The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 21]

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. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…  

  1. Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -1 (Up 1)
  2. Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” (Up 3)
  3. Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” +1 (Down 2)
  4. Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1 (Up 3)
  5. Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes” (Up 1)
  6. Darius Rucker – “Homegrown Honey” -1 (Up 2)
  7. Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -1 (Down 5)
  8. Lee Brice – “Drinking Class” +1 (Up 1) 
  9. Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +1 (Up 2)
  10. Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -1
  11. Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1 (Up 1)
  12. Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” (Up 1)
  13. Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1 (Up 1)
  14. Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got” +1 (Up 1)
  15. A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” (Up 1)
  16. Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon” -1 (Up 1)
  17. Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -1 (Up 1)
  18. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” +1 (Up 2)
  19. Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1 
  20. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 (Up 2)
  21. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 
  22. Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1 (Up 2)
  23. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1 (Up 4)
  24. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Up 1)
  25. Joe Nichols – “Hard To Be Cool” -1 (Down 2)
  26. Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire” -1 (New to Top 30)
  27. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 (Down 1)
  28. Josh Turner – “Lay Low” +1 
  29. Gloriana – “Trouble”
  30. Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” (New to Top 30)

Randy Houser’s “Like A Cowboy” fell from #4 to out of the top 30 (recurrent).

Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” fell from #30 to out of the top 30 to #32.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -2

And the pulse is back in the negative once again. Just as I expected. It fell from +1 last week to now -2. What brought this change was two positive songs falling out of the top 30 this week. Randy Houser’s “Like A Cowboy” finally went recurrent after spending a ton of time on the chart. Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” fell out of the top 30 due the shuffling that took place near the mid-20s to the mid-30s. It could easily re-enter the top 30 soon though. As for the two new songs that replaced them, neither are good. After spending one week out of the top 30 last week, Florida Georgia Line is back in with their newest terrible single “Sippin’ On Fire.” This one will be interesting to watch because it could indicate whether or not Florida Georgia Line is losing popularity amongst listeners. The other new song to the top 30 this week is Frankie Ballard’s “Young & Crazy,” which is not as bad I thought it would be.

Once again we have a new #1, as Jason Aldean’s “Just Gettin’ Started” takes the top spot this week. After the big bump last week I expected this to happen. What I didn’t expect was Brett Eldredge’s “Mean to Me” to jump up to #2. I predicted last week that this song along with “Like A Cowboy” would drop soon. The latter proved to be true, but it looks like “Mean To Me” is going to get a shot to reach #1 before going recurrent. Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” is rising fast still and will reach #1 soon, along with Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey.” Some good news at least is that Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” passed Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and could reach #1 within a few weeks.

The biggest gainers this week are Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire,” which moved up 11 spots to #26 (most added song of the week and most increased audience) and Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns,” which moved up four spots to #23 (third most added song of the week). The biggest losers this week are Randy Houser’s “Like A Cowboy,” which fell from #4 to out of the top 60 and Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna,” which fell five spots to #7. Speaking of that song I expect it to fall out, probably next week, along with “Lonely Tonight.” They’ve simply ran their course on the chart. You gotta think Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song” will fall out of the top 30 too. Then again I said this over a month ago and it’s still solidly in the top 30.

Two of the four songs I predicted would make the top 30 soon last week made it this week. As for this week, the songs outside the top 30 I expect to see in the top 30 soon are Rascal Flatts’ “Riot” (it keeps staying at #31), Brantley Gilbert’s “One Hell of an Amen,” Eric Church’s “Like A Wrecking Ball” and Michael Ray’s “Kiss You In The Morning.” Gilbert’s “One Hell of an Amen” has been stagnating in the 30s to 40s on the chart now for 17 weeks, but it was the second most added song this week so it appears to be getting a renewed push. I don’t think we’ll see a positive score anytime soon with this upcoming group of songs. In fact I don’t feel good at all about mainstream country music in 2015 right now.

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s chart in the comments below!

13 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 21]

  1. Raymond March 11, 2015 / 11:20 am

    Well my favorite feature is back Yay. Instead of doing my top 30 which fell to +2. I’m gonna rank the songs in my opinion overall.
    A Tier
    1. She Don’t Love You
    2. Lay Low
    3. Little Toy Guns
    4. Trouble
    5. Diamond Rings & Old Barstools
    6. Wild Child
    7. Lonely Tonight
    8. Say You Do
    9. What We Ain’t Got
    10. Raise Em Up.
    11. Homegrown
    B Tier
    12. Don’t It
    13. A Guy Walks Into A Bar
    14. Mean To Me
    15. Lonely Eyes
    Honorable Mentions Love Me Like You Mean It (guilty pleasure)
    C Tier
    16. Smoke
    17. Drinking Class
    D Tier
    18. Baby Be My Love Song
    19. Love You Like That
    20. Little Red Wagon
    21. Hard To Be Cool
    22. Crushing It
    23. Make Me Wanna
    24. Ain’t Worth The Whiskey
    Honorable Mention Young & Crazy (way too bland)
    F Tier
    25. Homegrown Honey
    26. Sipping On Fire
    27. Just Getting Started
    28. Take Your Time
    Overall score Actually +4. However Riot is a 0 One Hell Of An Amen as well Kip does get a +1 from me and Michael Ray well he sucks. No offense. I was expecting a -3. At this time a -2. Doesn’t look bad at all. Look at Winter 2013 that was godawful.

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  2. Pete Marshall March 11, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    I have a horrible feeling that Florida Georgia Line will have a #1 hit with “Sipping on Fire” but I hope it doesn’t. Jason Aldean want to make me puke so does Sam Hunt. Michael Ray, Gary Allan, and Eli Young Band new song is a dissapointment.

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  3. Kevin Davis March 11, 2015 / 6:49 pm

    Oh well, “Like a Cowboy” had a good run, astonishingly good run in fact. And going recurrent is an honorable way to be removed from the charts. “What We Ain’t Got” is holding strong, but I’m not sure for how much longer. Both Eldredge and Young have great voices, so I’m fine if they stay in the top 10, but “Homegrown” is clearly the most deserving of the current lot to shoot up quickly to #1.

    I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised that Dierk’s “Say You Do” has been charting as well as it has. It’s not an obvious radio-friendly song, with its slow and steady progression and thoughtful lyrics, but I guess the country audience is not entirely hopeless after all!

    Unfortunately, I am probably most surprised that “Crushin’ It” is even on the charts at all, much less actually moving up. How does anyone like this song? I don’t even hear it on the radio in Charlotte, and we have two cookie-cutter corporate country stations. Maybe I am mercifully never in my car when they play it.

    Lastly, I can’t believe that there is a Tyler Farr song that I actually like! I am really curious to see what else in on the new album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. NoahHibiscusEaton March 11, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    …………yup. Just like I predicted a month ago! =P

    *

    I will admit, though, that I’ve had somewhat of a change of heart regarding Frankie Ballard’s “Young & Crazy”.

    I’ve been giving it a -1 before. But, after thinking about it, I’ve decided to promote it to a 0 much as I’ve done Billy Currington’s “Don’t It”.

    And the reason is much the same reason Billy Currington’s “Don’t It” got promoted. There’s no singular aspect of that song that irritates me or hits me over the head. The production is more informed by 80s rock than the hip-hop beat/EDM incursions as of late, the production is safe but agreeable, and lyrically there’s no red flags here. It’s basically a song about the narrator explaining why it’s imperative one be given room to live a little and make the most of one’s youth so that one, in turn, can learn from one’s mistakes and wisen up in the end. And I take no offense to that notion, of course. Parents often like to shield their kids from the world out of fear they’ll get hurt and make mistakes, but it is important to remember well-intentioned mistakes are a crucial part of maturing and growing up. And I like that Ballard tries to tie the immaturity —> maturity theme together.

    Vocally, Ballard isn’t that bad either. I kind of downplayed him on “Helluva Life” in that he sounded too much like Tyler Hubbard, but I honestly haven’t gotten that vibe on his two follow-ups (although I can’t stand “Sunshine & Whiskey” on the lyrical front). He has some charisma as a vocalist and a palpable energy to his delivery where you can believe what he’s selling. So “Young & Crazy” has that working in its favor too.

    Still, it’s too forgettable and plays it too safe to warrant anything above a 0 score. Still, yeah, I admit I was wrong to give it a -1 score before.

    *

    And, look, my mind will probably change on occasion here and there from here on out also.

    There’s a part of me that honestly would like to award “Wild Child” a +1, for instance, because it does have some gorgeous imagery. But the stauncher critical voice in me still views that as a high 0 range song, in all honesty. It just lacks that slight extra punch in the vanilla production to elevate it to that rank, and this also can’t help but feel tame compared to “You & Tequilla”.

    And some of you might be thinking: “Wait, so by your logic in promoting ‘Young & Crazy’, then why won’t you do the same for ‘Smoke’?” And the reason why is, unlike “Young & Crazy” or “Don’t It”, there is one thing that bothers me about “Smoke” and it is the idea of confusing lust for love. It doesn’t help that the lyrics are bro-lite and the production is painfully pedestrian and polished to death for a Southern rock band.

    Anyway, here I go with the Top 3. If anyone has a Top 60 chart on hand, I’ll interpret the bottom half as well, but will only add my opinions next to each track every two months or so because of the tendency for the charts to stagnate.

    *

    1: Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -1
    2: Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” 0 (Up 3)
    3: Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” 0
    4: Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1
    5: Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes” 0
    6: Darius Rucker – “Homegrown Honey” -1 (I must add that, on a side note, I’ve viewed his track listing for “Southern Style” and…………………yeah. This era probably will spawn additional -1 results from him! =P )
    7: Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -1
    8: Lee Brice – “Drinking Class” 0
    9: Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +1
    10: Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -1
    11: Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1
    12: Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” 0
    13: Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1 (I just viewed the track listing for his upcoming album…………..and it struck me as a mixed bag on the surface. There are some red flags in titles like “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.”, but then there are tracks like “Suffer In Peace” matched with writers that have written gems in the past. So while I am expecting a messy, inconsistent effort, at least it will be a step up from a debut that had only one track I’d call decent (“Living With The Blues”). )
    14: Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got” +1
    15: A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” -1
    16: Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon” -1
    17: Billy Currington – “Don’t It” 0
    18: Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” 0
    19: Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1
    20: Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1
    21: Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1
    22: Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1
    23: Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1
    24: Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1
    25: Joe Nichols – “Hard To Be Cool” -1
    26: Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire” -1
    27: Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1
    28: Josh Turner – “Lay Low” +1
    29: Gloriana – “Trouble” 0
    30: Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” 0
    *

    This Week’s Pulse (Upper Half): -5

    *

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scotty J March 11, 2015 / 10:27 pm

      The one thing I’ll say about Frankie Ballard is that the man loves his ampersand! First we had ‘Sunshine & Whiskey’ and now ‘Young & Crazy’ I can’t wait to see what’s next!! Maybe it will be his signature move.

      But seriously I have found him to be shockingly bland just as I have Brett Eldredge who may be about to have his third straight number one single and Ballard has had two straight. I guess these guys are better than some of the others but they just seem so unremarkable.

      Will anybody remember these songs in a year or two?

      Liked by 1 person

      • NoahHibiscusEaton March 11, 2015 / 11:36 pm

        To be fair, “Raymond” was an interesting debut single for Brett Eldredge.

        The glossy production hurt it somewhat, but I still respected it a lot for trying to tackle a most challenging topic that is Alzheimer’s. If you’ve had a chance to listen to that track, it’s a song about a narrator who regularly visits someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and has developed a sentimental friendship with him to the extent she addresses him as her son, Raymond.

        When was the last time you’ve ever heard a song broach this subject in mainstream country music? I’m hard-pressed to find an example. I’m sure it has been tackled in the indie and alternative country circuits at some point, but for mainstream it was an admirable risk. So I have to give Eldredge props for that.

        Otherwise, I agree he is pretty pleasant but unremarkable.

        *

        Frankie Ballard is much the same way, though lyrically he gets on my nerves more often than Eldredge. Especially with the title track to his latest album. That “DWK” line was real cringe-worthy in particular.

        But there’s nothing worth hating about “Young & Crazy” and most of his debut album.

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      • Scotty J March 11, 2015 / 11:47 pm

        I liked ‘Raymond’ a lot. Would be nice (but probably unsuccessful) if he would put out another single with a little more depth.

        The only other example I can think of is ‘She Misses Him’ by former Little Texas frontman Tim Rushlow which I think snuck into the top ten about fifteen years ago. It got a lot of attention because the video featured footage of former President Reagan who at the time was in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. Nancy Reagan requested that the video be pulled if I remember right.

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      • Scotty J March 11, 2015 / 11:53 pm

        Just checked out ‘She Misses Him’ it’s actually pretty good. Sadly it hits close if you’ve ever lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s.

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    • Raymond March 11, 2015 / 10:35 pm

      Ok Noah here are the bottom 30.
      31. Riot
      32. Girl Crush
      33. One Hell Of An Amen
      34. I’m To Blame
      35. Going Out Like That
      36. Hell Of A Night
      37. Like A Wrecking Ball
      38. Kiss You In The Morning
      39. Better Than You Left Me
      40. Gonna Wanna Tonight
      41. Fly
      42. Run Away With You
      43. Hangover Tonight
      44. Pray For You
      45. Already Calling You Mine
      46. Country
      47. I Got The Boy
      48. Nothing Like You
      49. Eat Sleep Love You Repeat
      50. Turn It On
      51. All Country On You
      52. Break Up With Him
      53. Save Your Breath
      54. My Mistake
      55. Love This Life
      56. Biscuits
      57. Games
      58. Hit The Road
      59. Folks Like Us
      60. Doing Country Right
      If this helps at all Noah. Love to hear what you think of Jana Kramers new song.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton March 11, 2015 / 11:59 pm

        I’m going to refrain from writing my opinions on each song individually because the charts stagnate often now, and I’ll probably only do it every two months or so.

        That said, I will first give you my take on Jana Kramer’s “I Got The Boy” since you asked politely.

        *

        I love it. She is one of the few bright spots as far as newly-charting singles over the past month is concerned

        I mostly enjoyed her debut LP also, in truth. The production genuinely toed the line between country and pop without feeling phoned in, with some well-timed steel guitar and fiddle flourishes throughout. And while Kramer’s vocals have proven polarizing to some with the perception she exaggerates her twang way too much, I’m among those who honestly don’t mind them. The way I see and hear it, if she sounds good and it doesn’t overpower certain material, I don’t mind. That said, one of my main criticisms at the time is that too many of the songs were more juvenile than they needed to be. “I Hope It Rains” was a good example. There were clear moments she came across as more mature on that record, but the album was interrupted by some needless bratty moments in the songwriting department.

        So, I was hoping her sophomore album would address that criticism and result in some more all-around mature cuts and performances. And if this is any indication, I’m looking more forward to her album, because this is EXACTLY what I was hoping to hear from Kramer.

        The production, again, embraces the best of both worlds that are country and pop, and it has a refreshing warm intimacy in how it breathes throughout. This is important because Kramer’s vocals are the clear highlight of this track: reflecting in a bittersweet tone on someone she had strong feelings for but has lost touch with since………..and concluding with a refreshing perspective that what she got to experience was the boy, and he has since grown up and isn’t begrudging him for it. That’s just the way life is, and for all we know, he might very well be thinking about her too but is nonetheless grateful he at least got to know and love her as the girl.

        That nuanced feeling of wistfulness and gratitude is what REALLY made this work for me. Too often, we hear too many songs that look back on relationships in a contemptible, brooding and ungrateful fashion. Have you noticed all those acerbic break-up songs clogging the charts of all genres in the past five years? “Somebody That I Used To Know”? “Set Fire To The Rain”? “Forget You”? I’ve been longing to hear more nuance in relationship songs again………………..and this is just one example of how to do this.

        So, yeah, I’m giving this a 8.5/10, a SOLID recommendation…………….and it’s really saying something when you’re one-upping Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe this year so far.

        *

        Now, the Bottom Thirty:

        *

        31: Rascal Flatts “Riot” – 0
        32. Little Big Town: “Girl Crush” – +1
        33. Brantley Gilbert: “One Hell Of An Amen” – 0
        34. Kip Moore: “I’m To Blame” – 0
        35. Reba McEntire: “Going Out Like That” – -1
        36. Dustin Lynch: “Hell Of A Night” – -1
        37. Eric Church: “Like A Wrecking Ball” – 0
        38. Michael Ray: “Kiss You In The Morning” – -1
        39. Mickey Guyton: “Better Than You Left Me” – +1
        40. Chase Rice: “Gonna Wanna Tonight” – -1
        41. Maddie & Tae: “Fly” – 0
        42. Big & Rich: “Run Away With You” – -1
        43. Gary Allan: “Hangover Tonight” – -1
        44. The Swon Brothers: “Pray For You” – 0
        45. Parmalee: “Already Calling You Mine” – -1
        46. Mo Pitney: “Country” – +1
        47. Jana Kramer: “I Got The Boy” – +1
        48. Dan + Shay: “Nothin’ Like You” – -1
        49. Rodney Atkins “Eat Sleep Love You Repeat” – 0
        50. Eli Young Band: “Turn It On” – -1
        51. Austin Webb: “All Country On You” – -1
        52. Old Dominion: “Break Up With Him” – -1
        53. Josh Dorr: “Save Your Breath” – -1
        54. Cam: “My Mistake” – +1
        55. LoCash: “Love This Life” – -1
        56. Kacey Musgraves: “Biscuits” – 0
        57. Luke Bryan: “Games” – 0
        58. Waterloo Revival: “Hit The Road” – -1
        59. Montgomery Gentry: “Folks Like Us” -1
        60. David Fanning: “Doing Country Right” – -1

        Total Score (Bottom Half): -11

        FINAL SCORE (TOP 60): -16

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  5. Pete Marshall March 12, 2015 / 12:05 am

    LoCash “Love this Life” 10/10 +1 excellent song! YEAH!

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    • Pete Marshall March 12, 2015 / 1:06 am

      Yeah Right! -1 & 2/10 Today’s country what is country music nowdays?

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton March 12, 2015 / 4:48 am

        I’m surely more in agreement with your overall truthful verdict of “Love This Life” than your sarcastic one, Pete! 😉

        I’d say my grade would be somewhere between 3.5/10 to 4/10. It may seem too generous, but to me it is more painfully mediocre and cliched than it is terrible.

        I can easily compare it to most of Montgomery Gentry’s latter-career singles; including their current single “Folks Like Us” and “Where I Come From”……………….too lazy, predictable and hackneyed to deserve the low end of a score, but not terrible enough to stand among the very worst of both artists’ catalogues…………….namely “Titty’s Beer” and “Headlights” for the former, and “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” and “Truck Yeah” (as writers) for the latter.

        It’s just too ad-libbed and pedestrian to the point it’s not worth devoting much finger-pointing and venting energy toward. And, at the end of the day, at the very least they sounds quite content with their lives. Good for them, and I mean it. Now, moving on…

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