The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 23]

Credit: CMT/Kevin Mazur
Credit: CMT/Kevin Mazur

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 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. Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” (Up 1)
  2. Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1 (Up 1)
  3. Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -1 (Up 1)
  4. A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” (Up 1)
  5. Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire”  -1 (Up 1)
  6. Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1 (Down 5)
  7. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” +1 (Up 3)
  8. Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +1 (Up 1)
  9. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1 (Up 4)
  10. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 (Up 2)
  11. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 
  12. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Up 2)
  13. Blake Shelton – “Sangria” -1 (Up 2)
  14. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 (Up 2)
  15. Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1 (Up 2)
  16. Little Big Town – “Girl Crush” +1 (Up 3)
  17. Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good On You” -1 (Up 4)
  18. Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1 
  19. Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” (Up 1)
  20. Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” 0 (Up 2)
  21. Michael Ray – “Kiss You In The Morning” -1 (Up 2)
  22. Luke Bryan – “Games” -1 (Up 2)
  23. Eric Church – “Like A Wrecking Ball” -1 (Up 4)
  24. Gloriana – “Trouble” (Up 1)
  25. Rascal Flatts – “Riot” (Up 1)
  26. Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -1 (Up 2)
  27. Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -1 (Up 3)
  28. Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” (Re-enters Top 30 this week)
  29. Chris Janson – “Buy Me A Boat” -1 (New to Top 30)
  30. Maddie & Tae – “Fly” +1 (Down 1)

Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” went recurrent and fell from #7 to out of the top 30.

Lee Brice’s “Drinking Class” went recurrent and fell from #8 to out of the top 30.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -5

The pulse falls from -4 last week to -5 this week. Two songs fell out of the top 30 this week. Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” finally went recurrent and dropped from the top 30. This was expected for weeks. Another song that went recurrent was Lee Brice’s “Drinking Class,” which had a good run near the top of the chart. He’s already pushing his new single, “That Don’t Sound Like You.” The two songs that replace it are Zac Brown Band’s “Loving You Easy” and Chris Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat.” The first one entered the top 30 two weeks ago, only to fall out last week after some of the hype airplay wore out. With “Homegrown” sticking around Zac Brown Band now has multiple songs in the top 30. The other new addition to the top 30 this week, “Buy Me A Boat,” I covered in length this past weekend. If you didn’t see my review on that, click on the link to it above. Needless to say I’m not a fan of the song.

Keith Urban and Eric Church’s collaboration song “Raise ‘Em Up” is this week’s new #1 song. This isn’t really a surprise. From the moment I learned of this song I knew it would reach #1, as radio loves Church and Urban separately, so together they’re unstoppable on radio. It knocks off Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do,” which had been the top song for the last two weeks. “Raise ‘Em Up” should only get one week at the top. Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” should take over the #1 spot next week. “Don’t It’ and “Smoke” are too far behind to overtake it in a week. But in a few weeks these two songs should be vying for the top spot. Behind those two songs is “Sippin’ On Fire,” which I’m sure radio will ensure reaches #1.

The biggest gainers this week were Chris Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat,” which moved up a whopping 31 spots from #60 to #29 on the chart (also the most added song of the week and most increased audience), Zac Brown Band’s “Loving You Easy” moved up six spots from #34 to #28 and three different songs moved up four spots (Underwood, Aldean and Church). The biggest losers this week were Hunt and Brice’s singles dropping out of the top 30, along with Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do” dropping five spots on the chart. As for songs I see leaving the top 30 soon, Bentley’s single should be gone next week. I keep saying Eric Paslay’s “She Don’t Love You” is going to drop out, but it continues to hang on (not that I’m complaining). So I’m not going to predict that it drops out soon. Gloriana’s “Trouble” is pretty static on the chart and I don’t see it moving up any further, so it should be gone within a couple of weeks. Maddie & Tae’s “Fly” isn’t looking that good either.

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 Brett Eldredge’s “Lose My Mind,” Reba’s “Going Out Like That,” Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” and Cole Swindell’s “Let Me See Ya Girl.” I expected Eldredge to reach the top 30 by now, but he still remains right on the cusp. I still stand by my prediction that it should do great on the chart. Reba’s “Going Out Like That” has now been on the chart for 18 weeks. You gotta think something is going to happen with it. It just got a dance remix, so we’ll see if that gives it a bump. Chase Rice hasn’t been in the top 30 for a while, which is a good, yet surprising fact. “Gonna Wanna Tonight” has been on the chart for a long time, currently at 27 weeks. It’s only around because of the lack of new singles rising up in airplay right now at country radio. Swindell’s last three singles have peaked at #1, #1 and #2 on the airplay chart. There’s no reason to believe this newest piece of generic crap can’t do the same. I wish I could tell you country radio is improving or getting ready to improve. But it’s not.

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

25 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 23]

  1. Raymond May 13, 2015 / 2:27 pm

    Ok well looking into the next weeks.

    Keith & Eric are on their way out they can’t last any longer they’ve already started falling so sad too bad whatever. Tyler needs to get #1 this week Billy is closing in fast. A Thousand Horses FGL and Kenny & Grace each a week then falling. Dierks and ZBB are on the way gone next week Carrie might get number #1 if Blake doesn’t catch her. Easton Tim are both gonna get a Top 5 but they have a snowballs chance in hell of getting #1. Kelsea should get in the Top 10 next week as she should become the first non voice contestant to hit the Top 10 since Kacey Musgraves over 2 years ago Blake looks to catch her soon though so it’s gonna be a fight for the final spot. Canaan will probably just scrap the Top 10 but then he’ll be gone provided your guys review of the songs didn’t spark this song. Brad Paisley is just there but man I love that video. LBT now have the biggest hit of their careers Girl Crush represents them better than Pontoon. Jason is gonna get #1 but it’s gonna take awhile. Eric song needs to go it’s way behind it’s peak it’s at least while just it needs to leave. Frankie is gonna get Top 10 same thing Brantley. Michael I think will do the same still needs to be seen who catches these guys and who doesn’t. Luke song will die soon and be replaced by Kick The Dust Up with more cliche lyrics. Eric’s song will probably peak around Cold One due to Raise Em Up slowing this down too much. As much as I wanna have Gloriana in the Top 20 peak it’s not gonna happen and I just want them to release Ain’t Enough Summer Left wouldn’t that seem like the perfect song for them for as much as I love Trouble a #23 MB and #24 peak seems respectable and they should keep their record deal. Rascal Flatts could get Top 20 but then they should move on to another album. Dustin same as Rascal Flatts. Thomas has a #1 on his hands. ZBB same there Chris Janson as well and Maddie & Tae aren’t in Trouble it’s just gonna take awhile when there’s a housecleaning they should also benefit.

    That’s what the future looks like.


  2. NoahHibiscusEaton May 13, 2015 / 4:06 pm

    With all due respect, Josh, you failed to mention that “Buy Me A Boat” only enjoyed that 60-29 ascent because Chris Janson is the latest recipient of Clear Channel’s “On The Verge” payola treatment.

    I’m infuriated that program continues to exist. Sam Hunt and A Thousand Horses are its only recipients that have had any chart resilience since enjoying that boost themselves. Honestly, I suspect that Chris Janson is more likely to hold his own because his single is deliberately middle-of-the-road and plays to country’s wheelhouse unlike, say, RaeLynn…………..but it doesn’t excuse how insufferable “On The Verge” is. It must be called out for what it really is: payola.


    Hey, look on the bright side, Josh! At least the Top Ten is positive, right? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott May 13, 2015 / 4:10 pm

      Oh I know it did, but at this point I’ve grown used to it. On The Verge is simply another word for organized payola. It just isn’t worth mentioning because it’s so staged and ridiculous.

      Yeah surprisingly the top ten is pretty good. Take away Billy Currington and Florida Georgia Line, and you have a decent playlist. The rest of the chart is pretty much a wasteland of garbage, save Eric Paslay, Little Big Town and Maddie & Tae.


      • NoahHibiscusEaton May 13, 2015 / 4:31 pm

        Consider this the calm before the storm, then! 😉

        For the record, my Pulse also came to a -5 this week.

        However, we have a notable number of disagreements on single rankings. You regard A Thousand Horses, Kenny Chesney and Maddie & Tae’s releases more highly than I do, while I rate Billy Currington, Eric Church and Blake Shelton’s releases more highly than you.

        Where we can agree is that it’ll all but certainly get MUCH worse in the weeks ahead before it gets better. In fact, we’re probably looking at a negative double-digit ranking in three weeks time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pete Marshall May 13, 2015 / 11:59 pm

        Easton Corbin “Baby be my love song” is great 10/10


    • Acca Dacca May 17, 2015 / 11:41 pm

      To be fair though, Noah, not EVERY song featured in the “Verge” program becomes bonafide as a result. I remember a few years ago, right on the cusp of my complete abandonment of radio as a serious source of music, I kept hearing Craig Morgan’s embarrassing “Corn Star” single that only reached 50 on the charts (thank God). I was allowed to play music at work at work at the time and I couldn’t get to the volume dial fast enough when this turd came on for the second time and I realized what I was in for.

      Say what you want about the rest of these tunes, but few other songs have ever made me so ashamed to call myself a fan of country music, bar none. It’s hard to defend this genre when you know crap like that is waiting at the perimeter.


  3. Kevin Davis May 13, 2015 / 4:36 pm

    I am pleasantly surprised that “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” is still holding on and slowing moving up. I honestly would have never predicted it would last this long, even with a big name behind it. I love it more and more each time I hear it.

    Just based upon the rotation on our local country stations, I see Farr easily getting the #1 spot and then “Smoke” thereafter, though maybe I’m just optimistic that they can block FGL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NoahHibiscusEaton May 13, 2015 / 11:53 pm

      Yeah, I think it’s safe to conclude that the Sandy Hook Promise controversy has had a negligible impact on Tim McGraw’s commercial standing.

      As recently as two weeks ago, it seemed tens of thousands were up in arms (pun intended! 😉 ) over McGraw’s decision to do a favor for his friend and perform at the benefit in Breitbart’s intellectually dishonest hatchet job attempt. And I couldn’t quite tell at the time if the outrage was indeed a raging wildfire that couldn’t be contained, or whether it was more just an impressive spell of hot air from a very vociferous minority.

      In hindsight, it appears to be the latter……………and comes to show how much sway demonstrative anger can have on public relations.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bob May 14, 2015 / 9:41 am

        Did any country artist speak out in defense of Tim’s Sandy Hook decision? My guess would be “No”.


        • Josh Schott May 14, 2015 / 11:33 am

          I thought I saw some artists did. I know Canaan Smith reaffirmed he was playing at it.


  4. Pete Marshall May 13, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    Brad Paisley is went downhill with his songs lately but his song choices are lame. I don’t really care for his song Crushing it. This song might hit the top 5 but it won’t hit #1. -1


    • Raymond May 13, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      Part of me wants to hit #1 only just because of how funny that video for this song is still don’t care for the song but it’s still funny.


  5. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria May 13, 2015 / 9:39 pm

    I was surprised to see that Homegrown is still sticking around. I expected it to go recurrent a couple of weeks ago, not that I want it to go. It’s probably my favorite mainstream song of 2015 so far. Also it was nice to see Little Toy Guns get a solid jump up, it almost gives me hope that it can outlast Sangria and hit #1. Should be an interesting race between those two songs over the next few weeks.
    Great to see Hunt off the chart, too…Is he releasing House Party as his third single?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond May 13, 2015 / 9:46 pm

      Homegrown is out next week it’s like the cockroach that won’t die. Well first Blake has to pass Kelsea Easton and Tim. Kelsea isn’t backing down and Tim and Easton are slowing down so unless Kelsea can keep up and Easton, Tim stay ahead as long as those happen Carrie has nothing to worry about. However she needs the songs of Tyler Billy FGL A Thousand Horses and Kenny to get their #1 week at the top then get out of there unfortunately FGL might get a couple of weeks Blake might cool down a little and leave Carrie up there these next few weeks it’s gonna be fun to watch the charts.


    • Josh Schott May 13, 2015 / 9:48 pm

      Yes. It’s around the fifties on the chart right now.


      • Raymond May 13, 2015 / 9:54 pm

        It actually hasn’t been officially released just radio ready to eat up more Sam Hunt garbage. Radio should stay on the healthy diet of for me Jon Pardi Maddie & Tae and Eric Paslay all radiofriendly nice and make good music something Sam Hunt Cole Swindell Chase Rice Thomas Rhett lack a lot


      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria May 13, 2015 / 11:06 pm

        Yeah I knew it was charting, I just was wondering if it had actually been released or if radio was just playing it anyway because they can’t get enough of Hunt’s crappy pop music.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Raymond May 14, 2015 / 4:25 am

        Ok Josh to clarify there hasn’t been an add date according to my information.


  6. Pete Marshall May 13, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    When will Jon Pardi release his next single? will it be release on his current cd or his next cd?


    • Raymond May 13, 2015 / 10:21 pm

      Next Cd he has a new EP out soon about the songs that didn’t make the cut for his final album expect a release sometime in the summer.


  7. Pete Marshall May 13, 2015 / 11:38 pm

    Sam hunt’s cd wasn’t that great for a country, but it is good for pop music world.


  8. Acca Dacca May 17, 2015 / 11:58 pm

    Josh, I feel like “Homegrown” should be a 0. Call me a cynic, but that song is just mediocre through and through. It’s basically “Chicken Fried, Part II” and not much more. I actually liked most of the songs from Jekyll + Hyde, even “Beautiful Drug,” better than that song myself.


    • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria May 18, 2015 / 9:11 am

      Well here’s the thing with Chicken Fried versus Homegrown. Chicken Fried has a few lines which pander to America and the troops, which Homegrown doesn’t have, gladly; and while Chicken Fried basically lists off a bunch of things that make people happy, Homegrown is more about being content with a simple life rather than what might be. Also Homegrown has a great country-rock blend and a nice key change near the end of it as well so those are both a plus for me. I don’t want to offend you but that’s just my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond May 18, 2015 / 9:29 am

      Homegrown works for keeping it country while modernizing their sound and make it sound fresh. Lyrics don’t have to be strong for a song to be good look at songs like now Gloriana’s Trouble Can’t Shake You plus past hits like Taylor Swifts Our Song Little Big Town Sober Carrie Underwood Good Girl Lady A Need You Now Jana Kramer Whiskey Dierks Bentley Home none are great lyrically but the production and their voices make up for it and make it interesting.


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