The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [May 2013]

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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. Admittedly my week was pretty hectic, therefore I’m taking a break from my review backlog this week. It will resume next week, but for now I picked 2013 since I already knew my thoughts on all thirty songs. This week’s chart will be from May 11th, 2013.

  1. Thompson Square – “If I Didn’t Have You” +1
  2. Florida Georgia Line – “Get Your Shine On” -3 (Admittedly this song REALLY annoys me, but it’s more of a personal thing. Therefore I decided to be fair.)
  3. Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart” 0
  4. Lady Antebellum – “Downtown” 0
  5. Kenny Chesney – “Pirate Flag” -3
  6. Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel” +1 (I don’t think the song is all that special but eh…it was the most country thing to hit the top in quite a while so whatever)
  7. Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift & Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care” -2
  8. George Strait – “Give It All We Got Tonight” 0
  9. Chris Young – “I Can Take It From There” +1
  10. Brad Paisley – “Beat This Summer” +3 [Best Song]
  11. Eric Church – “Like Jesus Does” +1
  12. Blake Shelton  & The Pistol Annies – “Boys ‘Round Here” -5 [Worst Song…..Ever]
  13. Brantley Gilbert – “More Than Miles” +1
  14. The Band Perry – “DONE” -1 (And now they really are!)
  15. Jason Aldean – “1994” -5 [Worst Song…..oh shit I already handed this out? Ugh….]
  16. Jake Owen – “Anywhere With You” 0
  17. Zac Brown Band – “Jump Right In” +1
  18. Luke Bryan – “Crash My Party” -1
  19. Gloriana – “Can’t Shake You” +2
  20. The Henningsens – “American Beautiful” 0
  21. Kip Moore – “Hey Pretty Girl” +2
  22. Easton Corbin – “All Over The Road” -1
  23. Hunter Hayes – “I Want Crazy” -2
  24. Carrie Underwood – “See You Again” +1
  25. Gary Allan – “Pieces” +1
  26. Brett Eldredge – “Don’t Ya” -1 (Almost a 0 but that opening line is just way too cringe worthy)
  27. Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush” +1
  28. Justin Moore – “Point At You” -1
  29. Billy Currington – “Hey Girl” -3
  30. Randy Houser – “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” -2

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: -14

So yeah this week was definitely a bust. From the looks at the bottom half of the chart, it looks like we were just about to be inundated with bro-country. Elsewhere, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton run away with the “honor” of having two of the absolute worst songs to ever descend upon the country genre. Even looking beyond that there’s just not a whole lot here. The best song for me is Brad Paisley’s experimental “Beat This Summer” but only that is great as opposed to outright excellent. Honestly there’s just a whole lot of mediocrity here.

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 [June 2007]

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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 June 30th, 2007. In honor of my request backlog from a couple of weeks ago, this week’s chart goes out to Raymond. Thanks for reading Raymond!

  1. Brad Paisley – “Ticks” -1 (I’m sorry, for as humorous as Brad can be this just did nothing for me)
  2. Tracy Lawrence feat. Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney – “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” +3
  3. Montgomery Gentry – “Lucky Man” +2
  4. George Strait – “Wrapped” +3 (Holy fiddle and steel Batman!)
  5. Emerson Drive – “Moments” +4
  6. Big & Rich – “Lost In This Moment” 0
  7. Billy Currington – “Good Directions” +3
  8. Keith Urban – “I Told You So” -2 [Worst Song] (The narrator’s arrogance just does nothing for me. I like the sound but that’s it)
  9. Alan Jackson – “A Woman’s Love” +1 (I like the bluesy feel. Just wish the theme was a little less conventional)
  10. Jake Owen – “Startin’ With Me” +4
  11. Jason Aldean – “Johnny Cash” +1 (Guilty pleasure…..sue me)
  12. Taylor Swift – “Teardrops On My Guitar” +2
  13. Kenny Chesney – “Never Wanted Nothing More” +2
  14. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill – “I Need You” +3 (So you guys both have an Uncle Joe in Oklahoma who needs rain huh? Kidding aside, this is solid)
  15. Rodney Atkins – “These Are My People” +2 (Yes, this is cliché as hell, but Rodney’s sincere delivery works for me. Plus that opening fiddle is just heavenly)
  16. Bucky Covington – “A Different World” +1 (Was he even old enough to know about all the things he’s singing about here? Regardless, at least it has a good sound)
  17. Craig Morgan – “Tough” +3
  18. Kellie Pickler – “I Wonder” +4 [Best Song]
  19. Eric Church – “Guys Like Me” +1
  20. Toby Keith – “High Maintenance Woman” +2 (I know this is a pretty well-known hated Toby song, but I think that the song isn’t meant to be taken that seriously. On that note, combined with the pretty good guitar work it passes for me)
  21. Reba & Kelly Clarkson – “Because Of You” +2
  22. Little Big Town – “A Little More You” +2
  23. Martina McBride – “How I Feel” -1
  24. Luke Bryan – “All My Friends Say” +3
  25. Sugarland – “Everyday America” 0 (Ugh, those Pop beats were unfortunately ahead of their time in country music. That of course means they were only slightly behind what pop was doing…)
  26. Jason Michael Carroll – “Livin’ Our Love Song” +1
  27. Cole Deggs and the Lonesome – “I Got More” +1 (Well, we had a guy whose name says “Cold eggs” and in the modern-day we have Colden Rainy Swindell. Go figure)
  28. Trace Adkins – “I Wanna Feel Something” +2
  29. Tim McGraw – “If You’re Reading This” +4 (Three times where McGraw is on the chart. It’s exactly like 2016! Not complaining though)
  30. Brooks & Dunn – “Proud Of The House We Built” +2 (Yes, it’s cheesy and corny as all hell. And yes, this is another song where I’m making excuses for why it works for me)

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +54

Well it would appear to be another good chart this week! In all honesty I was probably a little more forgiving of some of these songs than I should have been, but even before I became a hardcore country fan in 2010 I always had memories of some of these songs playing on my grandparent’s radio. Nostalgia admittedly gets in the way of some of these songs for me, but hey none of us are free from bias. I went with Kellie Pickler’s “I Wonder” for the best song honor since it came from a personal place and is excellent to boot. It was hard to pull off getting a song like that to be a single in 2007 and it’s pretty much impossible to do in 2016.

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!

Review – Hicks’ “I Belong To You”

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Swedish-country artist Miquael Persson aka Hicks is back with another single. This isn’t the first time Hicks’ work has been reviewed on the site, as Derek last year reviewed his single, “Hayride.” That single, his U.S. debut, went on to land in the New Music Weekly Top 10 and the Music Row Top 80. Hicks is also a songwriter, as his work has been recorded by the likes of Little River Band, Bobby Kimball of Toto and Jimi Jamison of Survivor. So clearly the Swedish singer is turning heads here in the states. His newest single is called “I Belong To You,” which Hicks co-wrote along with Erik Martensson and Jorgen Elofsson. Kelly Clarkson fans might recognize the name Elofsson, as he helped write two Clarkson hits, “A Moment Like This” and “Stronger.” So how does this new single stack up to Hicks’ previous singles?

I think it’s a step up and certainly his most catchy single yet. It’s a light and upbeat song, which fits well with the upcoming summer months. I would describe the instrumentation as folk pop, with the fiddles and guitar combining with the rhythmic claps. There’s also a choir interluding in the background with “whoas,” which I think is a little unnecessary. It’s a little overkill in my mind, but it doesn’t take much from the song. Overall the instrumentation, while a little pop-y works for me. It kind of reminds me of the old Mumford & Sons sound. Your mileage may vary. As for the song itself, it’s about a man who’s always had his heart set on a certain woman, but she never wanted him. She moved on and married his best friend, and the marriage ultimately failed. Despite all of this, the man still loves this woman and wants her in his life. This has the makings of a good story, but it doesn’t feel complete as it’s never alluded to if he ever wins her heart over.

Hicks certainly has a lot of charisma and helps make the song better than it should be. Also if you didn’t tell me he was Swedish I would never know as you don’t hear it in his voice. Keith Urban is the same way, as he sings nothing like he talks. This always amazes me. Hicks may not have the biggest voice, but it has enough character and once again charisma to make these types of songs endearing to the listener. While I have preferred a few changes in this song that would’ve made it even better, this song does a lot of things right. It’s catchy, fun and relatable to the listener. I think it was a good choice to release this as a single as we get into the summer months and this should help Hicks continue to raise his profile here in the United States.

Grade: 6.5/10

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [April 2013]

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? 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 April 13, 2013. After getting a perfect score last week when looking at 1993, we’ll now get to see how much country music regressed over 20 years.

  1. Hunter Hayes – “Somebody’s Heartbreak” -1 (Too pop sounding)
  2. Lee Brice – “I Drive Your Truck” +1 (Brice’s best single of his career)
  3. Lady Antebellum – “Downtown” (I like the sentiment, but it’s overproduced)
  4. Blake Shelton – “Sure Be Cool If You Did” -1 (It made the bro country mashup, so…)
  5. Thompson Square – “If I Didn’t Have You” (Pretty forgettable song)
  6. Chris Young – “I Can Take It From There” (Young doesn’t show enough charisma and energy)
  7. Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart” -1 (This song is just dumb)
  8. Kenny Chesney – “Pirate Flag” -1 (This song is even dumber)
  9. Florida Georgia Line – “Get Your Shine On” -1 (I think this is the song that made the term “sugar shaker” popular)
  10. Carrie Underwood – “Two Black Cadillacs” (Good production and vocals, but is the violence necessary?)
  11. George Strait – “Give It All We Got Tonight” +1 (One of his weaker singles, but still good)
  12. Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel” (Just listen to Old Crow Medicine Show’s version)
  13. Eric Church – “Like Jesus Does” (Too sappy to take seriously)
  14. Brantley Gilbert – “More Than Miles” (This sounds exactly the same as “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”)
  15. Jason Aldean – “1994” -1 (One of Aldean’s worst songs ever)
  16. Brad Paisley – “Beat This Summer” +1 (A summer tune I can enjoy)
  17. Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift – “Highway Don’t Care” -1 (This song’s entire arrangement annoys me)
  18. Dustin Lynch – “She Cranks My Tractor” -1 (Do I really need to explain this one?)
  19. Blake Shelton – “Boys ‘Round Here” -1 (One of the worst country songs ever)
  20. The Band Perry – “DONE.” -1 (This song flat-out annoys me)
  21. Jake Owen – “Anywhere With You” -1 (I’ve heard this song way too many times in my life)
  22. Zac Brown Band – “Jump Right In” +1 (You either love or hate this song)
  23. Rascal Flatts – “Changed” (Not bad enough for a -1, not good enough for a +1)
  24. Gloriana – “Can’t Shake You” (A pretty forgettable song)
  25. The Henningsens – “American Beautiful” (I forgot about this father-son-daughter trio)
  26. Kip Moore – “Hey Pretty Girl” -1 (The hook is annoying and Kip sounds bored)
  27. Jana Kramer – “Whiskey” (A decent song. Nothing more, nothing less)
  28. Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush” +1 (This song needed more Vince to be really good)
  29. Easton Corbin – “All Over The Road” -1 (The start of Easton wasting his talent)
  30. Brett Eldredge – “Don’t Ya” (Eldredge’s vocals save this song from being terrible)

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -8

Pretty terrible list, huh? Amazing how much of a difference there is from 1993 to 2013. Over a 20 year span the pulse went from a perfect +30 to -8, making it a 38 point drop. There are some songs up above that would be strong contenders for the worst country songs ever. If terrible music wasn’t being made, it was usually just safe and neutral music. Hell this time period is even worse than today, which was at -4 this past week. There’s really not any great music, just a few good songs that save this chart from being a total wash. Of course this is right before bro country would become huge.

Personally I remember being a pretty disinterested country music fan at this time. My frustration started in late 2012 and at this point I was drifting away from the genre. I went about five months in 2013 without turning on country radio. Zac Brown Band and Brad Paisley were the only country music I would listen to in my music library. I really got into rap music. When I returned and saw it had gotten even worse, that was when I began my search for country music beyond the mainstream and started the path to me eventually creating this site.

As is now customary, fire away with your comments and questions about this week’s past pulse.