The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 16]

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 
  2. Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader” -1 (Up 2)
  3. Old Dominion – “Snapback” -1 
  4. Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You” (Down 2)
  5. Blake Shelton – “Came Here To Forget” -1 
  6. Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt” -1 (Up 1)
  7. Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” +1 (Down 1)
  8. Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day” -1 
  9. Maren Morris – “My Church” +1 
  10. Keith Urban – “Wasted Time” -1 (Up 1)
  11. Kenny Chesney – “Noise” 0 (Down 1)
  12. Jason Aldean – “Lights Come On” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +1 (Down 1)
  14. Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” +1 (Up 1)
  15. Eric Church – “Record Year” +1 (Down 1) [Best Song]
  16. Chris Lane – “Fix” -1 [Worst Song]
  17. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -1 
  18. David Nail – “Night’s On Fire” -1 (Up 1)
  19. Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -1 (Up 6)
  20. Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With a Beer” +1 (Down 2)
  21. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +1 (Down 1)
  22. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” (Down 1)
  23. Canaan Smith – “Meh” -1 
  24. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -1 
  25. Kip Moore – “Running For You” +1 (Down 3)
  26. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -1 
  27. Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +1 (New to Top 30)
  28. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +1 (Down 1)
  29. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +1 (Down 1)
  30. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Down 1)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -5

The pulse improved one spot this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway”

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight”
    • This may not go down as one of Paisley’s best singles, but to my ears it’s a step back in the right direction. At worst this song is an upgraded version of Chris Young and Cassadee Pope’s “Think of You.” At best it’s a solid, yet unspectacular love song. I think it does a nice job of striking a balance by keeping a country influence and pop sensibilities. 7/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” – Up 6 from #25 to #19
  • Dustin Lynch – “Mind Reader” – Up 2 from #4 to #2

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” – Out of the Top 30 (Down to #31)
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You” – Down 3 from #22 to #25
  • Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With A Beer” – Down 2 from #18 to #20

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

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

On The Hot Seat:

  • Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With A Beer”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway”
  • 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. 

11 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 16]

  1. OlaR May 18, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    The perfect headline for the top 30. Even the good/+1 songs start to bore me.

    From “Billboard Country Update”: “Fans Like The Sound Of That: Country Stays Relevant With Melodic Emphasis”.
    “Melody isn’t restricted to the lead singer. Chris Lane’s hooky song “Fix”
    gets some of its mojo from Ilya Toshinsky’s signature guitar line, but that title
    would not be as addictive without its undeniable vocal progression.”
    “It’s also mysterious. Glen Campbell, who has Alzheimer’s disease, needed
    a teleprompter during his final tour to remember the words to “Wichita Lineman”
    and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” songs he had sung thousands of times before.
    But he could still recall the melodies.”
    ““Right now, I feel like country has taken the best of everything, all the melodies and phrasing, and then they’ve just continued to tell great stories,” says Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney, a co-writer of Rascal Flatts’ aptly titled “I Like the Sound of That.”
    Poor Glen Campbell. To use a disease like Alzheimer to explain why the melody is sooo important. Great Story telling? A song written by Shay Mooney with a great story? Chris Lane “Fix” addictive? Oh well…

    Billboard Country Airplay:
    Re-Entry: #59 – Old Dominion – “Who Gives A F…”
    Up: 58 to 51 – Chris Janson – Holdin’ Her”
    Up: 53 to 48 – Josh Abbott Band with Carly Pearce – “Wasn’t That Drunk”
    Up: 50 to 46 – Chris Stapleton – “Parachute”
    Up: 45 to 41 – Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
    Not Up: 34 to 43 – Cole Swindell – “Middle Of A Memory”
    Not Up. 39 to 50 – Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    1 – Keith Urban – “Ripcord” (New)
    2 – Cole Swindell – “You Should Be Here” (New)
    3 – Chris Stapleton – “Traveller”
    4 – Cyndi Lauper – “Detour” (New)
    8 – Mary Chapin Carpenter – “The Things That We Are Made Of” (New)

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    1 – Tim McGraw – “Humble & Kind”
    2 – Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishing & All The Rest”
    3 – Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach”
    7 – Jess Moskaluke – “Take Me Home” (Highest Canadian Track)


  2. Nadia Lockheart May 18, 2016 / 1:26 pm

    Actually, I’d put Maren Morris’ “My Church” in the hot seat, along with Kenny Chesney’s “Noise” and Kip Moore’s “Running For You”.

    “My Church” has already been losing both spins and audience so far this week. “Noise” just appears to be hitting a brick wall statistically. And Moore is itching to get new music out and is outspoken about it in a new Billboard interview; adding that for his own sanity he won’t keep fans waiting through another 40-week single chart run and touring his current album another year.

    I’d also keep an eye on Tucker Beathard’s “Rock On”. Among all On The Verge-designated releases, this is by far yielding the worst results among all of them. Michael Ray and A Thousand Horses were eyebrow-raisers too but at least they were able to produce hits off of the respective lead singles. This doesn’t look like it’ll accomplish that. Plus, its sales are horrific for all the payola.

    Canaan Smith’s irrelevant song has absolutely no business being on the chart still with it currently residing outside the Top 100 entirely on the iTunes Country sales chart. However, it is clear that Mercury Records is committed to continuing to push it, so while I’d like to think it’s in the “hot seat” too, we can probably expect this zombie single to stick around through the beginning of July at least. Same with David Nail’s also-unjustifiable run for “Night’s On Fire (it’s currently #49 on the iTunes Country chart despite being #18 on the Country Airplay chart).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond May 18, 2016 / 1:36 pm

      Nadia I imagine Sony will stick with “Noise” and “My Church” sense those are lead singles for albums yet to be released. Kip Moore song is barely hanging in there.

      Also I had a discussion with some people on Puse Music Board, apparently for both “Hole In A Bottle” and “Nights On Fire” UMG Nashville was planning on long chart runs for both songs and since neither Canaan nor David Nail are really all that popular it makes sense since new artist take forever to climb the chart.


    • Josh Schott May 18, 2016 / 3:09 pm

      I would put “My Church” on the hot seat, but I expect her label to keep it alive heading into the album release in a few weeks. I hadn’t heard about Moore wanting to release new music, but I didn’t put him on the hot seat because I figured they would try to push it into the top 20 before bowing out. I’m hesitant on “Noise” because usually radio pushes the shit out of his singles, as his previous singles performed pretty well at radio.

      Agree on the rest and it’s a damn shame with Nail. He’s got talent, but his label makes him churn out schlock like “Night’s on Fire.”


      • Nadia Lockheart May 18, 2016 / 5:04 pm

        “The Sound of a Million Dreams” was a solid album from front to back.

        “I’m a Fire” didn’t really work as a country album overall (aside from his cover of “Galveston” and lyrically on a few tracks) but it sounded like a solid Adult Top 40 album for the most part. It was bogged down by some filler, but I still liked a handful of tracks like the title track, “Brand New Day” and “Galveston”.

        I have no idea how “Fighter” is going to turn out. But if it’s anything like even “I’m a Fire”, I’ll take it. These lead singles just haven’t done it for me is all. At least “Night’s On Fire” has decent lyricism, I’ll give it that. It’s the overproduction (most notably the “Whoa oh ohs!”) that get grating real fast.


  3. Nadia Lockheart May 18, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    I think both “Noise” and “My Church” may loiter around the bottom of the Top Ten for a few weeks, but I don’t expect either of them to pick up a second wind and surge to the Top Five.

    That’s the thing, though: David Nail isn’t a new artist. He’s pushing to get his fourth studio album released. It’s clear the general listening public is indifferent at best towards “Night’s On Fire” as reflected by its below-average sales, while they rewarded “Whatever She’s Got” and “Let It Rain” with enthusiasm.


    • Raymond May 18, 2016 / 1:52 pm

      But David Nail has never had enough had enough momentum to have fast chart runs. Which leads to this long of a chart run. Also if I recall correctly “Let It Rain” took forever and a handbasket to reach the top


      • Nadia Lockheart May 18, 2016 / 2:21 pm

        The point I was making is that, unlike Canaan Smith, David Nail is not a new artist in that he has been charting since 2002 (with his first hit in 2009).

        So it would be disingenuous to give David Nail the same sort of immunity Justin Moore got that he didn’t deserve: where he gets regarded as a “new artist” just because they haven’t had a Platinum album.

        Pretty much every single one of David Nail’s singles to date have required an eternity to peak. Even his biggest hit, “Whatever She’s Got”, needed 37 weeks to reach the top.


        • Raymond May 18, 2016 / 6:24 pm

          Ok I’m going to change it from New Artist but instead David Nail is just an artist who just has never gotten a ton of momentum.

          Also I have a confession, I love “Whatever She’s Got” I just find it to be catchy and I’ve never gotten tired of it.


  4. OlaR May 19, 2016 / 9:39 am

    I’m a fan of David Nail. Great voice & his songs (lyrics) are above average. But he needs a monster hit to stay relevant. “Night’s On Fire” is not the monster. I’ll give him one more album & a greatest hits package.
    He is not selling well, he is not a radio darling or an award winner. Not the best combination for a long-lasting career.

    New releases:
    Craig Morgan – Whole Lot More To Me – 06/03 (according to Music Row)
    Bonnie Bishop – Ain’t Who I Was – 05/27 (according to Music Row) (Produced by Dave Cobb)
    The Highwaymen – Box Set – 05/20 (according to Music Row)
    Darryl Worley – “Rainmaker” (Single) – 06/06 (according to Music Row)


    • NoahHibiscusEaton May 20, 2016 / 2:40 am

      He also needs to successfully produce more than one decisive hit in an album cycle.

      Only his lead singles have been able to make a larger impact while all of his secondary singles have received limited attention. I personally loved “The Sound of a Million Dreams” and “Turning Home”, and also liked “Kiss You Goodnight” a lot, but only his die-hard fans and a few reviewers like us are going to remember them.

      I’m pessimistic Nail will ever succeed in establishing himself as a staple act on radio. I’d sure like to be proven wrong, but his below-average sales and inconsistency with singles strongly suggests his mainstream days are nearly over along with Easton Corbin, Billy Currington and likely Joe Nichols.


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