Watch: Jake McMullen’s “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up”

Meet Jake McMullen, an up and coming Americana/Folk Rock artist. He’s from Orange County, California and currently resides in Nashville, as he just released his debut EP Always. McMullen considers his biggest influences to be The National, Bon Iver and Johnny Cash. The video above is for a song off of the EP, titled “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up.” It’s a combination of Americana, folk and pop to create a dreamy feeling song that deals with the inner thoughts of the everyday person. Give it a listen and let me know what you think of it below.

Review – Frankie Ballard’s “It All Started With A Beer”

Frankie Ballard It All Started With A Beer

I feel like we haven’t heard from Frankie Ballard in ages. It probably has to do with the fact that’s he has been pretty quiet throughout 2015. The only single he’s released this year has been “Young & Crazy.” As Derek said in his review of the song, it does more right than wrong and it was a pretty decent song. It’s certainly better than a lot of singles at country radio. It performed well on the airplay chart, as it reached #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. So despite being under-the-radar, Ballard has done well. But he’s now back with a new single, “It All Started With A Beer.” Hints started dropping about it weeks back in Country Aircheck Weekly and now it’s starting to go for airplay at radio. And once again Ballard gives us something more than the rest in mainstream country music.

Right away an acoustic guitar sets the tone of the song. It’s mid-tempo and has a hazy feeling, but in a good feeling. This fits the theme well, as the song is about a man recalling how he met his wife in a bar. He remembers exactly what they were drinking and how he picked up the tab, as a girl like her made him want to do this despite not having much money. Their relationship all started with a beer and now they’ve been together for years, going through all kinds of highs and lows together. This song depends a lot on the nostalgia factor when it comes to the listener. For some they will immediately connect with it, while others may find the song a little bit lacking. I was kind of hoping the lyrics would go just a little deeper (song written by Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason and Jeremy Stover), but as is they’re good enough and grow on you a little bit as you listen to it more. The instrumentation is well done, as a combination of steel guitar and acoustic guitar make for a great and decidedly country sound.

While I thought “Young & Crazy” was decent, I think “It All Started With A Beer” is a little better even. Love ballads suit Frankie Ballard well and I think this single shows he should do more. Really it’s a glimpse that perhaps he can go deeper overall with his music. This is the first single off of his new, upcoming album and I have to say this is a pretty solid start. I’m assuming it’s going to come out sometime in 2016, but so far there has been no official word from him or Warner Music Nashville. I think “It All Started With A Beer” will do great at radio and many listeners will be able to connect with it, ensuring it will reach #1 most likely. I give it a light recommendation to check it out. Frankie Ballard continues to head in the right direction with this single.

Grade: 7/10

Great Music Currently at Country Radio [November 25]

The very best of country radio right here in a nice playlist. In order for a song to be added to the list, it must currently be in the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, so this will be updated weekly. Normally this feature is part of The Hodgepodge, but I’ve decided to make this a weekly standalone post. In recent weeks this playlist has nearly doubled in size, which is very encouraging to see. Hopefully this trend continues and all of these songs make the top 30. Here’s where all the songs currently stand on the chart:

1. Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over”

2. Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break”

8. Cam – “Burning House” 

13. Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy” 

25. Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood”

27. Dierks Bentley – “Riser”

29. Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame”

33. George Strait – “Cold Beer Conversation”

39. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”

43. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl”

44. Kip Moore – “Running For You”

45. Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With A Beer” [New]

47. Maddie & Tae – “Shut Up and Fish” 

48. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink”

49. Mo Pitney – “Boy & A Girl Thing”

56. Ashley Campbell – “Remembering” [New]

59. Love & Theft – “Whiskey on My Breath” [New]

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [December 5]

Chris Young I'm Comin' Over

Each week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over” +1 
  2. Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break” +1 (Up 1)
  3. Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -1 (Up 2)
  4. Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -1 
  5. Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” -1 (Up 2)
  6. Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” -1 (Down 4) [Tied for Worst Song]
  7. Tim McGraw – “Top of the World” (Up 1)
  8. Cam – “Burning House” +1 (Up 1) 
  9. Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer” (Up 1)
  10. Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” -1 (Up 1)
  11. LoCash – “I Love This Life” -1 (Up 1)
  12. Parmalee – “Already Callin’ You Mine” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy” +1 (Up 1)
  14. Big & Rich – “Run Away With You” 0 (Up 2)
  15. Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  16. Kelsea Ballerini – “Dibs” -1 (Down 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  17. Granger Smith – “Backroad Song” -1 (Up 1)
  18. Brad Paisley – “Country Nation” -1 (Up 2)
  19. Randy Houser – “We Went” -1 
  20. Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  21. Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight” -1 (Up 8) [Tied for Worst Song]
  22. Keith Urban – “Break On Me” -1 (Up 3)
  23. Chase Bryant – “Little Bit of You” -1
  24. A Thousand Horses – “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” -1
  25. Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” +1 (Up 5)
  26. Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” -1
  27. Dierks Bentley – “Riser” +1 [Tied for Best Song]
  28. Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” -1
  29. Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” +1 (New to Top 30) [Tied for Best Song]
  30. Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober” -1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -13

The pulse improved two spots again this week!

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him” went recurrent and fell from #6 to out of the top 30
  • Hunter Hayes’ “21” went recurrent and fell from #21 (just like the song title) to out of the top 30

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” (!!!)
  • Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober”

Song I Predict Will Reach #1 Next Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight” – Up 8 from #29 to #21
  • Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” – Up 5 from #30 to #25
  • Keith Urban – “Break On Me” – Up 3 from #25 to #22

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” – Out of the Top 30
  • Hunter Hayes – “21” – Out of the Top 30
  • Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” – Down 4 from #2 to #6

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Dibs”
  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You”

On The Hot Seat:

  • A Thousand Horses – “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial”
  • Randy Houser – “We Went”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “Confession”
  • George Strait – “Cold Beer Conversation”
  • Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader”
  • Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus”

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s chart in the comments below.

Also Happy Thanksgiving from Country Perspective!

The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown [November 23]

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Lost Time

This is The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown. Every week I’ll post the top 40 from the Americana Airplay chart, which is obtained from AmericanaRadio.org. From the site: “The Americana Airplay chart represents the reported play of terrestrial radio stations, nationally syndicated radio shows, satellite radio and internet stations who have agreed to submit weekly spin counts. For more information please visit www.americanamusic.org.”

The goal of this feature is to track and monitor the current most popular music in the Americana realm, as I believe it’s starting to take on a bigger importance in the world of music, especially concerning the current state of country music. In addition it will bring some new names to the site that haven’t been covered here before and could lead to more Americana coverage. It’s also a place to discuss anything going on in the Americana genre at this moment. Be sure to weigh in on the chart in the comments below.

  1. Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin – Lost Time 
  2. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Grade: 10/10)
  3. Joe Ely – Panhandle Rambler 
  4. Josh Ritter – Sermon On The Rocks [Up 2]
  5. The Black Lillies – Hard To Please (Grade: 9/10) [Down 1]
  6. The Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club (Grade: 8.5/10) [Up 1]
  7. Patty Griffin – Servant of Love [Down 2]
  8. Los Lobos – Gates Of Gold [Up 1]
  9. Corb Lund – Things That Can’t Be Undone (Grade: 9/10) [Up 1]
  10. Don Henley – Cass County (Grade: 10/10) [Down 2]
  11. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats – Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats [Up 1]
  12. Jim Lauderdale – Soul Searching [Up 1]
  13. The Wood Brothers – Paradise [Down 2]
  14. Tim O’Brien – Pompadour [Up 7]
  15. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – So Familiar [Up 4]
  16. Chris Isaak – First Comes The Night [Up 14]
  17. Lucero – All A Man Should Do [Down 3]
  18. The Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete [Down 3]
  19. Ryan Adams – 1989 [Down 2]
  20. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville (Grade: 9/10) [Down 2]
  21. Chris Stapleton – Traveller (Grade: 10/10) [Down 5]
  22. Various Artists – Cold & Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins 
  23. Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble [Down 3]
  24. Webb Wilder – Mississippi Moderne [Up 2]
  25. Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo [New]
  26. Jeffrey Foucault – Salt As Wolves [Down 2]
  27. Turnpike Troubadours – Turnpike Troubadours (Grade: 10/10) [Down 4]
  28. Shinyribs – Okra Candy [Up 4]
  29. Cox Family – Gone Like The Cotton [Down 2]
  30. Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Squelch (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 2]
  31. Shawn Colvin – Uncovered [Down 6]
  32. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material (Grade: 9/10) [Down 3]
  33. The Damn Quails – Out of The Birdcage (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 2]
  34. Bart Crow – The Parade
  35. Shawn Mullins – My Stupid Heart [Up 4]
  36. Cody Jinks – Adobe Sessions (Grade: 9/10) [New]
  37. Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts of Love [Down 4]
  38. Amy Helm – Didn’t It Rain 
  39. Kevin Gordon – Long Gone Time [Down 3]
  40. Steve Forbert – Compromised [New]