The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [January 25]

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 {Six Weeks at #1}
  2. Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer” (Up 1)
  3. Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight” -1 (Up 1)
  4. Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town” -1 (Up 1) [Worst Song]
  5. LoCash – “I Love This Life” -1 (Down 3)
  6. Granger Smith – “Backroad Song” -1 (Up 2)
  7. Keith Urban – “Break On Me” -1 (Up 3)
  8. Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” -1 (Down 1)
  9. Kelsea Ballerini – “Dibs” -1 
  10. Randy Houser – “We Went” -1 (Up 1)
  11. Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat” (Up 3)
  12. Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Brad Paisley – “Country Nation” -1 (Down 1)
  14. Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” (Up 2)
  15. Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” +1 
  16. Chase Bryant – “Little Bit of You” -1 (Up 2)
  17. Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” -1 
  18. Brett Eldredge – “Drunk on Your Love” -1 (Up 2)
  19. Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here” -1 
  20. Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” +1 (Up 1)
  21. Old Dominion – “Snapback” -1 (Up 2)
  22. Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” -1 
  23. Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus” -1 (Up 1)
  24. Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader” -1 (Up 1)
  25. Maren Morris – “My Church” +1 (New to Top 30)
  26. Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober” -1 
  27. Tyler Farr – “Better in Boots” -1
  28. Maddie & Tae – “Shut Up and Fish” +1 [Best Song]
  29. Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach” -1 (New to Top 30)
  30. Chris Lane – “Fix” -1

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -19

The pulse fell two spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy”
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach”

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Maren Morris – “My Church” – Up 7 from #32 to #25
  • Keith Urban – “Break On Me” – Up 3 from #10 to #7
  • Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat” – Up 3 from #14 to #11

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Jana Kramer – “I Got The Boy” – Out of the Top 30
  • LoCash – “I Love This Life” – Down 3 from #2 to #5
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” – Down 3 from #29 to #32

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

  • Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here”
  • LoCash – “I Love This Life”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Brad Paisley – “Country Nation”
  • Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”
  • Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With A Beer”
  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink”
  • David Nail – “Night’s On Fire”


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

13 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [January 25]

  1. Scotty J January 27, 2016 / 11:03 am

    First six week #1 since Taylor Swift’s ‘Our Song’ eight years ago. Pretty impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond January 27, 2016 / 11:09 am

    It’s impressive Thomas made it 6 weeks and all he had to do was rip off Ed Sheeran. That what bugs me about it. But hey Thomas next song is T-Shirt and unsurprisingly it sucks.

    Brothers Osborne won’t be number One next week as they already had their push week and came up just short. Besides they already announced “21 Summer” as the next single.

    I’m curious to see if either Kelsea Ballerini or Carrie Underwood latest could hit the top. Kelsea Ballerini could have Keith Urban blocking her and Carrie Underwood might get slowed down and screwed over.


  3. Amanda January 27, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    I haven’t done one of these in a while, but here’s my assessment of the week’s top 30:

    1. Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man” — 0 Meh. It’s alright. A blatant rip off of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”, but it could’ve been worse.

    2. Brothers Osborne, “Stay a Little Longer” — +1 Hoping these guys can hit #1 next week. If so, well deserved.

    3. Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild, “Home Alone Tonight” — -1 This song is very stupid, very immature, and not country in the slightest. I never got the general public’s fascination with Luke Bryan. He’s not attractive and seems to be quite full of himself. (Yes, and this is coming from a 19 year old girl). If anything, a 40 year old man prancing around like a clown and shaking his ass in sparkly jeggings is kinda creepy.

    4. Sam Hunt, “Break Up in a Small Town” — -1 I’ll admit it once again, I appreciate Sam Hunt and think he is very talented. However, there are two major issues I must address regarding this song. The first issue is that it, like Hunt’s other songs, isn’t country in the slightest. It is a straight pop song. The second issue I have is Hunt’s delivery of the lyrics. He sounds like he’s bored as hell and would rather be doing anything other than singing this song. Lyrically, it’s decent, but that is this song’s only saving grace.

    5. LoCash, “I Love this Life” — -1 Cliche, overproduced, and annoying as hell.

    6. Granger Smith, “Backroad Song” — -1 The laundry list song to rival all laundry list songs. I think I’ll pass on it.

    7. Keith Urban, “Break On Me” — 0 Meh.

    8. Jason Aldean, “Gonna Know We Were Here” — -1 You know, sometimes I just wish Jason Aldean would revert back to his old ways. “Amarillo Sky” was a fantastic song that I just loved and still do. The entire Relentless album was near perfect, and, please don’t judge me, I always enjoyed “Dirt Road Anthem”. Even “1994” was kinda fun when I was in the mood for it. I think this song is completely boring and stupid, especially the “make a few marks, leave a few stains” line. Ewwww, Jason 😦 .

    9. Kelsea Ballerini, “Dibs” — -1 The Kesha-style rapping and immature lyrics make this a no in my book.

    10. Randy Houser, “We Went” — -1 Incredibly boring.

    11. Carrie Underwood, “Heartbeat” — 0 it’s okay, but Carrie is capable of so much more. “Something in the Water” and “I Told You So” are just fantastic, and if you really want to hear something amazing, go on YouTube and search Carrie Underwood “How Great Thou Art”. This song just doesn’t showcase her incredible vocal talent.

    12. Zac Brown Band, “Beautiful Drug” — -1 Dear God, when will it ever end? Zac Brown Band is so much better than this super dumb song.

    13. Brad Paisley, “Country Nation” — +1 Sure, it’s a laundry list song, but it’s a good song and possibly the most country sounding song in the top 30, along with Nobody to Blame and Shut Up and Fish. You can easily hear the fiddle and steel guitar. The lyrics are a bit cliche, but the instrumentation is just fantastic.

    14. Florida Georgia Line, “Confession” — 0 A much better effort from Florida Georgia Line. It’s nothing fantastic, but it’s a start in the right direction. The only issue I have here is the vocal delivery. In the hands of a different vocalist, it would be much better. Chris Young would have killed it.

    15. Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood” — +1 Another excellent song from Eric Church.

    16. Chase Bryant, “A Little Bit of You” — 0 Meh.

    17. Rascal Flatts, “I Like the Sound of That” — 0 Meh.

    18. Brett Eldredge, “Drunk on Your Love” — -1 I really am sick of all of this sexy R&B shit. Brett Eldredge is a decent enough vocalist, but he’s just not sexy. To me, he looks like a horse.

    19. Cole Swindell, “You Should Be Here” — -1 Sure, it’s his best song, but that isn’t saying much. Cole Swindell is a talentless hack.

    20. Chris Stapleton, “Nobody to Blame” — +1 So glad to see Chris gaining some traction in the mainstream. This is a great song.

    21. Old Dominion, “Snapback” — -1 (tied for worst song) Okay, it’s semi-rant time. Old Dominion is absolute garbage. I don’t understand why they continue to be pushed as a band. This is such a stupid song, especially the “midnight selfie on a balcony, a little something for my lock screen” line and the references to a Snapback hat. Not to mention how objectifying it is. Also, it’s a straight pop song being marketed as country. Old Dominion just seems to dumb to grasp that, probably because they think that these nothing more country than a Snapback hat!

    22. Lee Brice, “That Don’t Sound Like You” — -1 Yawn, Lee. Painfully boring.

    23. Michael Ray, “Real Men Love Jesus” — -1 (tied for worst song) (WARNING: this rant features some very NSFW language. Read at your own risk.) I’ve held back long enough on describing my true feelings on Michael Ray and this song. We’ll start with the song. “Real Men Love Jesus” is a extremely stupid piece of shit (stupid, horrible, idiotic trash) song. Since when does Michael Ray get to decide what a real man is or isn’t? First line, “Real Men love football”. My dad doesn’t like football, guess that doesn’t make him a real man. Fuck you Michael Ray and your shallow, narrow-minded opinions on gender. My dad is a very hard-working man who loves fishing and hunting, but he also loves video games, working on cars, and shooting guns. My dad doesn’t drink beer either. Being a real man doesn’t have a checklist of what you should be or do. This is an extremely shallow and immature song. I hate to say it, but “Donkey” is more mature than this song. This is so because at least Jerrod Neimann is self-aware and knows “Donkey is a stupid song. (I hate “Donkey” btw). Michael Ray is completely oblivious to the immaturity of this song, touting it as “mature” and “deep”. Mature and deep, my ass. He has absolutely no self-awareness whatsoever. Which brings me to Michael Ray as an artist. The only reason he has gotten this far is because he is a pretty boy. Not because he has talent or is a good entertainer. He’s pretty much the definition of a hack and has terrible stage presence. If you want a good laugh, watch his “Kiss You in the Morning” video. His dance moves are truly awkward and make Cole Swindell look like Michael Jackson. Back to the song, it’s just stupid. Hell, even if Gary Allan or Josh Turner sang this, it would still be stupid. And one other thing, leave Jesus out of your stupid song. It’s already offensive, and Jesus is a serious subject. I have nothing good to say about this song, so I’m gonna stop now. But someone needs to call him out, even if it is a 19 year old female college student doing the calling out. Fuck Michael Ray.

    24. Dustin Lynch, “Mind Reader” — -1 The lyrics are terrible, but the instrumentation is actually pretty decent. You can actually hear the steel guitar.

    25. Maren Morris, “My Church” — +1 I like this song. It has a bit of an old-school feel, and Maren delivers it well.

    26. Brantley Gilbert, “Stone Cold Sober” — +1 I’ll say it again, I think Brantley Gilbert is awesome. And this is another solid song from him.

    27. Tyler Farr, “Better in Boots” — -1 What a dumb song.

    28. Maddie & Tae, “Shut Up and Fish” — +1 (best song) Another solid song from Maddie & Tae. It’s cute, catchy, country, well-written, and well performed.

    29. Dierks Bentley, “Somewhere on a Beach” — -1 Dierks can do better.

    30. Chris Lane, “Fix” — -1 (tied for worst song) Oh great, just what we need. Another pretty boy pop singer posing as a country singer. Gag.

    Feel free to post questions or comments! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jason January 27, 2016 / 3:41 pm

      Oh god, Chris Lane is charting? Who’s buying these songs with boring, paint by numbers lyrics like:

      Good ish
      Your Walter White high
      Listen, baby baby baby baby girl
      Please, please, please, please…

      And instrumentation that’s essentially a giant, obnoxious group of effects thrown over the song to make it seem less boring. At least Chris Lane has some charisma…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Danik Gillespie January 27, 2016 / 4:07 pm

        I agree that “Fix” is a pile of trash but people should really check out his first album called Let’s Ride when he was still called Chris Lane Band. Some really nice country songs.


        • Jason January 27, 2016 / 6:16 pm

          That makes it even worse for me. Yeah, that was a pretty good album, but it shows how much better he can do. That just makes this feel like no effort was put into it.


      • Amanda January 27, 2016 / 6:08 pm

        Unfortunately, yes, Chris Lane is charting. People wonder why country music has become a laughingstock, and fingers should point at artists such as Luke Bryan, FGL, Old Dominion, Michael Ray, and Chris Lane. Once upon a time, Luke Bryan made good music. “We Rode in Trucks” is excellent (even for a laundry list song). He has tons of charisma and a little bit of talent, but instead decides to waste the potential he has by prancing around like a clown and shaking his ass in girl jeans and behaving as if he belongs in the Barnum and Bailey Brothers Circus. Florida Georgia Line has made some decent songs, but for every “Dirt” and “Confession”, there will always be “This is How We Roll” and “Sun Daze” (who could forget that awful “stick a pink umbrella in your drink” line?). Old Dominion is simply piggybacking off of the success of Sam Hunt. Michael Ray is only here because of his looks. He is a talentless hack pretty boy who is only signed to a record label because he can lure teenage girls and women to his concerts with his looks. Chris Lane is another artist who could give a shit less about quality country music. Jason, the lyrics you posted above prove that theory. Chris Lane is only here for the money. Cole Swindell and Chase Rice are also excellent examples, cashing in on bro-country. It seems as if only a few artists truly care about country music and what it represents. Artists like George Strait, Alan Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Maddie & Tae, Josh Turner, Gary Allan, Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Eric Church, Jon Pardi, Mickey Guyton, and a few others seem to respect country music enough to put forth an effort to make at least decent music. For others, it’s sadly all about the money. Sorry for the super-long comment, I just felt like I had to get that out in the open.


    • Colton February 2, 2016 / 2:45 pm

      Wow great review. Couldn’t agree more with the Michael Ray rant, especially the Jesus part because him using Jesus to gain listeners is completely disrespectful especially when the song has nothing to do with faith.


      • Amanda February 2, 2016 / 9:56 pm

        Thanks Colton, glad you enjoyed it! I believe that Jesus is a topic that should be taken more seriously. Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Alan Jackson, Sara Evans, and Lee Ann Womack get it, and to a lesser extent, Brad Paisley and Brantley Gilbert (examples Modern Day Prodigal Son and My Faith in You) seem to get it for the most part. I’ll even admit to enjoying Thomas Rhett’s Beer With Jesus for what it was. I mean, no one is ever going to have a beer with Jesus (even when he does come back to this world one day), but the chorus is actually decently written. The chorus of Beer With Jesus isn’t what I’d consider deep, but it does actually has some sort of semblance, as if it’s describing questions a Christian would ask if they had a few minutes just to sit down and talk to Jesus himself. Michael Ray just doesn’t get it. I feel as if he is a manufactured, calculated joke on country music. It’s actually really sad that country music has gotten this bad.


  4. Danik Gillespie January 27, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    I think That Don’t Sound Like You is very close to being on the hot seat, it has really stalled. This would be his lowest charting in over 4 years…eeesh!


  5. heyyyhector January 27, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    How does Billboard and Mediabase AirPlay charts differ and why are there more changes @ #1 for Mediabase


    • Scotty J January 27, 2016 / 5:50 pm

      Mediabase is based on spins (the number of times a song is played) while Billboard is based on the total audience a song has. This leads to a few differences one of which is Mediabase is easier to manipulate by record labels convincing radio chains to play certain songs a few extra times maybe in little listened to overnight hours which in the Billboard method doesn’t count for as much because the total audience listening at 3 AM in Topeka doesn’t amount to much. Another thing that the Billboard way does is it gives the big market stations far more weight because they have much bigger audiences and that can lead to songs that are less country like Rhett and Hunt and the like getting a big boost over more traditional sounding songs which don’t appeal (or so they say) to big urban country stations.

      An interesting thing to look at is the Country Indicator chart which appears in the weekly Billboard Country Update. This is a radio chart based on secondary markets which is often skewed away from the less country material.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jason January 27, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    25: Maren Morris- My Church- +1
    Excellent. Nothing much else to say other than listen to it now if you haven’t, because if you don’t you’re doing yourself a disservice.

    29: Deirks Bentley- Somewhere On A Beach- -1
    The songwriting is just awful. She got a body? How about the repeated use of “Naw” in the first verse? Or maybe the instrumentation that goes from interesting to overcrowded as soon as the chorus kicks in? Add to that the vagueness of the writing (the aforementioned she got a body) and the unbearable ridiculousness and tiredness of this concept, and it’s trash. The only thing pleasant about this song can be found in the first few seconds.


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