The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 23]

Creepy Blake
You get another week of creepy eyes staring back at you. Hey don’t blame me, blame country radio.

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. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 
  2. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 2)
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” (Down 1)
  4. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 1) 
  5. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Down 2)
  6. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  7. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 3) 
  8. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 1)
  9. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Up 2)
  10. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 4) [Worst Song]
  11. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 (Up 1) [Best Song] 
  12. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 3)
  13. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 3)
  14. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Down 1)
  15. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 2)
  16. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Up 3)
  17. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  18. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 4)
  19. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 2)
  20. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”
  21. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 2)
  22. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” (Up 2)
  23. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3 (Up 4)
  24. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 2)
  25. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 
  26. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Up 2)
  27. Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good” -4 (New to Top 30)
  28. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Up 1)
  29. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (Up 1)
  30. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -28

The pulse drops three spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” 0
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
    • This is the second single from Lambert’s great album The Weight of These Wings. It’s certainly not as good as previous single “Vice” and this is probably one of the lesser songs of the album. That being said it’s solid. It’s a clever song about Lambert identifying who she has a friend in, from the frankly honest to the heartbroken. She keeps the song simple and it works. I’m not sure if country radio will get behind it, but it should at least reach top 20/top 15 I think. It should also be pointed out Lambert wrote this one completely herself. While this is certainly not a highlight of her most recent album, one of Lambert’s lesser songs still beats most of the songs at country radio right now. 7/10

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 4 from #27 to #23
  • Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” – Up 3 from #10 to #7

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Down 2 from #3 to #5

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

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (Another bad week and yet again keeps the bullet)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” (Also had another bad week and is still here)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (This one continues to stay alive too)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Insert what I said above)
  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” – (Bad sales and a really bad week at radio. Also lost bullet. Needs a lot of help to prevent going recurrent)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Call me crazy, but I have the strangest feeling this will somehow luck it’s way into the top ten. It’s odds of making top 15 are pretty good. If it does, I’m gonna laugh so damn hard that Garth has a top ten at country radio in 2017.)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
  • Runaway June – “Lipstick”
  • Rascal Flatts – “Yours if You Want It”
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”

Note: Well on the bright side, there’s five solo women artists in the top 30 and I can’t remember the last time this has happened. On the obvious negative side of course, the pulse just continues to plunge. This week you can blame Lady Antebellum and their horrible new song. Also labels and their incessant gerrymandering to keep 40 week plus old songs around.


As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below. 

23 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 23]

  1. Raymond January 25, 2017 / 11:17 am

    I’m shocked you don’t have Keith Urban leaving soon. He’s in freefall and he’s ranked #8 when it comes to spins so all it takes is Jon Pardi, Eric Church/ Rhiannon Giddens, and Luke Bryan to pass Keith Urban in spins.

    Warner Bros is to blame for all of this. They continue to hold onto High Valley and Chris Janson, for no reason. I love “Holdin Her” bht it’s overstayed it’s welcome. “Parachute” did finally give up as it’s in freefall on MB so that’ll be gone.

    Maren Morris is desperately holding on. Maybe she lasts one last week.

    I am confused with Trent Harmon leaving his sales are poor but Granger Smith are a lot worse and that song is starting to stall out. Back to Trent Harmon. I still believe this was a bunp week and it has more to do with Chris Janson and High Valley not giving up.

    Also it’s causing songs like “Love Triangle” to hit a stop.

    At least on the brightside all the songs looking to enter are at least meh to great. When “Its Yours If You Want It” is you’re worst song, that’s encouraging.

    Unfortunately it’s official Sam Hunt will release “Body Like A Backroad” as a single. But Maddie and Tae will have a new lead single in February.

    As for our new arrivals

    Lady Antebellum You Look Good 9/10. I’m a sucker for horns and I love the flirtiness in the song. Also I absolutely adore Hillary Scott’s vocals.

    Miranda Lambert We Should Be Friends +3
    I like it a lot due to the product and the fact it’s a solo written song. It’s ashamed Miranda Lambert has basically seen middle of the road success since 2015. Basically the moment she released “Little Red Wagon” it seems like her radio success has been rather lacking.


  2. Amanda January 25, 2017 / 11:21 am

    “You get another week of creepy eyes staring back at you. Hey don’t blame me, blame country radio.” Lol. Hoping Maren gets a top ten with 80’s Mercedes, as I love that song (I’m probably the only one here that does, it’s the ultimate guilty pleasure song!). Hoping RaeLynn and Runaway June hit the top 30 soon, along with William Michael Morgan. Also super cool to see Jon Pardi inching closer to the top 10 (I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Dirt on My Boots, although it is decent. [+1 for me]) Maybe another hit will give him a shot to release Cowboy Hat (my favorite!) or She Ain’t In It as a single. Also, Josh, will you be reviewing the new Brantley Gilbert and Lauren Alaina albums? Of what I’ve heard so far of Lauren Alaina, it’s pretty decent. Same Day Different Bottle and Painting Pillows are awesome. I may have to check the full album out for myself. If the Brantley Gilbert album is anything like the lead single, then count me out. I’ve heard a few snippets of some of the songs and the only ones that actually sound okay are Three Feet of Water and We’re Gonna Ride Again. The rest, no thanks. As always, I love reading the blog! The reviews and pulses are my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond January 25, 2017 / 11:28 am

      Maren Morris did hit the Top 10 on the MB country airplay chart so “80s Mercedes” has hit the Top 10.


      • Amanda January 25, 2017 / 11:36 am

        Awesome! Didn’t notice that, lol. Thanks!


    • Josh Schott January 25, 2017 / 11:41 am

      I enjoy “80s Mercedes” too, but it just doesn’t belong at country radio and is a much better fit at pop radio. Yeah, I’ll definitely be reviewing Brantley and Alaina’s new albums. I’m not expecting much of either, especially the Gilbert album. I just saw the lyrics for a song called “Bro Code” on the album and it’s one of the most mind-numbingly dumb set of lyrics I’ve ever read. I already had some ideas prepared for that review, but now I’m preparing for some truly awful.


      • Raymond January 25, 2017 / 12:21 pm

        They are some songs I think you’d like Josh from Lauren Alaina’s upcoming album Like “Painting Pillows” and “Same Day Different Bottle” liked Amanda said.

        I do expect a rather mixed review for the album. I’ll probably love it though!


      • Nadia Lockheart January 25, 2017 / 12:48 pm

        I can see moments on Alaina’s album pleasantly surprising me (I did like “Same Day Different Bottle”), but don’t hold your breath with Brantley Gilbert.

        It’s quite obvious Brantley Gilbert was dismayed by how much “BG Nation” didn’t like much of “Just As I Am” due to how soft and reflective many of the tracks were, and so “The Devil Don’t Sleep” is his means of making it up to all of them by purposefully delivering another set of big, loud and dumb fist-pumpers dripping with machismo. I saw this happening from hundreds of miles away. Still, he’s better than this.


      • Amanda January 25, 2017 / 1:12 pm

        Oh dear, that Bro Code thing is terrible. If it is released as a single, Thomas Rhett could have some stiff competition in my list of worst country singles of all time 😦 . Can’t wait to see your thoughts on these albums! 🙂


  3. Nadia Lockheart January 25, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Well……………… we are: the first full week of the Trump Era. It will be interesting to see whether this already dumpster-fire of an era results in me suddenly being able to tolerate even the lesser singles on this chart in comparison! =P


    “Baby, Let’s Lay Down & Dance” has absolutely NO business being where it is on the chart.

    It’s second only to Granger Smith in terms of chart debacles in the meantime. I think we simply have to concede between the both of them that radio is becoming harder to predict with all the quixotic decisions being made.


    Other than that, it’s pretty much a repeat of what I said last week for the most part.

    “Kill A Word” is still struggling to pick up the pace despite meager gains this past week in both spins and audience. Lauren Alaina’s sophomore album drops Friday and the release of her feature on Kane Brown’s “What Ifs” comes the following week, so we’ll more than likely be seeing “Road Less Traveled” wrap it up around that time. “The Weekend” is still wasting time and setting “The Devil Don’t Sleep” for an underwhelming debut. And Granger Smith is………………..being Granger Smith (I don’t even know anymore! =P ).


    “Black” is still struggling badly after the release of the acclaimed video.

    Yes: it has still been moving along better in terms of chart weeks than most of its competition. But relative to how the lead two singles from the album of the same name have fared, “Black” is struggling so far.

    I’m curious to see callout for this one because I can’t help but wonder if the lyrical content (most notably how the lyrics are framed) is backfiring. I can honestly see that happening, as much as I personally consider the song little more than dead-boring.


    Yeah……………………all in all a rather ho-hum, uneventful week! (le sigh)


    • Josh Schott January 25, 2017 / 1:02 pm

      I’ll be real interested to see how “What Ifs” performs on the chart. This is pretty much make or break time for Kane Brown. If it fails and radio stays unanimous with their shutting out of Brown, I’ll have some interesting thoughts on this. One of the things that interests me out of this possible failure is will this prompt country music to finally start embracing streaming more? Because I could see Brown and his team throwing everything behind streaming in the event radio rejects him. There’s clearly a sizable group of people who are behind his music, even though I don’t like it. So I could see Brown dominating country streaming. But first we must wait to see if he finally breaks through.

      If “Black” doesn’t show improvement in the next month, I would pull it if I were Bentley’s label and then release “I’ll Be The Moon.” It would be perfect timing with Morris getting ready to go recurrent after the disappointing performance of “80s Mercedes” and kind of being aimless of where to go next. Also would surely land them some noms on the awards circuit too. We all saw how well “Different for Girls” did, so there’s no reason why it couldn’t happen again with “I’ll Be The Moon.”


  4. petemarshall724 January 25, 2017 / 12:46 pm

    I do like 80’s Mercedes and Make you Mine and I hope they have good push on radio to make it top 10.


  5. OlaR January 25, 2017 / 12:51 pm

    High Valley up to #21 with a bullet & an ad for Chris Janson in Aircheck (up to #24 with a bullet)…lol.

    RaeLynn lost her bullet. She’s up to #33 (34) but with Rascal Flatts close behind.

    The No-Bullet-Lottery:
    #49 – Morgan Wallen
    #52 – Aaron Watson
    #53 – Cody Johnson
    #54 – Tyler Farr
    #57 – Candi Carpenter
    #58 – Seth Ennis
    #60 – Ryan Follese (Re-Entry)

    Other New & Re-Entries: #59 – Drew Baldridge feat. Emily Weisband – “Rebound” / #55 – Tucker Beathard – “Momma & Jesus” / #60 – Ryan Follese – Who cares

    Billboard Top Country Albums: #1 – Chris Stapleton (Sturgill Simpson back to #3)
    Billboard Americana/Folk Albums: #1 – Chris Stapleton (Sturgill Simpson back to #2)

    Billboard Canada Country National Airplay / Canadian Artists Only:
    #1 – Chad Brownlee – “Somethin’ We Shouldn’t Do”
    #2 – Lindsay Ell – “All Alright”
    #3 – James Barker Band – “Just Sayin'”
    #4 – Dean Brody – “Time”
    #5 – Tim Hicks – “Slow Burn”

    Country Tracks Top 40 Australia / Country Music Services:
    #1 – Justin Standley – “Sweet Ophelia”
    #2 – Casey Barnes – “Just Like Magic”
    #3 – Rick Hart – “Driver Alone”
    On The Rise: #16 (38) – Allan Caswell & The Weeping Willows – “Golden Days”
    Top New Track: #27 – Viper Creek Band – “Just Press Play”

    Rick Hart – “Driver Alone” (EP: Driver Alone with 3 Tracks): “Driver Alone” is an uptempo &radio-friendly tune with steel guitar & Rick Harts unique voice. His (australian) kind of country & country-rock are close to the sound of Texas-country & red-dirt music. (8/10)

    Leaving Thomas – “Waiting Kind Of Girl” (Single): new male/female duo. The single is the new #44 in Canada. Very catchy & very forgettable. “Modern pop-country” like the most canadian tracks. Loud guitars & loud vocals. (2/10)


  6. seak05 January 25, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    A bunch of songs need to give up and go, the charts are totally clogged. Miranda’s new song is fine, it’s a light ditty, but it’s nothing special. They clearly released it as radio friendly. Miranda and Dierks both still have relatively young songs (remember chart clog + slow down). Maren is going to release “Rich” next. Sam Hunt’s totally terrible new song will probably get an hourly airplay boost. You will probably have creepy eyes again next week (whatever the song is fine, and it’s testing numbers are great, I’m not exactly clamoring for Thomas and Dustin to get to #1)


    • Josh Schott January 25, 2017 / 1:57 pm

      That confirmed for Maren? Because if it is that’s a big mistake. No way I see country radio getting behind it. And yeah creepy eyes is pretty much guaranteed again next week haha.


      • seak05 January 25, 2017 / 2:09 pm

        Not officially announced, but the Highway has been spinning it for a while. I think they’re going for sales/streaming over radio.


      • Raymond January 25, 2017 / 2:42 pm

        It might be one where they aim more for buzz than airplay like we saw the last couple of years with songs like “Little Red Wagon” and “Vacation”

        At the very least “Rich” has the potential for an amazing music video


    • Nadia Lockheart January 25, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Yeah, “Rich” is a REALLY dumb choice if it has been confirmed.

      Sure: if “80’s Mercedes” strained THIS badly just to dent the Top Ten, then no other song from the album is going to fare any better. But “Rich” would be an even more polarizing track in terms of callout and, when it worked against her for the most part with “80’s Mercedes”, she’ll be lucky to even dent the Top Twenty this time around.


      • Raymond January 26, 2017 / 8:03 am

        I’m expecting a “Shut Up And Fish” or at best “Little Red Wagon” part 2. Radio loves to add Maren Morris right away but like Maddie & Tae I don’t expect any good callout scores for “Rich”.

        At least there’s potential for an amazing music video.


    • Becca January 26, 2017 / 10:47 pm

      Nooo, really?

      I would vote for “I Could Use a Love Song.”


  7. jmartin103 January 26, 2017 / 1:16 am

    For songs that I can see soon leaving the top 30, I’d have to say “If the Boot Fits” because its sales are terrible, as other readers have pointed out, and the fact that it’s been on the chart for 47 weeks. Once again, the top 5 songs are mostly crap, except for Carrie’s song. And I know that this is off topic, but does anyone know why Brad Paisley decided to delay the release of his album, “Love and War”, again? It was originally set for a March 3 release date, but I read that he delayed it again when “Today” is doing so well, and doing better than “Without a Fight” did.


    • Josh Schott January 26, 2017 / 1:45 pm

      I have no clue on why Paisley delayed Love and War again. I’m as baffled as you are, as I thought “Today” was successful enough to get it out. All I’ve saw on it was The Boot article announcing it was delayed, but no reason was cited. All I can think of is Paisley or somewhat at the label wasn’t happy with something on it and it was big enough to get it delayed further. Or they want a third single out before they release it, which could be it because a lot of mainstream artists lately have been doing this.


      • Raymond January 26, 2017 / 2:37 pm

        I thought that article said it’d be later in the month. If they are planning on delaying it outright, it’s only going to hurt Brad Paisley as nothing Brad Paisley releases is guaranteed to do well


      • Nadia Lockheart January 26, 2017 / 7:40 pm

        They really screwed the pooch with this release rollout.

        “Today” may not be conquering the digital sales chart, but its streaming has been decent and it has continued to steadily move at a more-than-healthy pace in airplay. I would view that as more than enough to green-light an album release.

        The only other hypothetical that comes up is a change of heart in creative direction. Maybe the changing social climate prompted Brad to put the album on hold, record a few new songs that speak to the social changes and re-think what he wants to say as a whole? That’s possible seeing that Paisley has not been afraid to delve into more challenging topics, and that other artists including U2 have cited Trump as the reason they have scrapped original release dates for upcoming projects.

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