Reacting to The Absolute Joke of the 2017 ACM Awards Nominations

pile_of_shit

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been that fond of country music award shows. Outside of the 2015 CMA Awards that helped launch Chris Stapleton to a brand new level of stardom, I’ve pretty much scoffed at these shows. As I’ve said before, no other genre spends more time patting themselves on the back than country music. This is evident by the heaps of award shows held throughout the year and this trains the viewer to basically not give a shit. But nevertheless we keep an eye on these shows in hopes they get it more right each time. Well we now have the nominations for the 2017 ACM Awards and there’s no other way to put it. These are an absolute joke. My first reaction was are these the mainstream country radio awards? Because it’s mostly a list of radio darlings that programmers fall over themselves to play. After seeing these nominations it makes me not want to watch and may not. Each category seems to have its own joke, so let’s pick through each.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

No Eric Church or Chris Stapleton, but sure Aldean and Florida Georgia Line get nominations. Complete failure already before we even get to the more insane nominations. I know the ACMs are in the tank for Aldean, but could they be any less discreet about it? The only nomination even worthy of winning is Carrie Underwood for her excellent touring numbers and consistently churning out hits and I give her a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Aldean and Bryan are the odds on favorites here.

Male Vocalist

  • Jason Aldean
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

Once again Eric Church isn’t a nomination. Church released the best album of his career and is releasing the best singles of his career. And every awards show is stiffing him. I guess the industry is pissed he isn’t giving them radio fodder anymore. But I’m guessing Church doesn’t give a shit. Another category with one worthy candidate in my mind: Chris Stapleton. Remember when Dierks Bentley was considered one of the good guys at these shows? Then he decided he wants to be Luke Bryan and make a bunch of cheesy and stiff adult contemporary schlock. No Tim McGraw. Also no Blake Shelton in any categories. Well there’s some good news.

Female Vocalist

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

I don’t know why Kacey continues to go to these awards show when she and everyone else knows she’s just a token nomination to fill out the field. What did she do in 2016 to earn a nomination? She didn’t release any new music. And keep in mind this isn’t a jab at her. She’s one of the best on a major country label. You would think Miranda is the shoe-in to win, but with her turn towards a more songwriter/Americana-like side I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Maren Morris wins. She seems poised to usurp Lambert as the new female darling in mainstream country and is racking up awards like crazy.

Vocal Duo

  • Big & Rich
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

Big & Rich are a Vocal Duo nomination in 2017…..hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! They released one single last year that took like 40 weeks to peak at #14 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. They’re completely irrelevant. What in the hell makes them deserving of a nomination? Maddie & Tae are a complete token nomination like Musgraves above. I don’t see Dan + Shay being quite in the position to win yet. So it’s between CMA 2016 Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne and past years favorite Florida Georgia Line. I’m hopeful the former wins, but being a radio favorites show I expect the latter to win.

Vocal Group

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts

Eli Young Band?! Where are they getting these joke ideas for nominations? You’re telling me Eli Young Band is a nomination, but not Zac Brown Band who at least had a song reach the top 15 in the last year and are a mainstream staple? Get out of here! Lady Antebellum was on hiatus for all of 2016. Rascal Flatts are irrelevant. Yet despite this joke of a category, the best group Little Big Town should easily walk away with this award.

New Male

  • Kane Brown
  • Chris Janson
  • Chris Lane
  • Jon Pardi
  • Brett Young

Out of all the categories, this actually might be the one I have the least qualms with because these are all new male artists who have did something notable in the last year. Despite not being a fan of him, Kane Brown is deserving based on the fact that he does sell well and has great streaming numbers. While you and me might not like him, there are many he does resonate with and it’s ironic he’s one of the few nominations where the ACM looked beyond radio. Hands down this should go to Jon Pardi, who achieved a #1 album with California Sunrise, racked up a #1 hit in “Head Over Boots” and is on his way to another #1 in “Dirt on My Boots.” And I think it actually does go to him because his accomplishments blow the others out of the water. If anyone else wins I’m calling shenanigans.

New Female

  • Lauren Alaina
  • Cam
  • Brandy Clark
  • Maren Morris

That’s right they couldn’t even fill out the nominations for this one. Hey ACMs: Margo Price and Aubrie Sellers. Did you forget they exist? How is Brandy Clark new? This is just another award for them to give Maren.

New Vocal Duo/Group

  • A Thousand Horses
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • LoCash
  • Maddie & Tae

None of these are really new, but then again barely anything else makes sense with these awards. I’m guessing Brothers Osborne or Dan + Shay win here.

Album

  • Dierks Bentley – Black
  • Florida Georgia Line – Dig Your Roots
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord
  • Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings

This should 1000% go to Miranda Lambert for her great album. But it’ll probably go to Urban or Morris or maybe even Bentley. You could take the best material from all of the non-Lambert ones, put it in one album and it still wouldn’t top Lambert’s album.

Single

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

Key distinction is this is single. I’m kind of surprised Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” isn’t here, but rather under Song below. I don’t give Lambert a chance here either sadly. I could see any of the other four winning.

Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Tennessee Whiskey”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

I would be happy with any of the bottom four winning, but watch one of the top two win. If I had to pick the winner I would definitely go with “Kill A Word,” being the best song of the nominations and for Church getting screwed over in general.

Video

  • Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away”
  • Various Artists – “Forever Country”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

With all due respect to the other videos, “Fire Away” is the no-brainer best video. It’s one of the powerful music videos I’ve watched in years and takes the song to a whole new level of meaning. Instead though “Forever Country” will probably win because it’s done insane numbers on YouTube and sold well (also great numbers on this very blog). The only hesitation I have of it winning is this song was specifically made for the ACM’s chief rival show CMA’s 50th Anniversary. How ironic would that be if it won an ACM Award?

Songwriter

  • Ashley Gorley
  • Luke Laird
  • Hillary Lindsey
  • Shane McAnally
  • Lori McKenna

McKenna has to win this one, right?

Vocal Event 

  • Dierks Bentley (feat. Elle King) – “Different For Girls”
  • Various Artists – “Forever Country”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
  • P!nk (feat. Kenny Chesney) – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Chris Young (feat. Cassadee Pope) – “Think of You”

I could see a case made for any of these conceivably winning. I think this will largely depend on the other categories’ winners.

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. 

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 17]

Creepy Blake

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 (Up 2)
  2. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” [Carrie missed #1 on Billboard by about 50k in audience]
  3. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Down 2)
  4. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 3)
  5. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Down 1)
  6. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 2)
  7. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Down 2) 
  8. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  9. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 2)
  10. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 2) 
  11. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Up 3)
  12. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 (Up 3) [Best Song] 
  13. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1
  14. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 2) [Worst Song]
  15. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 2)
  16. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 2)
  17. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 3)
  18. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  19. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Up 2)
  20. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 2)
  21. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 3)
  22. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 4)
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 
  24. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” (Up 1)
  25. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Up 2)
  26. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 2)
  27. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3 (New to Top 30)
  28. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Up 1)
  29. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Up 1)
  30. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -25

The pulse drops three spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 
  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (On the bright side it’s always great to see Old Dominion leave the top 30. On the bad side, that means they’re probably releasing new music soon. Joy.)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World”
    • Ooooh! A new Kenny Chesney single. How exciting! I’m sure he’s got something really creative and innovative for us. Okay enough with the sarcasm. When I reviewed this song on the album review, I didn’t really have anything to say except a bad joke about it. Well there’s nothing really changed. This song is one big snooze fest with Chesney singing of course about getting drunk at a bar and the beach and the sun and for the love of all things holy can Chesney even bother to sound like he’s trying? He’s worse at covering up his mailed-in singles than Aldean. I’m just so sick of Chesney at this point and his complete failure to innovate in any way, shape or form. This song is bland as hell and you’ll forget it as soon as it ends. 2/10
  • Darius Rucker – “If I Told You”
    • Originally when I reviewed this (all the way back in July) I gave this 7/10. I must have been in a great mood that day because this song just isn’t doing as much for me now. The lyrics are still good, but this production is just blah and can get sleepy after multiple listens. So this will fit right in with what’s popular right now. At least Rucker isn’t singing bro country anymore (I think the last time he was here was with “Homegrown Honey”). Revised grade: 5/10

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 10 from #37 to #27
  • Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” – Up 4 from #26 to #22
  • Brad Paisley – “Today” – Up 3 from #14 to #11
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” – Up 3 from #15 to #12

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – Down 2 from #5 to #7

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

  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (Really bad week, as it lost 400k in audience. This shouldn’t be too far from recurrent. Only good news is it kept its bullet.)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” (Well at least new Stapleton music is coming soon)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (How is this still here?)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Still holding on, but by a thread. Pure luck it’s still here)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (Looks dead in the water and done to me)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (The fact this made top 20 in 2017 is surprising. It’s now going to be hitting a lot of resistance and I don’t like it’s odds of hanging around. But I said this a month ago too.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
  • Runaway June – “Lipstick”
  • Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know”

Note: The new year’s cleaning appears to be underway. Next week at least four and maybe up to six songs could go recurrent. Not to mention Lady Antebellum is dropping a new single later this week, Sam Hunt is expected to have a new single in February and a host of other new songs are going to be impacting. I don’t have the best feeling about these new songs, but I’m hopeful for some surprises.

 

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 9]

shrug

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. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 
  2. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” (Up 1)
  3. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  4. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Down 2)
  5. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 1)
  6. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Down 1)
  7. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  8. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 1)
  9. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Down 1)
  10. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 1)
  11. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Down 1)
  12. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 
  13. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 2)
  14. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 
  15. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 (Down 2) [Best Song] 
  16. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 [Worst Song]
  17. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 
  18. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 2)
  19. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 
  20. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Down 2)
  21. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 
  22. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 
  24. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5
  25. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” 0
  26. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 2)
  27. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1
  28. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 2)
  29. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 
  30. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -22

The pulse stayed the same this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • None

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • None (The chart is readjusting to the New Year and normal schedule. There should be a lot of movement in the coming weeks, as there are plenty of songs that need to be cleaned off the charts to make way for new.)

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” – Up 2 from #15 to #13
  • Luke Bryan – “Fast” – Up 2 from #20 to #18
  • Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” – Up 2 from #28 to #26

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” – Down 2 from #2 to #4
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” – Down 2 from #13 to #15
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” – Down 2 from #18 to #20
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” – Down 2 from #26 to #28

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

  • Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” (Unfortunately has hit its peak. Expect a new McGraw single soon)
  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” (This one hopped back into the top five as it lost its bullet, so I’m not sure how the new recurrent rule will play into effect here)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Paltry gains again, as this songs looks pretty much done. Radio never took to it)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (I would be more positive about this song if it wasn’t currently sitting at 39 weeks on the chart. It will need label pushing to stick around)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Darius Rucker – “If I Told You”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World”

 

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 3]

sam-hunt-take-your-time
Eh, close enough

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…

(Note: This week’s movement in parenthesis is based on the previous Current Pulse in December to show change over the holiday)

  1. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 4)
  2. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 1)
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” (Up 4)
  4. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 6)
  5. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  6. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Down 5)
  7. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 5)
  8. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Down 6)
  9. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 6)
  10. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 1)
  11. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 7)
  12. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 4)
  13. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song] 
  14. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Up 3)
  15. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Down 1)
  16. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 4) [Worst Song]
  17. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 5)
  18. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 1)
  19. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 2)
  20. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (New to Top 30)
  21. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Up 2)
  22. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 3)
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  24. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 3)
  25. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” 0 (Up 3)
  26. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 
  27. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Up 2)
  28. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (New to Top 30)
  29. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (New to Top 30)
  30. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -22

The pulse improves one spot this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” 0
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Luke Bryan – “Fast”
    • You know what other song I’m instantly reminded of when I hear this Luke Bryan song? Another Luke Bryan song, “Drink a Beer.” This is probably because both songs share something really important in common: an overrated sense of sentimentality in the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, this is better than most of Bryan’s recent singles and definitely an improvement over “Move.” But this whole theme of life going too fast so live it up now is covered too vaguely, not to mention we’ve heard better versions of this song on country radio (Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” and Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” come to mind). The song is also too lifeless and lacks the energy to really hook me into the lyrics. Boring may be better than bad, but it isn’t good either. 4/10
  • Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool”
  • Dierks Bentley – “Black”
    • 2016 was the year Dierks went A-lister and in the process abandoned the things that made his music good. Warm guitars were traded for stiff pop, adult contemporary production. “Black” perfectly exemplifies this. It’s a stilted attempt at an edgy love song that instead collapses in itself. Bentley tries to force these really clunky rhymes throughout the song and the instrumentation fails to achieve the spacey blackness it’s going for and instead leaves the listener feeling empty. Listening to this song is akin to eating a rice cake: sure you consumed something, but you sure as hell don’t feel it and you’re left with no nutritional value. You know what’s really sad though? This is the best single of the Black era so far. 3/10

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Up 7 from #18 to #11
  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” – Up 6 from #10 to #4
  • Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” – Up 6 from #15 to #9

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” – Out of the Top 30 & Done

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

  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (A terrible position coming out of the holidays. It’ll reach top ten maybe, but radio seems to be getting ready to drop this one)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” (The best I see this doing is top 15, but I don’t think it even gets there before dropping)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Radio just isn’t getting behind this song and I’ll be shocked if it lasts to the end of the month)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (It’s now been on the chart for 38 weeks and a lot of new singles are coming behind it. I don’t like this song’s odds.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (This song has made one hell of a turnaround after a rocky beginning)
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World”

Note: There won’t be a Current Pulse of Texas Country Radio tomorrow, as the last chart update was in the middle of December. Once the first update for the new year drops that feature will start up again.

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