The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Sept. 6]

Jake Owen Generic Country Love Song
Okay you got your #1, now release “LAX” as a single

Each week we 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. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 (Up 1)
  2. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Down 2)
  4. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 
  5. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Up 1)
  6. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 2)
  7. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 3)
  8. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 1)
  9. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Down 2)
  10. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 1)
  11. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 1) 
  12. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 1)
  13. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 1)
  14. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Up 1)
  15. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  16. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 1)
  17. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 1) [Best Song]
  18. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Up 1)
  19. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  20. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 1)
  21. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 1)
  22. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 1)
  23. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 1)
  24. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” (Up 1)
  25. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 1)
  26. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 3)
  27. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2
  28. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -3 
  29. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  30. Thomas Rhett – “Vacation” -5 (New to Top 30) [Worst Song]

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -33

The pulse drops three spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week….Ahhh Shit (NSFW Language Ahead):

  • Thomas Rhett – “Vacation”
    • Last week it appeared I didn’t have to talk about this song in the Current Pulse, but I was wrong and now you people will get the rant you were wanting. So let’s talk about this abomination of a song. You know what this isn’t even a song. This is fucking torture. It makes me long for the dulcet sounds of Rebecca Black, William Hung and Milli Vanilli harmonizing together. I would rather listen to the theme song for Barney on a loop over this song because a purple dinosaur at least has something to say in his song. Here Rhett literally sings about nothing. He just wants to party on vacation! How fucking original is this? The thing is country radio has been flooded with terrible beach music for years, but at least all of the other terrible beach songs had a catchy hook and it didn’t make me want to tear my hair out. The lyrics can’t get any worse. Speaking of songwriting, this song has 16 songwriters. 16 fucking songwriters. I won’t attack the poor bastards from the rock group War, who are innocent bystanders in this train wreck. I wouldn’t want to be credited for being a part of this song in any way, shape or form. In fact I would sue to have my name taken off of it. To the others who helped conceive it, may you step on a thousand Legos. This obviously isn’t country, as anyone with properly working ears and a brain could tell you. I would like to think Johnny Paycheck is haunting Rhett for the rest of his life for unleashing this upon the world. And don’t call it pop because they don’t deserve this crap either. This is horrendous, money-grabbing noise that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I wish it was instead buried deep into the ocean where no soul would ever hear nor see it again. 0/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” – Up 3 from #10 to #7 (Some good news!)
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Up 3 from #29 to #26
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” – Up 2 from #8 to #6

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” – Down 2 from #1 to #3
  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words” – Down 2 from #7 to #9

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

  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words” (It’s dying a slow death, as research numbers show people hate it with a passion. I don’t expect it to reach top five. I guess karma finally caught up with this song.)
  • Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” (With two other McGraw songs in the top 30, this song is being phased out due to fear of McGraw saturation)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • LANco – “Long Live Tonight” (Yep, that’s how their act name is spelled out)


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

10 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Sept. 6]

  1. Amanda September 7, 2016 / 11:08 am

    Vacation is definitely worst song. I had a massive rant prepared for this song, but instead of ranting, why not inject a little humor? I compiled a list of the top 20 horrible things I’d rather hear than Vacation.

    Top 20 things I’d rather hear than Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation”

    20. Jerrod Niemann’s “Donkey”
    19. Nails on a chalkboard
    18. Sam Hunt defending his case as a genuine country singer
    17. Justin Bieber
    16. Rebecca Black’s “Friday”
    15. The Bobby Bones show being broadcasted 24/7
    14. Six continuous hours of nothing but Jason Aldean’s “1994”
    13. Rascal Flatts covering Motley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”
    12. Luke Bryan trying to fit into his skinny jeans from five years ago
    11. A three-day long Old Dominion radio marathon
    10. Tucker Beathard singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” acapella
    9. RaeLynn singing “The Song That Never Ends”
    8. A Chase Rice concert
    7. Brantley Gilbert taking a massive dump in a port a potty
    6. Steven Tyler making fart noises with his armpits to a medley of old Aerosmith hits
    5. The entire Chris Lane album
    4. The Teletubbies singing FGL’s “Sun Daze” through a box fan
    3. Cole Swindell talking dirty to me
    2. A kitten being squished
    1. Me being forced to write down every dirty and downright inappropriate thought I have ever had about Gary Allan and having to read it aloud on national country radio

    And some downright dishonorable mentions:
    -LoCash covering and completely butchering my all-time favorite song, Gary Allan’s “Smoke Rings in the Dark”
    -Kelsea Ballerini covering and making a horrific mess of my second all-time favorite song, Ashley Monroe’s “Two Weeks Late”
    -An audiobook of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, narrated by Kane Brown
    -Florida Georgia Line taking up comedy as a side project and impersonating a Beavis and Butthead skit (they are the Beavis and Butthead of country music, after all.)
    -Billy Ray Cyrus making a surprise visit to the CMA or ACM awards by replacing one of the true country artists (think Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, or George Strait) or one of the good/decent pop country artists (Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, or Carrie Underwood, for example) and performing an extended, made-for-line-dancing mix of his massively annoying 1992 hit, “Achy Breaky Heart”

    Yeah. Totally cringe-worthy. On another note, so glad to see William Michael Morgan in the top 10! His song is by far the best in the top 30, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OlaR September 7, 2016 / 1:13 pm

    Hihi…what a fine list.

    Not So Fast: i’m surprised. Nashvilles hottest thing since Kitty Wells Mercedes-Maren is not riding the fast lane. Country Airplay: #22 & Hot Country Songs: #26 (Peak: #25).

    Down: Craig Campbell, TBP, Josh Abbott Band with Carly Pearce, Parmalee, the other Old Dominion track, Thompson Square & Chase Bryant.
    High Valley is up to #32 (no bullet) & Frankie Ballard is down to #60 with a bullet. Chris Janson & Brantley Gilbert lost a place too (with bullet). RaeLynn lost two places (with bullet).

    Gone: Gary Allan & Chase Rice.

    Hot Shot Debut: #52 – Dylan Scott – “My Girl”
    New: #57 – Kane Brown – “Thunder In The Rain”
    Re-Entry: 58 – Ronnie Dunn with Kix Brooks – “Damn Drunk”

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    New: #1 – Florida Georgia Line – Dig Your Roots
    #2 – Dolly Parton – Pure & Simple
    #3 – Chris Stapleton – Traveller
    New: #24 – James Ingram – Midnight Motel

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King (week 4)
    #2 – Jake Owen
    #3 – Blake Shelton
    #6 – James Barker Band – “Lawn Chair Lazy” (highest canadian song)

    Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
    #1 – Doug Bruce – “Bad Weather”
    #2 – Troy Cassar-Daley – “Things I Carry Around”
    #3 – Aly Cook – “Kimberley” (New Zealands biggest country star)
    #30 – Dolly Parton – “Pure & Simple” (highest american track)


    • Nadia Lockheart September 7, 2016 / 4:11 pm

      “80’s Mercedes” definitely hasn’t been performing nearly as well as I expected it would so far.

      Particularly on the digital singles chart. I thought “80’s Mercedes” would just burst into the Top Five just shortly after the release of “HERO” due to its big chorus and cross-genre appeal. Instead, its sales are certainly not terrible, but they are underwhelming to my eyes considering what “My Church” was able to achieve and the fact “80’s Mercedes” has such an anthemic swell matched by very few other singles recently.

      Seeing that it’s only in its 68th day on the chart to date, I still expect “80’s Mercedes” will be a reasonably big hit on the country airplay chart. But where before I thought this was certain to best the peak of “My Church”, I’m now significantly less sure and am still surprised this hasn’t taken off as the driving song of the season.


  3. Nadia Lockheart September 7, 2016 / 2:28 pm

    Mercifully, “Vacation” is only going to make the faintest cameo in the Top Thirty though, because it has been charting for twelve weeks already and it is still down from its peak audience to date.

    So, yeah: on the positive side, I can’t wait to see five full negative points vanish from the Pulse by the end of September! ^__^


    I did notice in your review of their latest album that “May We All” has grown on you somewhat. I figured it would. It still easily should have been a better song, but it just didn’t bother me from the first time I heard it. Rather, just underwhelmed. But it’s a tolerable listen and actually complements this time of year rather well (by commercial radio standards).


    “Hometown Girl”, at least this past week, seemed to find its stride. It gained over 800K in audience at #36: which is more than Carrie Underwood’s newly released “Dirty Laundry” gained within the past week.

    I can’t say I like “Hometown Girl” necessarily (especially by Turner’s standards) but, again, it’s a tolerable song like “May We All” so I’ll take it over plenty of its surrounding competition.


    It lightens my heart to see “Kill A Word” enjoy most-added honors for back-to-back weeks.

    It’s rare to see songs with its sort of subject matter on country radio in recent years, but I’m optimistic this single is going to perform closer to the likes of “Record Year” than it will “Cold One”. This is that type of song that I think its accompanying video will put it over the top much like for “Humble & Kind”. I do hope the video explores the detrimental effects of words on people in an artistic sense rather than merely interspersing a bunch of news clips together with shots of Eric Church singing in-between with his band. Either way, I can see a poignant video surfacing for this that will greatly help this scale the digital sales chart.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Scotty J September 7, 2016 / 3:08 pm

      ‘Hometown Girl’ taking such a big jump seemingly out of the blue is very odd to me and in this age of gerry mandering the charts it raises my suspicions.

      Maybe it’s legit I don’t know.


      • Josh Schott September 7, 2016 / 4:15 pm

        I honestly think this is legit. Turner was a proven name radio leaned on for years and after casting him aside for a while, they might be warming back up to him. What other choices do they have? Because right now there’s a lot of new artists being propped up on the chart and none of them have staying power other than Ballerini (who I think has quite a bit of gerrymandering helping her still). I thought for sure Maren Morris would be soaring with “80s Mercedes” and she’s hardly doing squat. There’s only about 10-12 songs on this chart right now that are honest hits with high demand and the rest are just really filling space. Radio would be wise to get back on the Turner bandwagon, even if I don’t necessarily like the new Turner single (still debating a review).


        • Scotty J September 7, 2016 / 4:24 pm

          Yeah, I commented a few weeks ago about how mediocre the current chart is right now. Not a lot of good songs and not a lot of really bad songs just a bunch of blah. So maybe they are latching on to someone with a track record and an easily identifiable voice unlike so many of these songs where it is easy to blank on who it is if you aren’t paying close attention.

          What’s the saying ‘the opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference?’

          There is a ton of indifference going on in mainstream country music right now.


        • Nadia Lockheart September 7, 2016 / 4:31 pm

          Its sales are underwhelming, but they are still slightly better than much of its surrounding competition at the moment.

          Currently, “Hometown Girl” is at #72 on the iTunes Country chart while #38 on the Mediabase chart. Looking at rival singles surrounding it on the airplay chart, we see the following:


          34: Chris Young: “Sober Saturday Night” (#67 Digitally)
          35: Chris Janson: “Holdin’ Her” (#75 Digitally)
          36: Dustin Lynch: “Seein’ Red” (#70 Digitally)
          37: LANco: “Long Live Tonight” (Not Charting)
          39: Michael Ray: “Think A Little Less” (#98 Digitally)
          40: The Band Perry: “Comeback Kid” (#84 Digitally)
          41: Runaway June: “Lipstick” (Not Charting)
          42: Trent Harmon: “There’s A Girl” (Not Charting)


          So you have three of its eight closest chart rivals failing to chart altogether at the moment, and all but Chris Young and Dustin Lynch faring slightly worse than Turner. And, seeing that Chris Young is essentially a high B-level act (not drawing strong enough sales, award show buzz and touring revenue to be an A-lister but nonetheless retains a steady presence on the charts and sells better than average) and Dustin Lynch is a C-level act (solid with radio but little else), Josh Turner does look the best among this pack as a veteran of the format.

          Its sales still don’t make a convincing case for, say, the Top Ten and even a struggle reaching the Top Twenty. But I think we can expect this single to stick around for quite a while longer.


  4. Scotty J September 7, 2016 / 4:37 pm

    LANco sounds like some kind of company selling knives on deep cable infomercials at 3 AM on a holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. petemarshall724 September 7, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Josh; your rant on Thomas Rhett “Vacation” is right on the money. 16 songwriters wrote this piece of crap single. This is the worst song of all time. It’s not country and not even pop which music I can’t stand. Vacation song belongs in the garbage. I wish this song would flop on radio. This song is crap terrible rapping and I rather listen to Old Dominion, FGL, and Chase Rice than this piece of crap of the song!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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