The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [October 31]

Luke Bryan Kill The Lights

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -19

The pulse dropped two spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Maddie & Tae’s “Fly” went recurrent and fell from #9 to out of the top 30
  • Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” went recurrent and fell from #13 to out of the top 30

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Granger Smith – “Backroad Song”
  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You”

Song I Predict Will Reach #1 Next Week:

  • Luke Bryan – “Strip It Down”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Granger Smith – “Backroad Song” – Up 11 from #37 to #26 (Most Added & Most Increased Audience)
  • Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” – Up 5 from #27 to #22
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” – Up 4 from #26 to #22

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” – Out of the Top 30
  • Maddie & Tae – “Fly” – Out of the Top 30
  • Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day” – Down 4 from #3 to #7
  • Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” – Down 5 from #1 to #6

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

  • Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day”
  • Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind”
  • Hunter Hayes – “21”
  • Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight”

On The Hot Seat:

  • The Band Perry – “Live Forever”
  • Tim McGraw – “Top of the World”
  • Big & Rich – “Run Away With You”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Dierks Bentley – “Riser”
  • Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug”
  • Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus”
  • George Strait – “Cold Beer Conversation”

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 [October 31]

  1. Raymond October 21, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    I would have given That Don’t Sound Like You a 0 because there’s no real red flags it commits just overall bland. Just lie in like Chase Bryant’s song. I don’t think Tim McGraw is any danger whatsoever as well it was just a slower week and this week it looks to be picking up the pace again.

    It feels so good that Cam is almost about to hit the Top 10 being a part of Sony helps since liked they proved with Save It For A Rainy Day they are willing to fight for multiple weeks at the top and given the fact Burning House has already went Gold and is showing no signs of slowing down it might be able to get to the top probided Jason Aldean doesn’t spend too much time up there.

    Seriously how are Parmalee and Big & Rich still gaining I mean the good news is that both should be Top 15 soon but like the amount of money invested can’t be worth it. At least not to me anyways.

    I must ask why is Stay A Little Longer a 0. I found the song to be really solid the production a little muddy but not overbearing the vocals are great and while the lyrics tell a familiar story. The guys really sell it.

    All I can do is laugh as The Band Perry crossover attempt has about failed as badly as possible. If I were them I would scratch Live Forever start a new song at the beginning of the year that’s more in line with their debut album that’s also radio friendly like I’m Coming Over.

    Hunter Hayes has basically came to a stop. He really could’ve been an A-Lister but he released Invisible and ever since then his chart watching has been painful and just amazing what one song could do to de-rail someone’s momentum that badly.

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    • Josh Schott October 21, 2015 / 1:42 pm

      The biggest problem with “That Don’t Sound Like You” is the immaturity of the lyrics. The man in the song whines and complains about his ex changing after breaking up with him, acting completely oblivious to the fact that people can change after moving on to different people. And why should he care that she changed? They’re broken up and he just can’t move on and reconcile the fact. Plus the production is quite bland, which was the story of I Don’t Dance.

      “Stay A Little Longer” is a 0 because it feels like it never gets out of the starting gate. If I had to rate it, I would give it a 6.5/10. It just misses being a +1. It’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t do much to stand out either.

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  2. Derek Hudgin October 21, 2015 / 2:22 pm

    It’s absurd that “Gonna Wanna Tonight” is still on this chart. I tweeted about this but HOW and WHY is it still getting spins and jumping the charts? I get that Rice’s people are investing a heavy amount to get him a top 5 single, but “Gonna Wanna Tonight” is such a boring song to invest in, The production is bland, Rice’s vocals aren’t good, and the lyrics suck. It’s not good, it’s not even that catchy. Despite all of bad with “Cruise” you can’t deny that FGL had one of the catchiest pop country songs in a long time. Looking at it from Scott Borchetta’s POV, it makes perfect sense why so much was invested in “Cruise” to give it remix after remix to have a long chart run. Sure it’s not a good song, but the investment made sense.

    I don’t see any appeal with “Gonna Wanna Tonight” and why it’s still climbing the charts after a year. It was stagnant for so long that most other artists/labels would have pulled a single and called it a flop and tried again. I don’t get what makes Chase Rice and “Gonna Wanna Tonight” different in that respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian #JohnForAFP (@EbenezerStooge1) October 21, 2015 / 3:16 pm

      Yeah, as bad as they are, some of the catchier songs such as Beer with the Boys and U-Turn should’ve been released as a single in the first place. I also agree with you that the production is so boring. I get that it’s a slow love song, but at least have some more vivid instrumentation.

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    • Will October 21, 2015 / 4:46 pm

      I think it’ll be the #1 song of the year just based on it’s chart run. That worked for Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl” and Josh Turner’s “Time is Love.”

      Like

      • Ron October 22, 2015 / 9:32 am

        I hate that but you’re probably right. Total weeks and chart points are all that matters if it climbs into the top 5

        Like

    • JD October 21, 2015 / 11:06 pm

      Luckily, it looks like Gonna Wanna Tonight will be going recurrent soon. (THANKS GOD). I’m not going to try and explain how GWT could have possibly ended up with such a long chart run – other than “people are idiots.”

      Like

  3. lorenzofloris96 October 21, 2015 / 3:47 pm

    hey Josh, I’d like to know what you think exactly about Chase Bryant’s Little Bit of You. in my opinion it’s not a great song (and it’s absolutely not country) but I’d rather give it a 0. maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the lyrics being that stupid. there’s not depth, but there isn’t anything wrong with the lyrics nor with the music. and Bryant looks like a talented guy. I don’t know, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Like

    • Josh Schott October 21, 2015 / 4:49 pm

      You answered your own question. It’s not country.

      Like

  4. NoahHibiscusEaton October 21, 2015 / 6:48 pm

    It’ll be interesting to see how Sony chooses to maneuver in the coming weeks with “Break Up With Him” and “Smoke Break”.

    Sony aggressively played their hand in ensuring three weeks at #1 for “Save It For A Rainy Day” (thus denying Chris Janson and Keith Urban the top spot), and now Old Dominion is rapidly narrowing the gap between them and Florida Georgia Line in vying for the next #1. Then, in a reversal of misfortune, Carrie Underwood could deny Cole Swindell the #1 spot shortly after.

    The post-Gary Overton era for Sony may very well prove to stick a monkey wrench in the revolving door weekly #1 trend. We’ll see if “Save It For A Rainy Day” is the new rule or an exception soon enough.

    *

    “Gonna” was uncharacteristically struggling for a Blake Shelton single (and it still is as far as sales is concerned). But it appears to be picking up again this week. At any rate, his popularity has receded since “Based On A True Story…” but he remains an A-lister and it may be premature to suggest his #1 streak is in peril.

    *

    Have no frickin’ clue why “Run Away With You” is still charting even as far back as the early summer considering how terrible its sales have been. Regardless, a great deal of credit is in order for Big and Rich’s radio support for making them somewhat relevant again on the airwaves.

    *

    LoCash’s run simply has to be one of the more astonishing sleeper success stories this year. I’m still shocked “I Love This Life” is performing as well as it is.

    It’s sales aren’t anything great, but they’re respectable. Just enough to get the job done for the longer haul. I certainly wish “Best Seat In The House” could have been garnered with this breakout success instead, but what can you do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott October 21, 2015 / 7:11 pm

      Great point about Sony. They’re playing the radio game wisely and getting Carrie to #1 will really elevate them in her fans’ eyes, as many of them felt Overton mishandled her. And don’t forget that Cam’s “Burning House” is not too far behind these either. Hope she hits #1.

      I’m not surprised this single is moving up slower for Blake, as this is probably the last single from Bringing On The Sunshine. I’m sure his new album will be out in the second quarter of 2016.

      LoCash is having an under the radar success story. They’ve never had this kind of success before and I thought for sure it was going to go recurrent in the high 30s. Good for them I guess.

      I’m thinking the chart should be getting better here in the next few months. Usually does towards the last months of the year. A great opportunity for these smaller acts to get some airplay.

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      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria October 21, 2015 / 8:21 pm

        I agree that the chart should get better soon enough. The garbage at the top of the chart will fall off soon, and then we also have +1’s arriving soon in “Riser” and “Cold Beer Conversation.”

        Right now, though, my pulse is at an awful -21 (differences: 0’s to “Smoke Break” and “I’m Comin’ Over”).

        Like

  5. Zack October 21, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    It’s weird, “Stay A Little Longer” is the only song I like from the Brothers Osborne thus far, and yet it’s their most mainstream thing they have…..weird for me. Also, with “Breakup In A Small Town” on the charts, I have to say there’s no need to tie all the worst songs together. That flaming pile of shit deserves the worst song award by far.

    Anyway, here’s my Pulse:

    The +1’s (6)
    Save It For A Rainy Day (perhaps I’m getting soft or something, but I like this)
    Smoke Break
    I’m Comin’ Over (BARELY a +1, but there’s at least an attempt at making this country, and Young sounds good here so hey. Good Lord I’m getting too soft….)
    Burning House (Best Song)
    Stay A Little Longer
    I Got The Boy

    0’s (4)
    Top Of The World (don’t think it’s groundbreaking, our philosophies are just a tad different, I don’t like it, but it’s not worth hating)
    Run Away With You
    This Ain’t No Drunk Dial
    Little Bit Of You

    -1’s (20)
    Everything else…With BIAST being the worst song (not that anything in this area is exactly a “winner”)

    So that’s a -14. Good God I’m going soft…

    Liked by 1 person

    • NoahHibiscusEaton October 21, 2015 / 9:36 pm

      You must be, because there are only two singles I’m inclined to give a +1 here (“Burning House” and “I Got The Boy”)…………..while your remaining +1 candidates register as 0s to my ears! 😉

      Like

  6. ame006 October 22, 2015 / 2:17 am

    “Saving It For A Rainy Day” is easily the best song on the charts.

    Like

  7. Nadia Lockheart October 22, 2015 / 5:27 am

    Some observations below the Top Thirty:

    *

    1) “Beautiful Drug” had an anemic week by the Zac Brown Band’s standards. It only gained short of 900,000 in audience (“Riser” gained over 1.3 million in comparison at #31). It probably won’t be long until we start seeing callout data for this release, but I wouldn’t be surprised if negative callout is hurting this out of the gate. It doesn’t help matters that sales are mediocre for it at the moment. We’ll see what happens.

    2) George Strait has rebounded pleasantly over these past two weeks. He’s now at #36 and has already surpassed the peak of the album’s lead single “Let It Go”, as well as his fellow elder statesman Alan Jackson’s “Jim & Jack & Hank”. Realistically (and sadly), this can only go so far due to the ageism and persisting stylistic trends in the mainstream that don’t favor him as a whole. Still, very encouraging to see him hold his own. This will probably reach the Top Thirty, but not sure it can go on so long where it peaks near where “I Got A Car” settled. I’m thinking it will probably peak at #24 or so.

    3) Michael Ray’s “Real Men Love Jesus” is a “Breaker” this week at #37 with over a million in audience gains. Can’t say I’m surprised there, but callout has yet to surface on Mediabase and that will likely suggest its larger fate since this is basically “God Made Girls” from a stereotypical male perspective (which countless men obviously refute subscribing to). And we all know how “God Made Girls” turned out despite the “On The Verge” special treatment and performance on “The Voice” and countless other obsessive efforts to shove that down our throats.

    4) Dustin Lynch climbed nine spots this week to #43 with “Mind Reader”. He’s off to a solid start here (unlike “Hell Of A Night”). I’m calling it: a third consecutive future #1 for Lynch.

    5) Jon Pardi also climbed eight spots this week to #48 with “Head Over Boots”. That’s great to see. Your guess is as good as mine whether this will enjoy impressive chart legs and be at least a moderate hit like “Up All Night”, or suddenly stall much like “When I Was Drinkin'” earlier this year. Its sales are definitely promising relative to airplay (it’s #43 on the iTunes Country Chart right now: surpassing releases by Parmalee, Big & Rich, Brad Paislay and A Thousand Horses despite much less airplay than them). Not sure about the callout yet. Needless to say, I’m wishing the best for this.

    6) “Pain Killer” is in the midst of its second consecutive bullet-less week on the chart. If it doesn’t register a bullet by Monday, it’s going recurrent. Surprised that this is struggling mightily. It shouldn’t matter that it happens to be an island country-sounding song that feels out of place this time of year. After all, countless songs of this sort get away with it year-round. Consider this among the most surprising flops of 2015.

    7) Is “Roller Coaster Ride” even going to be declared an official single? It reached a new peak of #52 this week despite a net decline in audience. If we don’t hear anything from Church’s camp in the next week, I’m thinking this may turn out to be a mere case of a track charting from unsolicited spins.

    8) Hahaha, makes my day to see “Southern Belle” backtrack again this week! 😉

    *

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zack October 22, 2015 / 7:10 am

      The only thing I can think of for “Painkiller” is that they pissed radio off by making them play “Girl Crush” and now radio is getting back at them? Idk, just a thought. I certainly won’t shed a tear if this goes recurrent though 😉

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