The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 28]

Florida Georgia Line Roots

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. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  3. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 2)
  4. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 2)
  5. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Down 4)
  6. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 1)
  7. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Down 3)
  8. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  9. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Down 1)
  10. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 
  11. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  12. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Down 1)
  13. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  14. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 
  15. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song] 
  16. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 
  17. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2
  18. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 
  19. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  20. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Down 1)
  21. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  22. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 [Worst Song]
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Down 2)
  24. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5
  25. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1
  26. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 1)
  27. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 1)
  28. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 1)
  29. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” 0 (Up 1)
  30. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -30

The pulse drops one spot this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (I’m surprised it held on for so long. But on the other hand this should have done much better. Country radio dropped the ball on this one)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” – Up 3 from #33 to #30
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Up 2 from #23 to #21
  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” – Up 2 from #5 to #3

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Down 4 from #1 to #5
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” – Down 3 from #4 to #7

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

  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” (Maybe. It could get the same treatment the song below has gotten and stick around)
  • Luke Bryan – “Move” (How is this is still here? FFS!)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (Made small gains this week and is surrounded by fast-rising songs. Not good. This song is in a really bad spot and needs help quick if it wants to stick around. I don’t see it happening.)
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” (Made better gains this week, but has same problem as “80s Mercedes.” It just isn’t in as bad of shape. Yet.)
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Picked up more steam, but I’m still not convinced it has staying power. I’m guessing his team is doing all they can to get it to last until the freeze.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (This actually has a nice path in front of it and I’m feeling optimistic)
  • Dierks Bentley – “Black”
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” (Hmm….)
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”

Special Note: Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice’s “A Little More Love” is finally dead and dropped off the chart. It’s a Christmas miracle! Like a blind squirrel finds an acorn occasionally, country radio gets it right here.

Programming Note: There will be no Current Pulse of Texas Country Radio this week due to the fact there were zero changes in the chart positioning, as it appears there wasn’t any reporting for it Thanksgiving week.

 

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

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33 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 28]

  1. Thoughts on upcoming songs:

    Craig Campbell, “Outskirts of Heaven”: +3 this is a great song and is also quite traditional. It’s definitely one of the best of 2016.

    Dierks Bentley, “Black”: -2 zzzzzzzzz…Oh. Dierks can do so much better. This is so boring. In all honesty, I nearly dozed off listening to “Black”.

    RaeLynn, “Love Triangle”: +2 I know what you’re thinking: she gave RaeLynn a positive score? Yep, I did. I love “Love Triangle”. I think it’s a definite improvement from her previous music. The songwriting is excellent, and though I took off points for production (this song isn’t country), the production is not nearly as clunky and obnoxious as “God Made Girls” and “For a Boy”. RaeLynn’s vocals could certainly use some work, but this is a much, much better effort from RaeLynn. I may even be beginning to come around to RaeLynn a little bit. As a pop song, “Love Triangle” would be a +4. As a country song, however, I am giving it a +2. Job well done, RaeLynn.

    Miranda Lambert, “We Should Be Friends”: +2 another solid song from Miranda Lambert. Miranda’s take on qualities she finds in a friend is quite interesting and clever. On another note, this single’s accompanying album, The Weight of These Wings” is excellent and every country music fan should check it out.

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    • I’m just curious how is “Love Triangle” not a country song (if it is because no fiddle, steel guitar or banjo, that literally makes no sense to me, no offense)

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      • To me, it sounds like something you’d hear at pop radio, which really isn’t a bad thing in certain cases. In this case, it isn’t. The song is very well-written. It would’ve benefitted greatly from some steel guitar, though. However, “Love Triangle” is definitely one of the better songs at country radio right now. I may not be a huge fan of RaeLynn, but “Love Triangle” is a very good song. Kudos to her and Warner Nashville for releasing it as a single.

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        • I forgot to mention that I feel about “Love Triangle” the way I feel about “80’s Mercedes”. They definitely have a more pop-like production, but I don’t mind hearing them on country radio at all. They are both very well-written songs. And I would much rather hear “Love Triangle” or “80’s Mercedes” than any of the shit that Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Old Dominion, etc. are releasing.

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        • Wow, I thought I had a narrow definition of country, in that I’m not sure “Vice” was country (t sounds like stuff on AC), & Jason Isbell isn’t country. But if you don’t consider Love Triangle country, dang that’s narrow :p.

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          • I guess I didn’t clarify that the writing style of “Love Triangle” is country. Sorry about the mix-up lol. Vice is written like a country song, but the production is leaning more towards AC. Vice, like Love Triangle, is also a very well-written song that I don’t mind hearing on country radio. In my opinion, Jason Isbell leans more towards the East Nashville/Americana type thing than country. His songs are very well-written like country songs, but he is arguably an Americana artist. But he’s a great Americana artist. I feel as if “Love Triangle” is pop-country, but pop-country done right, which is seemingly a very hard thing to accomplish.

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          • All of that being said, I would most certainly take “Love Triangle” over 25 out of 30 songs on the current chart. That would leave “How I’ll Always Be”, “Kill a Word”, “Sober Saturday Night”, “Holdin’ Her”, and maybe “Today”. And that is coming from someone who is not a fan of RaeLynn and who is a fan of Chris Stapleton, Josh Turner, and Brad Paisley, and who is also a huge fan of Carrie Underwood and Jon Pardi. And the artists I just mentioned currently have good-or-decent songs on the chart.

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  2. Wow, I wasn’t expecting Florida Georgia Line to deny Brett Young his first chart-topper, but you won’t find me complaining considering how outright needy and irritating the latter song is (with the video adding a layer of hilarity to it including burning his hand preparing a PopTart and playing Solitaire angrily, ha!).

    “May We All” is certainly flawed, but I consider it a fitting #1 for this time of year in how breezy it sounds. I’ll take it.

    *

    Considering we have a whopping FOUR -5 songs on the current chart edition, the -30 Pulse actually feels a bit generous oddly-enough.

    Thankfully the election results haven’t already resulted in the death knell for “Kill A Word” on radio. I was afraid that might happen but more than enough seem to be appreciating the more-urgent-than-ever plea for compassion and empathy at the song’s heart. Here’s rooting on it going Top Ten at the absolute very least.

    I still think “Holdin’ Her” can prove to become a sleeper hit. It has had a solid last week in terms of spin and audience growth. The sales remain an issue but I think he’ll have a little mercy seeing that this is a secondary single from a debut project. Now that he’s in the Top Thirty, he’s much less vulnerable to chart snags indicative of chart positions #35 downward.

    *

    I agree with your Hot Seat selections, though I’d also add Granger Smith’s “If The Boot Fits”.

    He’s in his 35th week on Mediabase and, though the laughably pathetic sales haven’t stopped him from getting as far as he has, the aging chart run certainly will. He did lose a significant (but not irreversible) 46 spins on today’s update so my bet is his label will pull the plug right after the holiday freeze.

    Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” has defied many odds, but I’d make the same warning for his song as well. It’s approaching its 30th week on the chart and is essentially just inching along. But it would have to increase its audience by about 70% to make the Top Ten, and I just can’t see that happening this late in the game.

    As for Morris and Alaina, all I can say is that “80’s Mercedes” has got to be the single greatest disappointing chart run of 2016 from a commercial standpoint. I thought it was going to be a blowout crossover hit but not only is it not going to get any pop airplay: it may not even go Top Ten on her chief format. I just can’t see Maren Morris emerge as the next big thing if she can’t even produce a major hit off of a ridiculously catchy ditty like this.

    And with Lauren Alaina, well, the source of her stalling makes much more sense in her case. Unlike Morris, she’s not new on the scene to begin with and “Road Less Traveled” is essentially just Howard Benson-era Kelly Clarkson and Rachel Platten “Fight Song” platitudes repackaged with token banjo. In its fourteenth week on the chart, it’s still a relatively young song. But then again, considering it has “On The Verge” to thank for breaking out of the #35-#60 chart position abyss in the first place, and radio callout suggests a lack of passion in the scores either way, I just can’t see this reaching the Top Five. I’d give it a one-in-three chance at denting the Top Ten only because of it being a younger song.

    *

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    • It’s not really shocking as far as 80s Mercedes goes. Other than Kelsea B no other female has broken out on the charts since Miranda like 6 years ago. Its very difficult these days for solo women to get more than one or two top 10 hits. Also very little crosses over to pop these days with EDM being so dominant.

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      • 80’s Mercedes hasn’t had great research, from what I’ve seen. High negative numbers will kill you at radio, period.

        Also a lot of what country people say is pop, wouldn’t be defined as pop by people who listen to pop. It’s sort of like people who listen to pop radio, telling people a song is country.

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      • I agree in the general sense.

        Still, it has also been repeatedly demonstrated that females who otherwise aren’t format staples can deliver solid chart showings with specific songs. And on its own merit, regardless of the fact it isn’t a country song, “80’s Mercedes” INSTANTLY screamed crossover hit to me.

        This letdown only underscores how using country as your doormat to fulfill your broader career ambitions cuts both ways. Because in the event you don’t succeed on your core format, the proposition of crossing over is dead on arrival.

        Had it been tailored specifically as an Adult Top 40/Pop album, there’s obviously no guarantee that “HERO” would have fared any differently. But seeing that Rihanna is obviously her greatest vocal influence, I think the possibility that she would have amassed cult popularity would have happened regardless primarily off of tracks like “Rich”, “Sugar” and “How It’s Done” because of her meshing of Rihanna vocal patois with Sheryl Crow instrumental texture.

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        • It seems to me one of the issues is too many of these acts are trying to crossover before they have even established themselves in the first place so they have no base of support. Taylor Swift built a solid country fanbase so when she crossed over and eventually left she had those fans and many new ones.

          Someone like Maren Morris has none of that. Maybe it’s just the speed of things now in that nobody has the patience to build a career and a fanbase. Instead they all want it NOW! NOW! NOW!

          Unfortunately that approach rarely works.

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          • Just for the record, what evidence do we have that Maren is actually trying to cross-over? Liking other forms of music doesn’t count :p. Also Maren will probably get grammy nods. Her album was very well received critically by the more mainstream reviewers.

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          • Well I was referring to Nadia using that term.

            Other than Taylor Swift it’s not usually announced that someone is trying to cross over it’s more often ascertained by reading the signs. And one of those signs is releasing as a single a song that is clearly not country.

            Plus we are in a period of time where acts try to cross over without actually switching formats but instead trying to bring the other format to you. Aldean did this with arena rock, Swift did this with teen pop, Hunt did this with his metro bro/R & B stuff and I think Morris and Ballerini especially are trying to do this.

            Maybe we get too caught up in the term ‘cross over’.

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    • I’m surprised you don’t see Maren Morris breaking out and staying. She has 2 Top 15 hits, which is real impressive for a female artist. Maren Morris has a lot of industry and radio support (“80’s Mercedes” saw a great early start from the radio) . Her album sales are good for a new artist.

      For Lauren Alaina her testing is average which is fine, as songs from Michael Ray and other songs don’t have a ton of passion, there is not a lot of hate either and since so many songs in the Top 20 go Top 10 at the very least. In radios eyes however Lauren Alaina is a new artist since she hasn’t seen any previous songs stick (I respect your opinion and I’m not saying your wrong, just seeing things from another perspective)..

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      • Kacey Musgraves got a Top Ten off of her first attempt, and she has since failed to build upon that despite having a fiercely loyal fanbase.

        Why do I bring her up, specifically, as an example? Because they have similar geographic roots and she has a background crashing on Kacey Musgraves’ couch as far back as 2010 as she had been working hard living off of touring to see her career take flight.

        Maren Morris’ prospects are obviously much more polished and mainstream-sensible than those of Musgraves. But I’m thinking their fates at radio are going to be similar at this point.

        Some at Pulse Music Board may characterize what I’m saying as “gloom and doom”. But to a wide degree, their specialty is more the understanding of how the business works and reading charts and other variables. Thus, those with backgrounds in radio and the music industry are going to act more like insider politicians and speak more tentatively. No problem with that. I’m just saying the basis of my predictions are hardly anything but gloom and doom.

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      • I certainly can’t see any other track off of “HERO” becoming a breakout hit if a massive earworm like “80’s Mercedes” is straining even to go Top Ten.

        Do you seriously think callout is going to be any more favorable for “Rich”? Or “Sugar”?

        I could see some make a case for “I Wish I Was”, and at this point it certainly won’t hurt trying a ballad. I’m not optimistic it would pay off due to radio programmers’ reported burnout with ballads, especially with females. But it obviously makes more sense risking that than dropping something like “Sugar” or “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” which would be too polarizing if “80’s Mercedes” was too much.

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        • The thing is though radio has taken a really nice taking to Maren Morris. Yeah she has yet to hit #1 but she has a lot of industry and acclaim. Radio was all over “80’s Mercedes” right away as it made the Top 30 within like 6-7 weeks. Her win for CMA New Artist of the Year also helps a bunch as her fanbase is growing ever so much.

          Radio will probably take to her next single when this is done. The fact is women don’t test very well as only Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini have scored chart toppers. But radio still seems fully invested in Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert..

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        • If I may interject here with my thoughts on Morris. I think there’s a lot going against her: 1) Releasing “My Church” and then following it with “80s Mercedes” came off as a shock, even bait & switch to many. This is definitely the case for those who have only heard her on the radio and haven’t heard HERO. It can be easy to see why this single would then be polarizing to listeners because you’re going from soulful country to polished, catchy pop. Morris doesn’t have the fan base or built up reputation to pull off something like this yet. Hell not even Lambert really pulled this off when she released “Little Red Wagon.” 2) HERO was released at the wrong time. If it had come out a year sooner it’s singles would have done better at radio. Instead HERO comes out right when radio starts to turn back more towards traditional leaning country and essentially abandoning the polished pop sound more that gave Sam Hunt and Chris Lane careers. Morris and her team were a day late and a dollar short with their approach.

          Honestly at this point I see Morris following the same trajectory as Maddie & Tae did at radio. Just like Maddie & Tae opened with a bang with a #1 hit in “Girl in a Country Song,” Morris did the same with “My Church” (well #1 at Mediabase). M&T followed this up with “Fly” at #9, which is right around where I project “80s Mercedes” to peak at. Now as you recall we all had a passionate discussion about this being the right single choice for M&T at the time when others made sense. Sure enough they follow it up with “Shut Up & Fish,” which screamed hit to many of us. Instead it petered out in the 20s, only reaching #23. This demonstrated something none of us wanted to see or admit and that was single choice really didn’t matter for them because radio was slowly losing enthusiasm and interest in them regardless. It didn’t matter what they released because radio didn’t see them as an asset or in their terms too polarizing. I hope I’m wrong and Morris isn’t on the same path. But I have a strong feeling that “Rich” or “Sugar” is going to be the next single. And if that’s the case then I don’t even see it reaching M&T’s “Shut Up & Fish” peak because at this point Morris would make herself too polarized. We’re not even getting into the fact that she’s behind the eight ball from the beginning in radio’s eyes because she’s a woman.

          To me at this point I think she has three viable options on the table: 1) Cut bait and abandon HERO right now. It’s not worth pushing anymore singles from this album to country radio because I don’t see any of them succeeding. She should go back to the studio and prepare album #2 in the same vein of “My Church.” This is what I would choose. 2) Release a ballad like “I Wish I Was” to radio and hope they respond favorably. It could work, but it could bomb easily too. 3) This is the outside the box option. If Morris is dead set on making music like she made on HERO going forward, she should send “Rich” or “Sugar” to pop radio and test the waters. Again though this is only if she wants to make music in this vein and wants to see success with it because it won’t happen at country radio.

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          • I’m confused by this whole resurgence of traditional country music in the mainstream (no offense) . Outside of Miranda Lambert, William Michael Morgan, and Jon Pardi albums this year have any other mainstream albums been all that traditional this year. The better thing is that radio is looking for quality this Winter.

            If you look at the Top 30 chart. There is still a but load of pop country to outright pop. Songs from Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Lauren Alaina, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini (which I am 100% sure she will be here to stick around), Dustin Lynch, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line. I mean Florida Georgia Line just announced that their collaboration with the Backstreet Boys is the next single. Other songs from Granger Smith, Brett Eldredge, and Brett Young also have a noticeable pop country sound.

            I do think radio is being more willing of traditional and soulful country. But at the same time I believe it’s a balancing act of the pop and country. I mean holy cow look we might see Runaway June hit the Top 30 with “Lipstick” which would be phenomenal.

            Sam Hunts new lead single (expected sometime this winter) I can guarntee of 2 things. 1. It’ll be a huge hit because he has such a large fanbase. 2. Radio will eat it up because Sam Hunt is essentially an A lister with radio, so unless its a “Vacation” like song. It will succeed.

            Maren Morris does need to be careful with this 3rd single selection. “Sugar” sounds very radio friendly, the problem is that they have to edit the sh*t line. But that song is one I can see working heading into the spring months (when it’ll start getting noticed).

            Oh Josh since you mentioned Maddie & Tae, they will have a new leadoff single this winter apparently sometime in January or February. So I am definitely excited to see how it turns out. Unfortunately since they did cool off this year, expect a long slow climb for the lead single. But I do believe radio is still interested in the girls.

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          • “Sugar” is that sort of track that only would have worked as a single had “80’s Mercedes” resonated in a big way outside of country radio itself: with the emulation of Rihanna’s Caribbean patois and all.

            It would undoubtedly be met with intense resistance if released to the country format along with “Rich” and “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry”. In fact, the only remaining song I can see resonating, hypothetically, is “I Wish It Was” (and even that is no guarantee).

            Seeing her crossover potential has all but dissipated with the grave underperformance of “80’s Mercedes”, I would just test the waters with “I Wish I Was” and, in the event the callout is tepid or worse, I would just move on from the album entirely and, like Josh said, craft a sophomore album that is more Bonnie Raitt/Sheryl Crow and less Rihanna in terms of the influences she exudes.

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  3. BMLG has to be annoyed. They were pushing Young this week, not FGL. Young actually got #1 on mediabase, & not just the chart points, it also had the largest mediabase audience.

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    • Yep, I can here the label guy now reaming out the radio guy for not realizing that the cash in the envelope was for Brett Young this week and FGL next week.

      What’s the world coming to when you can’t even bribe a radio guy correctly.

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  4. “My Church” was too good to be true. The album is selling ok but not outstanding. The CMA award did not help to push “80s Mercedes” or the album sales (except for one week) & country radio is busy playing Kelsea Ballerini teen-pop-disney-country. There is not much buzz about Maren Morris right now. Maybe less window-dressing & more substance for the next album.
    Sony Nashville is promoting Candi Carpenter (“Burn The Bed”).

    Hot Shot Debut: #49 – Billy Currington – “Do I Make You Wanna”
    New: #58 – Tucker Beathard – “Momma & Jesus”
    New: #60 – Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool”
    Re-Entry: #53 – David Nail feat. Brothers Osborne – “Good At Tonight”

    The weekly lottery:
    Next-big-thing & social-media superstar Kane Brown drops to #47 (43 / no bullet)
    Chase Rice (#43) & the other Chase (#44) lost plays (with bullet)
    Jana Kramer (#59) lost audience (with bullet)
    Love & Theft (#57) with weak gains (audience & plays)

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    New: #1 – Miranda Lambert – The Weight Of These Wings
    #2 – Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood – Christmas Together
    New: #3 – George Strait – Strait Out Of The Box: Part 2

    Billboard Americana/Folk Albums:
    #1 – Chris Stapleton – Traveller
    #2 – Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
    New: #3 – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – A Little Something More From Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

    Country Music Services / Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
    #1 – Alice Benfer – “A Little Bit Flirty”
    #2 – Aly Cook – “Kimberley” (Top Track New Zealand)
    #3 – Seleen McAlister feat. Drew McAlister – “I’ve Got You”
    On The Rise: #10 (24) – Camille & Stuie – “Paper Cups”
    Top New Track: #17 – Adam Brand – “Get On Your Feet”
    – The new Adam Brand album will be released 02/10/2017
    – Alice Benfer with 2nd #1 hit in a row (EP: Cowgirl Rockin’)

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – Keith Urban
    #2 – FGL feat. Tim McGraw
    #3 – Old Dominion
    .
    #5 – Dallas Smith – “Autograph” (Top Track Canada)
    On The Rise: #34 (43) – Tim Hicks – “Slow Burn”
    Top New Track: #42 – Dean Brody – “Time”
    – After the shitty “Bush Party” Dean Brody is back with the radio-friendly ballad/midtempo “Time”
    – “…She’s A Slow, Slow, Slow Burn…” (repeat again & again) / Tim Hicks with another forgettable single

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  5. Kind of interesting the 10 songs that have peaked at #2 on the Billboard Airplay chart this calendar year:

    ‘Burning House’ Cam
    ‘Gonna Know We Were Here’ Aldean
    ‘I Love This Life’ LoCash
    ‘Stay A Little Longer’ Brothers Osborne
    ‘Break Up In A Small Town’ Hunt
    ‘Drunk On Your Love’ Eldredge
    ‘Snapback’ Old Dominion
    ‘I Met A Girl’ W.M. Morgan
    ‘Rock On’ Beathard

    and apparently

    ;Sleep Without You’ Young

    Lots of new and developing acts on that list. Not sure why just seems like a trend.

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    • Great catch. Perhaps show how much industry values proven names at the top and the fear of new names at the top by radio?

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      • I think that is part of it and the other thing and I’m only going by memory here but it seems like a lot of these type of hits take huge tumbles immediately after peaking which leads me to believe that they were less than legit hits since as soon as the label stops pushing they crash.

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    • Each one got blocked by a hugr hit.

      Cam, LoCash, Jason Aldean and Brothers Osborne all got blocked by “Die A Happy Man”. Sam Hunt got blocked by “Home Alone Tonight”. Brett Eldredge got blocked by “You Should Be Here”. “I Met A Girl” got blocked by Billy Currington “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” and Brett Young we all just saw.

      For Brothers Osborne, Brett Eldredge, Cam, Brett Young and William Michael Morgan they are all still #1s as they hit #1 on MB chart. Radio actually tends to prefer that chart over Billboard.

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      • ‘Each one got blocked by a hugr hit’

        Maybe. But the bigger point is that these songs are having there peaks pre determined to some degree and it seems like the more established acts are being (at least unofficially) guaranteed #1’s while the lesser known acts are being made to settle for less.

        And radio likes the Mediabase chart more because it is easier to manipulate to please there label overlords.

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  6. Josh, the reason why Luke Bryan has stuck around is the fact that outside of Blake Shelton none of the other songs in the 11-14 range are getting those top 10 conversions. Maren Morris has awful research, Granger Smith has good research but awful sales, and Thomas Rhett also has poor research so radio is hesitant with all 3 songs. While they know listeners aren’t completely worn out on “Move” or “Middle Of A Memory”.

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  7. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the supposed next entries to the Top Thirty.

    *

    Firstly, Craig Campbell’s “Outskirts of Heaven” is clearly the best of the four.

    Above all else, it is an excellent showcasing of Campbell’s vocal prowess and flavor. It’s easy to overlook that via previous forgettable releases like “Keep Them Kisses Comin'” and “Outta My Head” but, much like Randy Houser (albeit very briefly) did with “Like a Cowboy”, under all the polish is a well-worn above average vocalist. It also is great that the production is decidedly dialed back and intimate even at the obligatory climax.

    I will acknowledge the lyrics are unabashedly theological and, thus, aren’t my cup of tea on a personal level. But that’s just me, and I can easily see how traditional-leaning country fans who are perhaps disproportionately more likely to identify as either evangelical Christians or Catholics or so forth will derive value in this set of lyrics. They do kind of remind me of Justin Moore’s “One Dirt Road” in a more recent sense.

    I’m thinking a Light to Decent 8 out of 10 for “Outskirts of Heaven”.

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    The title track to Dierks Bentley’s current album is easily the best of its three singles thus far, but that’s not exactly saying much as even “Black” is inferior to most of his back catalog.

    The thing about Dierks Bentley is that, while he has always had a below-average range as a vocalist, he makes up for that with a sharpened instinct and texture to his singing that inflects warmth and emotive narration. On his first triad of albums his voice definitely reflected that of a wanderer and from there he tapped more into a broader set of songs detailing personal experiences that felt intimate and real.

    Here, he just sounds lethargic and gutless against such a synthetic backdrop of electronic whirs and U2-esque guitar echo. And the songwriting itself is no less mechanical in how, much like what you expect from a bro-country song, on paper the expressions read more like a sequence of descriptors and interjections than anything constituting an emotion you’re in the process of divulging. It’s more about style and the way a song flows and rhymes than heart. And if I were writing about sex, I would certainly want the lyrics to articulate that fullness that comes from longing rather than, much like with “Burnin’ It Down” did as well, come across as a shoulder-shrug and whimper: “Meh, here’s a bed!”

    “Black” isn’t bad necessarily, but just a complete waste of effort and energy. I’m thinking a Strong 3 to Light 4 out of 10.

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    RaeLynn’s “Love Triangle” is easily the most pleasant surprise of this bunch.

    Her vocal limitations remain, and the mix does have issues with overcompression. But even on these fronts, RaeLynn has improved dramatically from the regrettable “Me” EP era. She does manage to squeeze some genuine emotion out of her performance and the production wisely gets out of the way and provides breathing space to what is truly the strongest aspect of the song: the lyrics.

    Where the hell has THIS side of her as a songwriter been before on record? THIS is the kind of effort I want to see regularly from RaeLynn. Detailing these vignettes, these slices of life, that sum up the growing pains that come with relationships. The verses choose to focus more on the fond nostalgic, cinematic imagery that often accompany Americana while the chorus succinctly spells out the reality surrounding countless marriages and, thus, families. A few of the references like a Ford and Patsy Cline may be dismissed as checklist fodder, but they actually work quite convincingly in this case because they’re playing on the whole nostalgia motif only to burst the bubble reminding that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you’re of a broken home.

    So “Love Triangle” genuinely got to me, and I have to say if this is indicative of the kind of music she much rather wants to make, more power to her. I’m thinking a very strong 7 out of 10 for this one.

    *

    Finally, we have “We Should Be Friends”.

    And you see: THIS is an example of how Miranda Lambert letting loose and having fun AND offering something of quality CAN go hand in hand. “Little Red Wagon” and “Somethin’ Bad” were awful stabs at that on her previous album (okay, “Little Red Wagon” SOUNDED good but it had no business being a radio single)…………………but she already proved this before with “Only Prettier” for example. And the instrumental texture and playfulness of this song is mot enjoyable.

    I do feel like this is nodding to “Heart Like Mine” from a thematic standpoint, but with a more rootsier musical backdrop. It all amounts to another enjoyable effort from her. I’m thinking a Decent to Strong 7 out of 10 for this one.

    *

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  8. “Hometown Girl” just pisses me off every time I hear it. There are much worse songs on here, but Josh Turner is better than this, and I just want to slap him every time I am forced to hear this. What a waste.

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    • It does nothing for me either, but I’m surprised as to the visceral reaction it incites in you.

      It’s just too innocuous for me to get worked up about it. As sad as it is missing him from the days of “Would You Come With Me?” and “Long Black Train” and the more eclectic instrumentation that accompanied those releases, let’s be honest with ourselves and acknowledge Turner has always been fluffy in the lyrical department, and “Hometown Girl” is consistent in that regard.

      Musically, I expect more from him. But again, it’s just too tame for me to get riled up over it. I save that for the likes of Sam Hunt.

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