The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [October 3]

Billy Currington Summer Forever
Nice to see Billy get rewarded for releasing a good 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. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 1)
  2. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 1)
  3. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 3)
  4. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 1)
  5. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 2)
  6. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 2) [Worst Song]
  7. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 3)
  8. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 3)
  9. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Down 5)
  10. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 2)
  11. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 2) 
  12. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 2)
  13. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 4)
  14. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 4)
  15. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 
  16. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 4)
  17. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Down 1)
  18. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 1)
  19. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 3)
  20. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 3)
  21. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 0 (Up 3)
  22. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -3 (Up 3)
  23. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 3)
  24. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Up 3)
  25. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 (Up 3) [Best Song]
  26. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 3)
  27. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 3)
  28. Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” -3 (Re-Enters Top 30)
  29. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Re-Enters Top 30)
  30. Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less” -5 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -21

The pulse drops two spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (You know you have a fake #1 song when it goes from #1 to recurrent in a one week)
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1
  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words” -3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”
  • Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less”
    • Michael Ray hasn’t exactly made a good impression on me since his arrival. His lead single “Kiss You in the Morning” got a thorough rant from yours truly, as I derided it for its moronic lyrics and bro country pandering. This was also an On The Verge pick mind you. Ray followed this up with a single that was somehow even worse, “Real Men Love Jesus.” I don’t even want to get started on that misogynistic farce of a song. So with his third single “Think A Little Less,” I was hoping for something that wouldn’t piss me off. Well so much for hoping because it’s yet another dumb song. The entire message of this song is a guy meeting a girl at the bar, telling her to turn her brain off and then convincing her to go home so he could have sex with her. Even more ridiculous is how he tells her that she should tell her friends the next day that nothing happened and they’re just friends. Why? Are you hiding something here? This totally doesn’t give off creepy vibes. You know Sam Hunt and Keith Urban are at least clever enough to be subtle in their creepy hookup songs. Ray just comes out and admits it. How else am I supposed to interpret, “get you out of this bar, out of this dress”? This song just has a downright horrible message and is one of the worst singles I’ve heard in 2016. 0/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” (Well I thought it would reach #1 this week, but it just missed out. Looks like Warner though is going to push one more week to get it after getting #1 on Mediabase this week.)

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” – Up 4 from #17 to #13
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” – Up 4 from #18 to #14
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Country” – Up 4 from #20 to #16

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” – Out of the Top 30
  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” – Out of the Top 30
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” – Out of the Top 30

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

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” (Surprised this is still even on the chart)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show”
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  • “Forever Country”


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

28 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [October 3]

  1. seak05 October 5, 2016 / 11:06 am

    Warner went for #1 last week for WMM, but they realized they weren’t going to get BB over Billy, so they decided they were ok with just mediabase. I met a girl is done at radio (in the sense that it’s being pushed). Billy will get a multi-week #1. Tucker is technically pushing for #1 this week, but no chance. Big & Rich are also pushing for overnight spins.

    In your next songs into top 30, I’d replace Forever Country (which I think radio execs don’t love) with Blake’s new one: Guy with a Girl, which seems to be going for adds this week, & just hit top 50.


    • seak05 October 5, 2016 / 11:10 am

      BTW will be interesting to see how many weeks they push for, for #1 for Billy. Or if they’ll play “nice” and let the song go after its push week (which I think will actually be next week).


    • Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 11:17 am

      Yeah ;Forever Country’ is pretty much a short term novelty song as far as radio is concerned and that may be a correct analysis in my opinion. It’s interesting but gets old pretty quick.

      Going for overnight spins is the lamest attempt at chart manipulation this side of pure payola. It was this exact thing that caused Billboard to switch to audience impressions for there Airplay chart after a couple of songs by Montgomery Gentry and Reba McEntire used this to increase there spins dramatically and got #1 hits.

      A song being played at 3 AM is not the same as a song being played at 5 PM and shouldn’t be counted the same.


  2. Amanda October 5, 2016 / 11:10 am

    Michael Ray hasn’t exactly made a good impression on me either. I didn’t like Kiss You in the Morning, absolutely loathed Real Men Love Jesus, and guess what? I don’t like Think a Little Less either. I was aimlessly wandering around YouTube the other day, and I saw a video of him covering Gary Allan’s Right Where I Need to Be. Holy, holy shit. It was horrid. He took a perfectly good country song and fucked it up to the nth degree. Michael Ray is no Gary Allan. First off, Gary is sexy as hell–and Michael looks like a praying mantis. Secondly, Michael was off-key the entire time and his dancing was Cole Swindell-level bad. Third, Gary Allan knows what country music is. Michael Ray has no fucking clue. 😦

    Side note: is it surprising that Think a Little Less is bad when Thomas Rhett is one of the writers?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 11:11 am

    I have been following the charts pretty closely since I was a teenager some 25 odd years ago and I don’t ever remember seeing a song drop from #1 to recurrent in one week. Back in the pre Soundscan era when the charts were compiled by program directors submitting their playlists it was common for #1’s to drop precipitously but since the chart has become more accurate due to technology this is very rare.

    This may be the most phony #1 in the modern chart era.


    • OlaR October 5, 2016 / 12:28 pm

      The magic numbers back in the day: 1, 16 & 19 (mid 80’s)
      16 weeks: because no song needs longer to reach #1
      19: because no #1 song dropped lower the week after reaching #1
      1 week: because the majority of songs was done after one week (except for The Judds, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley & Ronnie Milsap with multi-week #1 singles like “Lost In The Fifties Tonight”)
      There might be more exceptions to the rules i can’t remember (was a kid in the 80’s).


      • Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 2:33 pm

        The other thing about the pre Soundscan days was Billboard didn’t print a chart the last week of the year so the previous week’s chart was frozen so if you go back and look there are a few years where the only multiple week #1’s are around the turn of the year. It really was amazingly inaccurate when you think about how they did it. The honor system on steroids, really.


  4. Kevin Davis October 5, 2016 / 11:16 am

    So how is Trigger at SCM saying that “I Met a Girl” went #1?


    • Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 11:19 am

      On the Mediabase chart it went #1 but they use different methodology than Billboard (spins vs audience). Billboard because of history and reputation is considered the more prestigious chart and is generally considered the industry standard.


      • seak05 October 5, 2016 / 11:22 am

        Generally within industry (especially non-country industry) mediabase is actually considered more prestigious (now). Mediabase also isn’t solely spins. They have a proprietary points formula.


        • Josh Schott October 5, 2016 / 11:28 am

          Mediabase also counts overnight spins, something I strongly disagree with and I think it games the numbers. While it is more popular amongst industry insiders, the average person has never heard of them. That’s why I go with Billboard because it’s a recognizable name that is more accessible to the public.


          • Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 2:30 pm

            Yep, and that’s probably one reason Mediabase may be more popular within the industry because it is easier to game the chart.

            Think about a football game and if you are a coach and you know there is one officiating crew that you know exactly how to get calls to go your way and then there is another crew that you kind of get your way but not always and it’s a lot harder. Which one would you prefer?

            Liked by 1 person

          • seak05 October 5, 2016 / 2:55 pm

            Mediabase does count overnight spins, but it is weighted, so it’s not straight spins. ASome people do listen to the radio during the night too. And the two charts don’t count exactly the same stations. But another reason industry likes it is because number of radio spins is important to song writers.

            The billboard chart is more recognizable, and usually the difference between the two isn’t significant. WMM was only slightly behind Billy in audience this past week. Warner has given up promotion though, so Billy will keep it easily this week.


          • Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 3:12 pm


            Well as you stated above they are going for over night spins for the Big & Rich song there must be some advantage to it or else they wouldn’t do it. Billboard counts those plays as well but since the audience is so small comparatively they don’t do much for the song. Plus Billboard tracks spins also and you can see them in the weekly Country Update they put out. The one plus to Mediabase is the everyday updating but I look at that more as a progress report than as some finished product.

            You are correct that the difference is usually pretty small maybe a song being 12 in one and 13 in another or something like that but when it’s 1 versus 2 it stands out more.

            As someone who is really into the history of the charts I like the continuity that you get with Billboard and there 60 years of history. It’s fun to say on this week in 1967 ‘I Don’t Wanna Play House’ by Tammy Wynette was #1 or that on this week in 1982 ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Dolly Parton was #1 for the second time eight years after the first on the same Billboard Country Songs chart that Billy Currington is topping this week.


          • seak05 October 5, 2016 / 4:01 pm

            Yeah, but the billboard chart has changed methodologies a bunch over time. And yeah mediabase counts overnight spins some…but they don’t publish their points system so I don’t know how much (or how little). It isn’t straight spins though. A good example: if you look at the building chart Big & Rich currently has more spins than “Vice” or “Song for Another time” but it’s behind them both on the chart.

            Now over the course of the week the song might build up enough of a spin advantage that it overcomes the fact that it has fewer audience & passes them anyways, which is clearly what the label is gunning for, but just having a few more overnight spins isn’t enough.


          • Scotty J October 5, 2016 / 4:13 pm

            Of course they have changed methodologies over the years as technology has developed and how music is consumed. It wouldn’t be a very accurate chart if they were basing it on program directors submitting playlists and jukebox plays (that was once a component of the chart).

            Both charts have there pluses and minuses and my big thing is I HATE the manipulating that goes on and I can’t for the life of me understand why radio goes along with some of it if there isn’t some kind of shady things going on behind the scenes.

            You mentioned that there are people that listen to the radio in the middle of the night and I agree that there are but do those people want to hear ‘Lovin’ Lately’ four times an hour all night long? Why would any radio station do that?


    • seak05 October 5, 2016 / 11:20 am

      Two different charts. This is the BB chart which uses audience, the other main chart is Mediabase, which uses a points system that combines spins and audience. They also use slightly different reporting stations. Ergo sometimes they are different. Getting to #1 on either chart is considered getting a #1. “Girl” is #1 on mediabase this week.


    • Kevin Davis October 5, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Ah, okay, thanks for the info. I didn’t realize about the different charts.


    • Josh Schott October 5, 2016 / 11:25 am

      It was #1 on the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart this week. Usually the same song tops both charts, but this week was a split, which hasn’t happened a lot this year.


      • Raymond October 5, 2016 / 11:28 am

        The only times it has happened is when these songs split the chart

        “Die A Happy Man” and “Stay A Little Longer”

        “Drunk On Your Love” and “You Should Be Here”. But besides that no other splits on the chart this year.


  5. Justin W Adams October 5, 2016 / 12:09 pm

    I haven’t heard star of the show from TR. Is it more of the same bs or did he go in a new direction?


    • Amanda October 5, 2016 / 12:40 pm

      It’s basically a rehash of Die a Happy Man. Meh. Skip it and go listen to WMM’s Missing instead. 🙂


  6. OlaR October 5, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    Brett Young: first Top 10 hit with “Sleep Without You”
    Randy Houser: first participant for the 2017 season of “Dancing With The Has-Beens”?
    (Jana Kramer is going through the roof with “Circles” after “Dancing…”…ok…not really.)

    But his label is still pushing a couple of (more or less) dead horses…songs…: “Roots” (“Approaching Top 40”), “You Make It Look So Good” (“Charted”, “Almost 80 Reporters In”), “Chasing Down A Good Time” (70 Reporters In”) & “Reckon” (“Opening For Cole Swindell This Month”).
    “Reckon” is the current Adam Craig single. (Stoney Creek ad in Mediabase)

    Billboard Country National Airplay:
    #38 – Hot Shot Debut – Thomas Rhett – “Star Of The Show”
    #48 – New – Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl”
    #59 – New – Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
    #60 – New – David Nail feat. Brothers Osborne – “Good At Tonight”

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    #1 – New – Luke Bryan – Farm Tour: Here’s To The Farmer Ep
    #2 – Jason Aldean
    #3 – FGL
    #6 – New – Dwight Yoakam – Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…
    #9 – New – Bradley Walker – Call Me Old-Fashioned
    #12 – New – Reckless Kelly – Sunset Motel

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – Kenny Chesney feat. P!nk
    #2 – Luke Bryan
    #3 – Justin Moore
    #7 – Tim Hicks – “Stompin’ Ground” (highest canadian track)

    Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
    #1 – Amber Lawrence – “Happy Ever After” (up 6 places)
    #2 – Doug Bruce – “Bad Weather” (down 1 place)
    #3 – Natalie Howard – “A Little Cold Right Now” (highest new entry)
    #17 – Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” (highest american track)


  7. petemarshall724 October 5, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Will you make me a list of fake #1’s please? I know we have lot’s of them


    • heyyyhector October 5, 2016 / 11:29 pm

      In 2016 off the top of my head I can think of We Went, Break On Me (was given a quick #1 and taken down quick so Wasted Time could rise before the album dropped), Dibs, Fix, Head Over Boots (charted well enough, took so long and fell fast), and now there’s Justin Moore’s song


  8. petemarshall724 October 5, 2016 / 11:47 pm

    I wish there should a 20-25 week limit on the chart run and get off and release another single.


  9. Nadia Lockheart October 6, 2016 / 2:30 am

    “I Met A Girl” will most certainly not be the next Billboard #1. It has been in free-fall mode since Tuesday alongside “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”.

    “Setting The World On Fire” will easily top both charts this coming Sunday and Monday.


    I definitely dislike every single one of Michael Ray’s singles thus far, but I wouldn’t go so far as to give it a cellar grade.

    It sounds a bit too innocuous much like fellow douche-ditties “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and “She’s Got A Way With Words”: in that their lyrical presentations are ugly, but the production and execution is way too forgettable to leave much in the way of scar tissue and secondary infections. Like “Fix”. Or “Redneck Crazy”.

    I’m thinking a Light 2 out of 10 for it. So yeah, a weak -3.


    As much as I consider “Lovin’ Lately” one of the stronger songs currently charting, I’m terribly annoyed the single is getting the full-blown payola treatment as we speak in attempting a final Too Ten peak on at least Mediabase.

    It simply hasn’t sold or streamed well enough to warrant this push. In fact, its sales run has barely been better than “You Look Like I Need A Drink”.

    Its sales are better now than they were the entire rest of its chart run, but the possibility remains very real that it will receive the dubious dishonor of going Top Ten on at least one chart without even charting the Billboard Hot 100. And that, my friends, is synonymous to chart manipulation.


    Brantley Gilbert is making a big announcement Friday, apparently.

    It ought to be a new single in part. “The Weekend” has no business continuing to loiter around barely above the Top Forty. Valory is wasting their time and resources on this release when it can’t even rouse “BG Nation”.

    Honestly, I think he is already on the decline. But there’s reason to believe he can still at least collect several more airplay hits if they either have more of a melodic foundation or towering hook, which “The Weekend” has neither.


    • Raymond October 6, 2016 / 6:32 am

      Um “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” is still getting promoted by the label. Billy Currington’s bullet on MB is over 500 as of this morning.


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