Breaking Down & Examining The Quality of #1 Country Songs: 2015

Homegrown

Last week in comments section of the The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music, reader Nadia brought up the great point of Eric Church’s “Record Year” being the first great song (+4 or better) to top the charts in a few years. It really highlighted the importance of Church landing the #1 spot at country radio with such a quality song. The last song to do this in my book was Zac Brown Band’s “Sweet Annie” in 2013 and before that in 2011 with Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather.” Only three songs were able to rate a 9 or better in the last five years and top the Billboard Country Airplay chart. That’s kind of crazy and really puts things into perspective. This sparked me to think further and made me want to look back at the quality of #1 country airplay songs throughout the years. So that brings us to this new semi-regular feature and that’s picking a year and taking a look how I would rate the #1 songs of that year. The rankings will work exactly like The Current Pulse does, so if you’re not familiar with that criteria just take a look at the most recent one linked above. Reaching #1 is a big deal for an artist, which is why I want to look at the strength and quality of songs that are supposed to be smash hits. When I think #1 song, I think it should be pretty important not just to the artist, but demonstrates the direction of the industry at the time as a whole. We’ll start off with last year’s #1 songs…

  • January 3-10: Tim McGraw – “Shotgun Rider” +2
    • McGraw has been in the midst of revival/comeback the last few years after drifting aimlessly with Curb for years and then going through that whole “Truck Yeah”/”Lookin’ For That Girl” phase. McGraw in other words rediscovered who he was and why people loved him in the first place. “Shotgun Rider” went a ways in helping fuel this comeback and at the time was refreshing to hear after the bro era. There’s nothing that significant about this love song, but it’s solid all around and decidedly country. 7/10
  • January 17-24: Brad Paisley – “Perfect Storm” +2
    • Paisley admittedly pissed me off with his 2014 album Moonshine in the Trunk because it felt like a pandering, low-grade effort from him in comparison to his full capabilities. The previous single before this was “River Bank,” which really caught my ire. This song kind of got back to what he does best and that’s heartfelt love ballads. In the last two years it’s safe to say this has been his best single. It’s also the last song he’s had reach #1 on the airplay chart (granted great timing helped aid it). 7/10
  • January 31: Kenny Chesney – “‘Til It’s Gone” 0 (Note: This was the last and only time the Pulse has ever been positive)
    • The story of Kenny Chesney’s career is beach music and playing it safe. In this case it’s the latter. This schmaltzy love song really does nothing to standout and it’s kind of telling I had to listen to it again because I really didn’t remember it. That’s how I feel about most Chesney songs though. 5/10
  • February 7: Eric Church – “Talladega” +3
    • This song has grown on me from when I originally heard it. It’s definitely one of the better ones from The Outsiders, an album I didn’t care for at all. Church really nails the nostalgic/reflective tone of this song and gets the listener to buy into what he’s singing. 8/10
  • February 14-21: Luke Bryan – “I See You” -2
    • The quality starts to take a big dip here, folks. “I See You” is an overproduced, pop rock mess of a breakup song. The point of a country breakup song is to express sorrow and sadness. Yet this song feels more happy and upbeat. Instead of trying to understand it I just tell myself its Luke Bryan and this par for the course for him. 3/10
  • February 28: Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -5
    • And here we have a 2014 finalist for Country Perspective’s Worst Song of the Year. Yet it didn’t win (you can thank Jerrod Niemann). This song not only has an annoying reggae beat and sound, but an annoying whistle too. Florida Georgia Line’s singing is at its most grating and by Florida Georgia Line of course I mean Tyler Hubbard because the other one never sings. Then you get to the lyrics, which are just a dumpster fire of quality. Two horrific lines stand out in particular:”Rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger” and “I’ll sit you up on the kitchen sink
      And stick the pink umbrella in your drink.” These lines are disgusting and offensive in so many different ways. I never want to hear Hubbard sing about his dick again. 0/10
  • March 7: Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -4
    • Overtly slick production and a blatant pop sound back this slow jam sex song. It’s easy to forget how bad this one was from Rhett because he still wasn’t that well-known and it proceeded a much clearer offensive song. There’s nothing country about “Make Me Wanna” and really nothing country about Rhett still. Just make sure you continue to forget this one. 1/10
  • March 14: Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” +1
    • I remember being quite happy for Monroe to get this opportunity from Blake to be heard by more people. I was also happy to see her associated with a #1 song. But now looking back at this song, I’m not nearly as smitten to it as I was originally. It’s pretty dull by both artists standards and could have been so much more. Luckily Monroe’s vocals and Blake’s charisma elevate it just enough. Then again this sounds like a damn masterpiece after the last two songs, so that perhaps explains my higher enthusiasm originally. 6/10
  • March 21: Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -3
    • Tell me what’s more vanilla and uninspiring: this or Aldean’s most recent #1 “Lights Come On.” They’re essentially the same rocker-infused anthem that says nothing. 2/10
  • March 28: Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” -1
    • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….Oh I fell asleep. This song makes me sleepy with its uninspired production and cliché, banal lyrics. Eldredge is a fine vocalist, but this is generic at it’s finest. 4/10
  • April 4: Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -2
    • You’re not worth the whiskey, Swindell. You’re not worth giving a full review for this subtly vindictive song. 3/10
  • April 11-28: Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +3
    • Ah it feels so long since we’ve had this Zac Brown Band. This was the lead single for Jekyll + Hyde and you all know how I feel about that album now. When I reviewed “Homegrown,” I said it gave me high hopes for the album. This was the exact type of song not only to get people excited about that album, but what should be on country radio in this day and age. It deservedly got a three-week reign at the top and I remember it even hung on the chart for another month after falling from the top spot. It was a true hit in every sense of the word. 8/10
  • May 2: Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -5
    • This was the song that kickstarted the reign of terror of Sam Hunt. I loathe this song with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. To the naive and quite frankly clueless listener, this is a sincere and sensitive love song about a guy treating a girl right. In reality, this song is all about Sam Hunt perfectly playing to a girl’s emotions so he can get down her pants. It’s deceptively creepy, sleazy and in no way country. 0/10
  • May 9-16: Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1
    • This another song I remember liking a lot more originally, but now not so much. It’s an above average love song at best, even by Dierks’ standards. There were better songs on Riser, but then again just like “Lonely Tonight” this song has the benefit of being propped up when put next to all of the other terrible songs around it. 6/10
  • May 23: Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” 0
  • May 30: Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +2
  • June 6: Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -2
  • June 13: A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” -1
    • This one has definitely worn thin on me since I originally reviewed, some thanks in part to the absolute success it had getting hits. It’s one of the top five most popular posts ever in the history of this blog. And one of the reasons why is because people wanting to know the name and identity of the stripper in the music video for the song. I’m dead serious and there’s still to this day some stray hits based off this Google search. Why in the hell do you want to know the name of the damn stripper? A Thousand Horses has pretty much been irrelevant since this song had its run. And they even had Dave Cobb produce their debut album. But hey they’ll always have that stripper video.
  • June 20: Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire” -4
  • June 27: Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” 0
    • I remember being told by some readers I should be praising this song more and I just had a pretty lukewarm response to it. Over a year later it’s still pretty lukewarm. Go listen to “You & Tequila” instead.
  • July 4: Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -4
    • This is the best example of bro pandering.
  • July 11: Blake Shelton – “Sangria” -3
    • With time every Blake Shelton single now gets even more annoying and grating on the ears. He’s a wizard in churning out sterile production backed, annoying ear worm songs.
  • July 25: Canaan Smith – “Label Pushed Song You Don’t Remember the Name Of” -3
    • Seriously can you remember it without Googling?
  • August 1: Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good on You” -3
  • August 8: Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” +1
  • August 15: Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -5
  • August 22: Michael Ray – “Kiss You in the Morning” -4
  • August 29: Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” +2
  • September 5: Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” +1
  • September 12: Sam Hunt – “House Party” -5
    • One of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard. It’s vapid and completely lacks in substance in all facets of music.
  • September 19: Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -4
  • September 26: Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -5
  • October 3-17: Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day” 0
  • October 24: Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -2
  • October 31-November 7: Luke Bryan – “Strip It Down” -4
  • November 14-21: Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -5
    • One of the douchiest songs I’ve ever heard and yet it didn’t win worst song of the year. Thanks, Sam Hunt.
  • November 28-December 12: Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over” +1
  • December 19: Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -2
  • December 26: Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -2

Overall #1 Song Pulse for 2015: -61

 

Break Down of Number of Each Pulse Score

+5: None

+4: None

+3: 2 (Eric Church’s “Talladega” and Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown”)

+2: 4 (Brad Paisley’s “Perfect Storm,” Tim McGraw’s “Shotgun Rider,” Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” & Zac Brown Band’s “Loving You Easy”)

+1: 5

0: (Three of the four are Kenny Chesney songs)

-1: 2

-2: 6

-3: 4

-4: 6

-5: 6

 

So in 2015 there were 39 songs to reach #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Of those 39 songs, a whopping 24 of these 36 songs were in the negative. That’s 2/3 (or about 67%) of all #1 songs for the year! It gets even worse, as 1/3 of the #1 songs have a score of -4 or worse, indicating horrendous or of horrifically bad quality (33% of the #1 songs). On the flip side, there were zero songs that I considered great or excellent to reach the top of the airplay chart in 2015 and only two songs I would consider pretty good to reach #1. Needless to say I would have to evaluate the quality of #1 songs in 2015 to be quite shitty. The year actually got off to a great start, as three of the first four #1 songs were positive. Then you look at the end of the year, from September 12 onwards there was only one positive song to top the chart (ironically having the longest reign on top during this time). I would be willing to go out on a limb and say this was one of the worst stretches in the history of country radio. Also there was only one solo female artist to top the Billboard Country Airplay chart in 2015 and that was Kelsea Ballerini. Meanwhile Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney each had three #1 airplay songs in 2015. Of their nine songs to top the chart, five have negative scores, three have neutral scores and one has a positive score.

Let me know what you think in the comments below of the songs and this new feature. And feel free to ask me about my grades for the songs. 

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [July 2011]

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This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Each week, I 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. 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 past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. The grade 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 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 will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from July 18th, 2011.

  1. Jason Aldean – “Dirt Road Anthem” -5 [Worst Song]
  2. Chris Young – “Tomorrow” +2
  3. Blake Shelton – “Honey Bee” 0
  4. Zac Brown Band & Jimmy Buffett – “Knee Deep” +1
  5. Justin Moore – “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” +3
  6. Lady Antebellum – “Just A Kiss” -1
  7. Dierks Bentley – “Am I The Only One” -1
  8. Luke Bryan – “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” -5
  9. Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood – “Remind Me” -1
  10. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “You & Tequila” +4
  11. Jake Owen – “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” +1 (I’ll explain why later on)
  12. Trace Adkins – “Just Fishin'” +2
  13. Eric Church – “Homeboy” +3
  14. George Strait – “Here For A Good Time” +2
  15. Billy Currington – “Love Done Gone” +2
  16. Toby Keith – “Made In America” 0
  17. Rodney Atkins – “Take A Back Road” -1
  18. Scotty McCreery – “I Love You This Big” -2
  19. Eli Young Band – “Crazy Girl” -1
  20. Keith Urban – “Long Hot Summer” -1 (I actually think this is a good pop song. But if we’re going by country standards…)
  21. Thompson Square – “I Got You” 0
  22. Brantley Gilbert – “Country Must Be Country Wide” -2
  23. Jerrod Niemann – “One More Drinkin’ Song” 0
  24. Steve Holy – “Love Don’t Run” 0
  25. Darius Rucker – “I Got Nothin'” +2
  26. Ronnie Dunn – “Cost Of Livin'” +5 [Best Song]
  27. Frankie Ballard – “A Buncha Girls” -2
  28. David Nail – “Let It Rain” +2
  29. Craig Campbell – “Fish” -3 (Yes Craig, we get it…)
  30. Joe Nichols – “Take It Off” -2

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +2

Even with two outright atrocious songs we managed to net a positive score! Out of 150, a positive two isn’t really that impressive but hey, it’s better than the charts in 2016.

As for our best songs, Ronnie Dunn’s “Cost Of Livin'” takes it running away with what I consider to be one of the best songs mainstream or otherwise of the past couple years. Even though radio was a little different back then, I’m shocked a song like this cracked the top twenty. Today I doubt it would chart. And while Kenny Chesney has been the butt of many jokes throughout the years, I’ve always liked the guy, and “You and Tequila” may be his best song ever. Other than that, there were a couple other good ones like “Homeboy” (although, I’m curious to hear what you guys think of this one), and “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”.

Now, you might be wondering why I gave Jake Owen a positive score. If there has ever been anyone who could pull off a “bro” sound and actually make it somewhat enjoyable, I think it’s Jake Owen. He’s just got a natural charisma that often at least adds some life to his songs. I don’t think “Barefoot…” is a great song, but I never quite understand the hate for it.

As for the bad songs, they’re pretty easy to spot. Jason Aldean takes the “worst song” award easily with the horrendous country-rap song that was “Dirt Road Anthem.” “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” was ironically the first time we had to really come down hard on Luke Bryan for cutting a bad song. Other than that, Craig Campbell’s “Fish” always annoyed the heck out of me, and there are some other stinkers here too. Overall though, not a horrendous chart.

As always, if you have any questions as to why I gave a song a certain grade feel free to ask me. Also, let me know what you guys think of the chart in the comments!

The Hodgepodge: Country Artists Covering Real Pop Songs

Left to right: Bruno Mars, Thomas Rhett, Thomas Rhett

Today’s Hodgepodge is inspired by this tweet from Josh the other day:

Covering other songs isn’t anything new in music and when done right, can be an awesome experience for the listener, especially in concerts. Some bands have go-to covers that are concert staples alongside their big number 1 hit. One cover song from a band that immediately comes to mind is the Zac Brown Band covering Charlie Daniels’ “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Other artists have famous songs which are covers from another artist. Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” is a Bob Dylan cover that surpasses the original.

But as mainstream country further alienates itself from real country music, the bands and acts who seem more interested in crossing over continue to add more non-country songs to their set lists. Both The Band Perry and Thomas Rhett have added a cover of “Uptown Funk” to recent concert set lists. The Band Perry’s new single, “Live Forever” proves they want a pop crossover hit, and they even recently did some hip hop covers for iHeartRadio. Also, it’s no secret that Thomas Rhett basically wants to be Bruno Mars to the point that Rhett has essentially reset his musical goals to copy Mars. Thomas Rhett even has single recording of Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man.”

If you happen to find yourself at a Luke Bryan show for the Kick the Dust Up tour, you’ll hear a cover of Maroon 5’s “Sugar.” And a recent Florida Georgia Line crowd was treated to an encore set that included four back to back covers of Garth Brooks, Dr. Dre, Alan Jackson, and Wiz Khalifa in that order. And who could forget the opening train wreck at the 2014 CMT Awards where Jason DeRulo joined Bryan and FGL on stage for a short performance of “Talk Dirty”? And on top of all this, we have the Eli Young Band’s current new song, the “country” remix of Andy Grammar’s “Honey I’m Good.”

These are just a few examples of some of mainstream “country’s” biggest acts devoting time to music that is far from country. In my opinion, you shouldn’t go to a country concert and hear a Dr. Dre song from the act on the stage. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but most cover songs are not better than the original. Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan is one of the few cases where the cover song is the better version. Thomas Rhett covering Bruno Mars is not good. As Josh said in the tweet, it’s bad enough they’re ruining country music, but now they’re ruining pop songs too.

Last year I reviewed the Nashville Outlaws’ Motley Crue tribute album. I said the following in my review about cover songs:

When an artist approaches a cover song with creative liberty and creates an original composition to the lyrics, and executes that liberty well, it is one of my favorite things.

From that album, The Mavericks cover of Dr. Feelgood is an excellent example of taking creative liberty with a cover and executing it well. The Band Perry even do a cover of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” that, to me, sounds good because they put the song right in their musical wheelhouse. (And, you know, it actually sounds a bit country, too).

As Josh tweeted out, this is yet another example of these acts trying to be “‘cool and popular.’ Because country isn’t cool to them.” These acts who call themselves country try so hard not to be country, and that’s why fans latch onto them. “Country Music” became cool because it’s party music and bad pop music that wouldn’t stand a chance on real pop radio. Covering these “cool” pop songs further drives this home. God forbid Florida Georgia actually cover Hank or Haggard, the music they supposedly listen to while they roll or have a laid back party on Sunday.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Brantley Gilbert has announced the title of his next single, “Stone Cold Sober.”
  • Kip Moore’s second album The Wild Ones will be released tomorrow.
  • Candian Country singer Whitney Rose will release her second album tomorrow. Heartbreaker of the Year was produced by Raul Malo of The Mavericks.
  • Carrie Underwood is poised to make an announcement this evening which will likely be the reveal of her next album or at least a lead single for the next album.
  • Hall of Fame songwriter Mac McAnally will release a solo album called A.K.A. Nobody on September 18.

Today in Country Music History

  • Country Music Hall of Fame member Jim Reeves was born on this day in 1923.
  • In 1974, David Allen Coe records “You Never Even Call Me By My Name.” Within the song itself, Coe calls it “the perfect country and western song.”
  • In 2008, songwriter Will Hoge was in a scooter accident while driving home from a recording session of what would become the 2009 album called The Wreckage.

Today’s Country Music history facts come courtesy of RolandNote.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Little Sister” by Dwight Yoakam. In sticking with today’s discussion on cover songs, here’s a great country cover from Dwight Yoakam singing Elvis’s “Little Sister”! This is his performance of the song on Letterman in 1987.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


Grace Potter Midnight. Grace Potter, frequent collaborator with Kenny Chesney has released a new solo album, without her longtime backing band The Nocturnals. The album was produced by Eric Valentine, and carries much more pop rock anthem type songs than what you may have come to expect from Potter.

Tweet of the Week

I think I had the same reaction when I first heard the song too.

An Negative iTunes Review That Makes Me Mad

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 2.17.29 PM

This was left under Cam’s This is Cam Country EP. This review is extremely sexist and this reviewer obviously has no respect for country music, seeing as they can’t even spell McEntire.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [July 11]

Each week I 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 either a +1, -1 or a 0. 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 +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 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 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 – “Sangria” -1 (Up 1)
  2. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1 (Up 1)
  3. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 (Up 2) [Best Song]
  4. Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good On You” -1 (Up 2)
  5. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 (Down 1)
  6. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Down 5)
  7. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 
  8. Little Big Town – “Girl Crush” +1 (Up 1)
  9. Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” (Up 1)
  10. Michael Ray – “Kiss You In The Morning” -1 (Up 2)
  11. Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  12. Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1 (Down 1)
  13. Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” +1 (Up 2)
  14. Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” 
  15. Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -1 (Up 1)
  16. Sam Hunt – “House Party” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  17. Eric Church – “Like A Wrecking Ball” 0 
  18. Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -1 (Up 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  19. Chris Janson – “Buy Me A Boat” -1 (Up 1)
  20. Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -1 (Up 1)
  21. Maddie & Tae – “Fly” +1 (Up 1)
  22. Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ -1 (Up 7)
  23. Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight” -1 
  24. Kip Moore – “I’m To Blame”
  25. Jake Owen – “Real Life” -1
  26. Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  27. Lady Antebellum – “Long Stretch of Love” 0 (New to Top 30)
  28. Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  29. Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -1 (Down 3)
  30. Reba – “Going Out Like That” -1 (Down 2)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -15

The pulse improved one spot this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney & Grace Potters’ “Wild Child” went recurrent and fell out of the top 30 from #8.

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Lady Antebellum’s “Long Stretch of Love”

New #1 Song This Week:

  • Blake Shelton’s “Sangria”

Song I Predict Will Reach #1 Next Week:

  • Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good On You”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” – Up 7 from #29 to #22
  • Lady Antebellum – “Long Stretch of Love” – Up 4 from #31 to #27
  • Seven Songs Gained Two Spots

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” – Out of the Top 30
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” – Down 5 from #1 to #6
  • Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” – Down 3 from #26 to #29

Songs I See Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It”
  • Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song”
  • Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “Anything Goes”
  • Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day”
  • Parmalee – “Already Callin’ You Mine”
  • Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer”

Note – I decided to change the format to something more readable and manageable. Also I changed my mind on two songs, which explains the one point improvement. Zac Brown Band’s “Loving You Easy” was changed to a +1 and Eric Church’s “Like A Wrecking Ball” was changed to a 0. I gave both songs further listens and I’ve warmed up on them.

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [July 4]

Kelsea Ballerini

Each week I 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 either a +1, -1 or a 0. 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 +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 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 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. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Up 1)
  2. Blake Shelton – “Sangria” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1 (Up 1)
  4. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 (Up 1)
  5. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 (Up 2) [Best Song]
  6. Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good On You” -1 (Up 2)
  7. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 (Up 2)
  8. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” +1 (Down 7)
  9. Little Big Town – “Girl Crush” +1 (Up 1)
  10. Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” (Up 2)
  11. Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1 
  12. Michael Ray – “Kiss You In The Morning” -1 (Up 1)
  13. Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -1 (Up 2) [Tied for Worst Song]
  14. Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” 
  15. Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” (Up 1)
  16. Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -1 (Up 1)
  17. Eric Church – “Like A Wrecking Ball” -1 (Up 1)
  18. Sam Hunt – “House Party” -1 (Up 3) [Tied for Worst Song]
  19. Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -1 [Tied for Worst Song]
  20. Chris Janson – “Buy Me A Boat” -1 (Up 2)
  21. Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -1 (Up 2)
  22. Maddie & Tae – “Fly” +1 (Up 2)
  23. Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight” -1 (Up 4)
  24. Kip Moore – “I’m To Blame” (Up 1)
  25. Jake Owen – “Real Life” -1 (Re-Entered Top 30)
  26. Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -1 (Up 4)
  27. Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  28. Reba – “Going Out Like That” -1 (Up 1)
  29. Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ -1 (Down 3)
  30. Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -1 (New To Top 30) [Tied for Worst Song]

Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire” went recurrent and fell from #6 to out of the top 30.

Rascal Flatts’ “Riot” went recurrent and fell from #20 to out of the top 30.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -16

The pulse falls one spot from -15 last week to -16 this week. There were two songs that went recurrent and fell out of the top 30 this week. The first was Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire,” which radio treated like every other Florida Georgia Line song and handed its complimentary #1 ranking to them a few weeks back. I hope I never hear this song again. The second song to fall out surprised me and that song was Rascal Flatts’ “Riot.” It moved up two spots last week and had steadily moved up over the last few weeks on the chart. So I guess Rascal Flatts’ string of mediocre performing singles at radio will continue. You have to think their days of radio spotlight are pretty much finished at this point. The two songs to enter the top 30 this week are not good at all (shocker!). The first is a song that re-enters the top 30 after debuting in it a few weeks back. That song is Jake Owen’s “Real Life,” which is one of the most disappointing singles of the year. I hope the album is better. The second song to enter the top 30 this week is Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him.” With its arrival, there is now a four-way tie for worst song. Isn’t this just peachy?

The new #1 song this week is Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.” I’m on record as to not liking this song at all. But I’ll give Ballerini and her label Black River Entertainment credit for getting a debut single to reach #1. It’s also the first female debut single to hit #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart since Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take The Wheel” in 2006 (9 damn years). That being said I still don’t think this is progress for female artists at country radio and don’t try to convince me otherwise. Blake Shelton’s “Sangria” will be the new #1 next week, making it the dullest drinking song I’ve ever heard top the chart. I’m going to be an optimist and predict Carrie Underwood hits #1 in two weeks with “Little Toy Guns.” Both “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” and “Tonight Looks Good on You” are rising fast behind it. It’ll be close that’s for sure.

The biggest gainers this week were Jake Owen’s “Real Life,” which moved up nine spots from #34 to #25, Sam Hunt’s “House Party,” moved up four spots from #21 to #18, Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” moved up four spots from #27 to #23 and Dan + Shay’s “Nothin’ Like You” moved up four spots from #30 to #26 (???). The biggest losers this week were the two recurrent songs along with Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter’s “Wild Child.” As for songs I see leaving the top 30 soon, “Wild Child” will be gone next week. Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song” should be gone within a few weeks. Another song that I think will drop out soon is Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It.” It lost airplay this week and it remained at #11 on the chart. If I were Paisley I would be preparing the next single.

Two of the four songs I predicted would make the top 30 soon last week made it this week. As for this week, the songs outside the top 30 I expect to see in the top 30 soon are Lady Antebellum’s “Long Stretch of Love,” Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Anything Goes” and Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over.” Lady A is right on the cusp of the top 30 and should make it within a couple of weeks. Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine” is perfect in this country radio climate and I’m surprised it hasn’t made the top 30 yet. For those hoping the next Florida Georgia Line single is any better, I have bad news. “Anything Goes” is just as terrible as “Sippin’ On Fire.” Remember “Dirt” is the only good song they’ve ever done and everything else is…well you know. Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over” has been steadily rising up the chart and…wait a minute. I like this song! What is this sorcery? An actual good song possibly entering the top 30? This is like the first great news in the pulse for weeks. I’ll take the small victory! Now we just need like 20 more quality songs in the top 30 and we can maybe have a positive score again.

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