The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 9]

Dierks Bentley Somewhere On A Beach

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

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:

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

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”
    • Before I say why I don’t like this song, I’m going to say something nice about Ballerini and that this is an improvement over the first two singles and one of the better songs off her debut album. That being said it’s not a good song. It’s too pop and the lyrics are only appealing to young teenagers. It’s more Disney than country and not just because of the song title. Much like another Disney character Pinocchio wishes he was a real boy, Ballerini wishes she was a real country artist. 3/10
  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway”
    • I really want to like this song more. The nice fiddle play by Jimmy de Martini is fun and catchy. It’s perfect for when you’re sitting on a beach on vacation and you’ve had a few. But the rest of the time when you’re not under the influence of vacation, this song itself is pretty blah. The lyric department is seriously lacking on this song and holds it back, which is pretty much the story of Jekyll + Hyde5/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” – Up 4 from #28 to #24
  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” – Up 4 from #34 to #30
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” – Up 5 from #23 to #18

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “Confession” – Out of the Top 30
  • Rascal Flatts – “I Like The Sound of That” – Out of the Top 30

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

  • None for at least the next week, which is going to create a cluster at the top again

On The Hot Seat:

  • None

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory”
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You”
  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream”


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

19 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 9]

  1. B May 11, 2016 / 11:03 am

    Are you going to review Cole Swindell’s new album?


    • Nadia Lockheart May 11, 2016 / 12:32 pm

      I wouldn’t.

      I streamed it in its entirety and, much like Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over”, it is overwhelmingly easy-listening for the sake of easy listening.

      There aren’t nearly as many cringe-inducing moments on “You Should Be Here” like there was on his self-titled debut, and Swindell does show that he has one foot in the desire to mature. But that desire comes across as way too forced and formulaic with all but two tracks residing in the sleepy mid-tempo lane.

      The only two tracks that break that monotony of tempo are “Flatliner” (which is a bad mix of Dierks Bentley’s own “5-1-5-0” with Jerrod Niemann’s “Donkey”) and “No Can Left Behind”: which sounds woefully out of place here and more fitting for one of Luke Bryan’s former “Spring Break” EPs than a proper albm.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond May 11, 2016 / 11:15 am

    I do agree with “Castaway” being a 0. Just doesn’t do much for me. But I respectfully disagree about “Peter Pan” being a -1. I understand the argument that it’s more pop than country. But I do find the lyrics really mature and how it recounts on lost love and how the guy didn’t grow up. The “Peter Pan” is a really great metaphor for describing the guy. Kelsea Ballerini really allows her voice to shine and she sounds really mature on the song. I happen to really love the song as it’s good music regardless and for that I’m giving a +1 and it’s definitely among my favorite songs in the Top 30. If not my favorite.


  3. Tom May 11, 2016 / 11:25 am

    I really disagree with Peter Pan being a -1 (as I was with Luke Bryan’s single).

    Look, a song that’s heavily country but bland lyrics should be a 0. (Huntin’ Fishin and Started with a Beer).
    And a song that’s more pop than country but have stronger lyrics should also be a 0. (Peter Pan).

    I’m not trying to tell you how to do your website and such, but there’s so much inconsistencies with these. Are “Peter Pan” and “Huntin’ & Fishin” more similar to songs like “Snapback” and “Fix”, or are they more similar to the bland but unoffensive songs like “Noise”, “Castaway” and “Think of You”.

    The entire reason for having 0 in the scale is to fairly grade songs that are not good, but also not bad for country radio.


    • Josh Schott May 11, 2016 / 12:12 pm

      I’m reconsidering the score for “Peter Pan.” However I stand by the Bryan score. I’m not giving it credit for doing what it should and that’s sound country. I also grade more based on the lyrics than the instrumentation. And the lyrics for that song are garbage (Dallas Davidson co-wrote it). Overall the song sounds like a leftover from a previous album and does nothing to go beyond the premise.


      • Nadia Lockheart May 11, 2016 / 12:38 pm

        My thought on “Peter Pan” is much the same as “H.O.L.Y.”

        As pop songs, they are passable. As country songs, they both fail hard.

        Ballerini does genuinely try to provide a sincere vocal performance, even if her voice is still unremarkable to me as a whole. And the lyrics do feel easy to relate to for youthful audiences. But when Ruth B has her own cover of “Peter Pan” scaling the charts and is a better-written song………………..I’m flummoxed by the volume of praise Ballerini’s song is receiving.

        To me, it’s a Light to Decent 5 out of 10 as a pop song (because that’s what it is). But it flops hard in a country context.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nadia Lockheart May 11, 2016 / 12:42 pm

          I meant song using Peter Pan as a metaphor, not cover of “Peter Pan”. =P


        • Josh Schott May 11, 2016 / 12:46 pm

          Thank you! Glad someone else hears what I do. The production and Ballerini’s voice can’t be overlooked. It drags the song down as a country song (key descriptor). And I agree the Ruth B song is better.


        • Raymond May 11, 2016 / 12:58 pm

          See I think Ruth B song falls flat for me because Ruth B seems like a rather mediocre vocalist just boring (I vastly prefer Kelsea’s voice as when the production allows her voice to shine she truly sounds like a star in the making). Also I don’t get it Kip Moore’s “Running For You” is a +1 and yet that song isn’t country in the slightest (I do really love “Running For You”) so what makes the difference in “Peter Pan” as Kelsea Ballerini gives a pretty good vocal performance, I mean Kelsea is no Mickey Guyton, Carrie Underwood, Cassadee Pope, where they tend to belt their songs and show their talent that way. But Kelsea Ballerini, Jana Kramer tend to be pretty good emotional performers by using their lower range.

          I just feel like if it’s good or decent music (in which case “Peter Pan”) it should be properly rewarded with at least a 0.


        • SRM May 11, 2016 / 5:54 pm

          The Ruth B song absolutely disgusts me. Say what you will about Ballerini and “Peter Pan,” at least she bothered to actually get the story right. The point of Peter Pan is that you CAN’T be a kid forever, you have to grow up and live in the real world. While Ruth B sits around reveling in the fact that she never has to grow up and can be a “lost boy” forever (which is one of the most unappealing things I can think of, especially paired with that gosh-awful dreary piano production), Ballerini realizes that to actually have a meaningful and lasting connection with someone, you actually need to mature and she gets far more mileage out of the Peter Pan imagery than Ruth B’s long list of references. Just saying’…


  4. Kevin Davis May 11, 2016 / 11:29 am

    Morris, Pardi, and Church all moving up! I’m curious to see if “Humble and Kind” can make it to #1. It certainly deserves to be there, as does “My Church,” which I consider the best song on the chart. It’s also nice to see Frankie Ballard’s best single moving up. I’m still frustrated at Dierks, and I’m even more frustrated at his fans who excuse this pathetic song for one reason or another.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill May 11, 2016 / 11:31 am

    1) Someone please make Snapback, Fix and T Shirt go away!!!

    2) What’s up with Swindell suddenly being this deep feeling artist? Seems like “You should be here” has been out forever so why is he suddenly everywhere singing it? In front of the 9/11 memorial, on the Today show… Anyway.

    3) Here is a much better song about Peter Pan by Ruth B. I’ve heard a few times on Top 40 radio, and it blows Ballerini’s version off the radio.


    • Raymond May 11, 2016 / 11:40 am

      I disagree as I don’t find Ruth B voice to be all that engaging and the melody rather flat. I do think it’s well written.


      • jill May 11, 2016 / 3:28 pm

        I think it could be a tad faster, but I think she is a much better vocalist than KB.


    • Amanda May 12, 2016 / 11:42 am

      Totally agree with number 1, Jill. All of those songs are incredibly misogynistic and shallow. With number 2, Cole Swindell, albeit however deep he thinks he is, is still the same terrible bro-country singer. However, I’m so glad to see female singers (Maren Morris and Carrie Underwood) and quality male singers (Jon Pardi, William Michael Morgan, and Tim McGraw) making an impact.


  6. OlaR May 11, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    Kelsea Ballerini: music for “My Little Pony” fans. Or Barbie fans.

    Dierks Bentley: i’m not a fan of DB. The bluegrass album & a good song from time to time is not enough to change my mind. “Somewhere On A Beach” is cheap radio fast-food.

    David Nail: “Night’s on Fire” is on fire. Moving 2 (!) places after only 40 weeks. The track will go to #1 in late 2016.

    Billboard Country National Airplay:
    Hot Shot Debut: Cole Swindell – “Middle Of A Memory” – #34
    New: Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” – #39
    New: Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” – #58
    New: Parmalee – “Roots” – #59
    Not-So-New. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” – #45 (after 12 weeks, again no bullet)
    Bye-Bye: Clare Dunn – “Tuxedo” (down to 57) & Brooke Eden – “Daddy’s Money” (down to 60)

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    1 – Chris Stapleton – “Traveller”
    2 – Martina McBride – “Reckless” (New)
    3 – Joey + Rory – “Hymns”
    4 – Sturgill Simpson – “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth”
    5 – Sam Hunt – “Montevallo”

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    1 – Dierks Bentley (2nd week)
    2 – Tim McGraw
    3 – Chris Young with Cassadee Pope
    Highest Canadian Track: Jess Moskaluke – “Take Me Home” – #8

    New singles:
    Joe Nichols – “Undone” (end of the week, according to Joe Nichols twitter)
    Lauren Alaine – “Road Less Traveled” (June, according to
    Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl (5/31, according to Aircheck)
    Farewell Angelina – “Shotgun Summer” (5/16, according to label)
    Runaway June – “Lipstick” (5/23, according to label)
    Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (5/23, according to Aircheck)
    Ronnie Dunn feat. Kix Brooks – “Damn Drunk” (tba, according to Rolling Stone)
    Cassadee Pope – “Summer” (6/6, according to Music Row) (EP will be called “Summer” too)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond May 11, 2016 / 2:31 pm

      I wonder how many of those new singles Country Perspective will review as that’s a lot of songs frim mainstream labels. I personally am excited to see Lauren Alaina, Cassadee Pope, Josh Turner, and Runaway June as all of their songs sound promising.


      • OlaR May 11, 2016 / 4:38 pm

        I like the names of the new acts: Farewell Angelina, Runaway June & there is a new trio called Post Monroe (the EP will be out 5/13).


    • Amanda May 12, 2016 / 11:39 am

      Hell yes! A new Josh Turner single, it’s about time! 🙂


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