ point loss)

In Real Trouble:

  • Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” (up from #12 to #11, but loses its bullet with a 350+ point loss, so it’s officially on borrowed time)
  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (holds at #22, but gained only sixty-one spins and 110 points)
  • Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” (holds at #28, but lost its bullet and has been fairly stagnant for a while)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (down from #31 to #32, but gained only eleven spins and lost points)
  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (down from #39 to #40, gained only twenty-two spins and eighty-one points)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (down from #46 to #47, lost its bullet with triple-digit point losses)
  • Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” (down from #44 to #48, lost its bullet with a 200+ point loss)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (re-enters at #49, but does so without a bullet)
  • Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” (down from #48 to #50, lost its bullet with triple-digit point losses

In Some Trouble:

  • Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” (up from #16 to #15, but gained only fifteen spins and four points)
  • Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” (holds at #18, but gained only thirty-two spins and eighty points)
  • Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” (up from #30 to #29, but gained only fourteen spins and sixty points)
  • Scotty McCreery, “You Time” (down from #33 to #34, gained only twenty-nine spins and eighty-seven points)
  • Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” (down from #41 to #42, gained only twenty-six spins and eighty-six spins)
  • Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (up rom #45 to #43, but gained only twenty spins and fifty-eight points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (up from #47 to #45, but gained only forty-four spins and three spins)
  • Russell Dickerson, “Home Sweet” (re-enters at #46, but gained only four spins and fifty-seven points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Lady A, “Like A Lady” (debuts at #30)
  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughts Know” (up from #42 to #37)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (rebounds from #23 to #19 with a 1300+ point gain)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (up from #49 to #44)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (up from #50 to #35)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You”
  • Ryan Hurd ft. Maren Morris, “Chasing After You”
  • Darius Rucker, “My Masterpiece”

Overall Thoughts: This was a classic gut-check week, and it was exactly what the charts needed to break the current logjam.

With Lady A making a big splash, Thanos making an official push after last week’s unofficial push, Wilson reaping the benefits of being ‘On The Verge,’ and some sizable spin-grabs elsewhere (how the heck did “Lady” gain 2000 points?!), a lot of songs were pushed to the brink this week (especially near the bottom of the chart), and some likely won’t recover (with any luck, this is the last we’ll hear of “What Do I Know” or Robert Counts ever again). Things were certainly loosen up next week as “Like A Lady” regresses to the mean, but songs that were caught flatfooted this week need to start thinking about a gracious exit strategy (even artists as high as Davis, Rascal Flatts, and even Stapleton probably need to concede that they’re not #1 material). The turnover we got mostly brought retreads like Dickerson and Robb back into the picture, but I suspect the upheaval will continue as the temperature climbs and the seasonal rotations continue.

On the pandemic front, the news is cautiously optimistic: The vaccine rollout seems to be picking up speed (to the point where several states are announcing plans to open appointments to anyone 16 and older), and the new case and death averages continue to decrease, albeit slowly (the total death count now stands at nearly 537,000). The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, and while it will still take some time to get there, we can finally start to visualize a post-pandemic future, and take stock of what we’ve learned about ourselves and this country over the last year. For now, I encourage everyone to keep your mask on, keep your distance from other people, and sign up to receive a vaccine as soon as you’re eligible, because the sooner we get everyone protected, the sooner we can start getting together and cleaning up the mess that is America.

 

The Current Pulse Coronavirus Pandemic of Mainstream Country Music: March 8, 2021

Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog (side note: I’m sad to report that Josh will be stepping away from CP, but I wish him all the best in his next endeavor!) 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. Niko Moon, “GOOD TIME” -1 (4/10)
2. Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown, “Just The Way” 0 (5/10)
3. Thomas Rhett, “What’s Your Country Song” 0 (5/10)
4. Luke Bryan, “Down To One” 0 (5/10)
5. Brett Young, “Lady” +1 (6/10)
6. Florida Georgia Line, “Long Live” -2 (3/10)
7. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” 0 (5/10)
8. Gabby Barrett, “The Good Ones” 0 (5/10)
9. Dustin Lynch, “Momma’s House” -1 (4/10)
10. Tenille Arts, “Somebody Like That” +2 (7/10)
11. Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” 0 (5/10)
12. Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You” +4 (9/10)
13. Dylan Scott, “Nobody” 0 (5/10)
14. Jake Owen, “Made For You” 0 (5/10)
15. Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” 0 (5/10)
16. Jordan Davis, “Almost Maybes” +1 (6/10)
17. Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up With Easy In The 90s” 0 (5/10)
18. Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” +1 (6/10)
19. Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” 0 (5/10)
20. Dierks Bentley, “Gone” 0 (5/10)
21. Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage” 0 (5/10)
22. Brothers Osborne, “All Night” -1 (4/10)
23. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” +1 (6/10)
24. Jason Aldean, “Blame It On You” +1 (6/10)
25. Carly Pearce, “Next Girl” 0 (5/10)
26. Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends” -2 (3/10)
27. Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” 0 (5/10)
28. Brantley Gilbert, “Hard Days” 0 (5/10)
29. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist” -1 (4/10)
30. Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much” +2 (7/10)
31. Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” -3 (2/10)
32. Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” -1 (4/10)
33. Scotty McCreery, “You Time” 0 (5/10)
34. Elvie Shane, “My Boy” +2 (7/10)
35. Kane Brown, “Worship You” -1 (4/10)
36. Lee Brice, “Memory I Don’t Mess With” -1 (4/10)
37. Runaway June, “We Were Rich” +2 (7/10)
38. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Shallow” +1 (6/10)
39. Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” 0 (5/10)
40. Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” -3 (2/10)
41. Michael Ray, “Whiskey And Rain” 0 (5/10)
42. Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughta Know” +2 (7/10)
43. Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway” 0 (5/10)
44. Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” 0 (5/10)
45. Jameson Rodgers ft. Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name” 0 (5/10)
46. Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” 0 (5/10)
47. Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” -1 (4/10)
48. Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like” +2 (7/10)
49. LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” -1 (4/10)
50. Luke Combs, “Forever After All” 0 (5/10)
Present Pulse (#1—#25) +6
Future Pulse (#26—#50) -2
Overall Pulse +4
Change From Last Week
0

Best Song: “How They Remember You,” 9/10
Worst Song: “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” 2/10

Gone:

  • Kelsea Ballerini, “Hole In The Bottle” (recurrent)
  • Teddy Robb, “Heaven On Dirt” (down to #51)

Leaving:

  • Luke Bryan, “Down To One” (down to #4)
  • Darius Rucker, “Beers And Sunshine” (down from #5 to #11)
  • Runaway June, “We Were Rich” (down from #33 to #37 with a 750+ point loss)

In Real Trouble:

  • Priscilla Block, “Just About Over You” (holds at #39, but gained only nine spins and seventeen points)
  • Robert Counts, “What Do I Know” (up from #41 to #40, but lost its bullet again)
  • Chris Janson, “Waitin’ On 5” (down from #44 to #46, gained only sixteen spins and thirty points)
  • Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time” (holds at #47, but gained only twenty-seven points and seventy-seven points)
  • LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On” (down from #45 to #49, lost spind and gained only eleven points)

In Some Trouble:

  • Brothers Osborne, “All Night” (down from #21 to #22, lost spins and gained only twenty points)
  • Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (down from #22 to #23, gained only seven spins and eight points)
  • Little Big Town, “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (up from #32 to #31, but gained only fifteen spins and 104 points)

In No Trouble At All:

  • Lainey Wilson, “Things A Man Oughts Know” (gained 37 adds as the latest ‘On The Verge’ artist)
  • Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo” (up from #49 to #44)
  • Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” (up from #36 to #32)

Is Thanos:

  • Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (already at #50 despite not officially releasing until this week)

Bubbling Under 50:

On The Way:

  • Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You”
  • Lady A, “Like A Lady”

Overall Thoughts: The charts remain mostly frozen in place this week, but there are signs that the ice may be cracking. Not only has Thanos cracked the top fifty before his single officially released, but another shoe has dropped in seasonal rotation as “We Were Rich” has reached the end of its run (I still like the song, but it’s been apparent for a while now that it wasn’t going anywhere). The charts are in desperate need of a shakeup right now (Country Aircheck‘s latest issue mentions the strength of country gold rotations, which isn’t a great sign if your new stuff can’t dislodge the old stuff), so I’m holding out hope that warmer weather will bring some more interesting tracks to the airwaves. (However, given the flotsam hovering around that #50 spot, I’m not sure how realistic said hope is…)

On the pandemic front, the news remains mixed: There’s a lot of potential out there (vaccine production and distribution continue to increase), but the current levels of community spread remain uncomfortably high (the average daily infection count is still above 50,000, and the daily death average is still well over 1,000). With more states moving to lossen restrictions, it’s fair to ask whether the nation will be able to maintain its momentum in trying to contain the virus, or if we’re setting ourselves up for another springtime surge. As I said last week, “we should be sticking to what works: Mask mandates, limits on gathering size, and stringent social distance guidelines,” and I urge folks to keep doing their due diligence and taking the necessary precautions, even if they’re not officially required to. The promise of a better summer is out there, but whether or not we see that promise fulfilled depends on how well we behave right now.