The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [March 6]

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. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 3)
  3. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 
  4. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 
  5. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Down 4)
  6. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 1)
  7. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 2)
  8. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song]
  9. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 1)
  10. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Down 4) 
  11. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 
  12. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 
  13. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  14. Sam Hunt – “Body Like a Back Road” -5 (Up 1) [Worst Song]
  15. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3 (Down 1)
  16. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”
  17. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  18. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Down 1)
  19. Luke Combs – “Hurricane” -1
  20. Dan + Shay – “How Not To” +1 (Up 2)
  21. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 1)
  22. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Down 1)
  23. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” 
  24. Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good” -4 (Up 2)
  25. Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It” -2 (Down 1)
  26. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Down 1)
  27. Keith Urban (feat. Carrie Underwood) – “The Fighter” -5 (Up 1)
  28. Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know” -2 (Re-Enters Top 30)
  29. Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man” +4 (Up 1)
  30. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (Down 3)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -24

The pulse drops five spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” +3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” – Up 3 from #5 to #2
  • Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know” – Up 3 from #31 to #28

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Down 4 from #1 to #5
  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” – Down 4 from #6 to #10

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

  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” (Radio and Blake just can’t bear the thought of one week in the top 30 without a single from him, so chart jacking!)
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” (This one appears to be out of gas now. We’ll see if EMI fights to keep it alive)
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (The Fritos song finally appears done. No one will remember it)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (54 weeks. I bet it’ll reach the top 10 in another 25 weeks)
  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” (You can start panicking and worrying, Miranda fans. I’m being generous putting it here and not above because this is surrounded by radio darlings. Not good.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama, and Me”
  • Cole Swindell – “Flatliner”
  • Blake Shelton – “Every Time I Hear That Song”
  • Brothers Osborne – “It Ain’t My Fault”

 

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

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39 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [March 6]

  1. Why is there a picture of Brett Young? Usually don’t you put a picture of the number 1 song of the week? Just curious is all.

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  2. Brett Young….Chris Young…who cares?!

    “Make You Mine” will survive us all. Audience & play numbers are up. High Valley will not go away in the next few weeks.

    31-60:
    One new entry. LANCO or LANco or lanCO…#58 for “Greatest Love Story”.
    Parmalee up to #35 with bullet (week 43).
    Jake Owen & Hunter Hayes are done.
    Midland with healthy numbers up to #45 (53).
    0.65 millions (in audience) are enough for the top 60 this week (Ryan Kinder #60).

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    #1 – New – Little Big Town – The Breaker
    #2 – New – Aaron Watson – Vaquero
    #3 – Garth Brooks
    #4 – Alison Krauss
    #5 – Keith Urban

    Billboard Americana/Folk Albums:
    #1 – New – John Mayer – The Search For Everything: Wave Two (EP)
    #2 – Alison Krauss
    #3 – Chris Stapleton

    Texas Regional Radio Report:
    #1 – Randy Rogers Band – “Tequila Eyes”
    #2 – Aaron Watson – “Outta Style”
    #3 – Sundance Head – “13 Years”
    .
    #17 – Adrian Johnston – “Rather Have You” (highest female artist)
    .
    #70 – New – William Clark Green – “Creek Don’t Rise” (highest debut/most adds/most spin increase)

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  3. Ugh, down three for Miranda and almost out of the top 30! So, yeah, we are panicked and worried, us Miranda fans. It didn’t get higher than 26! This should trouble everyone, because — even though “Vice” performed decently well — this album is having a hard time in terms of singles. It could dissuade other artists and their labels from taking the risk of doing a meaningful, creative, genuine country album. And it proves that radio remains the resilient bulwark against any turnaround in country music as a mainstream format.

    Well, at least Pardi is on the cusp of another #1.

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    • Miranda has NEVER played the radio game. Gunpowder & Lead sold million copies yet not even radio top 10. Even when her singles/albums were great sellers & getting awards radio showed luke warm support. I think she will perform Tin Man at the ACMs & hopefully it will get played.

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      • Gunpowder and Lead peaked at #7, it was actually her first top 10.

        And to be fair to radio WSBF hasn’t sold all that well. I think they were trying to play it safe for radio, and neither radio nor consumers really liked the song. I to am hoping for Tinman at the ACM’s.

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      • She has maybe not “played the radio game,” but she has enjoyed radio success. During the ‘Revolution’ and ‘Four the Record’ album cycles, she had three #1’s and two #2’s.

        I am curious about the next single choice. I enjoy WSBF and thought it was a sensible choice as a single, but seak05 is right that it didn’t resonate enough with fans. I’m not sure if Tin Man will either, but I really like that song. As I look over the contents of both discs, it’s incredibly difficult for me to see what could work in terms of sales/streaming and radio. Oh well, I’m an amateur or even dilettante in all of this.

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  4. A real good way to tell radio really feels about a song is what happens after it peaks. And boy does radio love AGWAG. Can’t remember the last time a song hung on this long after it peaked…and this was a 3 week #1 at that. Long time in heavy rotation.

    The top is actually about to be interesting the next few weeks, but I’m not looking forward to Sam Hunt’s long stay at the top.

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  5. It’s sad for me to see Lipstick go recurrent, but maybe we’ll get a new Runaway June single soon. They have amazing potential. On the bright side, Jon Pardi looks to get another number one hit, and maybe Missing and Drinkin’ Problem will eventually make their way to the top thirty. On the downside, looks like Body Like a Back Road will go number one. Probably for multiple weeks. Joy joy. Body Like a Back Road is one of the most embarrassing songs ever.

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  6. One more thing: Josh, will there be a worst artist march madness-style tournament this year like the one last year? That was really fun. 🙂

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    • Kane Brown would like to toss his hat in the ring (though I think it’s a little undeserved). Dierks Bentley as a “sleeper” pick

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  7. Wow, so sad to see that “Lipstick” has already gone recurrent, it was a great song. I pretty much predicted a few weeks ago that it would run out of gas soon. And I’m also panicking and pretty worried about Miranda’s song, considering that it’s fallen three notches and is barely hanging in the top 30. At least Jon Pardi is on his way to notching another #1 song, and we still have a positive score in the top 5, even though it’s the same five songs, different positions.

    Unfortunately, the bad news with this chart is that Sam Hunt’s awful song is continuing to climb, and will likely reach number one, and the songs just lingering outside the top 30 are awful, so we could likely see the pulse drop further. Hopefully, “Missing”, “It Ain’t My Fault”, and “Drinkin’ Problem” can manage to crack the top 30 soon. And on a side note, I’m really looking forward to the March Madness Worst Artist Tournament!

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  8. I honestly don’t get the Kane Brown hype. To me, he’s a joke and another bro-country singer that’ll be irrelevant in 5-10 years. And it’s disheartening to me to see the decline in Dierks Bentley. I’ve never really been a die-hard Dierks fan (I’ll take George Strait, Alan Jackson, Gary Allan, Josh Turner, Tim McGraw, Eric Church, Jon Pardi, and William Michael Morgan over Dierks any day), but he has some great songs, and it’s hard to deny that he’s got some serious talent. It’s a shame, however, to see him waste it all on bullshit like Different for Girls and snoozefests like Black and whatever the hell Somewhere on a Beach was.

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    • Things Dierks does at concerts: costumes, props, and video board duets. Next on the list lip synching (Dierks has musical taste, but in his quest to be a star he’s gone almost full Luke Bryan, at least he doesn’t do a medley of pop covers).

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    • And yeah, Kane’s not my cup of tea, but I think the hate on him has gone overboard. His lyrics (in general) are a lot more personal and bro-y then the bro country crowd. He definitely mixes across genres though.

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  9. At least he hasn’t started shaking his ass like that clown Luke Bryan either. Bottom line: Dierks doesn’t care anymore. On another note, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban for sure deserve spots in the tournament for not trying anymore. LoTrash (LoCash) deserves a spot, because have you heard their latest disaster? Yeesh. FGL deserves a spot as well because that Backstreet Boys thing is embarrassing and horrendous. And that’s coming from someone who (somewhat ashamedly) counts the Backstreet Boys as a guilty pleasure (I have an older cousin who was obsessed with them in their prime. My cousins and I are really close and I grew up around the Backstreet Boys’ music.).

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    • See Keith is a hard one for me, because his musical output has been bad this year (hello the Fighter) but he at least shreds on a guitar live. We have enough truly bad acts out there that I’m not even sure Blake and Jason deserve spots this year. I mean hi Michael Ray, Jake Owen.

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    • (I give points for bringing young and/or relatively no-name acts out as openers, actually caring enough in concert to do some guitar licks, and/or an acoustic set etc)

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  10. Oh boy, Michael Ray is a doozy and a half. He has never produced a good single, and I absolutely despise Real Men Love Jesus. Michael Ray deserves a spot in the tournament for that turd alone. Jake Owen has LAX, which isn’t bad, and What We Ain’t Got, which is damn near excellent, but he has had some doozies recently. Blake and Jason have been boring as of late, but Blake deserves a spot (although a lower spot maybe) for She’s Got a Way With Words. What a bitchy, immature song.

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    • I didn’t like SGAWW, mostly because it was repetitive and boring and didn’t go anywhere. But I didn’t hate it, hate it. Country has a long history of cheating songs. So given the level of other general terribleness we saw this year, I’m not sure that song alone deserves to get you on the 16 list.

      Also wonder how much Josh will/should give for non country radio singles (Lax by Jake Owen, SS & friends by Blake, I’ll be the Moon by Dierks etc).

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  11. Based on overall output, Cole Swindell should be in the tournament as well. He’s never had a good song. And his persona reminds me of my ex boyfriend’s sleazy cousin, which makes me like Cole even less. 😦 And Flatliner is a flat-out disaster.

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      • and tried to shade LBT

        You know, I could take or leave most of Little Big Town’s stuff, but just that episode all by itself made me glad that their latest album debuted at No. 1 in the midst of the the dumpster fire that The Band Perry has turned their career into. Even if LBT did keep Aaron Watson from getting another No. 1 album.

        “Comeback Kid”? Sure, Kimberly Perry. Whatever you say. **pointing and laughing**

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  12. While most female artists are making great music (Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Maddie and Tae, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark, Margo Price, Runaway June, Aubrie Sellers) or decent music (Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Maren Morris, Cam, hell, even RaeLynn), Kelsea Ballerini is making Disney garbage like Yeah Boy.

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  13. I am so happy “Road Less Traveled” is gonna become Lauren Alaina’s first Top 5 once Chris Young and Little Big Town get out of the way. I really hope “Road Less Traveled” becomes her first #1 on Billboard.

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  14. The Band Perry did have their little diva spat with LBT, I almost forgot. Comeback Kid was
    ironically, totally forgettable. I reckon Josh will probably disqualify them from the tournament, considering their official move to pop. Speaking of that, I wonder how it’s working out for them.

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    • And now they’re attempting to go full on pop with their latest venture. Awful career advice/management and now they will have gone from a promising country group to nothing in 3 short years.

      As an aside noticed on mediabase a couple days ago raelynn had reappeared with a bullet so perhaps love triangle isn’t done yet

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  15. Gee, looks like “Today” may potentially leapfrog “Dirt On My Boots” in the race for the next #1 gauging by the payola overload in today’s rolling chart update! (eye roll) -__-

    I sure hope Pardi’s team gives them the middle finger and blocks “Today” from the #1 spot like they should have done to “Sober Saturday Night”. The chart manipulation keeps getting worse because, as bad as it has been all decade long, it was at least easy to make the case that most radio Top Ten singles had performed well enough across the board to warrant #1 titles. Here, eight of ten don’t.

    I did mention in previous week how I was convinced “Today” would go #1 because of how steadily and consistently it had been gaining both audience and spins throughout its radio run and since, after all, radio programmers largely neglect more organic metrics regarding a song’s net appeal. But I absolutely hate HOW it’s attempting the final move there. It is about as awful as when Eric Paslay’s “Friday Night” unexpectedly pole-vaulted above more deserving contenders at the time because of being payolaed to death.

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    • You do have a point that it may not be completely deserving of the #1 spot, but at least it’s not Michael Ray/Luke Bryan/FGL/some other douche-bro artist.

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      • In all honesty, though, Michael Ray’s terrible song deserves the #1 spot more between the two of them because, even though it is my opinion that much of its late success is a fluke due to the longtime iTunes discount……………….it has been the all-around better performing track between his dumpster fire and “Today”.

        My feelings on Michael Ray are well-documented at this point. But as chart-watchers, we do have to put our critical feelings aside for a moment and acknowledge bigger hits should be reflected and rewarded. And while “Think A Little Less” doesn’t deserve #1 either in my eyes, I do concede it has done more than “Today” has.

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  16. The sad thing is, I actually enjoyed quite a bit of TBP’s country output. If I Die Young was fantastic. Better Dig Two was a great song. Postcard from Paris was one of the best songs out at its time (along with Chris Young’s Neon and Dustin Lynch’s Cowboys and Angels). You Lie and All Your Life were also strong singles. Their first two albums had some great album cuts I would recommend for sure: Double Heart, Walk Me Down the Middle, Pioneer, I Saw a Light, and Mother Like Mine (the last of which makes me bawl my eyes out every time, considering how close I am to my own mother). After these two solid albums, what does TBP do? They initiate their big yellow failure and begin to play out the great identity crisis switcheroo, which has made them a laughingstock. What a damn shame.

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    • I agree! =(

      I actually prefer them to Lady Antebellum (well, basing off of their first two albums) artistically when it comes to trios that emerged around the turn of the decade. There was an oddball charm to those records; a sort of Southern gothic touch that kept me engaged. And Kimberly Perry grew a lot of confidence as a frontwoman on that second album as well vocally.

      When it comes down to likeability, though, The Band Perry’s behavior has been impossible to defend while Lady Antebellum sound down-to-earth. It’s just a shame we don’t really have a surefire substitute for them in their absence since trios are scarce right now on the charts anyway and, among groups, we have to put up with Old Dominion as a staple act now! =/

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      • As far as trios go, Midland and Runaway June seem promising. I really love both Lipstick and Drinkin’ Problem. As of the future of both of these trios, we’ll see. They could be really good. As for Old Dominion, I will never understand their popularity. Their music is so……generic. And they emit this douchy, creepy vibe that I don’t like at all. 😦

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  17. The sad thing is, I actually enjoyed quite a bit of TBP’s country output. If I Die Young was fantastic. Better Dig Two was a great song. Postcard from Paris was one of the best songs out at its time (along with Chris Young’s Neon and Dustin Lynch’s Cowboys and Angels). You Lie and All Your Life were also strong singles. Their first two albums had some great album cuts I would recommend for sure: Double Heart, Walk Me Down the Middle, Pioneer, I Saw a Light, and Mother Like Mine (the last of which makes me bawl my eyes out every time, considering how close I am to my own mother). After these two solid albums, what does TBP do? They initiate their big yellow failure and begin to play out the great identity crisis switcheroo, which has made them a laughingstock. What a damn shame for a band that was once a bright spot in mainstream country music.

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