The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music (Returns!) [Jan. 10, 2015]

After a nearly month-long hiatus the Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music weekly feature returns in 2015!

And there’s going to be some changes to it starting now. Last year I simply took a look at the top ten on the Billboard Hot Country Chart. For this year we’re going to switch to the Billboard Country Airplay chart, as this chart is viewed more seriously in the industry than the Hot Country Chart. In other words, it’s more important because this is what’s playing the most on radios across the country. The other change being made is instead of looking at just the top ten, I will grade the top 30 every week. The grading format will stay the same with each song receiving a +1, -1 or a 0. 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 +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty.

  1. Tim McGraw – “Shotgun Rider” +1
  2. Brad Paisley – “Perfect Storm” +1
  3. Kenny Chesney – “Til It’s Gone” 0
  4. Eric Church – “Talladega” +1 (I changed my mind on this song as you can see)
  5. Carrie Underwood – “Something in the Water” +1
  6. Parmalee – “Close Your Eyes” -1
  7. Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -1
  8. Luke Bryan – “I See You” -1
  9. Randy Houser – “Like A Cowboy” 0
  10. Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -1 
  11. Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -1
  12. Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” 0
  13. Chase Bryant – “Take It On Back” -1
  14. Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” +1
  15. Darius Rucker – “Homegrown Honey” -1
  16. Lee Brice – “Drinking Class” +1
  17. Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes” 0
  18. RaeLynn – “God Made Girls” -1
  19. David Nail – “Kiss You Tonight” 0
  20. Lady Antebellum – “Freestyle” -1
  21. Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1
  22. Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got” +1
  23. Dan + Shay – “Show You Off” -1
  24. Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1
  25. Kristian Bush – “Trailer Hitch” +1
  26. Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1
  27. Toby Keith – “Drunk Americans” -1
  28. Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -1
  29. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1
  30. Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -3

A new format and new chart with the same old negative score. The chart starts out so promising with the top five and then it significantly drops off. What a shame! I can’t believe how popular Parmalee still is on radio. Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey” and RaeLynn’s “God Made Girls” (two of the worst country songs of 2014) are both ahead of (two Country Perspective Song of the Year candidates for 2014) Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got” and Eric Paslay’s “She Don’t Love You.” Arrgh!!

Let me know in the comments what you think of this new format. And feel free to weigh-in on this week’s chart of course.

8 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music (Returns!) [Jan. 10, 2015]

  1. Zack January 3, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    Like the new format! How ironic that grading the airplay chart brings a lower score haha. I’m glad Like A Cowboy got a 0. Kind of overrated in my opinion. The good news is that the Parmalee song will be gone soon, as well as Dan + Shay and Toby Keith, so maybe we will see a positive score soon? Idk but i sure hope so

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kevin Davis January 3, 2015 / 1:06 pm

      Eric Church is a mixed bag, but I love “Talladega.” I’m glad you gave it a +1. I have to disagree with “Like a Cowboy.” Sure, it’s not great or a future classic, but it’s a fabulous vocal showcase. It’s Randy’s best single. It is definitely refreshing to hear it when I’m listening to country radio in my car. Likewise, “What We Ain’t Got” is very refreshing. Whereas “Like a Cowboy” overplays the production, “What We Ain’t Got” is basically one voice and one piano. It retains the genius of Travis Meadow’s original recording.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Will January 3, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    I’m glad this came back, I had begun to miss it over the last month. I am also glad that you switched to the Country Airplay chart. I don’t even look at the Hot Country Song chart since they switched it! Anyway, I agree with most of your ratings. Not sure I would have given Lonely Tonight at +1, I’d give it a 0. It may be decent enough, and does highlight Ashley Monroe, it’s production would fit more closely on Adult Contemporary than Country. Also, I would have given Kiss You Tonight a +1. While not his best work, it is by far one of the best songs on the current chart. Other than that nice list, and glad you changed your mind on Talladega.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lorenzo January 4, 2015 / 2:25 am

    I agree on most of the chart but I respectfully disagree on Kiss you Tonight. it’s a straight ahead pop song but it’s well written and beautifully sung.
    also I don’t understand why Chase Bryant got -1, I don’t think his song is so offensive. I don’t know, maybe a 0.
    definitely agree on crap such as Sun Daze, I See You and Just Getting Started, you should really introduce the -2 score for such idiotic bro country music.


  4. NoahHibiscusEaton January 6, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    I’m glad to see you’ve had a change of heart regarding “Talladega”. I honestly can respect your initial criticism of the song as following a “it’s all been done before” theme, and can see why you’d give it a 0 score hypothetically……………but it never made sense to me that you assigned a -1 grade to it for a short while. I’m curious to hear how you changed your mind on that song! =)

    I’m not sold on “Drinking Class”, honestly. I can respect where you’re coming from in that the song at least tries to touch on blue-collar consciousness, but it just sounds dull and gimmicky to me. And by gimmicky I mean the bridge sounds so forced and over-the-top in how he interjects: “Ladies, put on your dancing shoes…………… matter what time it is, it’s Friday, it’s Saturday, it’s Sunday…………….I just wanna hear you say, now sing with me!” and the like. It sounds more like an infomercial than a song to me.

    Here’s my result:


    1:Tim McGraw – “Shotgun Rider” +1
    2.Brad Paisley – “Perfect Storm” +1
    3.Kenny Chesney – “Til It’s Gone” 0
    4.Eric Church – “Talladega” +1 (I changed my mind on this song as you can see)
    5.Carrie Underwood – “Something in the Water” +1
    6.Parmalee – “Close Your Eyes” -1
    7.Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -1
    8.Luke Bryan – “I See You” -1
    9.Randy Houser – “Like A Cowboy” +1 (I really dig this. By far Houser’s best vocal performance on a radio single to date, and the production is authentically country-rock too.)
    10.Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -1
    11.Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -1
    12.Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” 0
    13.Chase Bryant – “Take It On Back” -1
    14.Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” 0 (Their vocal performance is nice, but the song is just………………there. Definitely inferior to Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” in that the latter far more successfully captured the darkness to desperately contacting an ex.)
    15.Darius Rucker – “Homegrown Honey” -1
    16.Lee Brice – “Drinking Class” 0
    17.Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes” 0
    18.RaeLynn – “God Made Girls” -1
    19.David Nail – “Kiss You Tonight” 0
    20.Lady Antebellum – “Freestyle” -1
    21.Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1
    22.Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got” +1
    23.Dan + Shay – “Show You Off” -1
    24.Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1
    25.Kristian Bush – “Trailer Hitch” +1
    26.Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1
    27.Toby Keith – “Drunk Americans” -1
    28.Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -1
    29.Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1
    30.Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1

    Final Result: -4 (Guess I’m very slightly more negative than you, Josh! 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott January 7, 2015 / 12:44 am

      Well the reason I changed my mind on “Talladega” is because I didn’t really fully listen to the song honestly. After giving it a real good listen I then fully understood the context of the song and where it was coming from because on face value it sounds very “checklist-y.” It’s definitely one of the bright spots on Church’s The Outsiders album. I understand where you’re coming from with “Drinking Class.” I give it a +1, but I’m reluctant. I think what makes me give it a +1 and not a 0 is I know people in the working class enjoy this song and it’s one of those songs to listen to after a long day of work. Plus if it can keep Brice’s dreadful “Girls in Bikinis” off radio, then it’s a big win. Haha!

      I’m just not sold on Randy Houser. I think he’s capable of much more and has really held back with his music. I’m waiting for him to prove me wrong. Maybe 2015 will be the year.

      I totally get where you’re coming from with “Lonely Tonight” and you’re not the first person to say this to me. However I will say this for everyone who isn’t sold on the song: It’s getting Ashley Monroe noticed. For example my mother, who isn’t a big country fan and usually isn’t a fan of female country artists, really likes this song because of Monroe (the only other female country artist I’ve gotten her to like is Sunny Sweeney). If Monroe can get win her over, she can win a lot of people over if given the chance. One slightly above average song could be Monroe’s ticket to being noticed and showing everyone her absolute best. I think we would all love to see this happen.

      Haha! Let’s both hope it goes into the positive range soon. I’m cautiously hopeful that 2015 will be a good year for mainstream country music.


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