The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 2010]


Yes, you read that right! With Josh’s permission I have brought this feature back to life on Country Perspective. Considering I was just a reader when this feature was introduced, I am definitely excited to see it revived as well as be the one in charge of it.

What the Past Pulse will do is take a look at the Billboard Country Airplay Chart (or, “Hot Country Songs” as it used to be called) from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. Each song on the chart will receive either a +1, 0, or -1. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the top 30 songs with the highest score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. Songs rated between a 7 and 10 will receive a +1. Songs rated either 5 or 6 will receive a 0. Songs rated 4 or lower will receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. Since I got involved with country music in 2010 (due more to age than quality of the music at the time), I will take a look at the top 30 on the Country Airplay Chart from August 14, 2010.

  1. Jerrod Niemann – “Lover, Lover” +1
  2. Zac Brown Band – “Free” +1
  3. Keith Urban – “I’m In” 0
  4. Carrie Underwood – “Undo It” -1
  5. Blake Shelton – “All About Tonight” -1
  6. Lee Brice – “Love Like Crazy” +1
  7. Billy Currington – “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer” -1
  8. Lady Antebellum – “Our Kind Of Love” 0
  9. Luke Bryan – “Rain Is A Good Thing” -1
  10. Uncle Kracker – “Smile” -1
  11. Kenny Chesney – “The Boys Of Fall” -1
  12. Josh Turner – “All Over Me” 0
  13. Easton Corbin – “Roll With It” +1
  14. Little Big Town – “Little White Church” 0
  15. Craig Morgan – “This Ain’t Nothin’” +1
  16. Darius Rucker – “Come Back Song” 0
  17. Alan Jackson – “Hard Hat and A Hammer” +1
  18. Gary Allan – “Get Off On The Pain” +1
  19. Rodney Atkins – “Farmer’s Daughter” +1
  20. David Nail – “Turning Home” +1 [Best Song]
  21. Josh Thompson – “Way Out Here” -1
  22. Sugarland – “Stuck Like Glue” -1 [Worst Song]
  23. The Band Perry – “If I Die Young” +1
  24. George Strait – “The Breath You Take” +1
  25. Toby Keith – “Trailerhood” -1
  26. Justin Moore – “How I Got To Be This Way” -1
  27. James Otto – “Groovy Little Summer Song” -1
  28. Reba McEntire – “Turn On The Radio” 0
  29. Trace Adkins – “This Ain’t No Love Song” 0
  30. Steve Azar – “Sunshine (Everybody Needs A Little)” 0

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: 0

Wow, we’re without a Pulse folks! The sad part is that not having a Pulse is better than the negative Pulses we’ve been exposed to these days.

So what’s changed in these past six years? The Band Perry was ascending the charts with what would turn out to be their biggest hit, and by golly it’s actually a freaking country song! So now that they seemed to have died young can I bury them in yellow instead of satin? George Strait and Alan Jackson were not only still on the country charts at this time, but they were in the top 25! Now it takes a Beyonce move just to get Strait into the top 40. What’s that they used to say? “There’s been an awful murder down on music row.” My how things change. Craig Morgan released arguably his best song ever during this time too. Heck, even Easton Corbin and Jerrod Niemann were still viewed as the good guys of mainstream country music! Gary Allan was still releasing the badass moody rockers that have shaped his entire career (and not having to appeal to trends). My personal favorite song on here though is David Nail’s “Turning Home,” a song that I always felt was under-appreciated. Sure, it may not have been the most countriest thing out there, but the song told a damn good story and Nail’s emotion and vocal presence on this track was absolutely amazing.

Then there’s the bad stuff, even if it doesn’t compare with the lows we’ve seen today. Though he wasn’t shaking his ass for females everywhere yet, Luke Bryan still had a very annoying song out at the time with “Rain Is A Good Thing.” It’s also interesting to see that Blake Shelton has been releasing formulaic material for a LONG time at this point. “All About Tonight” is a total snooze-fest. Then of course we have Sugarland and their God-awful rap/reggae song which coincidentally was their last “big” hit ever. Surprisingly enough these two have both crafted some pretty solid music in their own solo careers. We also had Uncle Kracker’s cheesy, non-country “Smile” song, which bugged the ever-loving crap out of me as a teenager. Carrie Underwood’s “Undo It” was also released here, and it’s by far my least favorite song of hers. I think she can handle country-pop very well, but man this was bad…..

What’s interesting to see is that Carrie Underwood is the only solo female on this chart. Oh well, at least there wasn’t any bro-country or metropolitan. Little victories guys, little victories.

So what do you think of this chart? What’s your favorite and least favorite of the above songs? Do you want this feature to stay or remain gone?

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2010]

Every week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. It could be 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even further back. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site by either Derek or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I take a look at the top 30 on the Country Airplay Chart from March 13, 2010.

  1. Josh Turner – “Why Don’t We Just Dance” +1
  2. Billy Currington – “That’s How Country Boys Roll” -1
  3. Darius Rucker – “History In The Making” 0
  4. Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins – “Hillbilly Bone” -1
  5. Brad Paisley – “American Saturday Night” 0
  6. Easton Corbin – “A Little More Country Than That” +1
  7. Carrie Underwood – “Temporary Home” +1
  8. Keith Urban – “‘Til Summer Comes Around” 0
  9. Zac Brown Band – “Highway 20 Ride” +1
  10. Lady Antebellum – “American Honey” 0
  11. Kenny Chesney – “Ain’t Back Yet” -1
  12. Taylor Swift – “Fearless” -1
  13. Rascal Flatts – “Unstoppable” -1
  14. Kellie Pickler – “Didn’t Know How Much I Loved You” +1
  15. Steel Magnolia – “Keep On Lovin’ You” 0
  16. Justin Moore – “Backwoods” -1
  17. Eric Church – “Hell On The Heart” +1
  18. Joe Nichols – “Gimme That Girl” 0
  19. Alan Jackson – “It’s Just That Way” +1
  20. Chris Young – “The Man I Want To Be” 0
  21. George Strait – “I Gotta Get To You” +1
  22. Tim McGraw – “Still” +1
  23. Martina McBride – “Wrong Baby Wrong” +1
  24. Clay Walker – “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” +1
  25. The Band Perry – “Hip To My Heart” -1
  26. Reba – “I Keep On Lovin’ You” 0
  27. Love and Theft – “Dancing In Circles” +1
  28. Luke Bryan – “Rain Is A Good Thing” -1
  29. Lee Brice – “Love Like Crazy” 0
  30. Gretchen Wilson – “Work Hard, Play Harder” 0

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +4

As we continue to look further towards the present, the pulse continues to drop. Two weeks ago we looked the chart in 2005 and it was +22. Last week we looked at the chart in 2007 and it was at +10. This week we look at the chart in 2010 and it’s down to +4. Clearly the quality drops the closer we get to present day and the pre-cursors to the problems currently plaguing the genre are rearing their ugly heads. At the top of this chart is a good song, Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” Turner to this day continues to produce solid country music that appeals to the roots of the genre and country radio. We need more artists like Turner. Right behind that though is a problematic song in Billy Currington’s “That’s How Country Boys Roll.” This song being a success is what helped lead to a lot of country songs about how country they are. Then you have the ridiculous “Hillbilly Bone,” which was pretty much Trace Adkins last hurrah as he’s faded into obscurity since this hit. Also another song comparing country boys to city boys.

Easton Corbin just broke out with “A Little More Country Than That” and really got me excited about his potential at the time. Unfortunately he’s declined in quality ever since. What a shame. Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” was a nice return to her early beginnings after releasing mediocre pop country singles “Cowboy Casanova” and “Undo It.” Zac Brown Band’s “Highway 20 Ride” is one of the group’s most sentimental songs in their library. Kenny Chesney had run out of ideas at about this time in 2010 and really he’s still out of new ideas for songs. Same could be said for Rascal Flatts. Taylor Swift was in the midst of her big rise to becoming a superstar. Kellie Pickler was still on radio and I wish I had appreciated it more. Steel Magnolia doesn’t even exist anymore and one half of the duo is now “trying out” on The Voice.

Justin Moore’s “Backwoods” was terrible then and still terrible now. This song and really his music helped usher in bro-country. I need to pick a week when “Bait A Hook” is charting so I can rant about it. Eric Church wasn’t an egomaniac making pop rock yet. Joe Nichols was slowly starting to fall to the dark side. Sure “Gimme That Girl” isn’t terrible, but giving it a pass is what led to him making “Yeah” in my opinion. From 19-24 (other than Chris Young), torch bearers of country music from the 90s and 2000s were slowly fading in radio play. Love and Theft was still a trio and this single was actually not that bad. Luke Bryan’s “Rain Is A Good Thing” was his first big hit and it annoyed the absolute shit out of me. Radio played this one to death, at least in my area. This just made me hate rain even more.

So what do you think of this chart? What’s your favorite and least favorite of the above songs?