The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [December 12]

Chris Young I'm Comin' Over

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. Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over” +1 
  2. Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -1 (Up 1)
  4. Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” -1 (Up 1)
  5. Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break” +1 (Down 3)
  6. Tim McGraw – “Top of the World” (Up 1)
  7. Cam – “Burning House” +1 (Up 1) 
  8. Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer” (Up 1)
  9. Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” -1 (Up 1)
  10. LoCash – “I Love This Life” -1 (Up 1)
  11. Big & Rich – “Run Away With You” 0 (Up 3)
  12. Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy” +1 (Up 1)
  13. Parmalee – “Already Callin’ You Mine” -1 (Down 1)
  14. Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” -1 (Up 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  15. Kelsea Ballerini – “Dibs” -1 (Up 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  16. Granger Smith – “Backroad Song” -1 (Up 1)
  17. Brad Paisley – “Country Nation” -1 (Up 1)
  18. Randy Houser – “We Went” -1 (Up 1)
  19. Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  20. Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug” -1 [Tied for Worst Song]
  21. Keith Urban – “Break On Me” -1 (Up 1)
  22. Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” +1 (Up 3)
  23. Chase Bryant – “Little Bit of You” -1
  24. A Thousand Horses – “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” -1
  25. Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” -1 (Up 1)
  26. Dierks Bentley – “Riser” +1 (Up 1) [Tied for Best Song]
  27. Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” +1 (Up 2) [Tied for Best Song]
  28. Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” -1
  29. Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus” -1 (New to Top 30)
  30. Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” -1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -13

The pulse remains the same this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Cole Swindell’s “Let Me See Ya Girl” went recurrent and fell from #6 to out of the top 30
  • Brantley Gilbert’s “Stone Cold Sober” fell from #30 to out of the top 30 (and likely going recurrent)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus”
  • Florida Georgia Line – “Confession”

Song I Predict Will Reach #1 Next Week:

  • Blake Shelton – “Gonna”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” – Up 3 from #25 to #22
  • Big & Rich – “Run Away With You” – Up 3 from #14 to #11
  • Multiple Songs Moved Up 2 Spots

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” – Out of the Top 30
  • Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober” – Out of the Top 30
  • Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break” – Down 3 from #2 to #5

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

  • Carrie Underwood – “Smoke Break”
  • Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You”
  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You”

On The Hot Seat:

  • None

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader”
  • Brett Eldredge – “Drunk On Your Love”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat”
  • Tyler Farr – “Better in Boots”

Note: Right now I look at the chart and I see a lot of songs that have been on the chart for a while. There are seven songs that have been on the chart for more than 30 weeks. There are a lot of songs I feel like are just treading water and not moving the pulse in the slightest and by pulse I mean there doesn’t seem to be a lot of enthusiasm and support behind pushing them. Songs with terrible callout scores are being pushed higher than they should out of desperation. Basically things are pretty stale, even more than usual. I predict in January there will be a big shakeup, as it’s badly needed.

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 [December 12]

  1. Raymond December 2, 2015 / 11:16 am

    I wonder how much longer Parmalee and Jana Kramer can hold on as you noted their both well over 30 weeks. The good news for Jana Kramer is that her song is selling extremely well. So she should be fine for a little while. I really hope that also Lee Brice and Chase Bryant leave in the coming weeks. Throw in A Thousand Horses they’ve spent enough time on the chart too.

    The good news is that Big & Rich are done their also releasing the song Loving Lately from their album. I’ve yet to hear it but knowing Big & Rich it’s probably decent.

    I still disagree with FGL Confession being a -1. Provided it would be a light 0. Yes the chorus is overproduced but I do like the attempt at seriousness.

    Also am I the only one who thinks Carrie Underwood Heartbeat sounds like a R&B song. Seriously her new song does nothing to me but bores me.

    Dan + Shay are gunning for the top but their gains suggest a #2 peak on BB. Also I’m kind of nervous Cam will miss out on the top spot.

    Like

  2. Scotty J December 2, 2015 / 11:17 am

    To your last point:

    #8 Brothers Osborne 35 weeks
    #10 LoCash 40 weeks
    #11 Big & Rich 46 weeks (likely gone next week)
    #12 Jana Kramer 40 weeks
    #13 Parmelee 43 weeks

    These labels seem to take the approach that they have put so much money into pushing these songs that they may as well squeeze every last drop out of them even though in many cases these songs are completely unmemorable and will be forgotten the moment they drop off the chart.

    Like

    • Josh Schott December 2, 2015 / 11:30 am

      Yep. Everyone is just thinking short term. Sure push these songs as high as possible is good in the short term. But if you’re not really making an impact and fans from these singles, what’s the point of them again? Decades from now when we look back on this era of country music, most of the songs and artists will barely be remembered, especially those who chased trends. Chris Stapleton will leave a bigger mark on history than Florida Georgia Line, even though they will probably have more awards won and more #1 songs. Really it’s silly that radio is still having an impact at all in 2015, although I’d say give it a few more years and this hopefully won’t be the case anymore. More people are taking to the Internet and streaming services to find music, making radio eventually obsolete. But not yet.

      Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton December 2, 2015 / 3:31 pm

        There ain’t no way Chris Stapleton is winding up with fewer awards than Florida Georgia Line.

        Mark my words: when the 2016 Grammy Award nominees are announced, you’re going to see a hearty helping of Chris Stapleton in the selections. He’ll definitely get a Best New Artist nod, but I wouldn’t rule out an Album of the Year nomination either. And Stapleton will easily be the favorite in the Country/Americana categories and the advantage in Best New Artist as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Josh Schott December 2, 2015 / 3:54 pm

          I hope you’re right. Remember how many awards FGL has won so far. Plus while Stapleton is hot now, I want to see him make sure this sustains over the long run. Part of me is a little worried he’s Jamey Johnson part two where he has a few big years and then drifts into the background.

          Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton December 2, 2015 / 6:35 pm

        Jamey Johnson never had quite the mainstream reach that Chris Stapleton has garnered, though.

        Yes, both “That Lonesome Song” and “The Guitar Song” went Gold, and the former produced a Top Ten airplay hit on their own merit. But he did do quietly without the publicity and broader appeal of Stapleton, and it never exactly translated into something broader for his career.

        Aldo, part of the reason why Chris Stapleton is striking a broader chord is because he’s not just another traditional-leaning country crooner. No, it also has to do with the fact he has a genre-transcending voice like Adele. He’s drawing fans much like Adele has because, above all else, they’re lovers of the power of a song. Country, soul, blues……….you name it. Both have the ability to dissect a song to its primitive heart and that tends to draw wider demographic support.

        That’s why Stapleton won’t be denied in 2016, and Adele won’t be denied in 2017.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Raymond December 2, 2015 / 11:37 am

      I think Parmalee does apply as does Big & Rich. But Brothers Osborne, Jana Kramer, and LoCash have all had strong sales that are just now catching up with radio AirPlay. If a song that’s selling as well they have in Jana Kramer case her song just went Gold. It make sense for the label to keep going.

      Like

      • Scotty J December 2, 2015 / 11:46 am

        Yeah that’s why I said ‘in many cases’ because some songs do take longer to catch on and when they do they are genuine hits.

        The best example of a song going all the way to number one and still not really being a hit was the Canaan Smith song from a few months ago that I can’t even remember right now. Other than sprucing up his Wikipedia page that song left no impact whatsoever.

        They are devaluing the achievement of reaching number one or even the top ten by artificially inflating unworthy songs. But as Josh said it is all short term thinking with no interest in career building.

        Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton December 2, 2015 / 3:38 pm

        While I agree with you that Canaan Smith’s hit will be easily forgotten, I have to disagree with the assertion of it not really being a hit.

        “Love You Like That” had a most impressive sales-to-airplay ratio throughout the vast majority of its chart run (and brief absence as well, when it briefly went recurrent before catching a second wind 😉 ). It had already sold about 660,000 copies by the time it reached #1, and his EP also sold surprisingly well.

        “Bronco” has been a miserable commercial failure, however. Makes me wonder if Kane Brown will have a remarkably similar result: huge hype driving his single, huge hype driving his appetizer EP, followed by disappointing album sales that fail to live up to the hype.

        We shall see in 2016.

        Like

  3. Amanda December 2, 2015 / 12:10 pm

    My pulse this week:

    1. Chris Young, “I’m Comin’ Over” — +1
    2. Blake Shelton, “Gonna” — -1
    3. Dan + Shay, “Nothin’ Like You” — +1
    4. Jason Aldean, “Gonna Know We Were Here — -1
    5. Carrie Underwood, “Smoke Break” — +1
    6. Tim McGraw, “Top of the World” — 0
    7. Cam, “Burning House” — +1 (tied for best song)
    8. Brothers Osborne, “Stay a Little Longer” — +1
    9. Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man” — 0
    10. LoCash, “I Love This Life” — -1
    11. Big & Rich, “Run Away With You” — 0
    12. Jana Kramer, “I Got the Boy” — +1 (tied for best song)
    13. Parmalee, “Already Callin’ You Mine” — 0
    14. Sam Hunt, “Break Up In A Small Town” — -1 (I changed my mind on this song. To be clear, I like Sam Hunt. He’s definitely not country, but he is very creative and I can appreciate him for that. I don’t know, he’s just got something I like for some reason. 🙂 The reason I gave this song a -1 is not that it’s bad, but it’s just so boring. How do people stay awake during this? Beats me. It’s just kind of a lazy effort from Sam.)
    15. Kelsea Ballerini, “Dibs” — -1
    16. Granger Smith, “Backroad Song”, — -1
    17. Brad Paisley, ” Country Nation” — +1
    18. Randy Houser, “We Went” — -1
    19. Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild, “Home Alone Tonight” — -1 (worst song)
    20. Zac Brown Band, “Beautiful Drug” — -1
    21. Keith Urban, “Break On Me” — 0
    22. Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood” — +1
    23. Chase Bryant, “Little Bit of You” — 0
    24. A Thousand Horses, “This Ain’t No Drunk Dial” — 0
    25. Rascal Flatts, “I Like The Sound of That” — 0
    26. Dierks Bentley, “Riser” — +1
    27. Chris Stapleton, “Nobody to Blame” — +1
    28. Lee Brice, “That Don’t Sound Like You” — -1
    29. Michael Ray, “Real Men Love Jesus” — -1 (Holy shit on a biscuit. How much more mediocre can you get? It’s not that this is a necessarily bad song, it’s just one of the most boring songs I’ve ever heard. Meh, meh, yawn.)
    30. Florida Georgia Line, “Confession” — 0 (This is actually pretty surprising considering Florida Georgia Line’s track record. I am by no means a Florida Georgia Line fan. They have had one good single [“Dirt”, of course] and a bunch of not so great singles [“Cruise”, “Get Your Shine On”, “Sun Daze”, etc. and who could forget that abominable train wreck with the equally bad Luke Bryan, “This is How We Roll”? Yikes. :(]. But this isn’t so bad considering who it’s coming from. Not great, but not bad. Nice effort, boys :))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron December 2, 2015 / 2:52 pm

      Break up in a small town wouldn’t be a bad song if it was done by say Justin Bieber (at least the chorus part) but that song has no place on country radio and the awful rap/sing/talk thing in the beginning is beyond annoying

      Like

      • Amanda December 2, 2015 / 7:33 pm

        I agree, Ron. The biggest crime Break Up In a Small Town commits is the fact that it’s just not country at all. It would be a decent pop song, I guess (it belongs in pop, indefinitely), but either way it just does absolutely nothing for me. It’s a boring, halfway lazily-done song either way.

        Like

  4. NoahHibiscusEaton December 2, 2015 / 3:25 pm

    Firstly, I’m not expecting “Stone Cold Sober” to bow out just yet. I do expect it’ll continue to rise well into March. That said, I’m still shocked as to how Valory (part of the Big Machine label group) has treated Brantley like a newcomer C-artist with his ridiculously long chart runs since “Bottoms Up”. He sells albums like a true A artist.

    *

    Secondly, I stand by designating “Confession” a high 0.

    If I may, I’m curious to hear your overview as to why “Confession” fares poorly. I’ve heard you mention Moi’s production sins, but I haven’t heard you discuss the subject matter yet. Not putting you in any hot seat or anything, just curious to see where you’re coming from.

    *

    Thirdly, about the singles pushing over thirty weeks…………

    It’s not entirely black and white here. When I look at this list of seven, I have to say Jana Kramer’s single has the best case for continued promotion. Its sales-to-airplay ratio has been solid from the beginning and has been selling like an airplay #1 ought to. If anything, this song should already be in the Top Five by now.

    Brothers Osbourne also have a damn good reason sticking it out. Like Jana Kramer, their sales have been solid from the start.

    The weakest link is by far Chase Bryant. Sales have been TERRIBLE for Bryant as has streaming. There’s absolutely no way he should have made it this far as is.

    Same is true with Big & Rich’s “Run Away With You” and Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine”. Both have sold pitifully with minimal streaming. The way Big & Rich’s label exploited overnight spins this past week for an artificial final push to the Top Ten on Mediabase is chart manipulation at its worst. I suspect Parmalee’s label will pull a similar stunt by February! =/

    Like

    • Josh Schott December 2, 2015 / 3:52 pm

      Well I’m going to be honest that I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to give “Confession” a -1 or 0. Whatever it gets next week will probably be what I stick with. On one hand, it’s deeper content-wise than any other FGL song not named “Dirt.” On the other hand, the production can be offputting enough to knock it down. I have conflicted feelings at the moment.

      Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton December 2, 2015 / 6:52 pm

        Oh, I see. Thanks for responding! =)

        I will admit I didn’t particularly like their CMA performance of it, and the official video also fell well short in bringing the emotional ambiguity of the lyrics to life (Brian’s flappy movements in the video were a needless distraction that just didn’t fit the tone).

        But I find more to like about “Confession’ on its own than dislike. The open-ended, brooding lyricism struck a plus with me, and replete with some vivid imagery that further illustrates the pensive, atmospheric mood here (especially the reflection of the narrator in a cracked rear view, later sighing “Hope he’s moving in the right direction!”)

        Like I said before, Moi reverts to his old Audio Wars habits on the production of the chorus and tries too hard to make it sound lighter-waving worthy when it, rather, sounds cluttered. That’s easily the biggest flaw of the song. But I do think Moi fares better with the rest of the track’s duration (though some pedal steel pushed to the front of the mix with the spacey soundscape would have paid off more).

        Either way I look at it, Moi is the one I see holding the duo back from their broader potential more than anyone, including themselves. But “Dirt” and this track demonstrate what they can be capable of in the grander scheme of things and why, should their supposedly more mature third album weave more from this loom than sonic weapons of mass destruction like “This Is How We Roll”, then they can stick around longer than most of us thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. lorenzofloris96 December 2, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    I think confession is downright terrible. Lyrically it wants to be deep, but it is just cheap (and i’m so tired about this “letting the night burn” thing). The vocals are so annoying and the nauseating chorus production gives me headache. A 1/10 if you ask me.
    Also, apparently fucking Jason aldean is trying to emulate Brad Paisley as college football ambassador but the only sport he makes me think about is Sumo. Gonna Know We Were here has nothing to do with football and it sucks anyway.

    Like

    • NoahHibiscusEaton December 2, 2015 / 7:05 pm

      While I don’t regard the lyrics of “Confession” as anything particularly deep, I don’t think of them as cheap either.

      Or, to try and put it another way, this kind of goes back to why, upon the release of “Traveller”, I regarded it as an album I liked but wasn’t in love over………….and the main reason why that was, is because I thought much of the songwriting on the album, while competent and certainly not shallow………….couldn’t help but look basic and lacking a broader context or particular point of view.

      Take “Parachute”, for instance. Or “Might As Well Get Stoned”. Or “Whiskey & You”. Or his current single. More than half of the album’s tracks aren’t really remarkable in the lyrical department. They were, truthfully, pretty basic.

      But that doesn’t mean they don’t work or I can’t enjoy them for what they are. They’re still decent-to-good songs, even elevated to somewhere just below great due to Stapleton’s incredible voice. I just wouldn’t dare praise them for anything more than they actually are.

      And I feel the same way about “Confession”. The difference here is that you have a duo with inferior vocals and an inferior producer. Still, as a song in its own right, I like it. Nothing earth-shattering whatsoever, but it’s of relative quality and appeal compared to 75-80% of the mainstream at the moment.

      Like

      • Zack December 2, 2015 / 7:39 pm

        You make a good point Noah. I’ve been on the fence about liking this for a while. I think I’d give this is a strong 6.5 to a light 7/10. I hate admitting that, but I’ll give credit where I feel it’s due.

        Here’s my chart:

        7. “Burning House”

        8. “Stay A Little Longer”

        12. “I Got The Boy”

        22. “Mr. Misunderstood”

        26. “Riser”

        27. “Nobody To Blame”

        33. “Cold Beer Conversation”

        37. “Head Over Boots”

        40. “Shut Up and Fish”

        43. “It All Started With A Beer”

        44. “I Met A Girl”

        45. “Running For You”

        50. “You Look Like I Need A Drink”

        56. “When I’m Gone”

        57. “Remembering”

        59. “Beautiful Stranger”

        60. “Whiskey On My Breath”

        Like

      • Zack December 2, 2015 / 7:40 pm

        Crap, just realized I posted in the wrong thread :p

        Like

      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria December 2, 2015 / 11:40 pm

        Personally, I thought “Whiskey And You” was very well-written. Sure, the general theme has been covered countless times, but the lyrics themselves are fantastic. Lines like “But your forgiveness…that’s something I can’t buy” are really raw and emotional, and certainly put a new spin on the theme of heartbreak. (I also loved the description of whiskey as “a liar that helps to hide me from my pain.”) I definitely wouldn’t classify the lyrics as unremarkable or basic.

        But other than that, I agree with your points, both about lyrics on “Traveller” and about “Confession.”

        Like

      • lorenzofloris96 December 3, 2015 / 5:39 am

        I really like the lyrics of Parachute, and i think Nobody to Blame and Whiskey and You are very strong lyrically. I don’t like Might as well get stoned, i think it’s a boring and dull song. And kind of that’s what i think about confession. Add that they are a duo of idiots, their vocals hurts and their producer is terrible: it only brings the song down to me. I don’t know, maybe i hate their dumb music a little too much, but i really don’t like it

        Like

  6. Jason December 2, 2015 / 4:08 pm

    New songs:

    29: Real Men Love Jesus: -1
    Well, guess I’m not a real man because I don’t drink beer. As we all know, Michael Ray decides who is and isn’t a man.
    30: Confession: 0
    Bland, inoffensive, but it’s different, and it’s decent. A nice melody, the obnoxious accent is toned down a touch, and the lyrics have some creativity and thought put behind them. This isn’t a gem, but it’s solid.

    Like

  7. pete marshall December 3, 2015 / 12:22 am

    Is it me or does Jason Aldean last 3 singles sounds the same? Another Question What happed to Gloriana?

    Like

    • lorenzofloris96 December 3, 2015 / 5:41 am

      lol almost every jason aldean song sounds the same

      Like

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