The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [July 4]

Kelsea Ballerini

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. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Up 1)
  2. Blake Shelton – “Sangria” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1 (Up 1)
  4. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 (Up 1)
  5. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 (Up 2) [Best Song]
  6. Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good On You” -1 (Up 2)
  7. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 (Up 2)
  8. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” +1 (Down 7)
  9. Little Big Town – “Girl Crush” +1 (Up 1)
  10. Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” (Up 2)
  11. Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1 
  12. Michael Ray – “Kiss You In The Morning” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  14. Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” 
  15. Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” (Up 1)
  16. Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -1 (Up 1)
  17. Eric Church – “Like A Wrecking Ball” -1 (Up 1)
  18. Sam Hunt – “House Party” -1 (Up 3) [Tied for Worst Song]
  19. Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -1 [Tied for Worst Song]
  20. Chris Janson – “Buy Me A Boat” -1 (Up 2)
  21. Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -1 (Up 2)
  22. Maddie & Tae – “Fly” +1 (Up 2)
  23. Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight” -1 (Up 4)
  24. Kip Moore – “I’m To Blame” (Up 1)
  25. Jake Owen – “Real Life” -1 (Re-Entered Top 30)
  26. Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -1 (Up 4)
  27. Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  28. Reba – “Going Out Like That” -1 (Up 1)
  29. Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ -1 (Down 3)
  30. Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -1 (New To Top 30) [Tied for Worst Song]

Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire” went recurrent and fell from #6 to out of the top 30.

Rascal Flatts’ “Riot” went recurrent and fell from #20 to out of the top 30.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -16

The pulse falls one spot from -15 last week to -16 this week. There were two songs that went recurrent and fell out of the top 30 this week. The first was Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire,” which radio treated like every other Florida Georgia Line song and handed its complimentary #1 ranking to them a few weeks back. I hope I never hear this song again. The second song to fall out surprised me and that song was Rascal Flatts’ “Riot.” It moved up two spots last week and had steadily moved up over the last few weeks on the chart. So I guess Rascal Flatts’ string of mediocre performing singles at radio will continue. You have to think their days of radio spotlight are pretty much finished at this point. The two songs to enter the top 30 this week are not good at all (shocker!). The first is a song that re-enters the top 30 after debuting in it a few weeks back. That song is Jake Owen’s “Real Life,” which is one of the most disappointing singles of the year. I hope the album is better. The second song to enter the top 30 this week is Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him.” With its arrival, there is now a four-way tie for worst song. Isn’t this just peachy?

The new #1 song this week is Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.” I’m on record as to not liking this song at all. But I’ll give Ballerini and her label Black River Entertainment credit for getting a debut single to reach #1. It’s also the first female debut single to hit #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart since Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take The Wheel” in 2006 (9 damn years). That being said I still don’t think this is progress for female artists at country radio and don’t try to convince me otherwise. Blake Shelton’s “Sangria” will be the new #1 next week, making it the dullest drinking song I’ve ever heard top the chart. I’m going to be an optimist and predict Carrie Underwood hits #1 in two weeks with “Little Toy Guns.” Both “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” and “Tonight Looks Good on You” are rising fast behind it. It’ll be close that’s for sure.

The biggest gainers this week were Jake Owen’s “Real Life,” which moved up nine spots from #34 to #25, Sam Hunt’s “House Party,” moved up four spots from #21 to #18, Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” moved up four spots from #27 to #23 and Dan + Shay’s “Nothin’ Like You” moved up four spots from #30 to #26 (???). The biggest losers this week were the two recurrent songs along with Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter’s “Wild Child.” As for songs I see leaving the top 30 soon, “Wild Child” will be gone next week. Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song” should be gone within a few weeks. Another song that I think will drop out soon is Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It.” It lost airplay this week and it remained at #11 on the chart. If I were Paisley I would be preparing the next single.

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 Lady Antebellum’s “Long Stretch of Love,” Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Anything Goes” and Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over.” Lady A is right on the cusp of the top 30 and should make it within a couple of weeks. Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine” is perfect in this country radio climate and I’m surprised it hasn’t made the top 30 yet. For those hoping the next Florida Georgia Line single is any better, I have bad news. “Anything Goes” is just as terrible as “Sippin’ On Fire.” Remember “Dirt” is the only good song they’ve ever done and everything else is…well you know. Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over” has been steadily rising up the chart and…wait a minute. I like this song! What is this sorcery? An actual good song possibly entering the top 30? This is like the first great news in the pulse for weeks. I’ll take the small victory! Now we just need like 20 more quality songs in the top 30 and we can maybe have a positive score again.

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

18 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [July 4]

  1. Raymond June 24, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    You forgot to mention Stay A Little Longer is closing in and Jana Kramer’s I Got The Boy is picking up some steam. I do not think Rascal Flatts is done just don’t release songs like PayBack. It did get Top 20 and I think the Flatts boys should return next year. Just they won’t be as popular as they were in the last decade. Carrie has no chance she should get the MB number 1 ,though so paryial win

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  2. Kuzco June 24, 2015 / 1:51 pm

    I wonder what Brad Paisley’s next single will be? Just wild speculation here, but I’m guessing either Moonshine in the Trunk, Country Nation, or maybe Cover Girl. Any of those would make me happy. Kenny Chesney’s new one “Save it for a Rainy Day” is pretty good too.

    I remain skeptical that Diamond Rings and Old Barstools will hit number one, altho I’d be overjoyed. It’s just too country, and Tonight Looks Good on You is an automatic number one. Who knows though? If it makes it it’ll be my favorite number one in years. It would be a huge victory for country music (and certainly a much bigger one that Kelsea Ballerini being on top this week).

    Another week, another bad pulse. I’m just trying to find the little bits of good news.

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    • Lorenzo June 25, 2015 / 1:25 am

      I love Brad Paisley and I like Cover Girl but releasing that song would sign the end of Brad’s commercial singles. Country Nation is a great song and it could be a hit on country radio but it has not mainstream appeal, so I think the next single will be Moonshine in the Trunk.
      as for Crushin it, it has struggled for two weeks on mediabase but yesterday it got a strong gain, so I guess his label is starting to push that song.

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  3. Scotty J June 24, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    First female DEBUT single to reach number #1 in 9 years.

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    • Josh Schott June 24, 2015 / 1:54 pm

      Ah good catch. Forgot to put debut.

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  4. Derek Hudgin June 24, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    Is it just me or does each single from FGL sound worse than the one before it?

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    • Cobra June 24, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      It’s not just you, though I’d probably still argue “Sun Daze” was the worst.

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      • Derek Hudgin June 24, 2015 / 2:35 pm

        Agreed. And I didn’t really listen to the new album, but with every single I think “it surely can’t get worse” and I find myself being surprised that it does. “Sun Daze” is an absolute mess, don’t get me wrong, but I think the obvious use of auto tune in “Sippin’ on Fire” and “Anything Goes” just makes Tyler and Brian sound worse.

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      • Albert June 24, 2015 / 9:56 pm

        SUNDAZE is just top to bottom crap

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    • Scotty J June 24, 2015 / 2:36 pm

      It really is pretty amazing how they just keep on going and going with this dreck. But at this point why would they change what’s working I guess.

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    • Josh Schott June 24, 2015 / 2:36 pm

      It’s not you. They are getting worse.

      Liked by 2 people

    • bclautz June 29, 2015 / 10:14 pm

      I agree with Josh. Only Good song that FGL has come with is dirt. Right now the current pulse of mainstream Country is Awful. Sam Hunt is lame pop star that re-branded his music to country to sell albums

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  5. Noah Eaton June 24, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    At this point, while I will still tune to the dial once a week for about an hour, I largely don’t see the point about spending a lot of energy reiterating why the plurality of these songs are duds.

    Right now, I’m just searching widely for the good stuff on SoundCloud and enriching my playlists. I may not be able to access complete albums by all of the great artists the two of you and Trigger and others do, but I at least am able to find individual tracks. That’ll suffice for now! =)

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    • Josh Schott June 24, 2015 / 5:43 pm

      Country radio is a train wreck I can’t stop watching. Haha! Good idea though to maybe trim down my summary below the chart. I’m running out of ways to describe how terrible the songs are.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Zack June 24, 2015 / 6:38 pm

    Damn….This chart is only getting worse. I’ve run out of bad things to say, all I can say at this point is that there aren’t many saving graces outside the Top 30. I really hope that since Cam’s “Burning House” is the next On The Verge pick that it can pick up some steam and maybe become a big hit for her, as that would be a MUCH bigger victory than Kelsea Ballerini (sorry Raymond). Perhaps THAT could usher in some more quality songs. We’ll see I guess, but I’m most likely being too optimistic as it is

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond June 24, 2015 / 6:52 pm

      She should get a Top 30 but it could flame out quickly like Raelynn God Made Girls depends on the sales and listener feedback. Watch carefully for that chart run.

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  7. Pete Marshall June 25, 2015 / 12:03 am

    Country music getting worse every week man. is there any good songs coming out in the future. Derek is right each FGL song releases is getting worse.

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