The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [October 17]

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. Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day” 0 (#1 for third straight week)
  2. Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Luke Bryan – “Strip It Down” -1 (Up 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  4. Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ -1 (Down 2)
  5. Florida Georgia Line – “Anything Goes” -1 [Tied for Worst Song]
  6. Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  7. Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -1 (Down 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  8. Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  9. Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break” +1 (Down 2)
  10. Maddie & Tae – “Fly” +1 (Up 1)
  11. Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -1 (Up 1)
  12. Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over” +1 (Up 1)
  14. Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” -1 (Up 1)
  15. Tim McGraw – “Top of the World” -1 (Up 1)
  16. Cam – “Burning House” +1 (Up 1) [Best Song] 
  17. Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer” (Up 2)
  18. Big & Rich – “Run Away With You” 0 (Up 3)
  19. Parmalee – “Already Callin’ You Mine” -1 (Up 1)
  20. Kelsea Ballerini – “Dibs” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  21. LoCash – “I Love This Life” -1 (Up 2)
  22. Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy” +1 (Up 2)
  23. Hunter Hayes – “21” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  24. Brad Paisley – “Country Nation” -1 (Up 2)
  25. Randy Houser – “We Went” -1 (Up 3)
  26. Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” -1 (New to Top 30) [Tied for Worst Song]
  27. A Thousand Horses – “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” -1 (Up 3)
  28. The Band Perry – “Live Forever” -1 (Down 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  29. Jake Owen – “Real Life” -1 (Down 11)
  30. Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” -1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -17

The pulse remains the same this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Chris Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat” went recurrent and fell from #9 to out of the top 30.
  • Chase Bryant’s “Little Bit of You” fell from #29 to #31.

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Sam Hunt’s “Break Up In A Small Town”
  • Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man”

Song I Predict Will Reach #1 Next Week:

  • Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” – Up 11 from #41 to #30
  • Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” – Up 5 from #31 to #26
  • Three Different Songs Moved Up 3 Spots

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Chris Janson – “Buy Me A Boat” – Out of the Top 30
  • Jake Owen – “Real Life” – Down 11 from #18 to #29
  • Chase Bryant – “Little Bit of You” – Fell 2 spots to out of the Top 30

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Jake Owen – “Real Life”
  • Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”

On The Hot Seat:

  • The Band Perry – “Live Forever”
  • Hunter Hayes – “21”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Dierks Bentley – “Riser”
  • Chase Bryant – “Little Bit of You”
  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You”
  • Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug”

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

17 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [October 17]

  1. Acca Dacca October 7, 2015 / 1:15 pm

    Am I just crazy, or did “Run Away With You” used to be a +1 at some point in the past?


    • Josh Schott October 7, 2015 / 2:04 pm

      It was indeed a +1 and I was always iffy between a +1 and a 0 before I decided on changing it to a 0. It’s just a little too repetitive for my taste to be a +1.


  2. Raymond October 7, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    Im sorry for saying this but Breakup In A Smalltown is just so awful it doesn’t deserve to be tied for worst song it is the worst song while the others that are tied aren’t exactly country at least they sing Sam Hunt is rapping no wait awful spoken word and terribly at that and the lyrics are awful and oh yeah the production is awful besides that yeah put Die A Happy Man with a vocalist like David Nail Eric Paslay or like the lesser vocalist like Kenny Chesney and it’s still a really good song but like Thomas Rhett can’t sing at all I consider him and Raelynn talentless hacks who ruin country music. Seriously I don’t get the appeal in Thomas Rhett.

    I’m really impressed that Big & Rich have hold on and well still probably gonna keep going I’m curious to see can Big & Rich get back to back Top 10s.

    I’m also wondering what Maddie & Tae are going to do there’s not gonna be many openings in front of them and it won’t take a lot for Dan + Shay and Blake Shelton to catch up with them. It’s also saddening that Carrie fell back this week since Old Dominion and especially Chase Rice have to start getting to the top I mean it’s still probably going to hit the top but it frustrates me. Also really impressive that Kenny got 3 weeks at the top too bad the album cycle for The Big Revival is now over I’m curious what Kenny is going to pull with the next album as he actually released some decent songs this cycle like there was no obvious terrible song.

    Can you explain why Hunter Hayes and The Band Perry are on the Hot Seat I mean TBP album is supposed to come out late November so obviously the label will keep promoting it till then so I don’t see how there are on the hot seat if anything Parmalee should be more on the hot seat as that song and Big & Rich have to be running out of steam.

    Question Do you guys think Thomas Rhett has any talent as a singer or not. Like do you think he can sing at all.


    • Patrick October 7, 2015 / 2:49 pm

      Thomas Rhett makes terrible music and is a terrible singer. The fact his new album with a #1 hit sold less than two actual country albums with no radio hits has to mean something.

      I think The Band Perry are on the hot seat because they lost one spot this week. Song fell but doesn’t mean it’s done. It’s too early for that and as you said the label will keep promoting the song (ahem… bribing radio programmers).

      Again, Thomas Rhett has absolutely no talent. Waste of money when real talent could be promoted instead. Nepotism, I guess.


    • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria October 7, 2015 / 6:59 pm

      I agree with your take on “Break Up In A Small Town”—by my personal tastes, it’s the worst song on the chart. It takes “horrible” to a whole new level of meaning. The only other songs released this year (thought not as singles) that I’d consider as bad as it are three album cuts from “Tangled Up”: “Vacation,” “I Feel Good,” and “South Side.”

      I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Chesney released a fifth single from “The Big Revival,” considering that the album was released only a little more than a year ago.


      • Raymond October 7, 2015 / 8:59 pm

        Doesn’t sound like he will since in the add on the radio it sounded like the add was reflecting on the album era.


      • Nadia Lockheart October 8, 2015 / 10:54 pm

        All I know is, Chesney COULD easily get away with a fifth successful single from this album if he wanted to.

        “Flora-Bama” screams hit waiting to happen, although I would much prefer him to set an example and push “Don’t It”.


  3. Lorenzo October 7, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    to me Die a Happy Man is a +1. I know that Thomas rhett sucks, the only ones in country music that I hate more than him are brantley Gilbert and Jason aldean, I hate to give him credits, I know the song is a commercial move and that it’s on the album to lead critics to believe that he’s a good artist, but in the end the song is actually good.


    • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria October 7, 2015 / 7:11 pm

      “Die A Happy Man” is “Drink A Beer” 2.0. In fact, I think it’s even worse—while the theme is nice, the lyricism is painfully shallow because it just comes across like Rhett is more interested about how hot and sexy his wife looks, as opposed to describing why Rhett would be content to like a long, happy life with her. The production is supposed to pass as “country” just because it has steel guitar thrown into what’s otherwise an R&B song, and Rhett shows absolutely no charisma, which just makes the sentiment even more unconvincing. I said on Derek’s review of “Tangled Up” that I’d grade it a 4.5/10, but now I think that’s too generous. Probably a 2.5/10, at best.

      And what’s even more annoying is that this will be talked about in the mainstream realm as a sweet, thoughtful love song, and undoubtedly become a smash hit. -__-

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria October 7, 2015 / 8:11 pm

        *live a long, happy life


      • Lorenzo October 8, 2015 / 10:16 am

        I agree on most of what you’re saying: i hate that this will be a huge hit. trust me when I tell you that I hate rhett with a burning passion and I know the song is not country. I have also pointed out that it’s a blatant rip-off of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud. but really, I can’t find any good reason but my hate towards rhett to rate it less than 7/10. you don’t know how much it hurts to me to acknowledge that this idiot as an actually good song, but I have to.
        Also, a lot of people hate Drink a Beer, but I don’t see any reason to give it a -1. It seems like sometimes a song gets bashed because the artist that had a hit with it sucks. Drink a Beer is in no way a bad song. sorry but I can’t lead myself to believe that the song is bad because the narrator drinks a beer. to me it has a way deeper meaning. having said that, I hate Luke Bryan.


      • Nadia Lockheart October 8, 2015 / 10:28 pm

        I wouldn’t say “Die A Happy Man” is as bad as “Drink A Beer” as far as content is concerned. I’d say “The Driver” is a more fitting single to compare to “Drink A Beer”.

        No, the songwriting is actually the LEAST of my concerns with it. My issue with “Die A Happy Man” is that it’s absolutely copycatting Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” from the chord progression to the overtly schmaltzy and mellow production to the whole capitulation to penning something that screams wedding song. It’s the exact same song beyond the lyrics, only with pinches of steel guitar added in.


      • Nadia Lockheart October 8, 2015 / 10:50 pm

        I feel the need to elaborate on why I respectfully disagree that “Die A Happy Man” is on the same level as “Drink A Beer” in terms of lyrical shallowness that tries to pass itself off as “deep”. (though both songs suck overall, regardless).

        With “Die A Happy Man”, there are some notably cheesy lines in the lyrics that, when you study them closely, you really can’t take seriously as a song with any grit, truth or deeper meaning to it.

        Like when he utters: “Baby and that red dress brings me to my knees, oh but that black dress makes it hard to breathe.” in the second verse. Or “And if I never get to build my mansion in Georgia
        Or drive a sports car up the coast of California…” in the bridge. I mean “Really?!!!”

        Those lyrics (and there are others) remind me, more than anything, of Pat Monahan’s (lead singer of Train) writing style, or that of Jason Derulo. Both those singer/songwriters are known for their off-color, awkward spilling of random pop culture references, trying too hard to make words rhyme, and unusual pick-up lines. And anyone who knows me well enough with regard to my opinions of either Train or Jason Derulo, I very rarely can take either of them seriously. I may enjoy a few songs of theirs here and there (“Cheyenne” and “What’d She Say?” in the case of Derulo, “Bruises”, “Drops of Jupiter” and “Give Myself To You” in the case of Train)……………but it’s nearly impossible to appreciate either one as serious artists because most of what they produce sounds absolutely cheesy, for better or worse.

        Rhett is THAT kind of entertainer. He’s the Pat Monahan of “country radio”, only he hasn’t written a song nearly as good as “Bruises” or “Drops of Jupiter” yet.


        “Drink A Beer”, on the other hand, flails and fails desperately in trying to pass itself off as something important. Something on a whole other level of quality. And it resorts to the most calculating, banal and emotionally exploitative lowest common denominator to convince listeners that this is “Song of the Year” worthy and a critical highlight of this generation.


        So no, I don’t agree with the comparison personally, but surely we can at least agree both songs are great embarrassments, just in somewhat different ways.


      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria October 9, 2015 / 12:33 pm

        I didn’t mean that the lyrics of “Die A Happy Man,” specifically, were worse than “Drink A Beer”‘s. I do agree with you that the lyricism is worse in “Drink A Beer” for the reasons you stated…while in “Die A Happy Man,” there is the semblance of a decent idea, but several lines ruin it and make it seem like all Rhett cares about is his wife’s looks (“You’re a saint, you’re a Goddess, the cutest, the hottest, a masterpiece”).

        However, I think that “Die A Happy Man” is overall the worse song, because “Drink A Beer”‘s production is actually somewhat country (not to mention that the production of “Die A Happy Man” is a ripoff of “Thinking Out Loud,” as has been said already), and therefore I can stomach that aspect of the song. Bryan’s vocals, as well, are miles better than Rhett’s, and he actually does a good job of conveying the supposed “emotion” in the song…but Rhett just doesn’t deliver the song well.

        Overall, yes, I agree that “Drink A Beer” is a worse song lyrically than “Die A Happy Man,” though I stand by my opinion that “Die A Happy Man” is overall the worse song. The reason I compare them to each other is that they’ll both be marketed the same way, as “deep” songs from previously shallow, bad artists; that’s why I think of “Die A Happy Man” as Rhett’s “Drink A Beer.” But yeah—both songs are definitely huge embarrassments, and should be remembered that way.


      • Nadia Lockheart October 9, 2015 / 1:19 pm

        Though I’d respectfully disagree that Bryan does a good job as a vocalist in “Drink A Beer” in that his performance is absolutely calculating and mechanically stiff (like how he deadpans “Don’t feel like going home!”, or try to second-guess if God has a plan with “I guess…”………………….I nonetheless agree Bryan is generally the better vocalist of the two by far.

        Rhett’s vocals are painful to listen to, no matter which song he’s cutting (at least they didn’t go so far as to make “The Day You Stop Looking Back” unlistenable). But Bryan can truly be a strong singer when he puts his heart to it. He easily squeezed out a lot of genuine emotion on early songs like “Tackle Box” and “The Car In Front Of Me”. And I’ll even add that, even on recent songs that are absolutely shallow in the bro-country lyrical department, Bryan oddly sounds emotionally invested in them…………….more in fact than on the few songs where Bryan was intending to be serious and reflective.

        “Beer In The Headlights” is actually a good example. Lyrically, it’s a cliched trainwreck……………..and yet it’s so odd that Bryan sounds so emotionally devoted to that song. Same story with his biggest hit “Play It Again”. Lyrically it’s all empty calories, but I have to say he sounds great in that song and, coupled with a strong melodic foundation, I’m not ashamed to admit “Play It Again” is something of a guilty pleasure of mine even in spite of the blatant shoutouts to both terrestrial and XM radio, as well as Dixie cups.

        It’s just weird that Bryan seems to pour more emotion into songs that don’t call for any emotional quality at all, while he’s half-hearted and unconvincng on a few songs that do call for him to go the extra mile in quality.


      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria October 9, 2015 / 2:20 pm

        You’re right that Bryan does sound kind of “stiff” and forced in “Drink A Beer,” upon close listens. I think he still does an acceptable job delivering the song, and that’s what convinced so many people that it was such a great song…I mean, at least he sounds somewhat engaged. Rhett, on the other hand, is absolutely unconvincing and unpleasant vocally.

        I also agree with your observation that Bryan is more charismatic in many of his bro-country songs. If there’s one thing I can compliment about “That’s My Kind Of Night,” it’s that Bryan delivers the song with a lot of energy and sounds like he’s genuinely having fun.


  4. Nadia Lockheart October 8, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    If “Die A Happy Man” wasn’t so (expletive)-ing deliberate and obvious a ripoff of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud, I’d probably give it a 0.

    On its own merit, it’s not half-bad in terms of the songwriting (something which can’t be said about any of the rest of “Tangled Up” save “The Day You Stop Looking Back”). What ends up tainting that hit is the production all but Xeroxing the chord progression and mood of that recent hit and sprinkling hints of steel guitar in as though it would make it entirely different from Sheeran’s. The lack of any original kernel of an idea ultimately renders it to -1 status to my ears.


    No need to repeat explaining my blind hatred of “Breakup In A Small Town” here. At the moment, it edges out Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him” as the worst of this bunch. However, once “Beautiful Drug” makes the Top Thirty, I’d dare say it’ll surpass even Hunt’s catastrophe in that Hunt doesn’t know better, while you expect vastly better from the Zac Brown Band.

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