The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 15]

Jon Pardi Head Over Boots

Each week we 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 one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. 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 +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

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. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +3 (Up 2) {Woohooo!}
  2. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1 (Up 3)
  3. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Up 1)
  4. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 (Up 2)
  5. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Up 3)
  6. Chris Lane – “Fix” -5 (Down 5) [Worst Song]
  7. Eric Church – “Record Year” +4 (Down 5) [Best Song]
  8. Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -2 (Down 1)
  9. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Up 2)
  10. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 
  11. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Up 1)
  12. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 2)
  13. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 4)
  14. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Up 1)
  15. Kip Moore – “Running For You” +2 (Down 2)
  16. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 2)
  17. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 6)
  18. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 2)
  19. Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +2 (Down 3)
  20. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Down 1)
  21. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 4)
  22. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Down 1)
  23. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  24. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Down 2)
  25. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 1)
  26. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 1)
  27. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 3)
  28. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 1)
  29. Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” +3 (Down 1)
  30. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Re-Entered Top 30 This Week)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -14

The pulse drops four spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes”
  • Note: Blake Shelton’s “She’s Got a Way With Words” has been moved down to a -3 because I listened to it again and it has somehow gotten even more annoying and obnoxious. I’ll have more on Blake tomorrow…)

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” (Sam Hunt and MCA Nashville are holding back for the #1 push until next week)

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World on Fire” – Up 6 from #23 to #17
  • Luke Bryan – “Move” – Up 4 from #25 to #21
  • LoCash – “I Know Somebody” – Up 4 from #17 to #13

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Chris Lane – “Fix” – Down 5 from #1 to #6
  • Eric Church – “Record Year” – Down 5 from #2 to #7

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

  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Chris Lane – “Fix”
  • Eric Church – “Record Year”
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You”
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without a Fight” (Arista Nashville pulled from promoting it earlier this week)
  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream”
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You”

On The Hot Seat:

  • None

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boot Fits”
  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song”
  • Florida Georgia Line & Tim McGraw – “May We All”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”

 

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

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36 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 15]

  1. Brothers Osborne: no bullet, 26 weeks, down in audience & spins. Top 30…we will see. Top 20 next summer.
    Thomas Rhett: no country radio love for “Vacation” (no bullet, down in audience & spins).
    Easton Corbin: “Are You With Me”. No & Bye.
    Darius Rucker: #59 & no bullet. Thank you Darius, but we have a new guy. He will be the next big thing.
    Jon Pardi: according to Bobby Bones/Twitter the next JP single will be “Dirt On My Boots”. Co-written by Jesse Frasure.

    Hot Shot Debut: #57 – RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”
    New: #58 – Ronnie Dunn feat. Kix Brooks – “Damn Drunk”
    Re-Entry: #60 – Gary Allan – “Do You Wish It Was Me?”

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    #1 – Blake Shelton – If I’m Honest
    #2 – Cody Johnson – Gotta Be Me – New
    #3 – Chris Stapleton – Traveller
    .
    #5 – The Cadillac Three – Bury Me In My Boots – New
    #6 – Elvis Presley – Elvis: Way Down In The Jungle Room – New
    .
    #8 – Chris “Falsetto” Lane – meh
    (Jake Owen is down to #7)

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King – “Different For Girls”
    #2 – Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me”
    #3 – Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”
    .
    #5 – James Barker Band – “Lawn Chair Lazy” – highest canadian track

    Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
    #1 – Troy Cassar-Daley – “Things I Carry Around”
    #2 – Alice Benfer – “Amamoor Creek”
    #3 – Kaylens Rain – “Lost In The Moonshine”

    New single: Drew Baldridge feat. Emily Weisband – “Rebound” (Source: Play MPe)
    New album: Reba McEntire – My Kind Of Christmas – 09/02 (Source: Music Row)

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    • While “Are You With Me” is down in audience again. The label is still promoting it seems so it’s not completely over for Easton Corbin’s song (I doubt he makes the Top 40 but you never know).

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    • I sure hope “21 Summer” finds a way to keep trucking along.

      It’s easily one of the few highlights of their mostly underwhelming “Pawn Shop”, and I feel it’s just going to blend splendidly with the coming autumn in that it obviously has a warm melancholy to it that’s decidedly autumnal in sound. The sales have admittedly been middling, however.

      *

      Not surprised to see “Are You With Me” fail to catch fire despite a massively successful reinterpretation of the song internationally via Lost Frequencies.

      In a ballad-heavy radio environment presently where some radio programmers have already admitted fatigue with the number of slower songs congesting their playlists, “Are You With Me” was already at a disadvantage from the onset. It also doesn’t help matters that Corbin is already in his mainstream twilight hours as evidenced by his awful sales and the poor radio performance of “Yup”.

      Much of Corbin’s commercial decline has been due to self-inflicted wounds regarding selling out to bro-country lyricism sensibilities and other trends. I’m quite confident we’re not going to see much subsequent radio success from him and, with that, here’s hoping he grows up and actually makes use of his solid vocals.

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      • I think they’re fully behind “21 Summer” and it’ll be pushed until it breaks through. What will help is the big exodus on the chart about to take place. It was long overdue and should put this song in a better position.

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  2. What do we make of “Vacation” flopping at country radio? Is it a sign of better things to come ot will he continue to put out shitty pop music?

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    • I wouldn’t make anything of it. Big Machine knew caming in that song was gonna stall at radio. Radio still plays the crap out of “T-Shirt” and “Die A Happy Man” so they took this summer as a way to release a polarizing track so the airplay of those huge hits would go down. Also “Vacation ” is selling very well given its airplay.

      There isn’t much to it, they’ll release a new song soon and since Thomas Rhett is a near star at this point, it’ll easily climb up the charts fast.

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      • Thomas Rhett is safe. For now. A second “Vacation” & the tide could turn.
        Scott Borchetta & his 1001 labels love to release garbage like “Vacation” to country radio (“Friend Zone” & “Live Forever”).

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        • “Friend Zone” never saw an actual release to radio. It got an official audio and a music video but that was it. Never saw an add date none of that. Danielle’s official comeback single, should come sometime before summer is over according to an interview on YouTube.

          I also believe that “Live Forever” was strictly The Band Perry’s idea as they own the rights to “Live Forever”. Big Machine backed out when they realized their career was heading down a slippery slope.

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          • Right. “Friend Zone” crashed outside of the Hot Country Songs Top 40.
            About radio airplay: “Request Danielle Bradbery’s single “FRIEND ZONE” on your local radio stations. Also request “FRIEND ZONE” on these radio stations. Country mediabase list…” (Source: Google+)
            Radio single or not…the track was garbage & just another non-country track release by the BMLG.

            The truth about BMLG & TBP is: we don’t know the real reasons.
            What about all the “yellow” marketing for “Live Forever”? 100% creative control for TBP?

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    • It shows radio actually has a line that can be crossed and hasn’t been demonstrated in this fashion since Jerrod Niemann’s ill fated “Donkey.” Rhett’s team will either double down and force this all the way to the top. Or the most likely case is they will cut bait and release another pop song that isn’t as polarizing to mainstream fans. So I wouldn’t say it’s a sign of better things to come from either Rhett or radio. But it’s encouraging they won’t play the worst of the worst.

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      • My theory is these labels are always pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with and occasionally with ‘Donkey’ or ‘Vacation’ they go too far but they have moved the window so far already with Hunt, Lane, and the others that they have largely succeeded in changing what is acceptable to most.

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  3. Looking like we are headed for several weeks of awful #1 songs coming up. I’m not even sure I see a plus song for me (Dan and Shay is boring, Zac Brown meh) in the next couple months unless the Justin Moore or William Morgan song were to make it which seems somewhat unlikely as they are really long in the tooth.

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  4. 1) Can’t say I’m surprised with “Without a Fight” preparing for an early exit.

    It just never really stood out to my ears and feels out of sync with the current listening environment with its Rolling Stones-esque guitar-driven approach. I personally liked it, but I could see from the beginning how it’d struggle to catch on with the lack of Paisley’s signature conversational composition intact and a sticky hook.

    It’ll be a shame if he’s already on his way out along with George Strait and Toby Keith. At age 43, he’s still younger than McGraw and Chesney and so, on paper, he ought to continue producing hits for another five years especially with his much-established celebrity personality. But I feel he’s stuck in a stylistic rut and the key to living to fight another few days on mainstream country radio is going to highly depend on whether he succeeds in carving another lane or not.

    *

    2) Is it just me, or is anyone else shocked by how mediocre the sales of “80’s Mercedes” have been?

    I thought for sure it would skyrocket into the Top Five of the iTunes Country chart just a few weeks after “HERO” was released. It just feels like the perfect summer jam or cross-country road trip staple to my ears, and also has tremendous crossover potential.

    So to see it fail to break out of the gridlock between #25 and #35 on the chart has to be looked at as a huge disappointment to me. Who knew?

    *

    3) “She’s Got A Way With Words” remains a -3 at this time to my ears at this time, but I’d say it’s a coin-toss it will be demoted further to a -4 between now and the time it reaches #1.

    On one hand, the production is so inert that it doesn’t justify a -5 rating to my ears at the very least. But, on the other hand, it’s precisely that inert production that attempts to romanticize or sentimentalize the selling of these whiny, arguably misogynistic lyrics……………….and is really the reason why it has soured from a-2 to may ultimately be a -4 over time.

    Simply put, it is an embarrassment this was designated a radio single. Thank Jove Jake Owen came to his senses and passed on this song.

    *

    4) How the f*** is Tucker Beathard’s “Rock On” on the cusp of the Top Ten?

    Its sales are mediocre. Its streaming isn’t bad, but nothing remarkable either.

    What do listeners see in this song and his atrocious voice?

    *

    5) William Michael Morgan’s “I Met A Girl”, I fear, has burned through too many chart weeks to where it’s likely it will peak within the Top Ten.

    Still, it doesn’t change how extraordinarily impressive his run has been and has to be looked at as a success. Here’s hoping his full-length debut is more reflective of his EP and less like Jon Pardi’s “California Sunrise”.

    *

    6) The Band Perry’s “Comeback Kid” was the most added song this week, but I still don’t expect it to be a breakout hit for them.

    I can’t see it testing well with listeners for the most part, for one. Its current sales are pitiful, too. I can’t even see this besting the peak of “Live Forever”.

    *

    7) Doesn’t look like Darius Rucker’s “If I Told You” is going anywhere.

    It’s still absolutely stunning to see how rapidly it fell from grace following an impressive unofficial peak at #2 on the country digital chart: which it was able to hold for four days. I’ve said this before, but I’ve never seen a free-fall that brutal following its debut on the country iTunes chart in all recent memory. Not even Kane Brown has had that nasty a collapse.

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    • Your choose a lane comment for Brad Paisley is spot on. His career feels like it’s in ‘let’s try this and see if it works’ mode right now. I would like to see something with more depth and maybe a little grit form him at this stage even it that means going to outside writers away from his usual group. Tim McGraw has perfected how to stay relevant and successful at a later age but even Kenny Chesney has managed to mix in songs like ‘El Cerrito Place’, ‘You And Tequila’ and others in the later part of his career. Either that or go the Alan Jackson route and record some passion projects.

      But the end is near for him if he doesn’t make some changes.

      Beathard was an ‘On The Verge’ right? I would like to see a full breakdown of all the On The Verge songs and where they ended up peaking. And then what becomes of those acts future singles. It seems like by saying they are ‘on the verge’ it almost has to be followed through to the upper parts of the chart by the iHeart stations while the Cumulus and others have no obligation to follow thus a schizophrenic chart track.

      We saw this in reverse with that Reba McEntire ‘Going Out’ single which was driven almost entirely by Cumulus airplay because of there Nash affiliation.

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      • OTV artist and peaks
        Craig Campbell Keep Them Kisses Coming Peak #8 or #9
        Dustin Lynch Where It’s At #1
        Sam Hunt Leave the Night On Peak #1
        Chase Bryant Take It On Back Peak #8 MB #9 BB
        Raelynn God Made Girls #16
        A Thousand Horses Smoke #1
        Michael Ray Kiss You In The Morning Peak #1
        Chris Janson Buy Me A Boat MB #1 BB #3
        Cam Burning House MB #1 BB #2
        Granger Smith Backroad Song #1
        Tucker Beathard #12 and climbing (also I disagree about Tucker being an atrocious vocalist, I find his voice pretty decent and I like “Rock On” for the play on words.

        So Tucker is doing really well and the sales while nothing great are good enough to justify to push it along.

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        • Thanks! So Dustin Lynch’s fourth charting single after a #2 hit with ‘Cowboys And Angels’ made him On The Verge? That is worse than that Lauren whatever singer.

          So Sam Hunt is the only ‘star career’ that has come from this and only Chase Bryant and Lynch have had another top ten after OTV single.

          Not a great track record for establishing long careers in my opinion.

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          • The thing with new artists and radio it’s kinda like a lottery in a way for a lot of them.

            Out of all the new artists it seems like only Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett (“Vacation” was a filler single to give “T-Shirt” time to drop), Brett Eldredge, and possibly Kelsea Ballerini, Dan + Shay and Dustin Lynch can make what they release into a solid Top 5 placement. For other singers it’s a matter of getting lucky enough to get pass the 30s and 40s in the chart which takes a while.

            Singers like Maddie & Tae, A Thousand Horses, Michael Ray, Canaan Smith, Jana Kramer, Cam, Kip Moore, Tyler Farr, and David Nail can only get 1-2 hits per album era because they all take forever to climb the charts so they can only release 2 to maybe 3 singles. Now the jury is still out when it comes to how acts like Jon Pardi and Maren Morris will face.

            They are such few spots for new artists to become superstars because the current A listers of Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Aldean all of them seem to show no signs of slowing down as all have impressive album sales. Even acts like Kenny Chesney are seeing a resurgence in momentum with his new song.

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          • Country music has always been one of the toughest genres for new artists to break into because of the length of careers for the most popular and successful performers. That is one of the things that made the whole ‘class of ’89’ stand out is that we had a large group of new acts achieve success over an 18 month period of time.

            But the question is whether basically buying airplay to jumpstart a career is an effective way to build a career or if it’s just a way to get a quick hit. Maybe the answer is yes it’s worth it but I’m not sure the results are saying that.

            Plus it doesn’t help that most of those 11 songs you listed are somewhere from bad to very bad (Cam pretty good, Campbell just boring being the exceptions) so who knows.

            It’s a tough game to break into as just look at Stapleton as he had everything from awards to sales to critical acclaim to concert tickets and yet radio said ‘no thanks’.

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          • I think in Stapleton’s case. We might have to wait until his next album comes out. Radio has a biased against taking long breaks between artists singles during an album era that I’d wait til the next single Stapleton realizes.

            For OTV they are basically guarnteed one hit no matter what. But it’s always the followup that matters most. If you can get the followup single to be a hit your good to go (Sam Hunt and Dustin Lynch possibly Maren Morris), but often times these marathon chart runs (this year with Frankie Ballard, David Nail, Kip Moore, Jennifer Nettles, Drake White and Lee Brice) also screw over songs like Cam “Mayday” where at around 20 weeks the label has to decide whether or not its worth it anymore and once in a while they say f it I’m out. Or the alternative of your song taking forever and never making much progress and therefore also taking forever on the charts and all that hype with OTV goes and you become another C lister that can easily be disposed of.

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          • Of course radio could go a long way to fix this by not continuing to play these songs that are 20-30 weeks in but still #30 on the chart. Just because a label is still pushing a song doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mean that radio has to keep playing it. If after six months a song has not made enough of an impact to warrant more airplay than it should be dropped for newer stuff.

            Canaan Smith’s ‘Hole In A Bottle’ spent 32 weeks in the airplay top 40 and peaked at #23. Tyler Farr’s ‘Better In Boots’ spent 20 weeks to peak #26. ‘Yup’ by Eason Corbin spent 17 weeks (17!!!) between #35 and #40 on the airplay chart and there are many more. All of these and the others should have been discarded and replaced with newer songs that had more hit worthiness no matter what the damn record label was pushing. This would go a long way to speeding up the charts.

            The cushy relationship between labels and radio is the entire issue here.

            Liked by 1 person

    • In regards to Paisley, there’s been a large discussion amongst us country people about him and his future direction on Twitter the past couple days. We pretty much said the same thing you did and the point where we thought his rut began was the controversy around “Accidental Racist.” As Windmills said, it spooked him and made him afraid to take chances. Hence why he’s been putting out vanilla singles and the disappointing Moonshine in the Trunk album. Windmills also made the excellent point I agreed with on him reaching out to new writers, in particular people like Brandy Clark, Shane McAnnally and Lori McKenna. They could bring back the magic Paisley has lacked in his music. His new album will most likely be pushed back from the rumored October release date now too. Maybe the extra time will help. We’ll have to wait and see.

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      • It feels like he is deathly afraid of losing his spot at the table and therefore is afraid to veer from the safe zone. The ends of big radio star’s careers can go a few different ways as you can be like Alan Jackson and Vince Gill as just start doing passion projects or you can be like Toby Keith and just keep doing the same thing and pretend nothing has changed (which Paisley may be doing) or you can take the Keith Urban trend chasing way (which Paisley is also doing some of).

        Like that athlete at the end of their career in a lot of ways.

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        • I really hope that Brad still has it in him and that he can have some success in the years that pass.

          I still have some optimism though

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  5. So Chris Lane had a top-5 hit the week his album came out, went to No. 1 the week after…

    …and he STILL only managed to sell about 6,000 copies of said album in the first week, good enough for a No. 8 debut on the Billboard country album chart. All righty then. Sturgill, Isbell, Aaron Watson, Strait and Don Henley all FAR outsold him their first week. I bet the Strait and Henley albums sold more their first week than Lane will sell, period. All without country radio airplay. Hell, Jason Boland and the Stragglers’ latest sold 2/3 of that and they’ve never had a single radio hit outside of Texas or Oklahoma.

    But “if you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist!” OK then.

    (Lane’s album gets worse than “Fix,” though, if you can believe that. As in a cover of R&B singer Mario’s late 2004 hit “Let Me Love You.” The original version of that song was bad enough.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • A big yes to all of this. It just shows you how fake and manufactured radio success can be. If you’re not connecting with people, no amount of corporate gerrymandering will change it. Hopefully Lane will never sniff top 40 again.

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      • I’d certainly like to think he won’t given the GAWD awful sales.

        Then again, Kelsea Ballerini is looking at the first three singles of her recording career all going #1 despite only selling 13,500 in her opening week and about 160,000 total to date over a fifteen-month span. Go figure.

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    • I mentioned this over the weekend in a previous thread here, but the opening week sales for “Girl Problems” is so pathetic that Lane wouldn’t even be able to fill one-third of Madison Square Garden if those albums each constituted venue seats. Even the Oasis of the Seas (the world’s largest passenger ship) has a higher passenger capacity than that.

      It comes to show that the general listening public will say “That don’t impress me much!” when you obsess over the fact you sing falsetto (and a terrible one at that) on mainstream country radio.

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      • Where George & Don Henley would have filled a football stadium apiece…

        That’s a really neat way of looking at it!

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    • LoCash: just another radio driven act. The album is not selling well. “I Know Somebody” is #29 (Hot Country Songs) & #46 (Re-Entry) on Billboard Country Digital Songs.

      With so many underperforming artists the next year will be interesting.
      Gary Allan, Darius Rucker, Joe Nichols, Parmalee, Easton Corbin, Canaan Smith, Michael Ray, Craig Campbell, Randy Houser, Chase Rice, Clare Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Josh Turner, David Nail, Billy Currington…
      I think we will see some housecleaning soon.

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      • Yeah, most of the names you’ve mentioned have been faring poorly sales-wise (except for David Nail and Brothers Osbourne, who have sold well enough, and Billy Currington whose current release started out slow but has gained momentum ever since).

        On the flip-side, we have Brett Young making considerable noise on the digital chart with multiple tracks. Chris Janson’s latest is limping at radio but selling pretty strongly. Hillary Scott may be benefiting from Christian airplay surely, but her solid current sales for “Thy Will” as well as her album don’t lie. High Valley have dented the Top Forty. And RaeLynn’s latest has been selling good considering the complete lack of airplay.

        I’d surmise Brett Young is the most likely newcomer to produce multiple hits in the coming months. Kane Brown could still potentially break out but he has sure having a brutal time tossing something out there that sticks to listeners. Dylan Scott’s two most recent singles have certainly sold pretty well, but he too keeps struggling to take it to the next level with radio. Same with Drake White.

        It just appears we’re in a major flux state in the meantime, and even some A-listers like Brantley Gilbert aren’t immune to it.

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        • Part of what is making it feel like we are in a weird time is that even the big breakout hit makers of the last couple of years (Hunt, Rhett) feel trendy and not like the tentpole acts that country has had through the years. Even Bryan and Aldean are undoubtedly stars in every way and carried the genre (to where God knows but that’s a different story) whereas now I have no clue where any of these guys will be in 2-3 years let alone 10.

          Looking back this will be seen as the era when country went to the pop style short career peaks I predict. No more 10-20 year hit cycles I say.

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          • It doesn’t feel like a single entertainer is dominating the format in the meantime.

            For example, look at where Luke Bryan’s current single currently is on the digital chart. It was initially hyped up as the successor of “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”, and yet it isn’t remotely exploding like that song did. Its successor wasn’t exactly a major seller either, but it’s telling that his most country-sounding single in a while may ultimately outperform a desperate attempt to make “Country Girl” lightning strike twice.

            I’m also looking at the promotional singles for both Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line’s forthcoming albums. They haven’t had remotely the impact the promotional singles from their preceding albums did. I mean, when Aldean released “Sweet Little Somethin'” two years ago as a promotional single, it peaked within the Top Ten of the all-genre iTunes chart before sliding and managed to chart the Billboard Hot 100. Same with “Two Night Town” and “Gonna Know We Were Here”. With Florida Georgia Line, they had similar success and even managed to make the then-promotional single “Sippin’ On Fire” sell strong enough to debut in the Top Ten of the mongrel Hot Country Songs chart.

            But now, each of the promotional singles from their forthcoming albums have failed to chart the Billboard Hot 100. Not a single one. Both their two most recent promotional singles failed to peak any higher than the low-seventies on the composite chart before retreating. If I were either act, I’d be moderately concerned about that.

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        • Right.
          Short term against long term. The current Billy Currington single is a Top 20 hit now. It will reach the Top 10 sooner or later. But the overall trend (sales & airplay) is down. Next album will show the way.
          David Nail needs a radio hit. The next single must perform better. According to “Roughstock” the album sold 17.000 units so far.
          The Brothers Osborne should get a second album. Make it or break it.
          Easton Corbin can’t sell albums, can’t get airplay & looks lost. The last album was a faceless Nashville product & there is Canaan Smith. Another Mercury Nashville artists without much substance. The trend: down.
          Dylan Scott & Mo Pitney are on Curb. Both guys can be very lucky to have album releases in 2016. There is not much buzz so far. The next Pitney single “Everywhere” is boring.
          Kane Brown…meh. Still an internet-star. Style over substance. Can’t sing & will be gone because he is too “plastic” even for modern country music. RCA Nashville has no idea what to do with the guy.
          Darius Rucker will release his next album & the label will find a new song soon. But the trend is down.
          Can Brantley Gilbert sell albums without much airplay? Yes. Can Gary Allan sell enough albums without airplay? Well…
          Brett Young can sing but he needs better material. Drake White is hard to sell.

          Labels will not drop 2-3 artists because one single is not doin’ well on radio or the album is selling “only” 100.000 units. But labels have to be realistic & there are a lot of artists without much steam right now.

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          • I’ve heard it rumored that “Got Me Gone” will be the second single from “Fighter”.

            If so, big mistake. “Good At Tonight” screams his best bet at another hit.

            On the surface, I get why “Got Me Gone” may seem like a sound selection because it’s another in a long line of sex songs permeating country radio in the meantime. There is clearly a market for that. But the production of that song works against its favor. It comes across too closely to “Heavier Things” or “Continuum”-era John Mayer with skittering cymbal loops than anything in vogue right now. And Nail comes across as way too serious-sounding on the track. Calm the f*** down, David: it’s sex for crying out loud!

            But “Good At Tonight” is his blatantly obvious best bet at another hit from the album. It isn’t like Brothers Osbourne are necessarily dueting (or is it trioleting?) with Nail on that song, so I fail to see how their back-up vocals on the track are going to hinder “21 Summer” and the brothers’ eventual follow-up release.

            Even “Champagne Promise” makes more sense for radio than “Got Me Gone”. Obviously much less safe a pick than “Good At Tonight” would be, but I could see a song like that growing on mainstream listeners in a big way in how the topic is easy to relate to and how it keeps building up until a climatic final chorus.

            *

            Brothers Osbourne are clearly taking the Eric Church approach in how to build their careers.

            It is for that reason why, as much as I was disappointed with “Pawn Shop” as a whole, why I’m wildly optimistic about where they’re going to go from here on out. I can easily see them getting better over time. The only question is if they’ll retain commercial relevance like Eric Church has succeeded in doing.

            *

            Mo Pitney DOES have a release date for his forthcoming album this year. I do agree with you on “Everything”, though! =/

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  6. Somehow I had managed to avoid Blake’s new single until yesterday. I had to google the lyrics just to verify my ears weren’t playing tricks on me. What an awful awful song

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