The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Feb. 28]

Florida Georgia Line "Dirt"

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

Eric Church’s “Talladega” fell from #7 to out of the top 30.

Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” fell from #15 to out of the top 30.

Josh Turner’s “Lay Low” fell from #30 to out of the top 30 (#32).

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -4

The pulse drops two places from -2 last week to -4 this week. The drop happened because of the new arrivals to the top 30, particularly one. While two songs that fell out (Underwood and Church’s songs) were replaced by two good songs (Chesney and McGraw’s songs), one good song in Turner’s “Lay Low” was replaced with the bad song of Canaan Smith’s “Love You Like That.” It’s a disappointment to see Turner’s song drop just after reaching the top 30, but I expect it to reenter sooner rather than later. It really fell due to so many shuffling pieces this week. More older songs are falling off the top 30 every week, so this is only temporary for Turner.

The new #1 this week is Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” which makes me lose a little more faith in mainstream country music. To see what I consider one of the worst country songs I’ve ever heard reach #1 status is sickening. What’s even more unfortunate is that once “Sun Daze” falls it will be replaced by “Make Me Wanna” by Thomas Rhett, another terrible song. We need some new music.

The biggest gainers this week are Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter’s “Wild Child,” which moved up 10 spots into the top 30, Tim McGraw and Catherine Dunn’s “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” moved up six spots into the top 30 and Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” moved up five spots. The biggest losers are Eric Church’s “Talladega,” which fell from #7 to out of the top 30 completely and Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” fell from #15 to out of the top 30 completely. By the way you should brace yourselves for Sam Hunt inevitably reaching #1 with “Take Your Time.” It’s starting to rocket up the charts and Hunt’s popularity continues to soar too. There is some good news I see on the horizon though. Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” continues to steadily climb the charts and I also think McGraw has another #1 in “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” Let’s hope the top 30 shakes up for the better next week.

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

10 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Feb. 28]

  1. Raymond February 20, 2015 / 12:01 pm

    Another week Another new pulse.
    1. Florida Georgia Line Sun Daze -1. Up 1. This is a disgrace to country music in itself and this is number 1 is sickening.
    2. Thomas Rhett Make Me Wanna -1. Up 1. This song still is bad and he still is fake country as ever.
    3. Luke Bryan I See You -1. Down 2. Despite this being a bad song this song still would be better than Sun Daze
    4. Ashley Monroe Lonely Tonight +1. I’m hoping this song can finally launch Ashley Monroe’s career she deserves it. This song should peak at Number 1 soon.
    5. Randy Houser Like A Cowboy +1. Unfortunately this song looks to peak real soon but we should applaud how long this song has managed to be on the charts.
    6. Jason Aldean Just Getting Started -1. Fortunately This song looks to also to peak real soon and hopefully so. Maybe Jason will redeem himself with the next song.
    7. Brett Eldredge Mean To Me +1. Up 1.The song is still going strong so I’m hoping it gets number 1 real soon.
    8. Chris Young Lonely Eyes +1. Up 3. I can’t believe this song actually went up 3 if Chris keeps up with this good material he will re have my respect.
    9. Darius Rucker Homegrown Honey -1. Up 1. This song keeps doing well and it pisses me off so much.
    10. Chase Bryant Take It On Back 0. Down 1. This song for some reason I really like it should be leaving soon which I’m curious to see what other potential he has.
    11. Lee Brice Drinking Class 0. Up 1. This song has lost it’s spark and now it’s boring to me.
    12. Cole Swindell Ain’t Worth The Whiskey -1. Up 1. Why does this song have to be so popular. If this gets number 1 before Take Your Time I think Cole will win New Artist of The Year.
    13. Zac Brown Band Homegrown. +1. Up 1. This song is awesome I’m still rooting for it all the way.
    14. Sam Hunt Take Your Time -1. Up 5. If this gets number 1 before Cole Swindell he will get New artists
    15. Dierks Bentley Say You Do +1. Up 2. I’m hoping when he releases a new album after this it will be another good album.
    16. Jake Owen What We Ain’t Got +1. This song should leave soon unfortunately.
    17. Lady Antebellum Freestyle -1. Oh god this songs terrible they can only go up from here and hopefully they can bring back the spark that made me like them.
    18. Tyler Farr A Guy Walks Into A Bar +1. This song should get Top 10 but it has spent way too many weeks in the charts.
    19. A Thousand Horses Smoke 0. Meh These guys have potential so hopefully they show it soon.
    20. Keith Urban Raise Em Up +1. I’m really starting to dig this song.
    21. Kristian Bush Trailer Hitch. +1. This song looks to leave soon I feel bad it won’t get Top 20 but I still like the song.
    22. Miranda Lambert Little Red Wagon. -1. I’m really starting to hate this song it’s getting more annoying every time I hear it.
    23. Eric Paslay She Don’t Love You. +1. I like this song a lot but I think this gets Top 10.
    24. Billy Currington Don’t It -1. I say this gets Top 10.
    25. Easton Corbin Baby Be My Love Song -1. This will be lucky if it gets Top 20.
    26. Grace Potter Wild Child +1. Lovely song harmonies and this is how you describe a women lovely song.
    27. Tim McGraw Diamond Rings & Old Barstools +1. This is grade a excellent definite number 1.
    28. Joe Nichols Hard To Be Cool -1. Top 20 not any higher.
    29. Toby Keith Drunk Americans -1. This song will leave soon real soon.
    30. Canaan Smith Love You Like That -1. This guy has potential but this songs not that good.
    Total Score 0. Ultimate Standstill These songs could enter next week.
    Kelsea Ballerini 0 Gloriana +1 , Brad Paisley -1. Josh Turner Lay Low +1. and Little Toy Guns +1. So the score should go back up.
    Please Respond.


    • Raymond February 20, 2015 / 1:50 pm

      Oh I forgot my bottom 30 crap my bad
      31. Kelsea Ballerini Love Me Like You Mean It 0. I love her voice and sass just the production is bland. Top 20 for sure.
      32. Josh Turner Lay Low +1. I have a bad feeling this song will leave soon.
      33. Gloriana Trouble +1. My jam it’s a shame it fell down a little but I’m optimistic and say it gets Top 20.
      34. Brad Paisley Crushing It. -1. Dumb song pure stupidity top 5 but not number 1.
      35. Little Big Town Girl Crush +1. I don’t know what it is but I like this song more than I should but I say Top 20 not any higher.
      36. Rascal Flatts Riot. +1. Really like this song and production. I’m gonna say they get a top 10 with this one.
      37. Kip Moore I’m to Blame +1. This song should do well and I really am looking forward to see how this done.
      38. Brantley Gilbert One Hell Of An Amen +1. The productions bland but i like this song hopefully this does well so Brantley can release better music.
      39. Dustin Lynch Hell Of A Night -1. Trashy song I say Top 30 but not higher
      40. Frankie Ballard Young & Crazy -1. Too boring for neutral. Definite Top 10 however.
      41. Reba Going Out Like That 0. It’s just there I like how she sings it however so I’m excited
      42. Mickey Guyton Better Than You Left Me +1. Excellent song in my opinion definite Top 10 song.
      43. Carrie Underwood Little Toy Guns +1. Man this song is catchier every time I hear it I hope she gets number 1.
      44. Justin Moore This Kind Of Town -1. This songs just not that memorable and boring should leave soon.
      45. Maddie & Tae Fly +1. This song really is great and makes me like it the more I listen to this song.
      46. Chase Rice Gonna Wanna Tonight -1. This song just is bad but should leave sooner than later possibly top 40 but not higher.
      47. Swon Brothers Pray For You 0. I find this more bland now than I thought it was on first impression.
      48. Big & Rich Run Away With You 0. Bland enough said
      49. Rodney Atkins Eat Sleep Love You Repeat 0. Meh read above.
      50. Parmalee Already Calling You Mine -1. I say Top 20 but just missed out on the Top 10.
      51. Josh Dorr Save Your Breath -1. This song is boring he does have potential
      52. Florida Georgia Line Sipping on fire -1. Not as bad as Sun Daze but still awful
      53. Mo Pitney Country 0. Strong voice but weak lyrics
      54. Michael Ray Kiss You In The Morning -1. This is the new Luke Bryan Everybody
      55. Austin Webb All Country On You -1. Pack up your stuff Austin and go. Not a good song
      56. Old Dominion Break Up With Him 0. Bland but not bad
      57. Sam Hunt House Party -1. If he releases this next at least his week total will be bloated.
      58. Cam My Mistake +1. Love her voice and song productions Ok
      59. Haley & Michaels Just Another Love Song 0. Really bland now.
      60. Waterloo Revival Hit The Road -1. This songs boring. Meet the new Dan + Shay meet the super rip-off of Rascal Flatts.
      Total Score -1. You know country charts are bad when I’m in the negatives people need to get their stuff together please respond.


  2. Zack February 20, 2015 / 1:14 pm

    Well I guess, like Raymond, I’ll add commentary

    1. FGL: SunDaze: -1 What can I say that hasn’t been said already? I had really hoped this would do the same thibg that 1994 did to Jason Aldean. Sadly I was wrong

    2. Thomas Rhett: Make Me Wanna: -1 Countrier than Sam Hunt but not by much

    3. Luke Bryan: I See You: -1 Close to a 0 for me honestly but lines like “me and my crew” do it for me as well as the fact that these types songs usually have a narrator who proudly proclaims he claim a woman like she’s an object.

    4. Blake Shelton/Ashley Monroe: Lonely Tonight: 0 Honestly this is just a mediocore “Need You Now”

    5. Randy Houser: Like A Cowboy: 0 Sooooooo friggin overrated. Personally I give it a -1 but objectively its a 0 I guess

    6. Jason Aldean: Just Gettin’ Started: -1 This has to be one of the most lifeless things he has ever cut

    7. Brett Eldredge: Mean To Me: 0 Eh, I like Brett but this is kinda boring

    8. Chris Young: Lonely Eyes: +1 I understand why many find this bland but idk, it works for me

    9. Darius Rucker: Homegrown Honey: -1 Never been a fan of Darius but this song is such a joke

    10. Chase Bryant: Take It On Back: 0 Huh, a bro song I like. Personally I give it a +1 but objectively its a 0

    11. Lee Brice: Drinking Class: +1 An ode to the workin man with an interesting production

    12. Cole Swindell: Ain’t Worth The Whiskey: -1 Not much to say, just bland

    13. ZBB: Homegrown: +1 Not in love with these guys like a lot of people are but I quite enjoy this one

    14. Sam Hunt: Take Your Time: -1 Get.This.Guy.Off.Country.Radio.NOW!

    15. Dierks Bentley: Say You Do: +1 Dierks is always a class act and this song is very well done

    16. Jake Owen: What We Ain’t Got: +1 I know many are crying out over how this won’t reach #1 but honestly I’m surprised and happy this song has gotten this far. Its the kind of song that radio needs right now and has done many positive things such as introducing people (well me at least) to Travis Meadows and has also prompted Jake to say that he wishes to record more songs like this on his next album.

    17. Lady Antebellum: Freestyle: -1 Why did their label think this was a good single choice? Lie With Me suits them so much better

    18. Tyler Farr: A Guy…..: +1 Nice to see Tyler using his unique voice for good

    19. A Thousand Horses: Smoke: 0 Eh, next

    20. Keith Urban/Eric Church: Raise Em Up: +1 Maybe not earth shattering but good enough for me

    21. Kristian Bush: Trailer Hitch: +1 Surprised this has made it this far. Happy to see what else he can do.

    22. Miranda Lambert: Little Red Wagon: -1 I’ll take Kerosene instead

    23. Eric Paslay- She Don’t Love You: +1 Another song that radio needs right now

    24. Billy Currington: Don’t It: -1 Catchy and I kind of like it but still cliched

    25. Easton Corbin: Baby Be My Love Song: -1 Oh Easton what happened?

    26. Kenny Chesney/Grace Potter: Wild Child: 0 its no You and Tequila that’s for sure

    27. Tim McGraw/Catherine Dunn: Diamond Rings & Old Barstools: +1 Welcome back Tim, you’ve been missed

    28. Joe Nichols: Hard To Be Cool: -1 Nothing we haven’t heard before

    29. Toby Keith: Drunk Americans: -1 A Brandy Clark co-write I don’t like for once

    30. Canaan Smith: Love You Like That: -1 Dull, and plus I’m from a city so the line “I could never do it like a pretty city boy” REALLY pisses me off

    Total: -4 Hmm, Josh and I are the same this week despite a few differences

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scotty J February 20, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    Hey Josh you know what would be really interesting for comparing and contrasting would be if you did this for this week in previous years. For example The pulse of country music February 2010 or 2005. It would be fun to see how your rating for a chart from the pre Bro era would match up with now. Billboard has a very good archive of there magazines going back many years now so it could be done. Might have to prowl YouTube a little for some of the songs you aren’t familiar with but it could be interesting to see if things are really as bad as they appear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott February 20, 2015 / 5:13 pm

      Fantastic idea! Only took me 30 seconds on Google to find the archives. If I have some time I’ll do one here in a couple of days. If not I’ll definitely do one here in the next week. That could be a really interesting comparison.


  4. fromthewordsofbr February 20, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    Could you do a “Don’t It” review? I’d say it’s got good production but the lyrics absolutely wreck it.


  5. Pete Marshall February 20, 2015 / 7:09 pm

    I don’t like Florida Georgia Line “Sun Daze” song at all I would give the song -2, and I don’t like Thomas Rhett new song at all, not even Luke Bryan’s last week #1 song. Country music need some help desperately. Keep up the good work Josh.


  6. NoahHibiscusEaton February 21, 2015 / 12:27 am

    Firstly, as sad as it still is, I never expected “Sun Daze” to fall short of #1. They’re coasting off massive momentum in the meantime and, much lke Luke Bryan, can get anything to #1 regardless of how ridiculous it is.

    But here’s my second point with regards to “Sun Daze”. It is also, easily, their weakest performing single to date. It is the first single of their recording career to fail to make the Top Forty of the Billboard Hot 100 (it has peaked at #44 and their previous low was #28 with “Stay”), and also has yet to obtain a Gold certification (although, to be fair, streaming has negatively impacted single sales regardless of genre and Gold is basically the new Platinum now as evident by the performance of latest releases by many chart-topping hits). Which is very significant because despite the acknowledgement in parentheses, I think a single’s placement on the all-genre composite chart actually says more about the hit’s net impact than its performance on the country airplay chart…………………and in not all cases, but certainly most, a single’s placement in or outside the Top Forty says a lot about whether the single will have any degree of staying power or not.

    What does this suggest? Though Florida Georgia Line have certainly won the battle here, they’re still at risk of losing the war if they and Republic Nashville don’t assess the tea leaves properly. Considering all the shock value hype and publicity surrounding the single’s initial release, as well as highly publicized performances, “Sun Daze” strikes me as a chart-topping hit that still underachieved.

    If I were Florida Georgia Line, who clearly think more like businessmen than artists, I would reflect on the question as to why a more-or-less neo-traditional leaning “Dirt” peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went Platinum, while more of the same dumb-as-sand endless summer obnoxiousness produced a result outside of the Top Forty of the same chart and hasn’t went Gold yet. The key to continuing to get wallet chains and tattoos to their hearts’ content resides in the former, clearly………………..and if I were Florida Georgia Line and thinking NOT as artists but as tycoons…………… shouldn’t be hard to see the title track and “Good Good” just wouldn’t cut it and deliver the results they want. Instead, they should turn to “Confession”: a decidedly more pensive and spacey offering that is still overproduced and compressed just as Joey Moi is always known to do, but is nonetheless more mature and has some slices of imagery that honestly worked for me and I think would be very effective in paving the way for how they can grow from here on out. I’d release “Confession” as the fourth singe and then wrap the era there and get a third album pretty soon that takes the comparative wisdom of “Dirt” and “Confession” to heart.


    Secondly, I hope you’re right about “Lay Low”.

    I say this because I am an avid chart-watcher, and I have to admit grave concern with how this has bullet-less on and off this past week. It can’t help but look like this is treading water, even though I also remind myself his previous massive hit “Time Is Love” needed nearly 50 weeks to peak at #2.

    The problematic difference this time around, however, is that digital sales influence the decisions on behalf of labels as to whether it is worth pushing any given release for the long hual more often than not. Turner didn’t have to worry about that with “Time Is Love”, but he does with “Lay Low”. And sales for “Lay Low” thus far have been rather weak. It’s currently below #50 on the iTunes Country Chart and is being outperformed by most of his chart rivals. Really, his only chart rivals faring worse than he is are Lady Antebellum’s “Freestyle” (which, along with Kenny Chesney’s “Til It’s Gone” has had the most laughably pathetic sales of any single release lately, and deservedly so) and Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song” (score one more for us here, too! 😉 ).

    “Lay Low” MUST pick up the pace on the sales front, or I fear it’ll inevitably hit a brick wall outside of the Top Twenty.


    Finally, I have to admit I am worried about “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”.

    It has been posting rather meager gains on the airplay chart so far, which I suppose is understandable for a legitimately traditional-leaning tear-in-your-beer ballad. The sales are what I find worrisome, however. It is currently #97 on the iTunes Country Chart, while its predecessors began with sharply higher digital positioning right out of the gate. And, to provide additional perspective; Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban all released new singles at nearly the exact same time……………………….and of these four releases, only Brad Paisley is faring worse than McGraw thus far. Keith Urban’s latest is at #38 (which admittedly is mediocre too) while Chesney’s is at #48 (Brad Paisley has yet to impact the Top 100).

    In fairness, it’s a newly-released single and it often takes time for sales to catch up with airplay. I’m just worried from a comparative analysis standpoint of where his other singles were at commercially upon their official releases. It is off to a sluggish start, and we can only hope it’ll gain ground in the coming weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scotty J February 21, 2015 / 12:36 pm

      Agree with your comments on FGL and their long term prospects.

      I like ‘Lay Low’ (especially compared to the current competition) but sadly I don’t think it has much of a chance to break out of the 30s though. The airplay charts are becoming even more predictable if that is possible and you can just see a handful of songs that get stuck in the 30s and never rise above.

      As for ‘Diamond Rings’ you are probably right that it won’t be a Hot 100 hit but then neither was ‘Meanwhile Back At Mama’s’ or really ‘Shotgun Rider’ for that matter. The thing that can be lost with blurring of the genre distinctions is that there can still be ‘genre hits’ that are successful in there home genre but don’t crossover to a wider audience and I hope that McGraw has become that type of act. For an act like McGraw in his late 40s to be chasing trends in an effort to get younger people to buy in will always look really bad (i.e. ‘Lookin’ For That Girl’) so in my opinion it’s kind of silly to judge him by the standards of FGL or even Luke Bryan.


      • NoahHibiscusEaton February 22, 2015 / 5:08 pm

        Just to be clear, I wasn’t talking about Tim McGraw from an all-genre composite chart standpoint, but purely from a country airplay perspective.

        The point I was making is that, compared to “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” and “Shotgun Rider” out of the gate in their chart runs, “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools” is performing comparatively weak early in its chart run. Its current bullet on the roaming chart (+280) is nothing to be alarmed about just yet, but it is nonetheless only about half of what both its aforementioned predecessors had throughout most of their chart runs.

        Thus, while it required fewer than twenty weeks for both those predecessors to peak, Big Machine must expect “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools” to be in for a longer chart run if they’re truly committed to getting this to #1. And digital sales are going to HAVE to pick up if this will have any chance at accomplishing this.


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