The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 21]

Zac Brown Band Beautiful Drug

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. Zac Brown Band – “Beautiful Drug” -1 (Up 1)
  2. Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Brett Eldredge – “Drunk on Your Love” -1 (Up 1)
  4. Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” -1 (Up 3)
  5. Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” 
  6. Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat” (Down 5) 
  7. Chase Bryant – “Irrelevant Song A Label is Pushing That Nobody Cares About”-1 (Up 1)
  8. Old Dominion – “Snapback” -1 (Up 1)
  9. Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You” (Up 3)
  10. Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame” +1 (Up 1)
  11. Maren Morris – “My Church” +1 (Down 1)
  12. Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach” -1 (Up 2)
  14. Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” +1 (Up 2)
  15. Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” -1 (Down 1)
  16. Blake Shelton – “Came Here To Forget” -1 (Up 2)
  17. Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt” -1 (Up 2)
  18. Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus” -1 (Down 1)
  19. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +1 (Up 2)
  20. Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober” -1 
  21. Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Ever Day” -1 (New to Top 30)
  22. Chris Lane – “Fix” -1 [Worst Song]
  23. Maddie & Tae – “Shut Up and Fish” +1 
  24. Eric Church – “Record Year” +1 (Up 3) [Best Song]
  25. Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With a Beer” +1 (Down 1)
  26. David Nail – “Night’s On Fire” -1 (Down 1)
  27. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +1 (Up 2)
  28. Canaan Smith – “Irrelevant Song A Label is Pushing That Nobody Cares About”-1
  29. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” 0 (Up 1)
  30. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -10

The pulse stayed the same this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Randy Houser – “We Went”
  • Tyler Farr – “Better In Boots” (Two singles in a row that have bombed for Farr. Will be interested to see what he chooses for his next single.)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’, & Lovin’ Every Day”
  • Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song”

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day” – Up 12 from #33 to #21
  • Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” – Up 6 from #36 to #30
  • Multiple songs moved up three spots on the chart

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Randy Houser – “We Went” – Out of the Top 30
  • Tyler Farr – “Better In Boots” – Out of the Top 30
  • Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat” – Down 5 from #1 to #6

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

  • Carrie Underwood – “Heartbeat”
  • Chase Bryant – “Irrelevant Song A Label is Pushing”
  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You”
  • Michael Ray – “Real Men Love Jesus”
  • Brantley Gilbert – “Stone Cold Sober”
  • David Nail – “Night’s On Fire”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Chris Lane – “Fix”
  • Maddie & Tae – “Shut Up & Fish” (although I think it will rebound)
  • Canaan Smith – “Irrelevant Song”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me”
  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl”
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You”
  • Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately”


Note on Luke Bryan’s New Single: So I thought I should explain why exactly I gave Bryan’s new single a -1. While it does indeed sound country and have a nice production, which I applaud Bryan for doing, its lyrics are just a mess of clichés. These are lyrics we’ve all heard before and do nothing to rise above the average. Not surprising considering Dallas Davidson is a co-writer. The song also drags on for far too long, a great point Derek made when we discussed this. I will admit consideration was given for a 0, but most certainly not for a +1. If I were to give this a grade, it would be a 4/10. One last point: I find it ridiculous that people are giving this song any sort of praise for the simple fact that isn’t a complete train wreck and better than the worst at country radio. I’m not praising Bryan just for doing what he’s supposed to do and that is make a country sounding song. He’s a damn country artist! Country artists should make country music. Congrats on doing the bare minimum, Luke Bryan. Maybe next time you can hire better songwriters that can actually craft some story and meaning into a theme.


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

19 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 21]

  1. Derek Hudgin March 23, 2016 / 11:05 am

    That Rascall Flatts song is in the top 5?! Good grief. There’s so much boring, repetitive crap.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron March 23, 2016 / 11:09 am

      Meghan Trainor cowrote it. Do with that what you will

      Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott March 23, 2016 / 11:26 am

      This bodes well for Dan + Shay when they ripoff, I mean make their own version of the song.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ellie March 23, 2016 / 12:10 pm

        Shay Mooney from Dan and Shay was one of the co writers for I like the sound of that


        • Josh Schott March 23, 2016 / 12:13 pm

          Hahaha! Wow! I did not know that. No wonder their music sounds so similar.


  2. Raymond March 23, 2016 / 11:42 am

    Man, I really hope “Shut Up & Fish” rebounds. It’s eligible for recurrency and it would suck if that song died out in the 20s. Also I’m amazed that Chris Young & Cassadee Pope managed to easily pass by Chris Stapleton and Maren Morris, with the success of “Think Of You” I wonder what that’ll do for Cassadee Pope’s solo career because she can’t piggy back off of Chris. We saw how Ashley Monroe did after “Lonely Tonight” peaked, she released her album but she had no real mainstream radio success at all.

    Also I find it funny that “Little Bit Of You” will get a Top 5 peak when it didn’t deserve it. Jana Kramer “I Got The Boy” deserved a Top 5 because that’ll be remembered down the road, Chase Bryant’s song won’t. Speaking of Jana Kramer, you guys are all well aware of the fact that the label and Jana opted to release “Said No One Ever”, well I have good news, that song is going to flop badly. I have a question for you Josh, what would you have released if you were Jana’s label keeping in mind of radio friendliness and quality together (therefore “Last Song” probably wouldn’t work at all).


    • Josh Schott March 23, 2016 / 11:49 am

      “Boomerang” or “Just Like In the Movies” Those are the only two other listenable songs on the album.


      • Raymond March 23, 2016 / 1:11 pm

        Not “Dance In The Rain” or “Circles”. Provided the rest was rather awful, it’s a shame too, because Jana has so much potential and she wasted it all away on a novelty song.


  3. Amanda March 23, 2016 / 11:56 am

    My thoughts for the new songs in the top 30:

    Luke Bryan, “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day” — 0 Not exactly a fantastic song, but a much better effort from Luke. I can actually listen to this without banging my head up against the wall.

    Jake Owen, “American Country Love Song” — -1 Josh said it best: Generic. Just so damn generic. And Jake really needs to give up on the spoken word. You’ve got a good singing voice, Jake. Just use it. And quit wasting your voice on this generic bland shit.


  4. Nadia Lockheart March 23, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    Yup, you summed up my thoughts exactly on “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day”.

    I’ve reviewed the track here before, but lyrically it’s basically a song about how awesome those thee things are and nothing more. The first verse is all him gloating about how set for life he would be if those things could constitute his day job, the second verse is about his wife joining him, and the bridge is a veiled jab at city slickers and their “old dirty air” plus revealing that that isn’t actually the life he leads but we should all go there in our minds because they’re awesome.

    That’s really about it. Plus obligatory name-drops of the Flint River and the Muckalee Creek because they’ve been cited in previous Bryan tracks (he has even made Georgia Route 32 the name of his own merchandise brand for crying out loud).

    Instrumentally it may be the best a Luke Bryan single has sounded since “We Rode In Trucks”, but that’s not saying much considering I haven’t loved a Luke Bryan single since “We Rode In Trucks”. It definitely doesn’t deserve above a 5/10.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom March 23, 2016 / 12:48 pm

    On Luke Bryan’s single… “These are lyrics we’ve all heard before and do nothing to rise above the average”

    If the average rating is 0, and this song is average, why would you not give it a 0 rating? Later on you say
    “I’m not praising Bryan just for doing what he’s supposed to do”…. Ok, but then why penalize him for doing what he’s supposed to do?

    It comes across as you guys penalizing him no matter what he puts out. I agree it’s not a great song, but you’re giving it a -1, the same grade you give Strip It Down and other songs far worse.


    • Tom March 23, 2016 / 12:50 pm

      Also, it doesn’t seem right to give 6/10 a 0 rating and a 4/10 a -1 rating. It skews the scale towards the negative.


    • Derek Hudgin March 23, 2016 / 1:48 pm

      Luke’s singles recently have skewed so far away from country and into the pop/R&B realms and some are giving Luke an automatic pass because the song has a prominent banjo. But the lyrics are trash, they’re the same lyrics from almost every song Dallas Davidson has written.

      Let’s say Luke had an album full of quality country songs like “We Rode in Trucks” and then this dud. People would think it’s a dud because it’s lyrical fluff while consistent in melody. But the sheer fact that his melodies haven’t been country lately and then he all of the sudden has a true country single shouldn’t warrant special praise.

      You shouldn’t get a special reward for when they finally do something after neglecting it for years. A song is music and lyrics, and “Huntin, Fishin’….” only delivers in the music department.

      A song like “Love It Gone” or “To the Moon and Back” probably would have gotten a 0 on the pulse in my book because they’re songs with actual lyrics and good melodies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • NoahHibiscusEaton March 23, 2016 / 5:02 pm


        My issues with the song are somewhat similar to those of “Drink a Beer” in that it tries to pass itself off as something more than it really is.

        It gets more right than “Drink a Beer” in all fairness given Bryan actually sounds invested vocally in his performance. But the lyrics are it’s undoing.

        “Scarecrows” is marred for the same reasons. It is an obvious attempt at duplicating “Dirt”, but without that broader emotional touch and just comes across as a heap of ad-libbed cliches.


      • Tom March 23, 2016 / 9:11 pm

        “It All Started With a Beer” gets a +1, and the first lyrics of that song are literally “You had a corona, I was having bud light”.

        You’re being too hard on the guy. The song’s not great, but no one is giving him a reward. He’s a country artist who made a country song about country life. Just like most other artists we like have done at some point. Overdone and cliche, yes, but not offensive.

        I’m just trying to say that it is average enough to be rated average.


  6. Kevin Davis March 23, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    I’m disappointed that “My Church” dropped a spot. Hopefully it rebounds. It’s such a great song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron March 23, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      Right now its still gaining but has fallen behind Dierks and Dustin Lynch but will hopefully rebound in the coming weeks. I’m sure its nowhere near reached its peak

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OlaR March 23, 2016 / 5:52 pm

    Rascal Flatts beating FGL. Both with the chance to reach the top of the charts. The next couple of weeks don’t look good: Swindell, Eldredge, RF, FGL…

    New Entries: 54-Kelsea Ballerini “Peter Pan”, 58-A Thousand Horses “Southernality”, 60-Breaking Southwest “Ghost Town”
    Re-Entry: 59-Brett Young “Sleep Without You”
    Crashing: 57 (was 43)-Randy Houser “Irrelevant Song A Label is Pushing I Don’t Care About”

    Former No.1 acts, now far away: Maddie & Tae, Michael Ray & Chris Janson (37 after 21 weeks, no bullet).

    With a handful of artists like Chris Stapleton or Maren Morris releasing “deeper” material, it was necessary for Capitol Nashville/Luke Bryan to release a more country-sounding song. Country-sounding, but not too country & playing it safe with a Dallas Davidson co-written song.

    Billboard Canada National Airplay: 1-Eldredge, 2-FGL, 4-Old Dominion, 6-Swindell.
    Maren Morris jumps to the 8 (14 last week). Highest canadian act is Gord Bamford on the 7 (12 last week). His new album “Tin Roof” will be out 4/8/2016 (Cache/Sony Canada).

    Checkout/New Artists – Spencer’s Own:
    new group (five brothers) who is No.56 on the “Music Row CountryBreakout Chart” with the single “Living In A Moment”. The song is part of the EP “Spencer’s Own” with six tracks.
    Best song on the EP is the harmonica/harmony-vocals driven uptempo song “Inside Out”. The other songs are ok, but not outstanding. The vocal arrangements remind me of the Oak Ridge Boys.


  8. Raymond March 27, 2016 / 7:33 am

    Well, Josh it looks like you were wrong about “Shut Up & Fish” it’s done as of Today. It apparently didn’t research all that well at all with the 18-35 Male demographic, so I’d like to give a solitary f*ck you to the people who hate that song. Or am I the only one who is legitimately upset about “Shut Up & Fish” stalling out.


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