The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 2]

Think of You

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. Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You” (Up 2)
  2. Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach” -1 
  3. Old Dominion – “Snapback” -1 (Up 1)
  4. Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader” -1 (Up 2)
  5. Blake Shelton – “Came Here To Forget” -1 (Up 3)
  6. Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” +1 (Up 1)
  7. Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” (Down 6)
  8. Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Ever Day” -1 (Up 1)
  9. Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” -1 (Down 4)
  10. Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt” -1 
  11. Maren Morris – “My Church” +1 (Up 1)
  12. Kenny Chesney – “Noise” 0 (Up 1)
  13. Keith Urban – “Wasted Time” -1 (Up 2)
  14. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +1 
  15. Jason Aldean – “Lights Come On” -1 (Up 2)
  16. Eric Church – “Record Year” +1 [Best Song]
  17. Chris Lane – “Fix” -1 (Up 1) [Worst Song]
  18. Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” +1 (Up 5)
  19. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -1 
  20. Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With a Beer” +1 
  21. David Nail – “Night’s On Fire” -1 
  22. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” (Up 3)
  23. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +1 (Down 1)
  24. Canaan Smith – “Irrelevant Song A Label is Pushing That Nobody Cares About”-1 
  25. Kip Moore – “Running For You” +1 (Up 1)
  26. Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -1 (New to Top 30)
  27. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -1 
  28. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -1 
  29. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +1
  30. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +1 

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -6

The pulse stayed the same this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” (Finally! This damn song should have died months ago)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
    • It’s bland, milquetoast and generic. Sure it’s better than most of their singles…but that’s not saying much. The instrumentation is far from country (it’s an AC song). The sexual innuendo they stuck in at the end didn’t go unnoticed by me either. Also we get it! She’s holy. Yeesh. The more I listen to this song, the more I hate it. 3/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” – Up 5 from #23 to #18
  • Blake Shelton – “Came Here To Forget” – Up 3 from #8 to #5
  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” – Up 3 from #25 to #22

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Lee Brice – “That Don’t Sound Like You” – Out of the Top 30
  • Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” – Down 6 from #1 to #7
  • Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” – Down 4 from #5 to #9

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

  • Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That”
  • Florida Georgia Line – “Confession”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You”


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

11 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 2]

  1. Nadia Lockheart May 4, 2016 / 12:31 pm

    “H.O.L.Y.” is passable as a general Adult Contemporary song, but it easily fails as a country release.

    I know we sound like broken (make that shattered) records at this point saying this, but it just sounds out of place on Country radio. At least with previous singles of theirs, as annoying as over half of them were, you could be blindfolded listening to them for the first time and still discern faint country instrumentation in the arena rock production (most notably the token banjo they layer into many of their songs, or the faint pedal steel of “Stay”.

    With “H.O.L.Y.”, you get absolutely none of that. It’s decidedly a Christian Adult Contemporary song, except playing on innuendo. And though the dialed-down production on Moi’s part is welcomed, it just sounds blatantly like a product of its time rather than a genuine effort at maturity.


    “That Don’t Sound Like You” should never have made it remotely as far as it has, and me saying that has nothing to do with its quality or lack thereof.

    It has had among the worst sales-to-spins ratios among all singles on County radio, and was visibly struggling on the single charts all along. I’d say its natural chart peak was probably in the #24-27 range of the chart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron May 4, 2016 / 12:50 pm

      Its funny even though HOLY is less country than most of their songs I don’t find it as irritating. After another dozen listens I’m sure that will change, but I find myself humming it. So the question then is would we rather an awful ‘country’ song or a passable/decent ‘pop/AC’ song?


      • Nadia Lockheart May 4, 2016 / 1:49 pm

        It depends on which genre it’s falling under.

        It fails as a country song. But as a general commercial song, I’d rate it a Decent to Strong 5 out of 10: giving it points for the dialed-down production and the lyrics being mostly agreeable, but detracting points for the Auto-Tune and that it strikes more as a capitulation to trends than a genuine effort at maturity.

        Given the terrible track record of crossover attempts for singles that were initially hits at country radio, I don’t expect “H.O.L.Y.” to fare any better on other formats. If “Die A Happy Man” couldn’t even get the job done being a Xerox of Ed Sheeran’s mega-hit “Thinking Out Loud”, we shouldn’t expect this to be. But it definitely SOUNDS like a crossover hit.


    • Josh Schott May 4, 2016 / 1:13 pm

      Correct. If this were Pop Perspective I would score it higher. But it just isn’t a country song. One thing they should take away from this song though is the harmonies, as it helps them cover up their lack of range. The piano is nice too. But it needs some pedal steel or even just some acoustic guitar to accompany it.


      • Nadia Lockheart May 4, 2016 / 1:53 pm

        I don’t get why they didn’t do that in the first place, given they felt the need to embed token country instruments in most of their previous releases.

        It’s almost as if they think Tyler Hubbard’s nasal accent is enough to distinguish themselves as country. But if that were true, Rob Thomas/Matchbox Twenty would be just as country as they are since Thomas’s vocals are known to have hints of that accent to them too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. OlaR May 4, 2016 / 1:41 pm

    H.O.L.Y.: not a bad song. The bridge kills the song for me. Tyler Hubbard can’t sing. There is not enough autotune in the world to save “H.O.L.Y.”. The blonde guy is necessary for what?

    My Church: the Maren Morris song is not giving up. Too young (& too good) to die.

    Down with a bullet: 39-42 Brandy Clark, 42-45 Brothers Osborne, 50-53 Brooke Eden, 51-54 Clare Dunn, 52-55 Breaking Southwest & a handful of other tracks.

    The only way is up: 38-34 ZBB, 45-38 Brett Young, 43-41 Trace Adkins, 49-47 Martina McBride, 53-49 Michael Ray, 54-51 Craig Campbell, 56-52 Charles Kelley, 59-56 Josh Abbott Band feat. Carly Pearce & a handful of other acts moving 1 or 2 places like LoCash.

    New: 57 Chris Stapleton with “Parachute” & 59 Easton Corbin with “Are You With Me”.

    Billboard Top Country Albums: 1 Chris Stapleton, 2 Sturgill Simpson, 3 Joey + Rory. No new entry in the higher part of the charts.

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay: 1 Dierks Bentley, 2 Chris Young with Cassadee Pope, 3 Rascal Flatts, highest canadian act is Madeline Merlo (10).

    Check-Out/New Canadian Acts:
    Madeline Merlo – “Free Soul” (Open Road)
    Her first album (11 tracks). Current single is “Whatcha Wanna Do About It”. #10 in Canada this week. Country-pop with a solid production, woaa-woaa chorus, a banjo here & a steel guitar there. Best songs: “Tumbling”, “Honey Jack”, “War Paint” & the current single. 7/10.

    Meghan Patrick – “Grace & Grit” (Iron Songbird)
    Current single is “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” (a fast country rocker). The track was a top 20 hit (Canadian National Airplay). I prefer her album & voice over Madeline Merlo. The production & song selection is better. “Still Loving You” is a duet with Joe Nichols. A radio-friendly midtempo track. Best songs: “Long Way From Waylon”, “I Won’t Drink”, “I Believe In Beer” & the Joe Nichols duet. 8/10.

    Runaway Angel – “No End In Sight” (Runaway Angel Entertainment)
    Three former solo artists are Runaway Angel now. It’s a 10 track album. Solid production, fine harmony vocals, country-pop, songs with folk elements, radio-friendly tracks. “June” is the new single. Best tracks: “My Someday” (uptempo track with a prominent banjo), “Our Story” & “Around The Bend”. 7/10.


  3. Raymond May 4, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    That’s actually really good seeing the songs coming soon into the Top 30 soon enough as they are a good amount of +1s (“Unlove You” “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” “Peter Pan” (for me personally I’d rate it that) “Mayday”)) and 0s (“Castaway” “Living The Dream” “Sleep Without You” which are you going to review “Sleep Without You” since it’s climbing up the charts pretty well).

    Also Josh, you might wanna remove one of the 4 options for songs entering the Top 30 as Cole Swindell will have an iHeartMedia premiere with his new song (can’t remember the title for the life of me).


  4. petemarshall724 May 4, 2016 / 5:12 pm

    I am not ready for Justin Moore leave yet. I wouldn’t pick on FGL “H.O.L.Y. I can tolerate this song it’s a lot better than his other singles they release besides “Confession, Dirt, and Round Here” .
    Josh and Derek are you going to review Martina McBride “Reckless”.


    • Josh Schott May 4, 2016 / 5:33 pm

      Derek and I both have listened to Reckless and discussed reviewing it. We both agreed though that it’s pretty bland and middle of the road, so we’ll most likely not review it.


      • Nadia Lockheart May 4, 2016 / 7:44 pm

        The saddest part is, I could see from miles away that it was going to be incredibly bland and banal……………..but I still wanted to be surprised with a curveball.

        You can basically predict her and Sara Evans’ albums in your sleep! =(


        • Josh Schott May 4, 2016 / 8:51 pm

          Same here. I’m glad she at least covered Hailey Whitters’ “Low All Afternoon” though. It’s not as good as Whitters’ version, but I hope it makes people go check her out.


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