The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 21]


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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -29

The pulse drops one spot this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World on Fire” -2
  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3
  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” -3 (Hopefully this one finally goes away for good. Stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, Curb)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Little Big Town – “Better Man”
    • I already gave this a full review, but I just wanted to add that as soon as I saw the announcement that Taylor Swift was the one who wrote this song, I knew country radio would get behind it and sure enough they have. Country radio still loves Taylor. The Swift Effect will take this to #1.
  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots”
    • Pardi landed his first #1 hit earlier this year with “Head Over Boots” and has had a breakout year, showing himself to be one of the more promising names in mainstream country. He’s now back with the follow-up, “Dirt On My Boots,” a song lot of you have expressed you don’t exactly like. Most of the reactions I’ve seen range from meh to outright disdain. And I totally get it. But I disagree. Yes, the production for this song sounds like 2000s Jason Aldean singles plus fiddles. This isn’t ideal, but at the same time the production is admittedly infectious. I really enjoy the fiddles on this song and it gives the song a really fun tone. The lyrics are catchy and it’s nice to have more upbeat songs like this mixed in with more serious material. The reason I can’t get angry at this song like other party songs is because this song has nothing offensive about it. There aren’t any sexist or really stupid lyrics I can dock at for. At worst the lyrics are around middle of the road. On another note, this appears well on it’s way to being a hit, as it’s already in the top 30 after nine weeks and is selling quite well. The silver lining for those who don’t like this song is this being a hit should afford Pardi to release one of the better songs from California Sunrise as a single (fingers crossed for “She Ain’t In It”). 6/10
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy”
    • Yeah let’s cut to the chase here: I hate this song. This comes after Ballerini released her best single to date (although admittedly it wasn’t a high bar to beat). I hadn’t heard this song since listening to the album when it was released and after one listen I developed a light headache. I’m going to quote Derek in his review of Ballerini’s debut album with this thoughts on the song: I listen to her song “Yeah Boy” and think of Billy Currington’s “Hey Girl.” In fact, if Currington walked up to Ballerini and just said “hey girl” she’d probably respond with “yeah boy” and off they’d go to some pick-up truck in a field. This song is yet another song where Kelsea Ballerini simply sings a bro-country song from the female perspective. I’m done. 0/10
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Up 11 from #34 to #23
  • Brad Paisley – “Today” – Up 6 from #23 to #17
  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” – Up 6 from #31 to #25

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting the World on Fire” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” – Out of the Top 30 (to #31)

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

  • Luke Bryan – “Move”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes”
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled”
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (This still isn’t showing much progress and I find it hard to believe it’ll go any higher than #25)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”
  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl”
  • Dierks Bentley – “Black”
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven”


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

16 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 21]

  1. Amanda November 22, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    Finally, there are some new songs in the Top 30. I agree completely with you on Jon Pardi, Little Big Town, and Kelsea Ballerini. Dirt on My Boots is decent, Better Man is good, and Yeah Boy is gosh-awful. I’m also sad to see “Vice” leave the top 30. I like that song a lot. And another thing: it’s kind of off topic, but when will you be posting your nominees for the worst songs of 2016 list? I always enjoy them, since they are so well-written and hilarious to read.


    • KQ November 22, 2016 / 3:00 pm

      I second that. I always laugh really hard reading those.


    • Josh Schott November 22, 2016 / 4:37 pm

      All of the year end lists and nominees will start coming out next Monday, so stay tuned!


      • Amanda November 22, 2016 / 5:37 pm

        Great! Can’t wait to see them. I am working on mine currently for the comments section.


  2. OlaR November 22, 2016 / 2:59 pm

    Billboard Country Update Headline: “Pop/Rock/R&B Songwriters Increasingly Attracted To Country”.
    What about more COUNTRY songwriters increasingly attracted to write real country songs?!
    Who needs busbee…

    Since the first half of the charts is boring…here is the weekly lottery:
    No bullet for Thompson Square (#48 – 47), Luke Combs (#52 – 54) & Niemann/Brice (#31 – 30)
    So-so bullets for Hunter Hayes (#56 – 52 / lost audience), Love & Theft (#57 – 55 / lost plays) & RaeLynn (#34 – 37 / lost audience & plays)

    Hot Shot Debut: #50 – Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
    New: #51 – LoTrash – “Ring On Every Finger”
    New: #55 – Cody Johnson – “With You I Am”
    New: #59 – William Michael Morgan – “Missing”

    Cody Johnson?! Who’s next? Margo Price? Cody Jinks?

    Billboard Top Country Albums:
    New: #1 – Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood – Christmas Together
    New: #2 – Home Free – Full Of (Even More) Cheer
    New: #3 – Ronnie Dunn – Tattooed Heart

    Billboard Americana/Folk Albums:
    #1 – Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
    #2 – Chris Stapleton – Traveller
    #3 – Chuck Murphy – Peace Be With You
    New: #9 – Various Artists – The Life & Songs Of Emmylou Harris
    Other New Entries: #4 – Bob Dylan / #5 – Hart Valley Drifters


  3. Amanda November 22, 2016 / 4:09 pm

    My opinion on the new songs in the top 60:

    50. Miranda Lambert, “We Should Be Friends”: +2 Another good song from Miranda. I enjoy Miranda’s interesting take on the qualities she looks for in a friend.
    51. LoCash, “Ring on Every Finger”: -4 Somebody stop them. Please. LoCash is back infecting country music with their white trashiness once again. Ugh. I think I’ll pass on this one.
    55. Cody Johnson, “With You I Am”: +1 Decent, above average country love song. I enjoy hearing the steel guitar in this song. It could be better, but it’s not bad by any stretch.
    59. William Michael Morgan, “Missing”: +5 Excellent in every sense of the word. This is a pure country song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a George Strait album. The fiddle and steel guitar sound heavenly. Lots of the new male singers (with the exception of Jon Pardi and maybe a few others) should be taking notes from this guy. Real country music can be fun too, just ask William Michael Morgan. In my honest opinion, this is the best single and one of the best songs of 2016. It is traditional, well-written, well-performed, and fantastic. Another great song from William Michael Morgan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Justin W Adams November 22, 2016 / 4:44 pm

    I don’t disdain party songs as much as I do they production that seems to go along w it these days (electronic drums)

    One song that comes to mind for me is Old enough to know better by Wade Hayes 1995ish? While I do prefer songs with deeper lyrics I can enjoy “Party” songs if it’s done in a non offensive manner. That’s how I feel about Jon Pardi’s new song. It’s not deep material but I do enjoy listening to it. I don’t mind it at all


  5. Alex Tomasek November 22, 2016 / 5:27 pm

    The review for kelsea ballerini is hilarious Im literally aughung my assignment off!!!!!


  6. seak05 November 22, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens with #1 and the freeze: Next week will be Brent and the week after FGL, week after that should be ODU & then Brett would get the freeze, but if Keith wants the freeze, Brett might try to push early. On the other hand, radio seems to love Brett’s song, even though Keith’s is by far the bigger seller.

    Carrie still has a good size lead on Blake, but radio is converting him fast, Tim has stayed fairly stagnant.


  7. jmartin103 November 22, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    I reblogged this to my own blog, Bring Back Real Country Music. You can see it at I also included my own thoughts of each song, as well as a review of Dustin Lynch’s “Seein’ Red”.


  8. jmartin103 November 22, 2016 / 10:17 pm

    And if it’s okay, I would like to start doing the Past Pulses on there as well. I really enjoyed them so much on here that I decided to revive the feature in my own blog if it’s okay. It’s so much fun to do!


    • jmartin103 November 22, 2016 / 10:17 pm

      On my blog, that is.


      • Josh Schott November 22, 2016 / 10:21 pm

        Sure, go right ahead.


  9. Jordan November 23, 2016 / 2:00 am

    I listened to Jason Aldean’s upcoming single, “Any Ol’ Barstool,” and I heard a song that actually had deeper meaning and a little bit of a story behind it. Coming from him, that’s a huge improvement. Hopefully that song is as successful as this one, because it shows that Aldean doesn’t always release trash music (not that his current single is that bad). Drake White’s new single is also a very good song. Hopefully he can get another top 15 hit out of it.

    As for this list, I completely disagree with “Dirt On My Boots.” I would like to say good things about it because it’s Jon Pardi, but it’s still a rehash of what we’ve been hearing the past few years. Nothing new, and at times it’s actually very bro-sounding. I would give it a -2 at best. I would also love to see “Outskirts of Heaven” hit the top 30, as it’s one of the more country-sounding songs that has charted all year.

    As for the other newcomers, I think you hit the nail on the head.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kevin L. November 28, 2016 / 1:14 pm

    I think Jon Pardi is exactly what country music needs right now. Country music will not shift from the crappy “Bro Country” to good country immediately. It will take some time. Jon’s first album, “Write You A Song” was a great country album that had mostly meaningful lyrics and a pure country guitar tone. However, mainstream country radio didn’t play most of the songs because Florida Georgia Line was in the height (and hopefully the highest they’ll ever be) of their career. Jon’s new album, “California Sunrise” is a mix between bro country and good country. Hopefully some listeners that aren’t as educated in country (A.K.A Florida Georgia Line enthusiasts) will look up not only Jon Pardi’s new album that consists of great country songs such as “She ain’t in it” or “All time high” or maybe even look up some of his older great country songs such as, “Happens All The Time” or “Chasin’ Them Better Days”. But that is just my two cents from a Jon Pardi fan.


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