The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [October 2004]

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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 October 30th, 2004 (I asked last week if there were any charts you wanted to see, so this week is dedicated to reader and commenter Scotty J. Thanks for reading Scotty!)

  1. George Strait – “I Hate Everything” +4 (Yep, I’ve been there…)
  2. Sara Evans – “Suds In The Bucket” +3
  3. Phil Vassar – “In A Real Love” +2
  4. Brooks & Dunn – “That’s What It’s All About” +2 (Was sad to find out this wasn’t about the hokey-pokey…)
  5. Toby Keith – “Stays In Mexico” -2 (what the hell?)
  6. Gary Allan – “Nothing On But The Radio” 0
  7. Keith Urban – “Days Go By” +2
  8. Lonestar – “Mr. Mom” -2
  9. Kenny Chesney – “The Woman With You” +3
  10. Joe Nichols – “If Nobody Believed In You” +4 [Best Song] (Remember when Joe actually cared about the music?)
  11. Rascal Flatts – “Feels Like Today” +1
  12. Gretchen Wilson – “Here For The Party” -2
  13. Dierks Bentley – “How Am I Doin'” +3 (a little arrogant in its delivery but eh, it works for me)
  14. Tim McGraw – “Back When” +3
  15. Trace Adkins – “Rough & Ready” -1 (Holding back from any more demerits since I feel like this is intended to be viewed as stupid. I don’t really know about the grade for this…)
  16. Blake Shelton – “Some Beach” +3
  17. Shania Twain & Mark Currington – “Party For Two” -3 [Worst Song] (Doesn’t matter who she does this song with. It still isn’t good)
  18. Darryl Worley – “Awful, Beautiful Life” +3
  19. SheDaisy – “Come Home Soon” +3 (A little boring but still pretty good)
  20. Lee Ann Rimes – “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense” +2 (By no means a LAR fan, but this isn’t bad)
  21. Alan Jackson – “Too Much Of A Good Thing” +1 (Just average really)
  22. Montgomery Gentry – “You Do Your Thing” -1 (I actually really like the darker atmosphere of this one. The lyrics and melody not so much.)
  23. Reba McEntire – “Het Gets That From Me” +3
  24. Jimmy Buffett & Martina McBride – “Trip Around The Sun” +2
  25. Brad Paisley – “Mud On The Tires” +2 (Back before bro-country made songs like this damn near insufferable)
  26. Travis Tritt & John Mellencamp – “What Say You” +2
  27. Big & Rich – “Holy Water” +4
  28. Josh Gracin – “Nothin’ To Lose” +2
  29. Alan Jackson – “Monday Morning Church” +4
  30. Pat Green – “Don’t Break My Heart Again” +2 (I’d probably like this more if his voice didn’t annoy me somewhat)

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +49

Again, another good chart this week. I have to tell you, I had a tough time awarding the best song this week. Joe, Big & Rich, and Alan all were extremely close. I was familiar with a lot of the songs on this chart so it was even a trip down memory lane for me!

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 Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Dec. 2005]

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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 December 24th, 2005.

  1. Dierks Bentley – “Come A Little Closer” +2
  2. Kenny Chesney – “Who You’d Be Today” +3
  3. Joe Nichols – “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” -1 (sorry, this is way too corny for me)
  4. Garth Brooks – “Good Ride Cowboy” +3 (I don’t think Chris LeDoux would want to see the current pulse of mainstream country music…)
  5. Billy Currington – “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” 0 (more boring than anything else)
  6. Toby Keith – “Big Blue Note” -2
  7. George Strait – “She Let Herself Go” +3
  8. Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take The Wheel” +2
  9.  Faith Hill – “Like We Never Loved At All” +2
  10. Trace Adkins – “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” -4 [Worst Song]
  11. Little Big Town – “Boondocks” +3
  12. Keith Urban – “Better Life” +2
  13. Chris Cagle – “Miss Me Baby” +3
  14. Gary Allan – “Best I Ever Had” +4
  15. Tim McGraw – “My Old Friend” +4
  16. Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton – “When I Get Where I’m Going” +5 [Best Song]
  17. Sugarland – “Just Might (Make Me Believe) +3
  18. Josh Turner – “Your Man” 0
  19. Montgomery Gentry – “She Don’t Tell Me To” 0
  20. Keith Urban – “Tonight I Wanna Cry” +3
  21. Brooks & Dunn – “Believe” +4
  22. Gretchen Wilson – “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today” +3
  23. Big & Rich – “Comin’ To Your City” -3 (props for the Buffalo reference, but that’s it)
  24. Sara Evans – “Cheatin'”+3
  25. Miranda  Lambert – “Kerosene” +3
  26. Martina McBride – “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” +2 (Wasn’t sure what to grade this one. I think the original Lynn Anderson version is overall better but Martina does good vocally here).
  27. Jamey Johnson – “The Dollar” +4
  28. Blake Shelton – “Nobody But Me” +3
  29. Terri Clark – “She Didn’t Have Time” +3
  30. Van Zant – “Nobody Gona Tell Me What To Do” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +58

Pretty good chart this week! Sure, there’s a couple awful songs here but overall, there’s some pretty good stuff here. The middle of the chart in particular features some truly excellent songs. Of course, that’s only my take on it. What do you guys think?

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 Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 2006]

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This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Every 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. Each song on the chart will receive either a +1, 0, or -1. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the top 30 songs with the highest score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. Songs rated between a 7 and 10 will receive a +1. Songs rated either 5 or 6 will receive a 0. Songs rated 4 or lower will receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from August 26, 2006.

  1. Rodney Atkins – “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)” +1
  2. The Wreckers – “Leave The Pieces” +1
  3. Steve Holy – “Brand New Girlfriend” -1
  4. Toby Keith – “A Little Too Late” 0 (The weird production is what kills this for me)
  5. Little Big Town – “Bring It On Home” +1
  6. Gary Allan – “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” +1
  7. Brad Paisley – “The World” +1 (It’s a little cheesy, but man do I miss the mid 2000’s Brad Paisley…)
  8. George Strait – “Give It Away” +1
  9. Brooks & Dunn – “Building Bridges (w/ Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill)” 0
  10. Faith Hill – “Sunshine and Summertime” -1
  11. Kenny Chesney – “Summertime” 0
  12. Rascal Flatts – “Me and My Gang” -1 [Worst Song]
  13. Josh Turner – “Would You Go With Me” +1
  14. Carrie Underwood – “Don’t Forget To Remember Me” +1
  15. Billy Currington – “Why. Why, Why” 0
  16. Pat Green – “Feels Just Like It Should” -1
  17. Jake Owen – “Yee Haw” 0 (Owen’s charisma elevates this to at least passable to my ears)
  18. Dierks Bentley – “Every Mile A Memory” +1
  19. Heartland – “I Loved Her First” +1 (Yeah, it’s corny, but I can at least appreciate the emotion)
  20. Big & Rich – “8th Of November” +1 [Best Song]
  21. Danielle Peck – “Findin’ A Good Man” +1
  22. Trace Adkins – “Swing” -1
  23. Alan Jackson – “Like Red On A Rose” +1
  24. Lonestar – “Mountains” 0 (Naptime!)
  25. Sugarland – “Want To” +1
  26. Rascal Flatts – “Life Is A Highway” -1 (Just listen to Chris LeDoux’s version)
  27. Blaine Larsen – “I Don’t Know What She Said” +1
  28. Montgomery Gentry – “Some People Change” +1
  29. Gretchen Wilson – “California Girls” -1 (What the hell is the point of this song?)
  30. Jack Ingram – “Love You” +1

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +10

Hey not bad! Sure, this may not have been as good as 1999, but this is still a wonderful chart to see! Remember the Wreckers from way back when? It’s a real shame they never got past three singles. They were right in line with the Maddie and Tae style of neo-traditional/country pop. I’m glad that at least Maddie and Tae have broken “the Wrecker curse” by now. In addition to this, Josh Turner was still on the radio, as was Blaine Larsen, who I’m sure many people unfortunately forgot about. If only we had him now, fighting alongside other young neo-traditional guys like Mo Pitney, William Michael Morgan and Jon Pardi. This song honestly wasn’t his best, but it’s still a solid song with a cool Spanish groove. Then we had other fantastic songs from the likes of Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Big & Rich…….wait what?!? Big & Rich??? Yeah, I know right? In fact, they arguably have the best song on this chart, which is also probably the best song they’ve had in their career thus far. “8th of November” proved that the duo could tackle serious subject matter when the time came for it, and set the joke material aside. Now, two songs that I’m sure are going to raise some eyebrows are Alan Jackson’s and Jack Ingram’s. I understand that Alan’s “Like Red On A Rose” album has been called one of his weakest albums, but I actually really like “Rose” and I think it was a cool change of pace for Alan. Jack’s song…….well yeah, it’s kind of immature, but I still thought it was kind of clever in its writing, so yeah, prepare the tomatoes to throw at me!

Now onto the bad, and really, much like 1999 I don’t have a ton to complain about. Remember last week how I said Trace Adkins was awesome when he sang stuff like “Don’t Lie”? Well he sucks when he’s doing crap like “Swing.” Seriously, what the hell is this song? Listening to this just made me want to grab a baseball bat and smash the device that I was listening to this from! The other song that raises a red flag and also takes the crown as the worst song is Rascal Flatt’s “Me and My Gang.” What the hell kind of title is this?!? If “swag” were a term back then I’m sure it would have found its way somewhere into the lyrics of this song. What’s sad is that “Bob That Head” rivals this song in bad Rascal Flatt song title choices. Other than that? Yeah, there’s not a lot else that really riles me up. Faith Hill’s song is pretty irritating as is Steve Holy’s, but still I can’t get real angry at them.

If you have any questions as to why I gave a certain song the score I did, or perhaps just want to make your own Pulse, sound off in the comments!

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2010]

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

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

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

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +4

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

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

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

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

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Feb. 2005]

Rascal Flatts

Wait a minute I thought we already did the current pulse of mainstream country music? Indeed we did. This is different. Reader Scotty J made the excellent suggestion to take a look back at the country airplay chart of year’s past to compare the differences to the current chart. Here’s how it would work:

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

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I take a look at the top 30 on the Country Airplay Chart from February 26, 2005.

  1. Rascal Flatts – “Bless The Broken Road” +1
  2. Keith Urban – “You’re My Better Half” +1
  3. Brad Paisley – “Mud On The Tires” +1
  4. Josh Gracin – “Nothin’ To Lose” +1
  5. Alan Jackson – “Monday Morning Church” +1
  6. LeeAnn Rimes – “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense” 0
  7. Craig Morgan – “That’s What I Love About Sunday” 0
  8. Sugarland – “Baby Girl” +1
  9. Reba McEntire – “He Gets That From Me” +1
  10. Billy Dean – “Let Them Be Little” +1
  11. Blake Shelton – “Some Beach” +1
  12. Montgomery Gentry – “Gone” +1
  13. Brooks & Dunn – “It’s Getting Better All The Time” +1
  14. Kenny Chesney – “Anything But Mine” 0
  15. Lee Ann Womack – “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” +1
  16. Jo Dee Messina – “My Give A Damn’s Busted” +1
  17. Andy Griggs – “If Heaven” 0
  18. Toby Keith – “Honky Tonk U” -1
  19. Joe Nichols – “What’s A Guy Gotta Do” +1
  20. Jamie O’Neal – “Trying To Find Atlantis” +1
  21. Gretchen Wilson – “What I Think About Cheatin'” +1
  22. Martina McBride – “God’s Will” +1
  23. Trace Adkins – “Songs About Me” +1
  24. Blaine Larsen – “How Do You Get That Lonely” +1
  25. Tim McGraw – “Drugs or Jesus” +1
  26. Terri Clark – “The World Needs A Drink” +1
  27. Jeff Bates – “Long Slow Kisses” +1
  28. Phil Vassar – “I’ll Take That As A Yes (The Hot Tub Song)” 0
  29. Miranda Lambert – “Me and Charlie Talking” 0
  30. Lonestar – “Class Reunion (That Used To Be Us)” 0

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +21

What a night and day difference! As you can see country music was waaaaaaaaaay better 10 years ago compared to now. A 25 point difference to be exact. Listening to these songs was like a trip down memory lane. The songs I had forgotten about I immediately remembered once they started playing. Rascal Flatts was at the top of the charts and the song didn’t stink! Isn’t that amazing? Alan Jackson was in the top five, where he belonged. I forgot how much I loved “Monday Morning Church” and it was definitely one of my favorites from 2005.

There were a total of nine female country artists on the chart in 2005! For comparison to the current chart, it only has five female country artists and three of them are paired with a male artist. Needless to say female country artists had much more airtime in 2005. There are also nine artists currently charting in the top 60 Country Airplay chart that were also charting in the top 30 in 2005. Toby Keith has the only negative song on the chart in “Honky Tonk U.” So Keith was the worst artist on radio in 2005. Today he’s only like the 10th worst artist on the radio.

I did not remember Billy Dean, Jamie O’Neal, Blaine Larsen and Jeff Bates at all on radio. But then I remembered them after hearing their songs. Larsen’s “How Do You Get That Lonely” really stood out to me. You would never hear such a sad and depressing song like this on radio today. I wonder what happened to him? This was a great song and his voice was great too. I didn’t remember Terri Clark’s “The World Needs A Drink,” but now I want to listen to it more. It’s just a fun country song.

So what do you think of this chart? Do you want this to be a weekly feature on the site? Be sure to let me know in the comments!