The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Feb. 21]

Source: ©Keith Hinkle (Creative Commons 2.0)
Source: ©Keith Hinkle (Creative Commons 2.0)

Each week I 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 either 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. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site by either Derek or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

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. Luke Bryan – “I See You” -1  
  2. Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -1 (Up 1)
  4. Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” +1 (Up 2)
  5. Randy Houser – “Like A Cowboy” +1 
  6. Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -1 (Up 1)
  7. Eric Church – “Talladega” +1 (Down 5)
  8. Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” (Up 1)
  9. Chase Bryant – “Take It On Back” -1 (Up 1)
  10. Darius Rucker – “Homegrown Honey” -1 (Up 1)
  11. Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes” (Up 1)
  12. Lee Brice – “Drinking Class” +1 (Up 2)
  13. Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1 (Up 2)
  14. Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +1 (Up 5)
  15. Carrie Underwood – “Something in the Water” +1 (Down 7)
  16. Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got” +1 (Up 1)
  17. Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1 (Up 1)
  18. Lady Antebellum – “Freestyle” -1 (Down 2)
  19. Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -1 (Up 1)
  20. Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1 (Up 1)
  21. A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” (Up 1)
  22. Kristian Bush – “Trailer Hitch” +1 (Up 1)
  23. Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1 (Up 1)
  24. Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” (Up 4)
  25. Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon” -1 
  26. Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -1 (Up 1)
  27. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 (Down 1)  
  28. Joe Nichols – “Hard To Be Cool” -1 (Up 2)
  29. Toby Keith – “Drunk Americans” -1 
  30. Josh Turner – “Lay Low” +1 (New to Top 30)

Kenny Chesney’s “Til It’s Gone” fell from #13 to out of the top 30.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -2

The pulse slightly improves again, going from -3 last week to -2 this week. The improvement came because Kenny Chesney’s “Til It’s Gone” fell out of the top 30 this week. It wasn’t a bad song, but it wasn’t a good song either. It was replaced by a good song though in Josh Turner’s “Lay Low.” After being stuck in the mid-30s for weeks Turner finally breaks into the top 30 and hopefully remains for a while. Turner usually has solid success on the radio, while still maintaining his own style. Luke Bryan remains at #1, although I see Florida Georgia Line usurping him soon. Bryan’s releasing new music really soon and the focus of his team will be shifted to pushing it. Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe could get a run at #1 also.

The biggest gainers this week are Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown,” which moved up five spots, Keith Urban and Eric Church’s “Raise ‘Em Up” moved up four spots and Josh Turner’s “Lay Low” moved up four spots to #30. The biggest losers are Kenny Chesney’s “Til It’s Gone,” which fell out of the top 30 completely from #13, Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” fell seven spots and Eric Church’s “Talladega” fell five spots. The latter two should be out of the top 30 within a couple of weeks. I also expect Lady Antebellum’s “Freestyle,” Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song” and Toby Keith’s “Drunk Americans” to fall out soon. Really I’m surprised how long Keith has hung onto the chart. With a bunch of new music coming, these lousy songs should finally go away.

Be sure to weigh in on this week’s chart in the comments below!

11 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Feb. 21]

  1. Raymond February 13, 2015 / 11:31 am

    All righty now we are talking charts
    I See You -1.
    Sun Daze -1.
    Make Me Wanna -1
    Lonely Tonight +1
    Like A Cowboy +1
    Just Getting Started -1
    Talladega +1
    Mean to Me +1.
    Take It On Back 0
    Homegrown Honey -1
    Drinking Class +1
    Lonely Eyes +1.
    Ain’t Worth The Whiskey -1.
    Homegrown +1.
    Something In The Water +1
    What We Ain’t Got +1
    Say You Do +1.
    Freestyle -1
    Take Your Time -1
    A Guy walks Into A bar +1.
    Smoke 0
    Trailer Hitch +1
    She Don’t Love You +1.
    Raise Em Up +1
    Little Red Wagon 0
    Don’t It -1
    Baby Be My Love Song -1.
    Hard To Be Cool -1.
    Drunk Americans -1
    Lay Low +1.
    Total Score + 3.
    I can tolerate Little Red Wagon I like the sass and energy.It’s a crime Sun Daze is getting number 1 please have Make Me Wanna be number 1 next week it’s better than Sun Daze and it’s the only other song that has a shot. We will need some luck to maintain this score with Talladega Something In The Water falling out next week you better hope Tim McGraw Kenny Chesney Gloriana or Rascal Flatts with their new songs don’t turn the pulse into dangerous negative territory. But Freestyle coming to an end Drunk Americans should leave really soon.
    Well next week re currents possibly are like I said before
    Talladega
    Something In The Water
    Freestyle
    Drunk Americans
    When I’ve Been Drinking
    Baby Be My Love Song should stick around for a few more weeks.
    Swon Brothers Pray For You will leave within a few weeks and Justin Moore This Kind Of Town should thankfully leave within the next couple of weeks.
    So that’s it with charts the only new songs that could enter the Top 60 are Cam My Mistake Craig Wayne Boyd My Baby’s Got A Smile On My Face.
    Overall Consensus This Week. Not Bad if radio plays it right for the Top 30 the pulse should stay decent.
    Please Reply

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    • Josh Schott February 13, 2015 / 11:59 am

      Well a lot of these songs have been on the charts for a while and we’re due for a complete overhaul. The month of March will see the first waves of new music in mainstream country. And then of course Luke Bryan is releasing his last spring break EP and a new single. So I see a majority of these songs to go away within the next month or so. It’s really hard to predict what the chart will look like within the next few weeks as we have no idea how popular singles can become. And then there’s surprise releases. Personally I think there’s going to be more good than bad, but the question is how bad will the bad be?

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      • Raymond February 13, 2015 / 12:10 pm

        The bad will be with Florida Georgia Line is there like any song on their album to justify a neutral 0 for you same thing with Little Big Towns album. Do you guys know what Luke Bryan’s new song is. But to be honest I’m just hoping next week Gloriana’s Trouble gets top 30 next week cause that’s my jam. But what I meant to say last time with When I’ve Been Drinking going off the charts soon I’m thinking he’ll sell out with his next album. I’m hoping Lady A can release Damn You Seventeen cause that song was the stand out in their album.
        You know what I realized every artist beside Cole Swindell and Raelynn have shown potential so hopefully if Chase Rice and Lady A songs are done soon along with Dustin Lynch and release the good material on their album we could be in for a possible good spring-summer for country music after the god-awful 2014 summer for country music

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      • Josh Schott February 13, 2015 / 12:16 pm

        Well we’re all speculating that Luke Bryan’s new single will be called “Kick The Dust Up,” as it’s the name of his upcoming tour. It was written by Dallas Davidson, Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley. This is the same trio that wrote Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night,” what I consider one of the worst country songs ever. So prepare yourself for that one. Haha

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      • Raymond February 13, 2015 / 12:26 pm

        Maybe they’ll sober up the title does make me curious. I will say this Luke Bryan I have noticed with each album he sold out more and more. I’m hoping with bro-country dying that he will make a decent album. The problem is is that Luke Bryan I can tell in interviews and award show he doesn’t act his age. I hope he goes the Tim McGraw way but Luke is one of the worse at singing his voice is a hit and miss.
        Well the next couple of weeks should be the end of some songs. Also why weren’t you impressed with Little Big Towns album a few years ago “Tornado.” Cues you said you weren’t impressed. Well next week will be the make or break week for a lot of these songs.

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  2. Zack February 13, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    That top 10 is frightening…Anyway here is my chart:

    1. I See You: -1
    2. SunDaze: -1
    3. Make Me Wanna: -1
    4. Lonely Tonight: 0
    5. Like A Cowboy: 0
    6. Just Gettin’ Started: -1
    7. Talladega: +1
    8. Mean To Me: 0
    9. Take It On Back: 0
    10. Homegrown Honey: -1
    11. Lonely Eyes: +1
    12. Drinking Class: +1
    13. Ain’t Worth The Whiskey: -1
    14. Homegrown: +1
    15. Something In The Water: +1
    16. What We Ain’t Got: +1
    17. Say You Do: +1
    18. Freestyle: -1
    19. Take Your Time: -1
    20. A Guy Walks Into A Bar: +1
    21. Smoke: 0
    22. Trailer Hitch: +1
    23. She Don’t Love You: +1
    24. Raise Em Up: +1
    25. Little Red Wagon: -1
    26. Don’t It: -1
    27. Baby Be My Love Song: -1
    28. Hard To Be Cool: -1
    29. Drunk Americans: -1
    30. Lay Low: +1

    Final: -1

    Happy to see that Lay Low is finally top 30

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kevin Davis February 13, 2015 / 7:38 pm

    “Homegrown” is a fantastic song. I am happy to see it surge so quickly on the charts. Likewise, “Smoke” is a very fine song. The instrumentation is quite impressive. I’ll be looking forward to see what these guys can produce in the future. Astonishingly, “Like a Cowboy” has been holding strong at #5, and this was a song that everyone dismissed when it “flopped” last summer! Maybe the country music audience is not as hopeless as I often assume. But then again, Luke Bryan is #1. If there was ever a pawn of the industry, without heart and soul, it is Luke Bryan and his pearly whites.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Noah Eaton February 13, 2015 / 10:27 pm

    Firstly, wanted to make a comment about the sole new charting song here: “Lay Low” by Josh Turner.

    Yeah, definitely agree it’s a deserving +1. What’s remarkably and glowingly consistent about Josh Turner is that he has remained true to his sensual, laid-back, soulful style……………but he also is smart about regularly keeping his sound current.

    If you want a compelling Exhibit A for how to modernize your sound without compromising yourself and making it look effortless (Easton Corbin, Joe Nichols and Billy Currington, I’m looking at each of you)……………..Josh Turner epitomizes that in spades. Lyrically, “Lay Low” pretty much fits his tasteful laid-back heartland brand of seduction hand in glove (though slyly working in a reference to a cell phone and the desire for it to run out of bars as a means of fully escaping with his love interest without everyday distractions)…………..and stylistically it very much does too. You don’t get the flourishes of bluegrass-influenced instrumentation here like you got on “Would You Go With Me” or “Time Is Love”, but it still sounds absolutely true to his style with well-timed touches of pedal steel and acoustic instrumentation, while the guitar solo also refrains from veering into obnoxiously loud territory.

    I genuinely enjoy seeing Josh Turner rebounding on the charts yet again after a tendency to underperform on secondary singles time and again. Here’s hoping this hangs in there much like “Time Is Love” did and winds up becoming another slow-and-steady-wins-the-race massive hit.

    *

    Secondly, about what the chart will look like in the coming weeks.

    I’m expecting the score to worsen before it gets better in the short term. When I reviewed all sixty charting songs on Mediabase two weeks ago, you may have noticed the bottom thirty registered a higher negative score than the top thirty. Granted some of the songs will remain locked in those lower chambers and never break out, but at the same time I’m mostly underwhelmed by the new releases that are simultaneously impacting the chart from some of mainstream country’s top artists.

    Tim McGraw and Catherine Dunn’s “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools” is definitely a solid exception to the rule, and Kenny Chesney/Grace Potter’s “Wild Child” registers as a 0. Also, Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns” is on the cusp between a 0 and +1 and I expect her to get here in no time along with Eric Church’s newly announced “Like A Wrecking Ball” (also a 0 to my ears). But then you also have Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It” (a -1 to my ears), Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire” (I give this song credit for a solid melody line and hook, but it’s otherwise a thumbs-down though admittedly not a terrible song), and I even heard a preview of the Eli Young Band’s forthcoming “Turn It On” and it sounds utterly disappointing to my ears. That amounts to a combined -2 change.

    And, rumors have it Luke Bryan’s insanely anticipated lead single from his forthcoming fifth album will be a track titled “Kickin’ Up The Dust” in which one of its writers is Dallas Davidson. So while we should still hope for the best, I’m expecting another clusterpluck chicken-fried club song in the vein of “That’s My Kind of Night” or “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”. Add to that a lead single from Thomas Rhett expected very soon and, once Blake Shelton/Ashley Monroe’s “Lonely Tonight” peaks in two weeks, the fact that “Bringing Back The Sunshine” has no songs better than that so-so song guarantees another likely -1 addition to the chart soon.

    *

    So yeah, call me a Debbie Downer………………but at least I’m backing my pessimistic hunches up! =P

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pete Marshall February 14, 2015 / 11:43 pm

    I’m finally writing this and bro-country is a joke ecspecially the Florida Georgia Line.

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  6. bob February 16, 2015 / 8:07 am

    Interesting look at the state of mainstream country. I like it. I agree with all your – 1’s. I’m a big fan of ZBB but i find Homegrown to be Ho-Hum. I’m not an Eric Church fan and while I really liked Lee Brice’s “A woman Like You” (My first new car was a 72 Nova and my wife does yoga), I’d give Drinking Class a – 1. Although I don’t have much of their music, my favorites on this list are the songs by Eric Paslay and Jake Owen.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ron12274 February 16, 2015 / 12:32 pm

    Looks like Kelsea Ballerini will enter the top 30 this week. Not a great song but at least it’s a new female artist.

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