The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 28]

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

Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna” fell from #7 to out of the top 30 (recurrent).

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -2

The pulse remains the same at -2 this week. As bad as it has felt with mainstream country lately, this feels like progress. As far as changes this week the only song to drop out of the top 30 was Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna,” which finally went recurrent. Unfortunately the song that replaced it is even worse. Michael Ray’s “Kiss You In The Morning” made a huge jump and is now in the top 30. I told you it was inevitable. On The Verge is pure evil. There’s no telling how much destruction this song is going to do to country music and we can only hope this is just a one-hit wonder.

This week’s new #1 is Brett Eldredge’s “Mean To Me.” It’s an improvement over Aldean for sure, but I still think this song is pretty average. Nevertheless it’s going to get its one week run at the top before being replaced by most likely Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey.” Behind that are two songs rising quickly and will battle each other for the top spot in the weeks following. The first is Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” and the other is Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time.” They’re rocketing up the charts, leaving other songs in the dust. I guess it’s only fitting a real country song and a metro-politan, fake country song duke it out for the top spot on the chart.

The biggest gainers this week are Michael Ray’s “Kiss You In The Morning,” which moved up 11 spots to #27 (most added song of the week and second most increased audience) and Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown,” which moved up four spots into the top five (most increased audience). Talk about two completely different songs, yet the top two gainers in increased audience. The biggest losers this week are Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna,” which fell from #7 to out of the top 60 and Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe’s “Lonely Tonight,” which fell six spots to #9. I expect “Lonely Tonight” to go recurrent next week and fall off the chart completely.

Right now I would say there are several songs poised to fall off in the next couple of weeks. “Mean to Me” and “Just Gettin’ Started” will definitely drop off in the next couple of weeks now that they’ve had their run at the top. Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got” is running out of steam quickly and will be lucky to reach the top ten. I think his label will try to fight to keep on the chart, but I think it’s a losing battle. Another great country song losing steam and will probably fall off the chart too is Eric Paslay’s “She Don’t Love You.” It’s been stuck around #20 for weeks and won’t even crack the top 15. Sorry for the depressing analysis, but it’s the cold reality of country radio. Another song that is struggling on the charts is Miranda Lambert’s “Little Red Wagon.” I’m not going to predict it’s going to fall off soon, but it’s something worth watching.

One 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” (still frozen at #31), Brantley Gilbert’s “One Hell of an Amen,” Eric Church’s “Like A Wrecking Ball” and Gary Allan’s “Hangover Tonight.” Some people may be wondering why I didn’t list Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” as one of the above songs. Well I don’t see it re-entering the top 30 and if it does not very high into the top 30. I think country radio sees this song as too risqué to play, even though I think that’s ridiculous. Once again I’ll reiterate that mainstream country just doesn’t look good and the songs coming up aren’t any better. I’ll expound on this more in the The Hodgepodge tomorrow.

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

9 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 28]

  1. Raymond March 18, 2015 / 2:35 pm

    Ok so I’m gonna add chart prediction commentary.
    1. Brett Eldredge Mean To Me +1. Still bland but this guys has such a voice.
    2. Jason Aldean Just Getting Started -1. New release Tonight Looks Good On You what’s your thoughts on that monstrosity.
    3. Cole Swindell Ain’t Worth The Whiskey -1. Still bland and sucks. Apparently his new song has the title Girl in it like Hey Y’all Girl or something.
    4. Chris Young Lonely Eyes +1. I’m curious still of what Chris is gonna do.
    5. Zac Brown Band Homegrown +1. Still excited for the next album.
    6. Darius Rucker Homegrown Honey -1. This is gonna hit a wall soon and miss the top spot.
    7. Sam Hunt Take Your Time -1. Was I like the only one super confused by the music video.
    8. Lee Brice Drinking Class 0. Filter this should be number 1 after the whole fiasco at the top of the charts.
    9. Blake & Ashley Lonely Tonight +1. Well we have for Ashley On To Something Good and Blake’s New Sangria song. Ashley’s is a +1. But Blake’s is a 0. I will say Blake’s handling this album era with some of the better songs off his album.
    10. Dierks Bentley Say You Do +1. Dierks might catch up to Lee but it could take a while.
    11. Keith Urban Raise Em Up +1. Basically Keith has slowed down and will probably wait till after Dierks and Lee duke it out.
    12. Tyler Farr A Guy Walks Into A Bar +1. Maybe Top 5.
    13. A Thousand Horses Smoke 0. Bland but hey I’m curious about how their debut Blum will be.
    14. Jake Owen What We Ain’t Got +1. Any day it will leave I think Jake has the momentum to release another serious song…….. just on another album.
    15. Billy Currington Don’t It 0. Guilty Pleasure should get in the Top 5.
    16. Kenny & Grace Wild Child +1. This should get number 1 in June or July.
    17. Tim & Catherine Diamond Rings & Old Barstools +1. Man lovely pure poetry it will need to wait a little bit.p
    18. Miranda Lambert Little Red Wagon -1. Polarizing get this this Girl Crush and Trouble are the most polarizing.
    19. Easton Corbin Baby Be My Love Song -1. I’m nervous about his next album Top 15 still seems possible.
    20. Eric Paslay She Don’t Love You +1. I’m scared about this song like I’m freaking out about how well this could do please stay on the charts.
    21. Brad Paisley Crushing It -1. A joke on society.
    22. Carrie Underwood Little Toy Guns +1. Her voice just does it definite number 1.
    23. Florida Georgia Line Sipping On Fire -1. So ice melts whiskey Bullsh!t it does.
    24. Joe Nichold Hard To Be Cool -1. It’s so hard for this song to get the Top 20.
    25. Kelsea Ballerini Love Me Like You Mean It 0. Pure Guilty Pleasure plus I’m a sucker for the popish production. Top 15 the highest
    26. Canaan Smith Love You Like That -1. I can never believe how far this come I’m just gonna keep holding out Top 10 however.
    27. Michael Ray Kiss You In The Morning -1. I want this song to stop 4 more On The Verge Weeks and then the next junk place.
    28. Josh Turner Lay Low +1. Really hope this gets Top 20.
    29. Gloriana Trouble +1. Really am scared for this one the digital sales are shit pardon my language but they are. This song will go as long as Warner Bros is gonna back this song.
    30. Frankie Ballard Young & Crazy 0. Bland but not bad I hope this gets him a top 10 but I don’t want this to a number 1 however total score.
    Total Score: +3. I’m remaining optimistic.

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  2. Kevin Davis March 18, 2015 / 3:32 pm

    I have to say that I’m surprised that Gilbert’s “One Hell of an Amen” has not done better on the charts. It may not be a great song, and it has more in common with late 90’s post-grunge alt-rock (e.g., Creed) than with actual country music, except for the lyrics. But I like it, and I rather have country rock than country r&b, especially since the latter is a distinctly urban style of music.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete Marshall March 18, 2015 / 9:50 pm

    I really like both of your chart opinions. I was wondering if Brad Paisley is a sell out. Miranda Lambert Little red wagon was a bad song. Should I buy Luke Bryan’s new spring break cd?

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton March 19, 2015 / 12:26 am

      I absolutely agree it’s absurd at this juncture that radio is refusing to increase airplay for “Girl Crush”, for this following reason.

      It has become a consistent breakout success in digital sales in the past month. Of all the current singles on the chart, this easily has one of the best sales-per-spin ratios. In fact, the ONLY song that is besting “Girl Crush” in terms of the sales-per-spin ratio at the moment is Chase Rice’s non-single “Ride” (beats me why Rice’s label hasn’t already pulled the plug on the idle “Gonna Wanna Tonight” and just milk “Ride” for all it’s worth at radio instead at this point)

      So here “Girl Crush” is, at a mightily impressive #5 on the iTunes Country Chart (it will climb to #4 once the fangirl effect surrounding Kacey Musgraves’ latest lead single dissipates)……………..and programmers still can’t get that demand into their heads. It kind of reminds me of Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” quixotically struggling to climb into the Top Ten at airplay despite going Platinum in terms of sales and peaking at #4 on the mongrel chart).

      *

      Yeah, I expect Jake Owen, Eric Paslay and Miranda Lambert to all have the plus pulled on their current singles within the next two weeks.

      It’s especially a shame in Paslay’s case, because he only JUST released the music video for it this past week, as well as debuting on the Billboard Hot 10 at #94. In an ideal world, this would have been a multi-week #1 in addition to Jake Owen’s brilliant release. So the music video is really just for his most loyal fans and will be all for naught otherwise! =(

      *

      Finally, with regard to “Kiss You In The Morning”, I’m actually feeling optimistic this won’t have a long chart life, nor peak that high.

      In terms of sales, despite the “On The Verge” bullshit, the best it can do in sales at the moment is #70 on the iTunes Country Chart. That’s pretty pitiful for a single with this scope of special treatment, and also comparatively worse than other recent beneficiaries of “On The Verge” including A Thousand Horses (which has paid off beautifully for them as they are currently #6 on the iTunes Country Chart), RaeLynn (who lacked staying power, but still was positioned well higher than where he is now) and, obviously, Sam Hunt.

      Chase Bryant is probably his best parallel here. The good news for Ray is that Bryant, in spite of very weak sales, somehow managed to get his debut single into the Top Ten. But, on the other hand, “Take It On Back” played it a lot more safe than Ray’s single does (at least lyrically), and I just can’t see a song with lyrics like this reaching the Top Ten. Barring a sudden explosion in sales, I expect it to peak around where RaeLynn’s “God Made Girls” peaked (between #15 and #20).

      *

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton March 19, 2015 / 12:35 am

      1) “I was wondering if Brad Paisley is a sell out.”

      That’s challenging to gauge, because I’ve always kind of seen Paisley, since “Time Well Wasted”, running his career much like Dierks Bentley does………..where he’ll jump-rope between pandering to the masses and testing the masses with more challenging material that doesn’t agree as much with the gatekeepers.

      “Moonshine In The Trunk” definitely panders a LOT compared to an average Paisley album. But he may very well follow that up with another “Wheelhouse”. If we see consecutive albums of him shamelessly pandering, then I can probably endorse the idea he has sold out. But I’m not ready to do that yet.

      *

      2) “Should I buy Luke Bryan’s new spring break cd?”

      No. Buy the latest from The Mavericks, or Brandi Carlile, or Blackberry Smoke among other top-notch releases instead. Or if you insist on mainstream country, save your money and see how the Zac Brown Band’s “JEKYLL + HYDE” turns out.

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    • Lorenzo March 19, 2015 / 1:54 am

      Brad Paisley is no way a sellout. he’s always put out the material he wanted to put out, at least until wheelouse. I think his label asked him to play safer with Moonshine in the Trunk, still it has its moments: the title track is fantastic and there are other great songs in it (Me and Jesus, Country Nation, Shattered Glass).
      as for Luke Bryan, I’d rather waste my money on something better.why don’t you try David Nail’s new album I’m a Fire? believe me when I tell you it’s amazing!

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      • Lorenzo March 19, 2015 / 1:55 am

        *Wheelhouse

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      • Pete Marshall March 20, 2015 / 12:35 am

        I got David Nail’s I’m on fire and it is good.

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