Predictions for Country & American Roots Categories at the 2017 Grammy Awards

Grammy

This Sunday we celebrate the biggest music awards show of the years. I’m of course referring to the 59th Grammy Awards, set to air Sunday night at 8 pm ET on CBS. Many of the awards however are presented in the pre-show that’s live streamed online and information for this can found be found here. After hosting for five years, LL Cool J steps aside as host and The Late Late Show host James Corden takes over. Multiple country artists will be performing on the show, including Sturgill Simpson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban (most likely new single “The Fighter”), Little Big Town (part of tribute to Bee Gees), Maren Morris (duet with Alicia Keys) and Kelsea Ballerini (duet with Lukas Graham). Now let’s get to the predictions! Keep in mind I’m not the best at this prediction game, but I feel like I do a little better each year. The award shows can be unpredictable. And be sure to make your own predictions in the comments.

Note: I will not be doing a live blog this year. I will however be live tweeting it all on Twitter, where you can all of my live thoughts as the show unfolds. Just go to twitter.com/realcountryview to follow if you don’t have Twitter. I’ll also most likely be doing a recaps/reaction post.

Album of the Year

  • Adele – 25
  • Beyoncé – Lemonade 
  • Justin Bieber – Purpose 
  • Drake – Views
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth of course. Just imagine the outcries afterwards of all the big names that got taken down by some guy from Kentucky who made an album for his son.

What I Predict Will Win: Beyoncé’s Lemonade is the clear favorite I think, with Adele being the closest competition. But with other big names in Drake and Bieber also here, the votes could easily split and lead to Sturgill pulling off an upset similar to Beck a few years ago. I’d be fine with Beyoncé and Adele winning if Sturgill doesn’t, as I enjoyed both of their albums.

Best New Artist

  • Maren Morris
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Anderson .Paak

Who I Would Pick To Win: Anderson .Paak or Chance The Rapper, as both of their latest albums were awesome. But if I had to pick between these two, I would go with .Paak.

Who I Predict Will Win: Honestly I have no clue here. I could see any of these nominees winning, even Kelsea Ballerini because despite being a complete unknown outside of the country music bubble, Black River Entertainment continues to prove they have a lot of friends in high places. Morris is getting to duet with Alicia Keys and is quickly becoming a darling on the awards circuit. I’ll be content as long as Ballerini or The Chainsmokers don’t win.

Best Country Solo Performance 

  • Brandy Clark – “Love Can Go To Hell”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells”
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

What I Would Pick To Win: Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” (Anything but Urban’s song, which is ironically exactly what I wrote here last year)

What I Predict Will Win: Maren Morris’ “My Church” due to as I said above Morris quickly become an awards circuit favorite and this single being extremely popular. The other favorite I would think is Underwood, as she’s been a favorite of the Grammys.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • Kenny Chesney & P!nk – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Dolly Parton & Pentatonix – “Jolene”
  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Woof this category is rough. I guess I would go with “21 Summer.”

What I Predict Will Win: Dierks Bentley & Elle King’s “Different For Girls” because apparently people are okay with stereotypical bullshit and really think this is some deep song.

Best Country Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen)
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” (Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur)
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” (Lori McKenna)
  • Maren Morris – “My Church” (Maren Morris & busbee)
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne)

What I Would Pick To Win: Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” (Not Urban or Rhett)

What I Predict Will Win: Any of these have a great shot at winning I think. But I think they’ll go with “Humble and Kind” or “Vice.”

Best Country Album

  • Brandy Clark – Big Day in a Small Town
  • Loretta Lynn – Full Circle
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth 
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Predict Will Win: A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is pretty much a lock here, with Simpson getting an overall Album of the Year nomination and a performance slot.

Best American Roots Performance 

  • The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”
  • Blind Boys of Alabama – “Mother’s Children Have a Hard Time”
  • Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”
  • Sarah Jarosz – “House of Mercy”
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”

What I Predict Will Win: The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”

Best American Roots Song

  • Robbie Fulks – “Alabama at Night” (Robbie Fulks)
  • Jack White – “City Lights” (Jack White)
  • Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars – “Gulfstream” (Eric Adcock & Roddie Romero)
  • The Time Jumpers – “Kid Sister” (Vince Gill)
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You” (Lori McKenna & Felix McTeigue)

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Predict Will Win: Jack White – “City Lights”

Best Americana Album

  • The Avett Brothers – True Sadness 
  • William Bell – This Is Where I Live
  • Kris Kristofferson – The Cedar Creek Sessions
  • Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle
  • The Time Jumpers – Kid Sister

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle

What I Predict Will Win: William Bell – This Is Where I Live

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [October 10]

Billy Currington Summer Forever

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -12

The pulse improves nine spots this week!

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3
  • Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less” -5

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brad Paisley – “Today”
    • So the lead single off Paisley’s upcoming album is currently unannounced, “Without A Fight,” didn’t exactly live up to his expectations at radio. Paisley was clearly gunning for something big with it, as it feature pop star Demi Lovato. But ultimately it didn’t reach the top ten and forced Paisley to further push his album back in favor of releasing a second single. That new single is “Today” and this is exactly what I’ve been wanting Paisley to return to for quite some time. This is the Paisley from years ago that made him a star and a favorite of country fans. “Today” fits him like a glove! It’s a love ballad, what Paisley excels at, about a couple cherishing what they have right in front of them today and the memories they’re making right now. It’s these memories that will carry with them for the rest of their lives. There’s also noticeable steel guitar throughout, which is just a cherry on top. It’s an all-around feel good song. This isn’t amongst his best love ballads, but it makes me pretty anxious to hear what he has in-store for his new album. 7/10
  • Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” – Up 10 from #38 to #28
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” – Up 4 from #14 to #10

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less” – Out of the Top 30 (to #31)
  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” – Down 6 from #2 to #8

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

  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (It might have just been a down week for spins, or it could be the start of the song’s decline. *insert shrugging emoji*)
  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl”
  • Garth Brooks – “Lay Down and Dance” (This is supposed to be going to country radio tomorrow and I’ll be curious to see if it reaches top 30 next week. I’m guessing it does.)
  • Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red”
  • Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less”

 

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

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. 

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Sept. 26]

Justin Moore You Look Like I Need A Drink

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -19

The pulse improves six spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4
  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” -3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
    • Apparently Billboard screwed up last week and mistakenly took it off the chart. So now it’s back. I had thought EMI Nashville gave up and decided to just put more push behind David Nail’s new single with the Brothers Osborne, “Good at Tonight.” I’m not complaining, as this song deserves to fight for another day. I previously covered this song both hear and in the album review, so check those out if you want to see my thoughts on it.
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
    • Rhiannon Giddens is in the top 30 airplay chart for country radio! What a world. Nobody has been churning out better singles in 2016 than Eric Church and it continues once again with “Kill A Word.” As Church said in recent interviews, releasing this as a single at this time was just too perfect. With the amount of racial and sex-based tension and incidents that have happened in the United States over the past year combined with the always contentious Presidential election taking place, this country needs this song more than ever. It’s a reminder in this crazy world we currently live in that we need to put our hate aside and strive for something we all want and that’s peace. And unlike Garth Brook’s cheesy single he released last year, “People Loving People,” this song has a lot of heart and clever songwriting. In the radio edit of this song, Giddens also gets to sing a line solo and of course sounds fantastic. This is not only one of the best singles of 2016, but one of the best songs you’ll hear. 9/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” (Warner has officially announced they’re going for max spins this week and Currington’s label Mercury appears willing to play nice and wait to push for #1 next week)

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” – Up 4 from #7 to #3
  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need a Drink” – Up 3 from #4 to #1
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” – Up 3 from #31 to #28

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” – Down 10 from #11 to #21
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” – Down 7 from #2 to #9
  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” – Out of the Top 30 (to #31)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” – Out of the Top 30 (to #32)

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

  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”

On The Hot Seat:

  • None

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”
  • Artists of Then, Now & Forever – “Forever Country”
  • Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red”

 

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Sept. 19]

the-honeymooners
A picture from the era that inspired this week’s #1 song. (Side note: Jackie Gleason is a great actor)

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -25

The pulse improves six spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2
  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4
  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry”
    • Really Carrie? Another song about murdering a guy? Your blood lust apparently can’t be quenched. You’d think after releasing “Church Bells” Underwood would want to switch up the theme for this new single (or you know release “Choctaw County Affair” as a single, the most interesting murder song on the album). But this is essentially the same song as “Church Bells.” The only difference is instead of the husband being an alcoholic asshole who beats women and asked to be murder, the guy in this song has laundry that smells like cheap perfume and red wine. So naturally the wife jumps to conclusions of infidelity and murders him in revenge. Sure, that’s a perfectly reasonable reaction instead of you know just confronting him. This isn’t a bad song, it’s just been done so many times by Underwood already that I’m just bored of this theme coming from her. She’s done this song better multiple times and releasing “Dirty Laundry” as a single is essentially beating a dead horse (which Underwood probably murdered in her song after smelling booze on it). 5/10
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”
    • The music video for this song was released in January 2015. What the hell? Just thought I would share this tidbit with you. As for High Valley, if you don’t know who they are I don’t blame you. They’re a relatively new duo from Canada signed to Warner Bros. Records and this is essentially their introduction to American audiences. For those who follow Canadian country radio, you’re probably familiar with them. The shortest way I would describe them is Dan + Shay + some token banjos. At least that’s the impression I get from “Make You Mine.” The second comparison is Mumford & Sons, as this sounds like a cheap knockoff of their hit “I Will Wait.” Seriously go play these two songs side-by-side and everything sounds the same. The Walmart-brand folk production, the cliché love lyrics and sanctimonious harmonies all match. Two things this song does get right though are the uplifting, soaring nature that will undoubtedly hook some listeners and the palpable enthusiasm and energy conveyed. In other words, High Valley doesn’t take the song too seriously, which both hurts and benefits it. 3/10
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”
    • How great is it to see this song in the top 30? I already gave this a full review, so if you missed it here’s the main gist: This song hooks me from the very beginning with its earthy, acoustic guitar play before giving away to some steel guitar. “Holdin’ Her” tells the story of how Janson grew up from his early days, fell in love and became the man he is now. Janson recalls in his younger days how he used to party and wake up in places with strangers he didn’t know and wondered how he even got there. He goes onto meet the woman he would one day call his wife in an underground pool hall and from that day on his life changed.The lyrics, which were written by Janson and James Otto, are personal, touching and honest. This is the type of country music the world needs. Not to mention the pedal steel guitar is present throughout. It has everything you want in a country song and it’s one of the best singles you’ll hear in 2016. 9/10
  • Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night”
    • The best word to describe Chris Young’s latest album would be interchangeable. That’s because every song on the album plays it really safe and doesn’t take any risks. It’s perhaps one of the safest albums I’ve ever heard, as Young comes off as absolutely petrified to go outside the box and try anything. The good side to this is you can’t really piss anyone off with this type of music. But I have to say I’m glad he chose the interchangeable song with Vince Gill on it as a single because I’ll take Gill in any capacity on country radio. Unfortunately we don’t get to hear Gill’s great pipes (at least outside of harmonies), but we do get to hear his equally great guitar play. The song itself is your standard love ballad about a guy staying sober on Saturday night instead of drinking his pain away. Young delivers his standard performance. There is some nice steel guitar though. Along with Gill, these two aspects raise this song just above average. 6/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

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

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” – Up 9 from #34 to #25
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” – Up 7 from #36 to #29
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” – Up 5 from #8 to #3

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)

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

  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words”
  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (I think her label will fight until it reaches top ten and then let it fall. Consider it lucky to reach top ten, as radio programmers predictably don’t care for this song.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • LANco – “Long Live Tonight”
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  • Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less”

 

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