The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 3]

sam-hunt-take-your-time
Eh, close enough

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…

(Note: This week’s movement in parenthesis is based on the previous Current Pulse in December to show change over the holiday)

  1. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 4)
  2. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 1)
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” (Up 4)
  4. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 6)
  5. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  6. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Down 5)
  7. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 5)
  8. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Down 6)
  9. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 6)
  10. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 1)
  11. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 7)
  12. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 4)
  13. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song] 
  14. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Up 3)
  15. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Down 1)
  16. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 4) [Worst Song]
  17. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 5)
  18. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 1)
  19. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 2)
  20. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (New to Top 30)
  21. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Up 2)
  22. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 3)
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  24. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 3)
  25. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” 0 (Up 3)
  26. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 
  27. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Up 2)
  28. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (New to Top 30)
  29. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (New to Top 30)
  30. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -22

The pulse improves one spot this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” 0
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Luke Bryan – “Fast”
    • You know what other song I’m instantly reminded of when I hear this Luke Bryan song? Another Luke Bryan song, “Drink a Beer.” This is probably because both songs share something really important in common: an overrated sense of sentimentality in the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, this is better than most of Bryan’s recent singles and definitely an improvement over “Move.” But this whole theme of life going too fast so live it up now is covered too vaguely, not to mention we’ve heard better versions of this song on country radio (Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” and Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” come to mind). The song is also too lifeless and lacks the energy to really hook me into the lyrics. Boring may be better than bad, but it isn’t good either. 4/10
  • Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool”
  • Dierks Bentley – “Black”
    • 2016 was the year Dierks went A-lister and in the process abandoned the things that made his music good. Warm guitars were traded for stiff pop, adult contemporary production. “Black” perfectly exemplifies this. It’s a stilted attempt at an edgy love song that instead collapses in itself. Bentley tries to force these really clunky rhymes throughout the song and the instrumentation fails to achieve the spacey blackness it’s going for and instead leaves the listener feeling empty. Listening to this song is akin to eating a rice cake: sure you consumed something, but you sure as hell don’t feel it and you’re left with no nutritional value. You know what’s really sad though? This is the best single of the Black era so far. 3/10

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Up 7 from #18 to #11
  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” – Up 6 from #10 to #4
  • Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” – Up 6 from #15 to #9

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” – Out of the Top 30 & Done

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

  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (A terrible position coming out of the holidays. It’ll reach top ten maybe, but radio seems to be getting ready to drop this one)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” (The best I see this doing is top 15, but I don’t think it even gets there before dropping)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Radio just isn’t getting behind this song and I’ll be shocked if it lasts to the end of the month)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (It’s now been on the chart for 38 weeks and a lot of new singles are coming behind it. I don’t like this song’s odds.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (This song has made one hell of a turnaround after a rocky beginning)
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World”

Note: There won’t be a Current Pulse of Texas Country Radio tomorrow, as the last chart update was in the middle of December. Once the first update for the new year drops that feature will start up again.

As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below. 

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16 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 3]

  1. I can’t recall the last time I did one of these so here we go…

    1. “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (-1)
    2. “Wanna Be That Song” (0)
    3. “Dirty Laundry” (0)
    4. “A Guy With A Girl” (-1) (It’s honestly SO boring that it makes me mad, haha)
    5. “How I’ll Always Be” (+2)
    6. “May We All” (+1)
    7. “Star Of The Show” (+1) I know, but the more liquid textures honestly make me like it a bit more than I should, and hey, I don’t think he ripped anyone off to make this so progress? :p
    8. “Song For Another Time” (-2)
    9. “Seein’ Red” (-1) (I honestly find this more boring than anything else, but I see that so many people hate the crap out of this. I dock it for ripping off “Style”)
    10. “If The Boot Fits” (-3) (Boring sure, but also creepy in places)
    11. “Better Man” (0)
    12. “Sober Saturday Night” (+2)
    13. “Kill A Word” (+4) (Best Song)
    14. “Today” (+2)
    15. “80’s Mercedes” (0)
    16. “Think A Little Less” (-1)
    17. “Dirt On My Boots” (-3)
    18. “Road Less Traveled” (-2)
    19. “Parachute” (+3)
    20. “Fast” (+1) (Boring)
    21. “The Weekend” (-3)
    22. “Baby Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (0)
    23. “Make You Mine” (+2)
    24. “Yeah Boy” (-2)
    25. “Hometown Girl” (+2) (I’m willing to defend that Josh pulls off the contemporary sound well)
    26. “Holdin’ Her” (+3)
    27. “There’s A Girl” (0)
    28. “Any Ol’ Barstool” (+1)
    29. “Black” (+1)
    30. “Outskirts Of Heaven” (+3)

    Final: +10
    All solely my opinion. I know the scores are different for us, but our thoughts are pretty much the same for the majority of these. Plus we also have different ways of determine grades which makes the scores only *seem* like they’re vastly different.

    Anyway, God only knows what’s in store for the mainstream in 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “…God only knows what’s in store for the mainstream in 2017.”

      Chase Bryant will reach the Top 10 in the fall of 2017.
      Maren Morris will win more awards. But Sony Nashville will find more success with Candi Carpenter.
      RaeLynn will learn to sing (just kidding).
      Country radio will play Lauren Alaina or Kelsea Ballerini. The big winner: Candi Carpenter.
      Scott Borchetta will buy all americana labels & start 1001 new labels. First artist to release new music: Olivia Newton-John.
      Curb Records will release one (1) single in 2017. The next album in 2019.
      Miranda Lambert will win all CMA awards (including male vocalist of the year).
      Ashley Gorley, busbee, Ross Copperman & the rest of the gang will leave Nashville & never come back.

      Billboard Top Country Albums: #1 – Garth Brooks – The Ultimate Collection
      Billboard Americana Folk Albums: #1 – Chris Stapleton – Traveller

      Country Music Services/Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
      #1 – The Long & Short Of It – “Kangaroo Rodeo” (2nd week)
      #2 – Connie Kis Andersen – “Happy Day”
      #3 – Brendan Smoother & Pete Denahy – “Burrumbuttock Hay Runners”
      .
      On The Rise: #7 (37) – Rachel Summerell – “There’s A Kiss On Your Lips”
      Top New Track: #25 – Becci Nethery – “Spread A Little Love Around”

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    • I agree with most of your scores Leon, and glad to see you back!
      Unpopular opinion I’m sure, but I agree I actually like Rhetts new single, it’s a big improvement after Vacation. “Guy With a Girl” may as well not exist. Shelton has become so boring I wish he’d retire and leave us alone. I’m impressed that “Parachute” has held on this long considering I saw it gone weeks ago. Also glad to see “Holding Her” still around, and pleasantly surprised to see “Outskirts of Heaven” in the top 30. BTW I’m writing a review on “Outskirts” so check it out!

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  2. Blue Ain’t Your Color…yawn. The most boring song since Setting the World on Fire. I know this is a bit of an unpopular opinion, but at least Take Your Time was slightly more musically interesting, although not country at all and lyrically, kinda creepy. Blue Ain’t Your Color is the kind of song that prompts me to want to take a nap. I’m really hoping that RaeLynn can get a top 30 hit with Love Triangle, I love that song. And how freaking awesome would it be to see William Michael Morgan in the top 30 again with Missing? Fantastic song.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Their are a few good songs on here, sadly most of them are struggling (at least a little).

    Blake, Luke, Jason, and Thomas all have boring songs, which is a step up from their often terrible. From the group I’d probably take Blake, but that’s just because I think he’s the best vocalist of the 4.

    It is apparently Dierks’ turn this era to release terrible, creepy music. And Dustin Lynch, Michael Ray, and Kelsea’s songs make me want to kill my radio.

    Rae Lynn and Candi Carpenter somehow getting into the top 30 at some point, along with WMM “missing” would make me happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (This song has made one hell of a turnaround after a rocky beginning)”

    “If I Told You” is 24 weeks old. A couple of singles ago Darius Rucker was able to release a new song after 24 weeks.

    “Love Triange” is the big chance for RaeLynn to hit the jackpot. But she needs a equal follow-up song to keep the momentum.
    “Road Less Traveled” & “80’s Mercedes” might reach the Top 10. Not enough for Maren Morris after winning a CMA award. Maybe the Grammys will push the sales & radio spins.
    Country radio will play Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert & more or less Maren Morris, RaeLynn. With Candi Carpenter as the dark horse. Jana Kramer is done (for now) & Lauren Alaina better enjoy her 15 minutes of fame.

    Texas Regional Radio Report / The Top Songs By Texas Artists 2016 (Spins):
    #1 – Green River Ordinance – “Simple Life”
    #2 – William Clark Green – “Next Big Thing”
    #3 – Brandon Jenkins – “The Flag”
    #4 – Randy Rogers Band – “San Antone”
    #5 – Rich O’Toole – “Back To Back”
    .
    #13 – Josh Abbott feat. Carly Pearce – “Wasn’t That Drunk” (Carly Pearce – highest female artist)
    #15 – Bri Bagwell – “Half As Good” (Bri Bagwell – highest female solo artist)

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    • Not trying to sound mean Olar, but I swear I have not heard you say one nice thing about either Lauren Alaina or Maren Morris.

      Not trying to start anything just an intresting observation is all.

      Lauren Alaina can still last at least a good 15 to 20 weeks as I expect the label to be in it for the long haul.

      As for Maren she has so much critical and industry love also radio love. But the faulty research on her songs are leaving otherwise hit songs like “My Church” and “80’s Mercedes” sputtering out in the Top 15. She’s here to stay and she’s a superstar waiting to happen as her concert tickets got sold out really quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t say Maren Morris can’t be a superstar or a format-star. Critical love is fine but not selling records & “80’s Mercedes” is -after the massive success of “My Church”- a disappointment.
        It’s her 2nd single. It’s not a Top 10 hit (so far). A “superstar waiting to happen” must sell records/downloads to become a superstar. There is a long way to go & there is always a “next big thing” waiting in the wings.

        Lauren Alaina. Come on. She is a ok-vocalist. She is pop-country. Country radio will not play 4-5 female pop-country artists. Underwood & Ballerini & RaeLynn & Alaina & Kramer & Bradbery & Nettles…no way & there is Miranda Lambert. Throw in older artists like Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Sara Evans, Trisha Yearwood…
        Fighting for sales & radio play: Brooke Eden, Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, Lindsey Ell…
        Alison Krauss will release new material. Only talking about solo artists.
        Where is the “superstar waiting to happen” buzz? Maren Morris…i can hear & “feel” the talent. Lauren Alaina…well.

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        • I never said Lauren Alaina will be a superstar and I have talked to people and they do expect “Road Less Traveled” to be in it for the long stretch. She might not be a superstar and that’s fine, but the fact that her fans are finally getting her long anticipated sophomore album is reason enough to celebrate.

          Maren Morris is a superstar, her tour is a constant sellout “80’s Mercedes” did as well as it did due to radio loving her and the sales have been alright. The only thing holding her back is radio feedback. She sells very well for her album (remember that album sales are down as a whole) has a ton of acclaim and industry love.

          Why don’t you say something positive about both women. There has to be something right?

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          • “…but the fact that her fans are finally getting her long anticipated sophomore album is reason enough to celebrate.”
            Fine. For her fans. I’m not a fan. It was the artificial OTV-push. Without the help of iHeartRadio “Road Less Traveled” would be a minor hit.

            “Maren Morris is a superstar…”
            Maren Morris is a “superstar” now?! Please…
            She is on the way to become a format star. It needs more than a so-so selling album, a Top 20 follow-up single & a CMA award. Winning New Artist Of The Year is nice. That’s it.
            In your words Raymond: “…the sales have been alright”.

            Who is NOT a superstar?
            Is Chase Bryant a superstar (after 2 Top 10 singles)? Tyler Farr? Jana Kramer? Both guys have more Top 10 hits, Tyler Farr 2 Top 10 albums (like Jana Kramer).
            Maren Morris is a superstar because…
            Farr, Bryant & Kramer are superstars/not superstars because…

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          • Ok, fine whatever Maren Morris sells more and has more industry love than Chase Bryant Tyler Farr etc.

            I’m well aware that OTV helped but hey I’m still going to enjoy the fact that one of the nicest singers I’ve seen in country music is finally getting her album out after 5 long grueling years filled with many ups and downs for her.

            Back to Maren Morris. She has the industry love people are going to buy her music I mean holy sh!t she got SNL spot. Not many country singers get that opportunity. For all the new artists she and Jon Pardi are both the ones who have the most potential to be huge

            If you don’t like either women’s music that’s fine I respect your opinion (even if it seems like you haven’t said anything good about either artist ever which I don’t understand but I digress) but Lauren Alaina will probably score at least a hit with her current single which good for her. Maren Morris on the other hand has radios support and the industry also fans her album has sold pretty darn well for a debut album and her fan base is only going to grow.

            Look we both have our opinions, neither one of us is right or wrong (unless you believe you are than whatever) and I am going to end this by saying have a nice day..

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        • Lauren Alaina is nothing special at all as far as I’m concerned. I wish radio played more females but her and Kelsea Ballerini need to disappear. Ballerini half sings worse than bad bs like “Yeah Boy”, which I hate so bad it’s about to get ripped apart on my blog. Morris may be pop country but she is extremely talented.
          I think we need some Margo Price, Brandy Clark, Kasey Musgraves, and Jennifer Nettles ( so talented and overlooked since leaving Sugarland). And as far as older Leeann Womack and Reba should still be charting if radio wasn’t a douchefest.

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