The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 29]

Sam Hunt Destroying Country Music
When you hear a Sam Hunt song come on the radio and you accidentally burn the house down as you try to burn your radio…

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. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Up 1)
  2. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 (Up 2)
  3. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1
  4. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Up 2)
  5. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1 (Down 4)
  6. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Down 1)
  7. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Up 3)
  8. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 4)
  9. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 2)
  10. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 3)
  11. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 3)
  12. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 3) [Worst Song]
  13. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 4)
  14. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 4)
  15. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Up 1)
  16. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 4)
  17. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 5)
  18. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 1) [Best Song]
  19. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Up 2)
  20. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 4)
  21. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 4)
  22. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 4)
  23. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 4)
  24. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 4)
  25. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” -3 (New to Top 30)
  26. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 3)
  27. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Up 3)
  28. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -3 (New to Top 30)
  29. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (New to Top 30)
  30. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -30

The pulse drops five spots this week. It’s going in the wrong direction!

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Chris Lane – “Fix” -5 (Good bye and good riddance! May we never see another Chris Lane song in the top 30 ever again.)
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -2
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +3
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
    • On the surface this song should be decent. After all Tim McGraw is all involved and he’s consistently been churning out the most quality country singles at country radio the past couple of years. Surely his quality could rub off and help Florida Georgia Line produce their third good song ever. If anything it should be better than the vanilla “H.O.L.Y.” Well after listening thoroughly to this track, I can say no to both of these. This song is a good reminder that Joey Moi is still the producer of this duo. There’s no other way to put it: the production on this song flat-out sucks. It’s obnoxiously loud and in your face while trying to be pop, country, rock and hip-hop all at once. Then you get to the lyrics, which look like leftovers from the bro country era. We also get a line throwing together Travis Tritt and Tupac, who are both fine artists but don’t really need to be name dropped together. Everything about this song is just so lazy and the only redeeming quality it has is Tim McGraw, who kind of mails in his performance. I don’t blame him and I imagine he had to do this song so he could release songs like “Humble and Kind” as singles. 2/10
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled”
    • This is the newest On The Verge pick, in case you were wondering why Lauren Alaina went from irrelevant to rising at a meteoric pace on the airplay chart. This is the same feature that has brought us craptastic artists such as Sam Hunt, Chase Bryant, Canaan Smith and Tucker Beathard. Now let me state right up front that I think Alaina is a talented vocalist that is capable of producing great music. Alan Jackson picked her to open for him on tour this year for a reason. I would take her over Scotty boy any day and she should have won American Idol over him. But this song is just not good and quite frankly not country. It’s a catchy pop song with a generic message of never giving up. There’s not a lot of meat and whole a lot of fluff to this song. I wanted to like it, but I just can’t. More unfortunately is I don’t see this giving her career a big boost. Once this song gets its fake rise to the top of the chart I don’t see the follow-up doing much because this is still country radio where they don’t play women. Alaina and her fans need to enjoy the ride to the top now because the crash back to reality later isn’t going to feel too good. 2/10
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
    • Keith Urban is on a race to the bottom of the barrel! His single choices in the Ripcord era have been downright pathetic and reek of an older artist that is desperate to remain relevant and in the spotlight. With this single Urban releases the worst yet. This is a straight rip off of Sam Hunt’s mega hit “Take Your Time.” Just like that song it’s about a sleazy douche who acts all innocent and will fein genuine caring for a broken-hearted girl at the bar all in the hopes he can take her pants off later in the night. It’s disgusting, in bad taste and Urban will fool tons of people into believing his phoniness. The only thing that saves this from the very bottom and makes it slightly better than Hunt’s “Take Your Time” is the well composed instrumentation that is wasted on garbage lyrics. Congrats Keith Urban on losing any shred of respect I had left for you. 1/10
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute”
    • My God! Is it really a Stapleton song in the top 30? After the first three new arrivals this song is a huge breath of fresh air. While it’s not on the level of the previous single “Nobody To Blame,” this is a pretty damn good song. The catchy guitar riffs will instantly get stuck in your head and Stapleton absolutely belts the chorus of this song. There are better love songs on Traveller, but I found this to be one of the most enjoyable tracks on it. Hopefully this song has a long stay on the chart and ultimately has a good showing. I give it a solid shot at reaching the top ten, especially since I imagine Mercury will push this for a while being that it’s pretty much a lock that it’s the final single from Traveller. But once again we have Stapleton music in the top 30 and that’s something we should all be happy about. 8/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” – Up 29 from #57 to #28
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Up 19 from #48 to #29
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Up 5 from #22 to #17

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Chris Lane – “Fix” – Out of the Top 30 (& Finally Done)
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)

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

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” (It’s been struggling for weeks and a couple of songs seem to leap-frog it each week. At the very least it’s something to keep an eye on.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” (Why is Donkey guy coming back?)
  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”

Note: Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” appears to be on its last legs, as it lost over 400k in audience this week. So it looks like it won’t be reaching the top 30 and is hands down a major flop. And to think I had the rant of all rants lined up for this song. I guess I’ll have to save it for the end of the year where it’s almost a lock to win Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Song of the Year.

 

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

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32 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 29]

  1. I don’t know how many weeks Parachute has been on the charts but it’s been a few. As slow as it’s taken to reach the top 30 do you really see it being a top 10?

    Kill A Word is my favorite song off Mr Misunderstood, and one of my favorite this year, can’t wait to see how high it climbs

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    • It’s been on the chart for only 18 weeks. Meanwhile William Michael Morgan’s “I Met A Girl” just hit the top ten and it’s been on the chart for 47 weeks. Stapleton’s label has plenty of time to slowly ease it up the chart and get it in the top ten, especially with the slower season coming up.

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  2. So frustrating that it takes so long for Vice to climb while Luke & Kenny just fly up. Radio has never been Miranda’s support but it is a great song, universally positive reviews & top 3 country singles sold for weeks. Just so frustrating.

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    • If “Vice” gets to the top ten, be happy. Radio hates playing women, let alone a song like “Vice” that isn’t pop and leans country.

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      • I’m pleasantly surprised “Vice” has performed as well as it has at radio so far.

        Perhaps I shouldn’t be seeing that it’s still smack dab in the Top Five on the iTunes Country chart. But it just doesn’t sound anything like what you’d expect radio programmers to roll along with in how moody and atmospheric it is.

        Obviously no complaining here, good for them.

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  3. When “Vacation” was released, I saw no way it wouldn’t be worse song of the year. Now it may be a race with “Fix”. They are both complete garbage, but “Fix” had a much bigger impact so may win.

    Will be glad to see “Holdin’ Her” hit the charts. Very good honest song. I kind of like Chris Jansen. I didn’t hate “Buy Me A Boat” as much as most either although still a dumb song.

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  4. I disagree more with your take on the newcoming entries than usual.

    *

    First of all, “May We All” is middle of the pack to my ears.

    What holds this song back primarily are two things. Firstly, Moi falls back on his old habits with the song’s chorus: trying too hard to make something “sound big” and momentous but ultimately just come across as cluttered by shoving everything to the front of the mix. The verses are fine to my ears, but there’s too much on an abrupt edge when transitioning from the verse to the chorus like driving down an interstate during a stretch of road construction where one lane is slightly more elevated than the other due to re-paving.

    The other issue are some of the lyrics in the former half of the song. It’s actually fitting that the band has compared the track in their own words to a cross between “Dirt” and “Round Here”. The former is decidedly more on the imagery-laden side while the latter is more on the checklist side.

    Thus, you get a sort of situation where the earlier portion of the track feels compromised lyrically but it finds its stride in the latter where it gets more ambiguous and the “learn to fly or free fall” line suddenly starts to impact. I also genuinely like the vocal melody in the chorus. It’s one of those situations where a chorus SOUNDS overbearing but it still has a saving grace in its melodic flow and, with a more organic approach, you can easily see being a superior song.

    So, I don’t love this by any stretch, but I certainly don’t dislike this much either. It should have been better, but it’s not bad. I’m thinking a Light to Decent 5 out of 10.

    *

    Secondly, I’m not as crazy about “Parachute”.

    “Parachute” was easily one of my least favorite tracks on “Traveler” for two main reasons. Firstly, as awesome as Stapleton’s vocals often are, they come across as way too shouty and abrasive here. One of the beauties of his album as a whole is his nuance and control as a vocalist: especially on tracks like “Was It 26”, “The Devil Named Music” and “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore”. Here, in contrast, it just isn’t easy on the ears .

    And that’s especially baffling when considering how threadbare the lyrics are. It’s easy to get caught up in the lameness of lyrics from the likes of Florida Georgia Line or, worse yet, Sam Hunt and Old Dominion………but lines like “You only need a roof when it’s raining, you only need a fire when it’s cold…” or “If you think you’re going down, just know I will be around.” are truly not much better regardless of how sincere they are.

    That said, what still makes this song more than listenable is its melodic foundation and sincerity. This is definitely more of an Adult Alternative brna dof rock song than a legitimate country song, but I’d certainly still much rather hear this kind of rootsy southern rock on my dial than, say, Luke Bryan’s ear-hemorrhaging arena rock-influenced histrionics a la “Move” or gutless attempt at a rousing lighter-waving anthem set to Tucker Beathard’s atrocious vocals in “Rock On”. The opening verse is pretty solid lyrically as well.

    It’s a good song, just not a great one. I’m thinking a Decent to Strong 6 out of 10 for “Parachute”.

    *

    We agree more closely on the remaining two entries.

    Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Traveled” is a well-intentioned effort that honestly wouldn’t sound that bad as Adult Top 40 fodder alongside Kelly Clarkson and Rachel Platten. Because let’s be honest: when you look past the token banjo and stomp that opens the track and lingers here and there in the background from then on, this SCREAMS post-“My December” Kelly Clarkson and Rachel Platten.

    And then it all dawns on you that is basically the point since busbee is at the helm here. Notorious for having good ideas here and there but ultimately resulting in cacophonous, overcompressed and monochromatic messes, busbee takes what is basically yet another pseudo-inspirational Hallmark card anthem and is obsessed with making it sound larger than life to the point it winds up sounding overtly mechanical.

    Which ultimately betrays the lyric as well. The song is certainly riddled with cliches about rebel hearts and marching to the beat of a different drum and all that jazz, but cliches can still sound appealing for the umpteenth time if they are pared with production that actually reinforces that mission statement and that atmosphere of living treacherously on the edge but with a sense of empowerment. Here, it’s pared with a production that’s as conformist as humanly possible. For someone who sings about not making history if you follow the rules, she’s abiding by the whole playbook in one sitting here in basically regurgitating Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” piece by piece. Kicking up gravel for sure.

    On its own, though, it’s nothing worth hating. It’s a harmless, run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen self-empowerment anthem. But it doesn’t belong on Country radio, case closed. I’m thinking a Light to Decent 3 out of 10 for “Road Less Traveled”.

    *

    Finally, speaking of busbee…

    Yeah, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” is that type of song that wasn’t remotely country to begin with, but at least could have made for a fairly appealing song because you can tell it does nod back to the waltzing tradition inherent in country music. The idea of a electronic reinterpretation of a storied waltz musical tradition is honestly kind of appealing and I can certainly see work on its own merit.

    But then your attention turns to the lyrics and…………………whew boy, are they painfully awful. Seriously, Keith: what the flying f*** is going on? You’ve never been known for going down this road before. You’ve been known for being the wide-eyed, innocuous, “Aw shucks!” heartland romeo known for crooning sentimental and sometimes dopey, but nonetheless charming, love songs. I’ve rarely been all that crazy about your work, but there was also something very likeable about your personality, your charisma and effort as a musician and emotionally committed vocalist that elevated even your most banal writes in the past and, when you did choose to strive for more, you really hit it out of the park like with “Stupid Boy”.

    What the f*** happened, Keith? It is beneath you to pander to the smugness and douchiness of Old Dominion and Sam Hunt. Yet that’s exactly what you are doing here, and why you thought this was a good idea is beyond me and making my head spin. So you’re drunk at a bar, and you’re trying to bring comfort to a heartbroken woman who’s also there who is caught up in a sour relationship of her own, and you blabber on and on about how she doesn’t need to feel this way and should consider breaking up with him and then not-so-subtly add that you’re not trying to be another pick-you-up kinda guy. Shut the f*** up, Keith! You’re on wafer-thin ice as is trying to be subtle when, in actuality, you’re as subtle here as a train wreck……………..on a boat.

    This song SOUNDS nice enough, but the emotionally manipulative intention at the core of it actually makes me angry. It’s not often songs rile me up like this, but this one did it and by the time it nears the top of the charts, I can definitely see it being a -5 to my ears much like “She’s Got A Way With Words” has only gotten worse with time. For now though, it’s a Strong 1 to a Light 2 to my ears.

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    • ‘What the f*** happened, Keith?’

      He’s doing what he thinks he needs to do to stay relevant on the radio as a nearly 50 year old. The different approaches of McGraw, Chesney, Paisley and Urban are kind of interesting. The fact that the latter three haven’t learned from McGraw’s strategy kind of says a lot about who those other guys are I think.

      And I refuse to play this guy’s game by referring to him as ‘busbee’. He has way too little talent to be so ridiculously pretentious. Busbee.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, I don’t agree with that assessment that it says a lot about who they are. Who the real person is and who the “celebrity” is can be two different things, with corporate decisions and what have you playing into it.

        Besides, I honestly think people in general are WAAAAY too hard on Brad Paisley. Sure, some of his output as of late does make it look like the guy is in a creative block, but then again that happens to most and I have faith that the guy can recover if he goes back to the more sincere song that made him great in the first place.

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        • By ‘who they are’ I meant as performers not as people. Tim McGraw (after some missteps admittedly) went for more substantive quality material while Kenny Chesney just kept doing what he has always done (a mix of beach and beer songs and slightly more weighty stuff) while Urban has been chasing trends by trying to record songs like he is Sam Hunt or something. Paisley is sort of a mix between the Chesney and Urban approaches with far less success from a chart perspective.

          How performers react to the coming end of their mainstream careers has always interested me and I do think it says something about their artistic integrity. Guys like Strait, Jackson and Gill have set the standard for this in modern times.

          But again this has nothing to do with them as people just as performers.

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      • He had four #1 hits off of his preceding album. In fact, he has never had a single miss the Top Ten since his American debut.

        He wasn’t really in any trouble of fading off into the sunset commercially. If anything, stunts like this will only further polarize his fanbase.

        I only referred to him by his professional name for context. I agree it’s silly.

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    • I really wanted to like “May We All” as much as you, but I just can’t. Those lyrics just aren’t good and don’t connect with me at all. They’re generic at best. How many songs have we heard on country radio about trying and failing? It’s a theme that’s done to death and they bring no nuance to the table here. There’s a good song within “May We All,” but it’s buried underneath three years past due lyrics and Joey Moi production.

      Good comparisons for that Alaina song. Definitely in the vein of Clarkson/Platten. And great takedown of Urban.

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      • Fair enough.

        It just doesn’t strike me as a 1/10 song whatsoever. Its main sin is how painfully middling it is. It sells itself way too short but it also doesn’t hit me over the head. So yeah, it’s fitting to a borderline high -1/low 0 status to my ears. Pretty much the entire album minus “While He’s Still Around” and “Grow Old” (the sole +1 tracks on the album to me) gets stuck in that exact same range minus the -1 tracks “Good Girl, Bad Boy”, “Summerland” and “Heatwave”. They just play it way too safe and while it makes for a better album than their preceding releases, it’s a Pyrrhic victory in how they continue to ell themselves way short of what they achieved with “Dirt”.

        If “Road Less Traveled” were marketed as an Adult Top 40 song instead of a country song, there’s reason to believe it would catch on much like Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” did. Color me astonished there’s still a heightened demand for such generic, relentlessly done-to-death fodder, but there clearly is. Might as well milk it for all it’s worth.

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        • Well 2/10, but I see where you’re coming from. I still haven’t ruled out a review of the album, despite how I hate it’s a meandering 15 songs long.

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          • They could have easily pared the album down to eleven songs.

            “Island” and “Heatwave” are pretty much the same song (“Island” the far less annoying of the two lyrically). “Lifer” is an inferior clone of “Grow Old”. “Summerland” is really an obligatory party song and nothing more. And “Good Girl, Bad Boy” is just plain crappy.

            The redundancy is what hurts this album more than anything. Granted there’s not as many cringe-worthy lows, but I can’t imagine why many of their core fans would want to hear a bunch of drowsier tracks anyway. It’s not like they’re going to win over a plurality of their critics, so they were arguably better off doubling down on their energetic sing-along devices.

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  5. That’s fantastic news about Rhett’s “Vacation.” I actually assumed that it would rise up the charts, like his dumb “T-Shirt” song and Lane’s “Fix.” I guess there is some sanity left among country listeners, albeit not much. And I agree with the above comment that worst song of the years so far has to be either “Vacation” or “Fix.” It’s a toss-up.

    Glad to see “I Met a Girl” still climbing. As for “Castaway,” this is one of the most annoying songs of the year. It’s just another lazy beach song from Zac Brown, who is capable of doing much more with his talent but would rather cash-in on his beach shtick. If “Castaway” drops of the charts and flops, maybe that will give ole Zac some proper motivation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to say I’m pleasantly shocked “I Met A Girl” has found its way into the Top Ten.

      I wouldn’t be if it had been released in November of last year instead of…………….(gasp)…………August (!!!). But as we speak, it’s in its 48th week on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and it is exceptionally difficult to convince radio programmers to hold up the fort when any given song has charted this long. It is quite obvious many felt strained when Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots” made the push for #1, gauging by how they dropped the song like a potato sprayed with napalm jelly immediately after peaking.

      But I’m certainly not complaining. Good for them for recognizing bankable talent when they see it in this case.

      *

      I’m not surprised to see “Castaway” struggling at airplay, frankly.

      It doesn’t sound bad, but it also screams “Been there, sang that!”. I mean, it wasn’t like “Jump Right In” sold that well and has held up as a recurrent either. What were they expecting to happen when they’ve been experiencing diminishing returns with their island country offerings?

      Now that summer is unofficially ending this weekend, I won’t be the least surprised to see the plug pulled on this shortly afterward. Granted it’s not really supposed to be a summer song in that it has an escapist from life’s worries theme that can apply to any time of year, but it doesn’t mean many won’t conflate it with summertime because of the Sebastian the Crab voice impersonations and steel drums.

      What the Zac Brown Band should have done in the first place was release “Bittersweet” as the fourth single. What they’ve been sorely lacking this era at radio is a signature ballad. Their “Uncaged”-era ballads may not have sold as well as “Colder Weather” previously did, but they still clearly outperformed the non-ballads commercially. With just a minor radio edit and a gut-punching video, “Bittersweet” easily could have been the second best-selling track off of “JEKYLL + HYDE” only behind “Homegrown”. Instead, for whatever reason, they’ve been trying to distance themselves from ballads entirely this album cycle in terms of radio selections, and they’re hurting for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t seen a song get dropped so fast like ‘Head Over Boots’ since ‘Girl Crush’ suffered the same fate. That tells me there was an insane amount of propping up going on to get those songs that high and when that stopped they crashed big time. Compared to ‘H.O.L.Y.’ which showed real legs as it slowly fell you can see which one was connecting more.

        With the way these charts are manipulated so much now one almost has to look to the next level for clues as to what is really going on.

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  6. Also, a side note on “Vacation”.

    It is definitely a massive flop at radio. But in a certain sense, I have to imagine Valory is still more than satisfied with how it performed commercially when you take its sales into consideration.

    Because let’s be honest: “Vacation” sold excellently relative to its airplay levels. As we speak, it’s still at #20 on the iTunes Country chart (yeah………………….beats me like it’s being passed off as country but, whatever…) and has consistently been between #11 and #20 since several weeks before its add date at radio. Either way you slice it, it has been very successful both in terms of sales as well as in terms of streaming.

    Thus, don’t expect “Vacation” to curse Rhett in a way “Donkey” has for Jerrod Niemann. I expect Valory will push either “Playing With Fire” or “The Day You Stop Looking Back” as the album’s fifth single and he’ll easily return to airplay-topping form. Still, it’s validating to see even in this day in age, some crap just won’t fly with radio programmers. How I wish they dropped the ball with “Fix”, “Take Your Time” and “Break Up With Him”, though.

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  7. Lauren Alaina should thank the lord for “On The Verge”.
    I don’t like “Parachute” or “Road Less Traveled” but the other new Top 30 tracks are meh & meh.

    The Rest (31-60):
    The only way is up for the majority of tracks. Even Parmalee (#48) & Easton Corbin (#47) are back in the game.

    Hot Shot Debut: #51 – Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry”
    New: #56 – Chase Bryant – “Room To Breathe”
    New: #58 – Eric Church feat. Rhiannon Giddens – “Kill A Word”
    New: #59 – Frankie Ballard – “Cigarette”

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    New: #1 – Dolly Parton – Pure & Simple
    #2 – Chris Stapleton – Parachute
    New: #3 – Casey Donahew – All Night Party
    New: #4 – Drake White – Spark

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King (3rd week)
    #2 – Sam Hunt
    #3 – James Barker Band – “Lawn Chair Lazy” (highest canadian track)

    Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
    #1 – Troy Cassar-Daley – “Things I Carry Around” (3rd week)
    #2 – Doug Bruce – “Bad Weather” (Album: Unsung – A Tribute To The Songs Of Buddy Bruce)
    #3 – Alice Benfer – “Amamoor Creek” (2nd single & 1st #1 hit)

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    • It’s still beyond me why she was eligible for “On The Verge” but, whatever. It isn’t like they’ve adequately explained how the program works since its inception.

      *

      “Dirty Laundry” basically screams parody for Carrie Underwood by now. I mean, how many times is she going to go down this “man done me wrong, I’LL SHOW HIM!” well?

      It kind of worked for “Church Bells” because the lyricism was actually rather descriptive and told a story, in spite of its ridiculously loud production. But with “Dirty Laundry”, she makes the exact same mistake she did with “Before He Cheats” where she ASSUMES the subject has cheated on her. And what’s her evidence? A wine stain? Lingering perfume? Yeah: hardly conclusive, don’t you think?

      I’ve said this before, but I greatly detest songs that allocate blame and accusation without irrefutable proof or description. And I don’t care what the performer or songwriter’s sex is either. It’s not fair either way you slice it. Just like “Church Bells”, it’s ridiculously loud, but it’s much worse than that song because it adopts the whole “guilty until proven innocent” motto just like “Before He Cheats” did. And having back-to-back songs of this sort is overkill anyway.

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      • It’s time for a change & a new perspective. Carrie Underwood needs new (co-)writers & producers.
        The current formula will not work forever. Less pop/ac & more country. A less-is-more production.
        But…but…but…never change a running sytem. Ok, no problem. I’ll spend my money elsewhere. Maren Morris? She gets a lot of love from radio & the CMA.

        Btw…the ad for “Dirty Laundry” is oh-so-dirty & Dolly Parton wants her wig back.

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        • It has already been showing signs of wear this particular cycle.

          She’s still selling better than most of her chart rivals but, by her own track record’s standards, she has lost considerable ground. None of the singles from “Storyteller” thus far has succeeded in denting the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 (a feat all but four of her preceding single releases have achieved). She has only had mid-level success with YouTube. Streaming has been respectable for her, but still down from previous eras. And she is struggling just to obtain Gold certifications this album cycle.

          Carrie Underwood is in no danger of losing her grip as a staple artist on country radio any time soon. But that doesn’t mean the overall recent commercial trajectory shouldn’t be greeted with grave concern. If she expects to carry on into her forties and remain a bankable star at country radio (assuming it’s still in existence by 2023) she’s going to have to switch up her creative team.

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  8. I feel like I am the only one who absolutely loves “Road Less Traveled”. I find Lauren Alaina to be a very strong vocalist and she really help carries this song. I also find it to be a great blend of country and pop (although I feel like me saying that I am about to be proven wrong). But I also love the positive upbeat message of the song as this song has helped me the past few weeks and has become my go to song. I just hope that the song becomes a hit because I feel like Lauren Alaina needed this as a hit as she has so much potential that I think whatever the followup will be will do really well. So a +5 for me.

    I also don’t mind the FGL song (also if you guys have time check out the thread for it in the country forum on Pulse, it’s something else). It’s bland but it does nothing for me so a 0 for an overall score.

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    • No worries whatsoever. Like I said in my re-cap of the song, I can easily see why there would be a heightened demand and audience for a song like that among fans of Kelly Clarkson and Rachel Platten in particular. I can also see how fans of Cassadee Pope can serve as a natural intermediary between fans of Adult Top 40 and country radio and thus draw attention to “Road Less Traveled”.

      I just personally don’t consider it country at all and, on its own merit, is just okay. It just screams “It’s been done before!” as recently as “Fight Song” to my ears. But I do get why there is a demand and audience for this type of self-affirming pop anthem.

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    • Since country music & country radio is pop music with a banjo, there is a place for acts like Lauren Alaina. She can sing (like 1001 other girls/talent-show participants). There is a positive message (not deep or personal, just a positive message). That’s it.
      “Road…” will be a hit. Her album will be released. She will release more pop songs with banjo & a postive message. Like Cassadee Pope or Danielle Bradbery or Jana Kramer (remember her?). Enough for a hit or two (with “On The Verge” help). Interchangeable.
      Alaina, Bradbery, Pope…the jackpot goes to Kelsea Ballerini (airplay, sales, #1 hits).

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      • Yeah no! I think Lauren Alaina has the potential to really hit it big once “Road Less Traveled” as she had a pretty strong fanbase and is a recognizable name and since she now has radios support I think she can really hit it big.

        Also I disagree that mainstream country radio is basically pop, I mean there are some pop songs but it seems like lately there is slowly becoming more of a balance.

        I do remember Jana Kramer (she just got announced for Dancing With the Stars so it’s not like she’ll be out of the public light despite splitting the with her husband. Note: I am not making this into a gossip site, just explaining Jana Kramer is still keeping a decent profile).

        Danielle Bradbery is apparently scheduled to release new music in September (she apparently will have an EP ready to go since I doubt the label wants to release an album with no lead single just yet) so who knows Danielle Bradbery might still make it back in the spotlight.

        Cassadee Pope is apparently going to release “Kisses At Airports”, which when I saw her in concert a couple of months ago that was the song off the EP that got the highest response.

        I find “Road Less Traveled” a great blend of pop and country but I do respect your opinion. I just think it’s hard to say country music is just pop with a banjo, seems like their has been a decent balance of it all (IMO) as we have seen some real quality #1s from Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Jon Pardi and Tim McGraw.

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        • Lauren Alaina: “pretty strong fanbase”…ok…that’s why she needs “On The Verge” & the album she recorded last year is still not released.

          Mainstream Country Radio: one Jon Pardi or WMM song is not a “balance”. For every decent or good track country radio is playing pop with banjo like Lauren Alaina or Dan + Shay. Or FGL. Or Cole Swindell. Or LoCash. Or Tucker Beathard, OD, Lanco…

          Jana Kramer: “Dancing with the has-beens”.

          Danielle Bradbery: Ep? I’m impressed.

          Cassadee Pope: the song is ok. “Summer” was a…well…not so big hit. But i have high expectations for “Kisses At Airports”.

          Quality: hit or miss. A couple of “quality-artists” against all the Nash-Trash. The cold & hard reality is…the quality is down. Drum loops, trend chasing, bro-country, ohhh-ahhh chorus, auto-tune…

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  9. Whaaaaaat?! Parachute is by far my favorite Chris Stapleton song and it’s also the song that turned me on to his album waaaay back in early 2015. In fact, parachute might be my favorite song to be released in the last few years. I can’t believe there are people here saying it’s their least favorite song.

    Also, super happy for Chris Janson! Holdin Her is a fantastic songs and I’ve been a huge Janson fan since way back in the beginning when he just had Better I Don’t on radio. I hope Holdin Her does great, he deserves it.

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  10. It makes me sad that “Road Less Traveled” was chosen as Lauren Alaina’s single. And I agree that it’s a solid pop song – but it’s definitely a full-fledged pop song. When is she going to release “Doin’ Fine”? That song is a gem. The story she’s telling there is great and it calls for more of a “country” production.

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