The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [July 5]

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 one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. 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 +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

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. Keith Urban – “Wasted Time” -3
  2. Jason Aldean – “Lights Come On” -2 
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” +2 
  4. Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -2 (Up 1)
  5. Eric Church – “Record Year” +4 (Up 1) [Best Song]
  6. Kenny Chesney – “Noise” (Up 2)
  7. Chris Lane – “Fix” -5 (Up 3) [Worst Song]
  8. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +3 (Up 1)
  9. Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt” -4 (Down 2)
  10. Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day” -1 (Down 6)
  11. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1
  12. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 
  13. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 
  14. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Up 2)
  15. David Nail – “Night’s On Fire” -1 (Down 1)
  16. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Up 1)
  17. Frankie Ballard – “It All Started With a Beer” +2 (Down 2)
  18. Kip Moore – “Running For You” +2 
  19. Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +2
  20. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 
  21. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -2 (Up 1)
  22. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Up 1)
  23. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Down 2)
  24. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 
  25. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 2)
  26. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Down 1)
  27. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  28. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 2)
  29. Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” +3 (Down 3)
  30. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Down 1)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -10

New format! (see details above)

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • None

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • None (Because country radio doesn’t seem too anxious to stop playing Thomas Rhett’s “T-Shirt” and start playing “Vacation.” For once I kind of agree with something they’re doing.)

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Jason Aldean – “Lights Come On”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Chris Lane – “Fix” – Up 3 from #10 to #7
  • Kenny Chesney – “Noise” – Up 2 from #8 to #6
  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” – Up 2 from #16 to #14

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day” – Down 6 from #4 to #10
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” – Down 3 from #26 to #29
  • Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt” – Down 2 from #7 to #9

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

  • Luke Bryan – “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day”
  • Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt”
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” (Because if you’re a female artist whose name isn’t Kelsea or Carrie, you don’t get played on the radio)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Tucker Beathard – “Rock On”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song”
  • Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be”


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

23 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [July 5]

  1. Amanda July 6, 2016 / 11:06 am

    Hi Josh, love the new format! And hopefully Vacation stalls under the top 30, it is a mound of dog shit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond July 6, 2016 / 11:30 am

    I ended up with a +13, a lot of disagreements but I like the new format.

    +5 “Peter Pan” (I just find no flaws with this, I find it so great, not exactly country, but I’ve lately just decided it’s best to reward good music)
    +4 “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”, “Unlove You”, and “Record Year”
    +3 “Loving Lately”, “Without A Fight”, “Running For You”, “Head Over Boots”, and “Church Bells”
    +2 “I Met A Girl” and “You Look Like I Need A Drink”
    +1 “I Know Somebody” (massive guilty pleasure as I find the hook so catchy), “Different For Girls” (I really think if they would have titled “Different For Her” it could’ve been a lot better, as the song sounds great and both vocalists sound really good too), and “Noise”
    0s “Livin The Dream”, “Sleep Without You”, “Fix”, (it’s catchy and an earworm of a chorus trashy lyrics though) “It All Started With A Beer”, “Nights On Fire”, “American Country Love Song”, “From The Ground Up”
    -1 “Make You Miss Me” and “H.O.L.Y”
    -2 “Rock On”, “Hunting Fishing and Loving Every Day”, “Castaway”, “T-Shirt”
    -3 “Lights Come On”
    -4 “She’s Got A Way With Words”

    The reason why Blake is the worst he sounds like a whiny tool. I know my opinion on some of these songs is rather unpopular but I have to say I really like the new format a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OlaR July 6, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    My (un)popular opinion…
    …”Lights Come On” is a -4, “Head Over Boots” is a 0, “From The Ground Up” is a 0, “Nights On Fire” is a +2, “Peter Pan” is a +1 & “Without A Fight” is a 0.

    Cole Swindell can’t crack the Top 30. After 9 weeks.
    Dustin Lynch crashed & almost burned (41-59).
    Parmalee is down again (54-57). No bullet.
    Clare Dunn will not go away (55-56). With a bullet.
    Janson, Corbin, Campbell, Ray, Baldridge, Turner up & down, with a bullet. Maybe next week guys.

    Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” – #43 – Hot Shot Debut/Most Added
    Eli Young Band – “Saltwater Gospel” – #54 – New
    The Last Bandoleros – “Where Do You Go” – #60 – New
    Out: Gary Allan. After 1 week.
    Up: Maren Morris (53-41)

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    #1 – Chris Stapleton – Traveller
    #2 – Blake Shelton – If I’m Honest
    #3 – Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Country (Volume 9)
    Re-Entry: Randy Travis – On The Other Hands: All The Number Ones – #14
    Down: Jon Pardi – California Sunrise (1-6)
    Out of the Top 25: Brandy Clark

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – FGL (2nd week)
    #2 – Carrie Underwood
    #3 – Jason Aldean
    #7 – Dallas Smith – “One Little Kiss” – highest canadian track

    Country Tracks Top 40 – Australia:
    #1 – Billy Bridge feat. Rebecca Lee Nye – “We Knew”
    #2 – Travis Collins – “Call Me Crazy”
    #3 – Danny Stain – “Working Overtime”

    New Releases:
    Kenny Chesney – Some Town Somewhere will be released 10/28 (!) now. Chesney is back in the studio to record a duet with P!nk (i can’t wait for the result…) – Source: Music Row
    Eric Pasley – “Angels In This Town” – Single – released 7/5 – Source: Play MPe
    Mark Chesnutt – “Oughta Miss Me By Now” – Single – released – Source: Play MPe


    • Josh Schott July 6, 2016 / 1:33 pm

      The Chesney album being pushed back was no surprise. Called it weeks ago. No hype or preorder gave it away. The duet announcement is a convenient cover up for the fact that “Noise” has gotten an underwhelming response by radio and fans. This new release date gives them time to get another single out and up the chart to peak right when the album comes out.


      • Nadia Lockheart July 6, 2016 / 3:07 pm

        It is embarrassing enough that Chesney and/or his PR team didn’t make an announcement sooner regarding its pushing back. I reminded me of the debacle surrounding Toby Keith’s most recent release until almost the exact day it was originally billed for release! =P

        Especially when it’s coming at a time Chesney and his management are under fire for the latest trash-fest debacle following his Pittsburgh show over the weekend, is his team so devoid of self-awareness they don’t get how ridiculous this makes them look? I can’t get my head around that.


    • Nadia Lockheart July 6, 2016 / 5:37 pm

      It is interesting that “Middle Of A Memory” hasn’t yet dented the Top Thirty.

      I think Cole Swindell made a mistake banking too heavily on a generic, samey Adult Contemporary template for the production of his latest album. There’s really only three tracks that break that monotony in “Flatliner”, “No Can Left Behind” and, to a slightly lesser extent, “Up”, and they also happen to be the worst-written tracks.

      I think you can draw some striking parallels between his sophomore album and Lady Antebellum’s sophomore album: both anchored by massive title track lead single hits, but both rendered forgettable albums due to them being borefests. And with a recent radio article already hinting at ballad burnout among listeners and radio programmers, “Middle Of A Memory” is at high risk of being a chart victim.


      Darius Rucker’s new song is quite solid overall.

      It’s interesting he isn’t paired with Frank Rogers anymore despite saying in the past he wants Rogers to produce all his albums. My guess is that Capitol Nashville was disappointed by the commercial returns of “Southern Style” and demanded Rucker be paired with a new team of collaborators because they still see him as bankable enough for their roster. So, with Ross Copperman being one of the it-producers in the meantime, Rucker decided to pair with him.

      “If I Told You” is almost the polar opposite of “Homegrown Honey”. The latter was a lyrical train wreck, but actually had a decent production other than the electronic effects at the beginning and some actual country instrumentation. With “If I Told You”, we have solid lyricism and Rucker’s vocals having breathing space, but a lack of country instrumentation. So it’s kind of a trade-off…………..and while I would have preferred some pedal steel permeating the vulnerable lyricism, I can most certainly live with this if its success means more lyrical maturity on the radio. It’s a +2 to my ears.


      The Eli Young Band’s latest is a -3 to me, with The Last Bandoleros a +2.


      • Nadia Lockheart July 6, 2016 / 6:35 pm

        I for one knew about her side project, and I happen to think much like with Demi Lovato, Pink has a more versatile voice than many tend to give her credit for.

        It’s really not the fact Pink will be featured in a mainstream country single I have any issue with. The issue is more that it’s an obvious trend at the moment among male country A-listers. So on Chesney and his management’s part, it can’t help but feel gimmicky. Especially considering the timing of the album’s delay and struggling lead single, as well as the fact he has typically relied on a far less established female collaborator in Grace Potter.


  4. Nadia Lockheart July 6, 2016 / 3:03 pm

    Here’s mine.

    And as a brief preamble, I’m evaluating these on the basis of 1) the context of country music (singles that lack any identifiable country elements are instantly demoted regardless of their overall quality otherwise) and to a slightly lesser extent 2) the message this song sends; where I’m more inclined to spare a song that’s not country whatsoever from the rock bottom rating because it’s decidedly forgettable or agreeable otherwise, whereas tracks that I think are downright ugly in their context and themes get more poison from my pen.

    So, here we go:


    1: Keith Urban: “Wasted Time”: -3 (The banjo may as well be a keyboard setting, because everything about this sounds synthetic and manufactured. Thus: unmistakably non-country. Still, it has one of the most potent hooks in quite some time for a Keith Urban single and he hasn’t sounded this effervescent since “You Gonna Fly”, so I understand its appeal in some respects.)

    2: Jason Aldean: “Lights Come On”: -2 (This is mostly just………………..there. It’s all about self-preservation, more than anything, between regurgitating the typical rock-heavy lead single formula to a tee that has paid dividends for him in the past to the gratuitous self-referential name-drop in the bridge. But this doesn’t offend the ears in any way and will be instantly forgotten.)

    3: Carrie Underwood: “Church Bells”: +1 (The clunky, overly-compressed production gets in the way and compromises what is otherwise a solidly-written song replete with descriptive quality and narrative. I haven’t been a fan of her murder-themed songs as a whole, but when it has been made clear that the male subject had physically abused the narrator, it feels a lot more justifiable than with, say, “Two Black Cadillacs”)

    4: Florida Georgia Line: “H.O.L.Y.” -2 (All in all, this just feels startlingly out of place on country radio. Just because a track features decidedly organic instrumentation does NOT make it country by default. Still, it’s an all-around agreeable stab at Adult Contemporary-crossover appeal, and even the lyrics don’t bother me any more than your typical Adult Contemporary cheese-fest. I do get why this has become a career hit for the duo: it just doesn’t belong on Country radio.)

    5: Eric Church: “Record Year”: +4 (Everything about this is just masterfully executed and composed with care and attentiveness. Even the semi-synthetic guitar loop that drives the opening verse doesn’t feel out of place because it sets the mood of the track akin to a broken record still haunting the narrator’s mind. Church’s vocals convey genuine melancholy without feeling schmaltzy, feel warm without diminishing the inconsolable bite. And there is striking wit in numerous lines as well. I guess what keeps this from being a +5 is that the chorus sounds quite familiar to “19′ Somethin'” by Mark Wills, and I’ve heard plenty of songs that punch my gut more than this. Still, this is a fantastic song and easily one of the best in the meantime.)

    6: Kenny Chesney: “Noise”: -1 (It’s admirable Chesney is at least trying to tackle grittier subject matter. It’s just that both the lyricism and the delivery set the bar way too low. If you’re lamenting how you can’t take all this noise, shouldn’t both your vocals as well as the production actually, you know, reflect that? Instead, Chesney sounds uncommitted to the task here and the production is way too lightweight in a watered-down U2-esque reverb way to live up to the teeth of the title. Not to mention the lyrics mostly settle for surface details. Still, I have to give him credit for going off on a limb, as half-hearted as it was.)

    7: Chris Lane: “Fix” -5 (A November 9, 2015 Billboard article underscores the story behind the composition of this assault on the eardrums, and is no less depressing than the end result. Forget the fact it’s not country whatsoever. The fact it also plays to the “steal another’s girl because he’s not good in bed” douchedom theme and underscores the worst in sausage-making songwriting-by-committee dynamics makes this INSUFFERABLE. The rest of his EP fares no better, folks…………… warned.)

    8: Jon Pardi: “Head Over Boots”: +3 (Despite being lyrically fluffy, this is a prime example of how to make a simple song truly damn enjoyable. It feels breezy yet whimsical, evoking the scenery of a dance hall in the late-summer to early-autumn but also refreshingly modern. Much like Josh Turner has mastered the art of elevating cheesy love songs, Pardi does the same here to great results.)

    9: Thomas Rhett: “T-Shirt” -4 (I guess what spares this from the rock bottom rating is that it does have a serviceable riff driving it, and the composers at the very, very least try to pass off a descriptive flavor in the lyrics with imagery like Christmas lights in June. But those tiny acknowledgements are all undermined by painful record-scratching sound effects akin to some of the annoying ska-rock I heard during the late 90s and early 00’s, a completely half-hearted vocal by Rhett, and when you read the lyrics of the chorus out loud in a dramatic read style, it’s painfully clunky and wrought with terrible grammar. All on top of being 0% country.)

    10: Luke Bryan: “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day”: -1 (On the surface, this sounds like the type of track I should be semi-praising in that Bryan is at least trying to record something country again. But here’s the problem: while that may be true, it feels no less manufactured in terms of the sum of its parts than, say, “That’s My Kind Of Night” which, incidentally, ALSO name-dropped the Flint River. It SHOWS that Dallas Davidson co-wrote this because everything about the songwriting feels like an infomercial rather than an intimate ode to the great outdoors (“Tired of breathing that old dirty air up north? Come on down to the Muckalee: where we hunt, fish and love it up every day!”). It also doesn’t help that the production still sounds a bit overcompressed and muddy. So I’ll give it credit for actually sounding country, but just because a song has a banjo does not single-handedly make it instantly better, just saying…)

    11: Dan + Shay: “From The Ground Up”: +2 (Overall, I’ve felt this duo has never belonged in this format to begin with. But this is an enjoyable offering of theirs replete with warmth, authentic sense of vulnerability and a contemporary country flavor reminiscent of one of Rascal Flatts’ better songs that is not exactly easy to love, but easy to like. Pretty much the textbook definition of likeable”).

    12: Jake Owen: “American Generic Country Love Song”: -2 (First, Jake: you’re not Shawn Mullins. Second, how are you not resorting to what you criticized others of doing in an interview last year in talking about Spring Break, pick-up trucks and other cliches lyrically? Third, you’re not Shawn Mullins.)

    13: Sam Hunt: “Make You Miss Me”: -4 (Wow! What a shocker! A Sam Hunt song without a -5 rating? What is the world coming to? Seriously, though, what spares this from the cellar is that some of the production elements don’t hit you over the head per usual so, thus, it results in something much more forgettable as evidenced by its lackluster iTunes ranking. But make no mistake: this is still very ugly subject matter and delivery. This is no less mechanical-sounding than any of his other releases to date, and there’s something very smug and manipulative behind the way he delivers his vocals and calls out the subject as being flighty and superficial that makes him come across as a total douche. Can you not see why I absolutely can’t take those who praise the lyricism of “Montevallo” seriously by now?)

    14: Justin Moore: “You Look Like I Need A Drink”: +1 (The lyrical conceit is well-delivered, and is definitely the best Moore has sounded since………………….well, almost ever. The production is admittedly rather clunky and muddy-sounding and the percussion a bit too jarring, and perhaps a bit too roll-down-your-windows hot weather-friendly sounding to fully reflect the emotion present. Still, it’s an enjoyable, if forgettable, effort as a whole. I’ll take it for what it’s worth)

    15: David Nail: “Night’s On Fire”: 0 (The production is what primarily gets in the way of this winning me over. It’s just way too mechanical with the programmed beat and keyboard-sounding banjo, and the repetitive “Whoa oh oh oh!” does get annoying as well. That said, this also wins points from me for the descriptive quality in the lyrics. All in all, it may just be another song about young lust and losing your virginity, but the way it builds up to that is actually refreshing. You can tell in the verses that the writers actually put some thought into how to lead up to that moment and actually gives it some relative weight. That’s as intrinsic to the heart of the genre than certain instruments, so I’m going to credit this song for respecting that. Still, pretty forgettable.)

    16: Kelsea Ballerini: “Peter Pan” -2 (As a pop song, this definitely works and, to its credit, pulls off the flighty metaphor fairly effectively. But as a country release, the production feels no less woefully out of place than her lead two offerings.)

    17: Frankie Ballard: “It All Started With A Beer”: +2 (Like “Head Over Boots”, this is another prime example of how lyrical fluff can be elevated by the sum of its parts. There’s a hint of Mellencamp-rasp in his vocal performance and the guitar tones feel warm as well as bluesy making for a well-worn effort all-around.)

    18: Kip Moore: “Running For You”: +2 (Despite lacking any distinctive country flavor here from a musical standpoint, Kip Moore excels with a performance that has a lot of heart and conviction that is reminiscent of a lot of the heartland rock I loved growing up. And with the way heartland rock has basically long assimilated into mainstream country, who am I to complain?)

    19: Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato: “Without A Fight”: +1 (This winds up a somewhat frustrating forgettable effort due to the surprising absence of a conversational quality in the composition that is the hallmark of Paisley’s talent as a songwriter. That said, both vocalists sound good here, the sentiment is easy to get behind and it’s great to see Paisley continue to stand by his musical guns.)

    20: Zac Brown Band: “Castaway”: 0 (This is an enjoyable ditty in the right context. It admittedly feels awkward when blared on high rotation alongside more overtly country-sounding singles. It can get rather old rather quick. Still, this doesn’t try to be anything it’s not: an ode to easy-breezy escapism from life’s troubles, and the instrumentation and energy of the backing vocalists sets the mood just right. This will have quite a short shelf life outside of tiki bar soundtracks, but for now it’s pleasant musical wallpaper.)

    21: Blake Shelton: “She’s Got A Way With Words”: -2 (This is honestly that kind of song that, while so forgettable-sounding to where there’s hardly any need to come down harder on this, I could easily see being downgraded to a -3 once this ramps up into heavy rotation on station playlists. Because as generic and gutless as the production may be, the lyrics and theme are actually rather grating for a radio single. It’s unpleasant hearing a grown man who is known to play it cool often whine about how an ex puts the S.O.B. in sober and F.U. in his future, along with the entire second verse, and veers quite closely to misogyny. At lower doses this doesn’t make as much an impression, but I can REALLY see myself hating this in a month or two because of how such a dime-a-dozen production scheme is selling something ugly in the lyrical department.)

    22: Dierks Bentley & Elle King: “Different For Girls”: -3 (Speaking of what I just talked about, another prime example of how forgettable, serviceable production can easily get away with selling outright unpleasant lyrical conceits and ideas. In this case, it’s RaeLynn-styled outdated gender role claptrap. Seriously: screw these lyrics. I can kind of get what Dierks Bentley was attempting to go for, but it doesn’t excuse how intelligence-insulting and nuance-deficient this is entirely. The 1950s called: it wants its Victorian morality back.)

    23: Tucker Beathard: “Rock On”: -3 (God Bless Nepotism! I certainly can’t imagine how this guy would have gotten a record deal otherwise with a vocal performance that makes Brantley Gilbert sound like Johnny Hartman in comparison. The lyrics are agreeable enough, but this song epitomizes the most laughable of drunken karaoke escapades).

    24: William Michael Morgan: “I Met A Girl”: +3 (Yet another example of how lyrical fluff can be elevated otherwise. And damn, do we have an amazing up-and-coming vocalist and enjoyable production here to boot! With an also promising EP to back him up, his debut full-length can’t come soon enough.)

    25: Billy Currington: “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”: +1 (This has burned on me slightly over time due to how overproduced I still am finding this. The gang vocal effects in the chorus are admittedly jarring, and the percussion is too stiff and jarring. That said, this makes up for that with a thoughtful set of lyrics and a charismatic vocal from Currington. It’ll do, though I can’t see this sticking around long.)

    26: Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw): “Lovin’ Lately”: +2 (On the surface, this is essentially another dime-a-dozen, Adult Top 40-leaning heartbreak song with overly sanitized production. But I’d argue what makes this more effective than the average offering is the war restraint in the vocal melody, as well as how the verses focus the attention wisely on the vocals and, thus, the lyrical sentiment. Then the chorus comes along and there’s just something about how it oscillates between major and minor chords that channels the melancholic swell and longing so damn effectively. This song is a key example of how restraint and the smaller details can make or break a song and, in this case, it definitely makes it.)

    27: Brett Young: “Sleep Without You”: -2 (This is an odd case of how a blatant ripoff of another hit entertainer at the moment, Brett Eldredge, actually seems slightly more agreeable than him in terms of current song selection. This clearly sounds like it belongs on Adult Top 40 and the lyrics have been done to death. But he definitely has a promising voice and hey: at least he’s not repeating every other syllable of every other word in the chorus, like that…………………OTHER GUY!”)

    28: LoCash: “I Know Somebody”: -4 (This is really only spared from the cellar because it sounds too forgettable to warrant giving the absolute worst rating to. Still, make no mistake: the obnoxious use of processed beats, percussion loops and the outright sterile atmosphere makes for a soulless song. And again, enough with this “Hey stranger! I’ve got a truck, let’s go hit the hay!” sexual fantasy! It wasn’t attractive in Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine” or Jake Owen’s “Eight Second Ride” and it sure as hell isn’t here either.)

    29: Jennifer Nettles: “Unlove You”: +3 (Many have dismissed Nettles as a vocalist over the years, and I’ve long felt she just doesn’t get the credit she deserves. And much like “Stay”, this song proves this once and for all. Nettles masterfully blows me away in how she articulates the wistful frustration underpinning the sate she’s in: where she already knows a relationship isn’t going to work out well for long, but in the midst of her longing and insecurity thinks settling for this connection for a little while is better than nothing. That’s such a heartaching sentiment that so many of us can relate to and makes for a poignant, nuanced listening experience. And thank Jove Dan Huff doesn’t get in the way fr once, either, with his production. In fact, he is most receptive of her strengths and wisely allows her to be front and center. Truly a great performance.)

    30: Drake White: “Livin’ The Dream”: +1 (I feel similarly about Drake White as a whole as I’ve felt about Brothers Osbourne based off of first impressions: they both have the right idea in cultivating a sound that’s authentic and organic and have strong voices to back them up, but are still trying to find themselves as lyricists. This song pretty much magnifies that. The lyrics are your typical “I hardly have any money but I’m country rich, and that’s all that matters!” fodder in the vein of previous ditties like Darius Rucker’s “Alright” and Brad Paisley’s “River Bank”, and don’t even express the faintest hint of acknowledgement that things might be just a bit less of a pinch if they had just a little more income. Still, the acoustic-heavy, Adult Alternative-leaning production and White’s soulful vocals do more than enough to make this a pleasant, feel-good listen on the current radio dial.)


    Liked by 1 person

  5. seak05 July 6, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    I love the new format & thanks for the explanation of the rating system. I am slightly confused though..based on the review (4/10) I would’ve thought Blake’s overly long song title would be at -1, rather than -2. I agree with Nadia though that the more I here the song, the more annoying it becomes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott July 6, 2016 / 10:00 pm

      It’s exactly Nadia’s reasoning for why it’s a -2 instead of a -1. I hate it more now than when I did when I reviewed it. Haha


      • Nadia Lockheart July 7, 2016 / 3:22 am

        It might be a -5 by the time it reaches #1! 😉


        Upon Official Debut: “Eh, it’s alright. Nothing special!”

        By Second Week On Chart: “Okay, we get the point! You need to get over this now!”

        By Third Week On Chart: “Alright, this is getting annoying now!”

        By Fourth Week On Chart: “This is getting pretty grating!”

        By Fifth Week On Chart: “WE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH ELEVEN MORE WEEKS OF THIS BS? (pulls hair) GAWD!!!”



        Liked by 1 person

  6. Raymond July 6, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    News broke today Miranda Lambert will have a new single July 18th. I can’t wait, as I have a feeling “Sweet By And By” was just the beginning of Miranda Lambert making great quality music again and if this leadoff single is even half as good as that song I will be ecstatic. I can’t wait!


    • Nadia Lockheart July 7, 2016 / 3:18 am

      Whatever she does, I hope she doesn’t stoop to Shelton’s level and release something of an answer song to “She’s Got A Way With Words”.

      Even though “Platinum” wasn’t as good as its predecessors, it was still vastly better than anything Shelton has released from “Startin’ Fires” onward (though the bad single choices admittedly get in the way of many truly appreciating the album as a whole). I’m confident the forthcoming effort will be no exception. I just hope she understands it’s to no one’s benefit to put her breakup heartache to song in the form of trash-talking. I think she will offer something more nuanced.


      • seak05 July 7, 2016 / 7:04 pm

        You mean more nuanced like shoot the guy? Blake’s song just gets annoying because it has no substance, I don’t find the sentiments objectionable, unlike songs that advocate violence which tends to be more Miranda’s style (and Carrie has some like that too). I’m hoping she focuses on the emotions, and, like you, gives her songs nuance. I love how much she’s been writing.

        Although if ML has a cheating song it might be a bit hypocritical given some of the rumors……


        • Nadia Lockheart July 8, 2016 / 12:32 am

          No, I mean more nuanced along the lines of her more vulnerable and/or self-reflective offerings like “More Like Her” or “All Kinds of Kinds”. So much like you said: a broader scope of emotions.

          I’ve stated before I have a bias against acrimonious break-up songs (of any genre) and songs that just treat exes like punching bags.


        • seak05 July 8, 2016 / 8:01 am

          That’s fair, I don’t mind will done ex as punching bag songs. I do mind songs that advocate violence & that are into generalizations and stereotypes (hi Dierks).

          I hope that we get the more nuanced/vulnerable Miranda, but given radio & her recent singles choices, we’ll see…


    • Ron July 7, 2016 / 11:50 am

      I was hoping she would hold off a few months so Carrie might get a shot at the cma. But with new music it’ll be another 3-5 years before Miranda loses


      • Raymond July 7, 2016 / 1:45 pm

        In all fairness if Carrie Underwood wasn’t going to get the ACM or CMA this last year, she won’t get it ever as Miranda did next to nothing 2015. Country awards tend to blacklist Carrie Underwood Tim McGraw. But I am still excited to hear what she brings.


      • seak05 July 7, 2016 / 7:01 pm

        CMA deadline was June 30th, so nothing she releases counts. But somehow she’ll still probably win female vocalist. I’m interested to see where she goes, to me her best songs were the ones that are slower and more nostalgic, but lately everything has been rock-country (and I love rock, but she’s not a great rocker, so maybe stick to country).


      • Nadia Lockheart July 8, 2016 / 12:37 am

        A new Saving country Music article exactly posits a theory as to why Miranda Lambert has been repeatedly favored over Carrie Underwood.

        William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

        They manage more than half of mainstream country’s A-list roster. However, unlike Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood is not a WME client.

        And, with WME having tremendous clout and leverage in the industry, they are much more effective at campaigning for the major award shows compared to the likes of Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves and the Zac Brown Band to name a few: who are outliers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • seak05 July 8, 2016 / 7:58 am

          I’d seen the theory before, but I think after Carrie somehow lost to Miranda at ACM’s it has gained a lot more traction. Because that basically made no sense (along with Aldean’s win).


        • Nadia Lockheart July 8, 2016 / 9:03 pm

          I think, most years, Miranda Lambert was the legitimate winner in that she has been the significantly more influential name from an influential standpoint.

          However, Carrie Underwood should have won this most recent time around. Lambert had comparatively little commercial clout compared to before 2015 with underperforming singles the former half of 2015 and laying low the rest of that year. In contrast, Carrie Underwood kept enough in the forefront with “Little Toy Guns” to tide listeners over earlier in 2015, and then releasing the lead single to her current album in the late summer.

          As for the male category, I personally think it should have gone to Eric Church. Despite some inconsistent single peaks over the course of this past year and album sales that aren’t up with his last two albums, all of his singles have made different forms of impact and his album is nonetheless still a steady seller. “Like a Wrecking Ball” struggled reaching the Top Ten, but it is among his best-selling career songs as well. The title track to his current album may have had an abbreviated airplay chart run, but it is still enjoying impressive streaming and has become a fan favorite. And now “Record Year” has become another big hit for him on mainstream radio. He is continuing to set the gold standard on how to maintain an A-lister career without merely following all the tired rules, and I’d argue has been more relevant than Jason Aldean this past year in that all of his post-“Burnin’ It Down” singles have been decidedly uneventful between their weaker sales and failing to inspire conversation.


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