The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [February 1]

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -18

The pulse improved one spot this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” (Finally!)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You” (A rare surprise from country radio)

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Break Up In A Small Town”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You” – Up 9 from #38 to #29
  • Brett Eldredge – “Drunk on Your Love” – Up 4 from #18 to #14
  • Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here” – Up 4 from #19 to #15
  • Maren Morris – “My Church” – Up 4 from #25 to #21

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Jason Aldean – “Gonna Know We Were Here” – Out of the Top 30
  • LoCash – “I Love This Life” – Down 3 from #5 to #8
  • Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood” – Down 3 from #15 to #18

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

  • LoCash – “I Love This Life”
  • Eric Church – “Mr. Misunderstood”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Brad Paisley – “Country Nation”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” (pushing this as a single when “Tennessee Whiskey” was the wisest choice is proving to be dumber as the weeks go on)
  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You”
  • Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus”

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”
  • Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt”


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

16 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [February 1]

  1. Amanda February 3, 2016 / 11:36 am

    This week I’d like to do things a little differently. I’d like to grade each single based on A, B, C, D, or F grade. Seems fitting since I’m an education major and want to be an English teacher. I’ll just look at these songs like they are English essays/papers and give them the grades I feel they deserve:

    1. Home Alone Tonight — F
    2. Break Up in a Small Town — D
    3. Die a Happy Man — C
    4. Stay a Little Longer — B
    5. Backroad Song — D
    6. Dibs — D
    7. Break on Me– C
    8. I Love this Life — D
    9. Heartbeat — C
    10. We Went — D
    11. Beautiful Drug — D- (can’t decide really between a D or an F, so I’ll just go with D-. This is one of four tough songs on the chart to grade.)
    12. Country Nation — B
    13. Confession — C
    14. Drunk on Your Love — D-
    15. You Should Be Here — D
    16. Little Bit of You — C
    17. I Like the Sound of That — C
    18. Mr. Misunderstood — B+
    19. Nobody to Blame — B
    20. Snapback — F
    21. My Church — B
    22. That Don’t Sound Like You — D
    23. Mind Reader — D
    24. Real Men Love Jesus — F
    25. Stone Cold Sober — B
    26. Better in Boots — F
    27. Shut Up and Fish — A
    28. Fix — F
    29. Think of You — B-
    30. Somewhere on a Beach — D

    On another note, so glad Real Men Love Jesus appears to be on the hot seat. The song shouldn’t be in the top 30 to begin with. And if you really want a good laugh, check out Farce the Music’s parody, “Real Men Love Beavis”. 🙂 And also disappointed that Brothers Osborne didn’t hit #1. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Raymond February 3, 2016 / 11:46 am

      They did hit #1 though just on the MB chart. Mediabase does the same thing as BB just it’s based more on how many times a songs played where as BB is audience so Brothers Osborne do have a #1 to their name.


  2. Raymond February 3, 2016 / 11:43 am

    I won’t disagree with Think Of You as a 0. Both Chris Young and Cassadee Pope give a very great vocal performance like they sing it really well, the lyrics while nothing new never go quite into immature and actually show some maturity from Cassadee Pope where her songs before lacked, so where is the problem well the production. I’m sorry but that production does nothing to keep my interest only Chris Young and Cassadee Pope strong pipes can keep my interest. Also what do you mean a rare surprise just wondering.

    Brad Paisley should leave soon. I’m surprised you think Chris Stapleton will leave his sales are so off the chart I don’t see “Nobody To Blame” to leave soon, I think it’s just a slow week.

    How does Lee Brice say I guess since Curb has nothing better to do.

    Also something intresting who would’ve thought we’d say the day where FGL releases a better song than both Zac Brown Band and Dierks Bentley.

    Mainstream country music just keep on releasing the wrong songs for artists all of the artists I’m willing to say have shown better on their latest album Carrie Underwood, Brett Eldredge,Dustin Lynch come to mind. I wish the labels would release the songs that critics are fans of not what’s the most radio friendly. A perfect example is Kelsea Ballerini it’s inevitable that Dibs hits the top but the single has done little to help Kelsea’s longevity in the country music seen due to dismissal sales where as I wish Black River would have released something like Peter Pan or Secondhand Smoke a song that sounds personal and might help sales more.


  3. Nadia Lockheart February 3, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    I have to disagree with “Nobody To Blame” being in the Hot Seat just yet.

    It’s doing solid on all fronts. It is selling well, it tested pretty well in radio callout (more middle of the pack, but that’s still saying something considering how much of an aberration this is to what’s mostly saturating the format in the meantime) and it’s only in its thirteenth week on the charts and has managed to pertain a much higher peak at this point in its chart run than even some of his fellow A-listers like Brantley Gilbert have with their releases.

    “Nobody To Blame” has been an interesting choice, but it certainly hasn’t misfired. I fail to see why first Trigger, now you, argue otherwise.


    On another front, it’s a shame to see “Mr. Misunderstood” fall short, but honestly I do like that EMI Nashville has just chosen to swallow their pride and move onto the next single rather than try to artificially inflate a chart peak

    There are plenty of current singles that have no business being on the charts as we speak (the worst offenders being Chase Bryant’s “Little Bit of You”, Lee Brice’s “That Don’t Sound Like You” and Easton Corbin’s “Yup”) and yet are being propped up almost solely by arm-wrangling incentives. To see EMI Nashville see the signs of wear in callout, fold their hand with dignity and aspire to focus on “Record Year” now is very refreshing to behold. More of that please, Nashville!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott February 3, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      Not necessarily a misfire and I never said this. But there was a clear better option on the table and the label wasn’t nimble enough to act because major country labels are about as nimble as elephants. You can’t deny how on fire Stapleton is and yet he’s barely progressing up the chart. Under no circumstance should somebody so irrelevant like Chase Bryant be ahead of Stapleton. It’s easy to chalk this up to radio being radio or Stapleton never getting airplay before. But this is a damn joke. If this was some traditional artist breaking in like Mo Pitney’s single, I would be thrilled. But with the amazing run Stapleton has been on and another big night coming up at the Grammys, this man deserves to be rising up the chart a lot faster and “Tennessee Whiskey” probably would be doing better (it’s still in the top 60 of airplay at this moment). Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining and I should just be grateful Stapleton is still progressing up the chart. I certainly see progress happening in mainstream country, even at radio, but I must remind myself that it will be slow and will come with hitches.

      I feel the same about “Mr. Misunderstood.” A solid song, but it’s not worth artificially inflating. Church doesn’t need it like those other artists you mention, who pretty much solely rely on radio play to have any sort of relevance. I expect “Record Year” to be the smash hit it deserves to be and as I said in my review of the album, will go on to be one of Church’s signature songs when it’s all said and done.


      • Raymond February 3, 2016 / 12:26 pm

        Uh Josh, Tennessee Whiskey hasn’t been released to radio it’s charting unsolicited airplay so it’s actually impressive Chris Stapleton has 2 songs charting right now.


        • Josh Schott February 3, 2016 / 12:28 pm

          No shit it’s unsolicited, further backing up my point that it would have been a better single choice.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Raymond February 3, 2016 / 12:53 pm

          Well your wording sounded a bit off. I think Chris team wanted to have many songs be popular which is happening as both Chris Stapleton songs are selling well just because “Nobody To Blame” is having an off week doesn’t mean it’s in trouble.


      • Nadia Lockheart February 3, 2016 / 12:46 pm

        Oh, I see. Thanks for clarifying! =)

        I agree that his cover of “Tennessee Whiskey” would have been higher on the charts at this point had that been serviced instead. At any rate, “Nobody To Blame” is getting the job done and isn’t going to quash his momentum.


        And even after “Record Year”, they have “Round Here Buzz” and “Kill A Word” to work with as well: both of which sound quite radio-friendly as well.

        The latter may be more controversial lyrically, but I think its sticky chorus and all-around accessible composition as a sing-along of sorts will more than make up for that. And the former just sounds like an obvious hit on its own with a wistful feel similar to that of “Talladega” mixed with a play on Lorde’s “Royals” in the opening production.

        It can be too easy to point to the total album sales for “Mr. Misunderstood” so far and suggest he has backslided a lot. But the rollout for this album has been fairly unprecedented in many ways and just smacks as being built for the long haul. It’s an artistic album designed to scream “I’m here to stay, this is the essential me!” as opposed to “I want a share of the famed pie!”. This will be a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of chart story and even if it ultimately falls short of Platinum status, I predict it will achieve what it was designed to do in sinewing Church’s reputation as a career artist who is intent on decades rather than a small handful of years.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. jb February 3, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    Only three songs with a +1. Is that some kind of dreadful, depressing record?


    • Josh Schott February 3, 2016 / 4:53 pm

      Probably! It has to be close.


  5. petemarshall724 February 3, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    Do you think “Shut up and fish” is in a hot seat yet? I hope not and “Nobody to Blame”, and Eric Church “Mr. Misunderstood” shouldn’t be in a hot seat yet. Lee Brice, Brad paisley, and Eaton Corbin, and Michael Ray is in the hot seat.


    • NoahHibiscusEaton February 4, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      “Mr. Misunderstood” is hemorrhaging spins and audience as we speak, as EMI Nashville admitted the single fell short of their expectations when testing it.

      They are now pushing “Record Year”, which is expected to already debut on the airplay charts next week.


  6. Jason February 3, 2016 / 7:14 pm

    30: Chris Young & Cassadee Pope “Think Of You” 0
    Meh. It’s boring. Chris Young has a good voice that shines in the first verse, but from then on out he goes for the higher notes that I don’t hate, but it’s not what I like hearing most from Chris. Cassadee Pope’s performance here is decent. The instrumentation is bland and inoffensive. It never feels like anything is happening in this song, and that would be fine if the writing was clever, but it’s not. It’s just the same old boring garbage elevated solely by Chris Young and Pope turning in good performances.


  7. Ron February 5, 2016 / 2:52 pm

    Sam Hunt losing spins now. No #1 for him. Looks like Luke gets 3 weeks out of this one as Granger is a ways behind


    • Josh Schott February 5, 2016 / 3:25 pm

      I saw that. I figured Hunt’s label would give it one last push to get #1.


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