The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 14]


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. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 1)
  2. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 1)
  3. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  4. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 1)
  5. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Down 4)
  6. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 1)
  7. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 1)
  8. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 2)
  9. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 
  10. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Down 4)
  11. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 
  12. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 1)
  13. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 1)
  14. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 2)
  15. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 2)
  16. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Down 1)
  17. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Down 5) 
  18. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song] 
  19. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 4)
  20. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Down 1)
  21. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 
  22. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Down 2)
  23. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Down 1)
  24. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 1) [Worst Song]
  25. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  26. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Down 2)
  27. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” 0
  28. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5  (Up 1)
  29. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 1)
  30. Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” -3

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -28

The pulse remains the same this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • None

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • None

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” – Up 4 from #23 to #19
  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” – Up 2 from #10 to #8
  • Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” – Up 2 from #16 to #14
  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” – Up 2 from #17 to #15

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” – Down 5 from #12 to #17
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting the World on Fire” – Down 4 from #6 to #10
  • Luke Bryan – “Move” – Down 4 from #1 to #5

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

  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting the World on Fire”
  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” (Losing lots of spins this week and his new single has been officially announced, “Makin’ Me Look Good Again”)
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Losing even more spins and has also announced her next single, called “We Should Be Friends”)
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (A post CMAs bump should help, but I just don’t see this song lasting that much longer. I’m imagining her label is just holding out for top 10 at this point)
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”
  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy”
  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots”
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man”


Note: Billboard announced this week that they’ve changed their recurrent rules. Now any song that is #1 cannot go recurrent in the following week, like Justin Moore’s “You Look Like I Need A Drink” did earlier this year. In addition any bulleted songs from positions 2-5 on the chart cannot go recurrent the following week also. So for those who hate chart clog and manufactured pushes, this will only make these problems worse. Thanks a lot, Billboard! You’re really helping things.

H/T to Chris Baggs for bringing this to my attention.


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

20 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 14]

  1. KQ November 16, 2016 / 11:46 am

    No song entered or left the top 30 this week? Also I wonder why billboard made that change.


    • Raymond November 16, 2016 / 12:09 pm

      According to Billboard, it’s a better reflection of what songs are popular.

      I believe BB should drop a song once the label is done with a song. It makes the chart faster.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond November 16, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    Looking at the Top 30. I am definitely curious to see which songs leave before the Christmas Freeze as I like to call it. All of the Top 5 I can safely say will be out. Along with Miranda Lambert, Drake White and Brothers Osborne.

    I think Lauren Alaina will at least last until January to February as the label wants to release the album. High Valley, Chris Janson, and Jerrod Niemann are all wildcards to leave before the end of the year as all are going slow, but High Valley has the album, Chris Janson has ok sales and Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice have decent testing. I wouldn’t be shocked if Tim McGraw also leaves soon as his song isn’t selling well for its airplay, and I also wouldn’t be shocked if Granger Smith leaves as well for most of the same reason.

    Maren Morris is a pure wildcard. Her testing isn’t great but the sales are decent enough.

    The charts are always interesting the end of the year and I am excited to see how this goes!


    • seak05 November 16, 2016 / 4:36 pm

      Explain the Christmas freeze? Is it just that nobody drops new music at that time? because the charts can still change (also half the stations switch to Xmas music).


      • Josh Schott November 16, 2016 / 4:42 pm

        Basically, yes. Nobody is really sending new singles from mid December until like the second week of January. Lots of focus on Christmas releases. Also we probably won’t be getting Billboard Updates from the second week of December until the new year (this is what happened last year). So there will be change during this time, but we might not even know until weeks later and there won’t be much change. So essentially a freeze.


        • Scotty J November 16, 2016 / 6:58 pm

          I would guess that the last Country Update will be Monday Dec. 12 and then nothing until Monday Jan.9. Maybe there will be one on the 19th of December as that would be for the chart dated December 31 but I’m guessing not based on last year as you mentioned.

          In the olden days the ‘Christmas chart freeze’ was literal as Billboard didn’t even tabulate or publish a chart for the week nearest to New Year’s but now it’s more of an unofficial thing where radio programmers keep the levels of play the same for several weeks.

          This is one big reason why Thomas Rhett got a whopping six weeks at #1 last January.


          • seak05 November 16, 2016 / 7:09 pm

            Well that’s actually why I was wondering, because last year BB had a chart dated Dec 26 that was published the 15th, and one for Jan 2nd, that would’ve been published the 22nd. The 26th chart had “Gonna” on top, while Rhett took over on the 2nd and was then on top till feb 13th, but other songs changed position in that time period. So I was trying to figure out when the freeze took place.


          • Scotty J November 16, 2016 / 7:20 pm

            It really can be confusing and the chart date is more for history’s sake I guess.

            An example would be for this week: Billboard announced on Monday November 14 a new chart compiled from airplay of November 7-13 and that chart is ultimately dated November 26.

            There has always been a lag in the published chart date but it has gotten a little longer over the years for various reasons like the change in release dates to Fridays which changed when Billboard announces the new charts but didn’t change the publish date.

            It’s just one of those weird things that has developed over time and they have never adjusted probably because to do so would play with decades of historical continuity.


  3. OlaR November 16, 2016 / 1:06 pm

    Billboard knows best what’s good for the format & the format stars. For sure!

    The not so big push: Maren Morris is not going through the roof after the CMA awards. The album is down to #10 & the single is selling not much better (#15) compared to last week (#17).

    The weekly lottery:
    LANco – “Long Live Tonight” – #41 (36) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)
    Dylan Scott – “My Girl” – #43 (44) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)
    Jake Owen – “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You” – #44 (43) – no bullet (lost audience)
    Chase Rice – “Everybody We Know Does” – #49 (49) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)
    Kane Brown – “Thunder In The Rain” – #46 (46) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)
    Luke Combs – “Hurricane” – #54 (51) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)
    Tyler Farr – “Our Town” – #56 (58) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)
    Jana Kramer – “Circles” – #58 (59) – no bullet (lost audience)
    Frankie Ballard – “Cancer Stick” – #60 (52) – no bullet (lost plays & audience)

    So-so bullets for RaeLynn (#37 – lost audience), Runaway June (#38 – lost audience), Thompson Square (#47 – lost audience) & Joe Nichols (#48 – lost plays)

    Hot Shot Debut: #53 – Dierks Bentley – “Black”
    New: #59 – Ryan Follese – “Put A Label On It”

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    #1 – Kenny Chesney
    #2 – Chris Stapleton
    #3 – Keith Urban
    New – #4 – Eric Church – TheLiveAlbumWithAVeryLongName
    New – #5 – Various Artists – NowThat’sWhatICallCountry#1’s

    Country Music Services / Country Tracks Top 40 Australia:
    #1 – Justin Standley – “Beechworth Gold”
    #2 – Aly Cook – “Kimberley” (Top Track New Zealand)
    #3 – Alice Benfer – “A Little Bit Flirty” (Top New Track)
    On The Rise – #14 (35) – Allan Caswell & The Weeping Willows – “Golden Days”

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay:
    #1 – Dallas Smith – “Autograph” (Top Track Canada)
    #2 – FGL & Tim McGraw
    #3 – Keith Urban

    New Releases:
    Single – Billy Currington – “Do I Make You Wanna” – 11/21 (an Ashley Gorley & Zach Crowell co-written song)
    Single – Gretchen Wilson – “Rowdy” – 11/04 (released)
    Single – Ryan Kinder – “Close” – 12/05
    Single – Randy Rogers Band – “Tequila Eyes” – 10/31 (released)
    Single – Jackie Lee – “Getting Over You” – 12/12
    Single – Candi Carpenter – “Burn The Bed” – “Impacting Immediatley” (signed to Sony Nashville)
    Single – Drake White – “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” – 12/05
    Single – Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” – 12/12
    Album – John Berry – Christmas – 11/18
    Album – Faith Hill – Deep Tracks – 11/18
    “Deluxe”-EP – Olivia Lane – Olivia Lane 11/18 (Deluxe Ep…lol)
    (Sources: Music Row, Country Aircheck & All Access)


  4. Amanda November 16, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    Since I shared my opinion on the top 30 a couple of weeks ago, this week, I’d like to share my opinion on the lower region of the chart this week.

    31. Jon Pardi, “Dirt on My Boots”: +1 (Maybe I’m being a bit generous here due to my partiality towards Jon Pardi. This song definitely suffers in the lyrical department and the electronic effects are a bit annoying, but it’s not a terrible song. It’s just slightly above average for me. But hey, if Dirt on My Boots is a success and opens the door for Jon to release Cowboy Hat or She Ain’t in It, I’m all for it.)
    32. Josh Turner, “Hometown Girl”: +1 (Another song that is a bit weak in the lyrical department but isn’t terrible. Slightly above average. And Josh sounds great here.)
    33. Kelsea Ballerini, “Yeah Boy”: -5 (And to think she gained some good will with Peter Pan. Kelsea, please, just stop it with the Disney Channel-esque shit. I’m begging you.)
    34. Little Big Town, “Better Man”: +2 (Solid song from Little Big Town. They need to record more like this.)
    35. Craig Campbell, “Outskirts of Heaven”: +3 (great song from Craig Campbell. I hope it cracks the top 30.)
    36. Trent Harmon, “There’s a Girl”: 0 (Trent has a nice voice. The song is just average though.)
    37. RaeLynn, “Love Triangle”: +2 (Yes, I know I absolutely trashed RaeLynn’s anti-feminist anthem “God Made Girls” and the vapid and absolutely disgusting “For a Boy” deservedly. But RaeLynn really proved me wrong about herself as an artist here. This is a great song. It could benefit from some steel guitar and her voice still leaves some to be desired, which hindered the score a little bit. But still, this deserves to be a hit. Job well done, RaeLynn. 🙂 [never thought I’d say that, lol])
    38. Runaway June, “Lipstick”: +3 (Great song. Deserves to be a hit.)
    39. Darius Rucker, “If I Told You”: +1 (Typical above average fare for Darius, like most of his other songs.)
    40. Ronnie Dunn, “Damn Drunk”: +1 (A decent song from Ronnie Dunn.)
    41. Lanco, “Long Live Tonight”: -4 (Old Dominion carbon copy. And couldn’t they have picked a name that didn’t sound like a catering company? Just saying.)
    42. Dan + Shay, “How Not To”: +1 (Pretty decent song, but it sounds way too much like a Rascal Flatts redux. By now Dan + Shay should just change their name to Rascal Flatts 2.0 and just go with it.)
    43. Dylan Scott, “My Girl”: -4 (Really……did he just name-drop Eminem? Holy shit.)
    44. Jake Owen, “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You”: -2 (Jake, this is just so boring. Painfully boring, actually. Go back to “What We Ain’t Got”.)
    45. Chase Bryant, “Room to Breathe”: -5 (Oh my god,no! Hell no! This song is absolute shit.)
    46. Kane Brown, “Thunder in the Rain”: -5 (I sincerely thought I was listening to Justin Bieber when I heard this. Absolutely fucking no. Hopefully this is a flop.)
    47. Thompson Square, “You Make It Look So Good”: -1 (Meh.)
    48. Joe Nichols, “Undone”: -1 (Yawn, Joe. Go back to Brokenheartsville. That was a hell of a song.)
    49. Chase Rice, “Everybody We Know Does”: -4 (Go away Chase. And never come back.)
    50. Chris Lane, “For Her”: -4 (Go away Chris. I seriously thought this was One Direction. For Her is not country and not good.)
    51. Justin Moore, “Somebody Else Will”: -5 (FUCK NO. Just another sleazy hookup song. I’ll pass.)
    52. Hunter Hayes, “Yesterday’s Song: -3 (More Disney Channel Mickey Mouse mouseshit.)
    53. Dierks Bentley, “Black”: -2 (I feel like I need to have a little pep talk with Dierks. “Dierks, you are so much better than this! Remember Up on the Ridge? It was awesome. This recent material? Not so much. Dierks, stop mailing it in. It may work for others, but not for you. We need the Dierks we know and love. Not this.”)
    54. Luke Combs, “Hurricane”: -2 (Boring bro-country, pass.)
    55. Love and Theft, “Candyland”: -5 (Candyland may work for a kids board game, but not a “country” song. Absolutely not.)
    56. Tyler Farr, “Our Town”: 0 (Average song. But better than “Redneck Crazy”, am I right?)
    57. Morgan Wallen, “The Way I Talk”: -4 (Another FGL reject? Probably.)
    58. Jana Kramer, “Circles”: -2 (Naptime!)
    59. Ryan Follese, “Put a Label on It”: -3 (This is pop, not country. And it’s not even good pop.)
    60. Frankie Ballard, “Cigarette”: +1 (More slightly above average Frankie Ballard material, like most of his other songs.)

    If you have any questions or comments on why I scored a song the way I did, feel free to ask!

    Liked by 1 person

    • seak05 November 16, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      RaeLynn really shows the importance of label. She wrote Love Triangle a while back & wanted to release the song, but Big Machine nixed it, instead pushing the terrible Girls/Boys songs.

      When BM dropped her, she moved to Warner, they released Love Triangle as a lead, and are releasing an album on top of it (which is actually doing fairly well on the itunes pre-sale – thinking of WMM as a comparable artist).


    • Scotty J November 16, 2016 / 7:06 pm

      There really is some bad stuff in those bottom twelve songs. The Lane and Love And Theft songs are truly awful. Thankfully I don’t think either are going to make it far. I think Chris Lane is going to be the first of a growing number of one hit wonders in mainstream country as it has become possible through various forms of corruption to pretty much buy a #1 hit but you still can’t buy a successful career. Yet.


      • Amanda November 16, 2016 / 7:38 pm

        For sure, Scotty. Out of those last twelve songs, the best thing is Frankie Ballard’s “Cigarette”, which is really nothing special but decent enough to get a positive score. The Tyler Farr song was average as well. Meh, forgettable after it’s chart run is through. The other ten are either insanely boring (Black, Circles, and Hurricane), could work in another format but sure as hell not country (Put a Label on It and Yesterday’s Song), or are absolute abominations (the other seven). As for Candyland, I think I have found my last entry for my worst singles of 2016 year-end list. 😦


    • Raymond November 16, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      Can you please go more in depth on why you like “Lipstick”? I love the song a lot and btw everyone here dhould check out the music video that came out for it!


      • Amanda November 16, 2016 / 10:05 pm

        Lipstick is awesome! Runaway June has great harmonies and the song sounds kinda like a Dixie Chicks song. (I am a die-hard Dixie Chicks fan, btw.) Lipstick is a great example of how country music should evolve in 2016. It has some pop sensibilities, but definitely more country in it with the continuous fiddle throughout the track. The song is written quite well, as well. There is a definite place in country music for songs like Lipstick. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it’s definitely country. I am so excited to see what Runaway June does next and Lipstick more than deserves to be a hit! And the video is awesome, by the way.


  5. Kevin Davis November 16, 2016 / 4:43 pm

    I heard Craig Campbell’s “Outskirts of Heaven” on the radio this morning. I’d love to see it in the top 30 soon. As for the current pulse, I would certainly give “Seein’ Red” or “The Weekend” the worst song award.

    “Vice” was a bold pick for a lead single. I wish it would have done better, but I’m not surprised. Radio would much rather play the ear candy of “Sleep Without You,” which is basically a copycat of Hunt’s “Leave the Night On.” Brett Young is obviously being groomed in the mold of Sam Hunt — two pretty boy sex objects for the horny masses of consumers.


    • Amanda November 16, 2016 / 5:06 pm

      Honestly, I don’t see the sex appeal of Brett Young. I think he looks like a goat. But what do I know, I find Gary Allan to be super sexy and I also find William Michael Morgan and Jon Pardi attractive. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Country radio programmers are seemingly mindless sheep. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Justin W Adams November 19, 2016 / 9:08 am

    I know this is unrelated but can someone explain why Hunter Hayes disappeared suddenly. I didn’t care much for his music but he is a talented kid


    • Raymond November 19, 2016 / 11:22 am

      One word “Invisible”. That song served as his lead off song for his sophomore album and completely butchered all momentum he had. It was a ballad (not a good one) in the height of Bro Country.


    • Josh Schott November 19, 2016 / 4:15 pm

      Lack of hits. When an artist who isn’t a star for their label and fails to generate enough hits for their liking, they will disappear for a while. This is what has also happened to Josh Turner and Gary Allan in recent years.


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