The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [January 4]

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 a 5 or 6 receive a 0. Songs rated 4 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. Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” -1
  2. Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” -1 
  3. LoCash – “I Love This Life” -1
  4. Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer”
  5. Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” -1 [Worst Song]
  6. Tim McGraw – “Top of the World” 
  7. Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -1 
  8. Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight” -1
  9. Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy” +1 
  10. Cam – “Burning House” +1
  11. Granger Smith – “Backroad Song” -1
  12. Kelsea Ballerini – “Dibs” -1 
  13. Randy Houser – “We Went” -1 
  14. Keith Urban – “Break On Me” -1
  15. Brad Paisley – “Country Nation” -1 
  16. Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug” -1 
  17. Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” +1
  18. Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat” 
  19. Chase Bryant – “Little Bit of You” -1 
  20. Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” 0
  21. Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” -1 
  22. Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” +1 [Best Song]
  23. A Thousand Horses – “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” -1 
  24. Brett Eldredge – “Drunk on Your Love” -1
  25. Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” -1 
  26. Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here” -1
  27. Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus” -1
  28. Old Dominion – “Snapback” -1 
  29. Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader” -1
  30. Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober” -1

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -18

The pulse dropped two spots over holiday break.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 Over The Holiday Break:

  • Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over”
  • Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You”
  • Parmalee – “Already Callin’ You Mine” (Finally!)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 Over The Holiday Break:

  • Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here”
  • Old Dominion – “Snapback”
  • Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader”

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • N/A

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • N/A

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

  • Cam – “Burning House”
  • Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here”
  • Blake Shelton – “Gonna”
  • Brad Paisley – “Country Nation”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Tim McGraw – “Top of the World”
  • Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Maddie & Tae – “Shut Up and Fish”
  • Tyler Farr – “Better In Boots”
  • Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With A Beer”
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”


With it being a brand new year and first Pulse of 2016, I decided treat this basically as a reset. So nothing moved up or down over the past week. Somehow the Pulse still didn’t change over holiday break, as three bad songs were replaced by three more bad songs. The chart is basically a giant crapshoot at the moment and it’s hard to predict what’s going to rise and fall. Some encouraging news though is the amount of songs outside the top 30 of high quality, particularly the small group knocking on the door of the top 30. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

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

9 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [January 4]

  1. Raymond January 6, 2016 / 11:18 am

    Wait a minute how did the pulse stay the same if the 3 songs that left Dan + Shay, Parmalee, and Chris Young. Chris Young’s was a +1 though so I’m a little confused.

    Regardless it does look like we should see a good amount of new songs that are solid that should enter the Top 30 Frankie Ballard, Jon Pardi, Maddie & Tae. George Strait Cold Beer Conversation is still getting promoted so it might sneak in for a week. Kip Moore is making progress, and newcomers Lindsay Ell, Maren Morris and Drake White are making solid progress I know you aren’t a fan of Lindsay Ell By The Way since it’s more pop than country but I find the hook of the song insanely catchy.

    Now I am curious to see where your problem lies in You Should Be Here I’m indifferent torwards the song myself. I like the sentiment but Cole just doesn’t quite have the vocal chops to keep me intrested but I do like the story behind the song.

    Anyways new songs coming out in January include new Blake Shelton (I think this will be good this time) Jennifer Nettles Unlove You (are you guys going to review this song). I think Jake Owen will have a new song and since Real Life bombed and I think Jake Owen has spent some time off I think his song will be good. There will be new Jason Aldean and Dan + Shay music but oh well. Dierks Bentley will also have a new song out soon and his album is the one I’m most looking forward too.

    Also n other news Jerrod Niemann has been dropped from Sony. Gary Overton picking Donkey as a single kicked Jerrod right in the a**.

    Do you guys think Miranda Lambert will deliver when she inevitably releases a new album. I saw her perform Storms Never Last on the opry and it was beautiful so I think she might return to the sound of her first couple of albums.


    • Josh Schott January 6, 2016 / 11:30 am

      Good eye. Math is apparently not my strong suit. Haha

      I’m reviewing “You Should Be Here” very soon, so you’ll see my reasoning soon enough.

      Windmills Country found out this morning from a radio producer, who was told from Blake’s record label, that a new single won’t be out until spring, although Blake wanted it out now. Haven’t heard the Nettles song.

      I’m aware of the Niemann situation, but I’m not making a post on it until it’s confirmed by Sony Music Nashville.

      I’m hopeful that Miranda will deliver a great new album. If she picks up Dave Cobb and/or involves her new boyfriend Anderson East, I’ll be excited.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Raymond January 6, 2016 / 11:40 am

        Aw that’s a shame about Blake because I think due to the divorce he might make some decent music. I think it’s confirmed because a member on Pulse Music Board is a radio executive and they emailed Sony to see what was going on and Sony confirmed. Just the site lazily not taking the picture of Jerrod down.

        I still think we will hear new music soon from Chase Rice, Jason Aldean, and Dierks Bentley so yaya.

        I think Miranda will keep the same producer but I think between being on the Don Henley album and that album she’s a part of with Anderson East I think there is room for optimism.


  2. Daniel January 6, 2016 / 11:21 am

    Sure hope Jon Pardi’s Head Over Boots can break through.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria January 6, 2016 / 5:10 pm

    Wow, “Die A Happy Man” has really become a career hit for Rhett.

    -3 weeks and counting at #1 on Country Airplay (taking just 13 weeks to get to the top)
    -8 weeks and counting at #1 on Hot Country Songs
    -Current peak of #21 on Hot 100
    -823,000 in digital sales (and certified Platinum)

    And then there’s all of the love it’s been getting from mainstream websites for its “emotional,” “sweet” lyrics. It’s a definite candidate for Single and Song of the Year categories at the ACM’s and CMA’s.

    Not that I’m celebrating this, of course. Although Rhett definitely could’ve picked much worse songs to launch himself to A-list status with, I suppose…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin January 7, 2016 / 9:32 am

      I’m not shocked that it’s become a career hit since a majority of the listening audience only half listens to the songs, which is why it’s so “sweet” and “emotional” (according to those mainstream sites). Meanwhile, the entire second verse simply describes how his wife’s hot looks turn him on. If Rhett actually described why he loves his wife beyond the surface of looks “you’re a saint, you’re a goddess, the cutest, the hottest” (wow, real descriptive) then I’d probably like the song. But, c’mon, there’s more to love than how her black dress takes your breath away.


      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria January 7, 2016 / 12:20 pm

        Exactly. I consider this one of the biggest reasons that people have gotten away with writing and releasing non-country, lyrically dumb songs—so many listeners are out there that don’t listen to the music closely enough, and therefore they can’t tell the difference between country and pop or between good music and bad music.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jason January 6, 2016 / 5:21 pm

    25: Cole Swindell- You Should Be Here- +1
    I originally couldn’t stand this song for its inability to move past the typical country music cliches and Cole Swindell’s inability to sing. However, it’s actually decently written and sung, and the production and instrumentation is quite solid. If there’s good bro-country, then this is it.

    28: Old Dominion- Snapback- -1
    Does it sound stupid from the title? No? Well, that means it’s time for me to break down the lyrics. It starts with the no name lead singer asking what’d happen if a girl got with him “Strictly out of curiousity”. However, this proves to be disingenuous, as he quickly states that he wants her to give her heart to him tonight. Cue the chorus, which was generic for 2012, much less today. Next, to make sure the song is laughably dated in 5-10 years time, they take selfies on a balcony so Pat Ramsey can use it for his lock screen. Chorus plays again, and they repeat “In your Snapback” ad nauseum. Put those lyrics on generic instrumentation and boring production, and you’ve got a winner…

    29: Dustin Lynch- Mind Reader- -1
    Dustin Lynch sings about country girl cliches while taking lines from the chorus in “Don’t Ya” and sloppily fitting them into the bridge. Otherwise, completely boring and forgettable.


  5. Amanda January 6, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    My opinion on the new songs in the top 30:

    Cole Swindell, “You Should Be Here”– -1 Okay, I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I will never like Cole Swindell and will probably never give him a chance. Is this deeper than his other material? It tries to be, I’ll give him credit for that. Is it good? Hell no. Sorry, Cole.

    Old Dominion, “Snapback”– -1 (and tied for worst song, along with the gosh-awful Michael Ray “Real Men Love Jesus” and Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild “Home Alone Tonight”) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO……..OH MY GOD WILL IT EVER END? This song is absolutely terrible and in no way country at all. This song will be a definite contender for my worst song of the year list in 2016. (As you can see, I’m not a fan of Old Dominion at all 😉 )

    Dustin Lynch, “Mind Reader” — -1 Meh. At least you can hear the steel guitar and it kinda sorta sounds country. As a woman myself, I don’t like the fact this song is so objectifying. But whatever, I guess it doesn’t suck as bad as “Snapback”.

    Liked by 2 people

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