The Endless Music Odyssey, Vol. 1: Hot Country Knights, Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers, and more

The Hot Country Knights deliver even more than I expected with their debut album The K is Silent. You can spend a lot of time analyzing all of the puns and hilarious references (some time will be spent on this of course). But in my opinion the best thing to sum up about this album can be found in the music video for the lead single of this album, “Pick Her Up.” In this clear parody of bro country (as well as 90s country too), the video opens with the modern country male concert goer in his flannel shirt and vest. It’s a little detail, but it struck me because of it’s accuracy because this is literally how the vast majority of guys I see at concerts dress. At The Cadillac Three concert I attended back in February (what will highly likely be my one and only show in 2020), pretty much every dude at show looked like the guy in the music video.

Now to why I point this out and to me it’s symbolism for modern country. Every thing looks and sounds the same just like the listeners who consume it. I don’t mean this as a shot at these listeners or anybody at all, nor did Dierks Bentley and his band mean to make this some sort of symbolism. But for myself I couldn’t help but make the connection. I just found it fascinating how so much of popular modern music makes things so cookie cutter to the point even the listener is a cardboard cutout. It shows the cascading effect art and culture can have on people. As the saying goes, you are what you eat.

Back to the Hot Country Knights and the video, they give the guy a 90s makeover (or 80s?) and set him up with a souped up truck to impress his date. It’s completely corny, out of style and yet brimming so much with the personality that lacks in country music today. It doesn’t feel like calculated marketing and it’s just being itself, which easier said than done in today’s world. Yes, this album goes on to point out how even 90s country was formulaic in it’s approach and relied on copy and paste imagery for songs. But it was fun and didn’t take itself so seriously, yet it could also find balance with serious songs occasionally too. It felt natural and had an accessibility about it that could resonate with the average person because it didn’t try so hard to be cool or appeal to certain demographics. Of course I will fully admit too that nostalgia makes me see things slightly through rose-colored glasses. But it’s the fun-loving spirit of this album that resonates mostly with me and how it’s not afraid to go “out there” and be a little weird and kooky.

The features on this album are perfect with Travis Tritt and Terri Clark each shining brightly in their roles. “Asphalt” is non-stop chuckles with it’s non-stop ass-based references (and another hilarious music video). “Moose Knuckle Shuffle” actually makes me want to dance and do the Moose Knuckle Shuffle while also doing a perfect parody of the line-dancing phase of the 90s. The highlight of the album for me though has to be “Then It Rained.” At first I was like wait a minute this is familiar and then I realized it was a dead-on take of Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls” and I absolutely lost it. It’s quite “Seinfeldian” as my friend Zack at The Musical Divide perfectly puts it, with it’s take on the average boring moment followed by rain. This type of humor is right up my alley. The best line is “I ordered up a hot dog and a glass of chardonnay/Somewhere I thought I heard George Strait/And then it rained.” It’s just so randomly hilarious!

The album’s title track rhymes whiskey with whiskey, which feels like the ultimate meta reference to how asinine modern country songwriting can be at times while also referencing how critics like myself can never help ourselves in pointing things like this out in reviews. “Mull It Over” is both funny and manages to incorporate a mullet reference right under your nose (while lines throughout reference the hair style too). “You Make It Hard” is the ultimate dick joke song. Finally you have “The USA Begins with US,” which casually and flawlessly mocks the absurdity that is so many patriotic country songs and how some artists inauthentically pander so hard with the USA stuff in their music (think songs like “Chicken Fried”).

While this was just a “casual” side project for Dierks Bentley and his band, you can tell a lot of love and work went into this fun idea. And I hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the Hot Country Knights, as the cornier, fun side of country music is something we need again. Speaking of more fun country music, Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers returned with another collaboration album, Hold My Beer, Vol. 2. The first addition got high praise from yours truly and I flipped when I saw the news that they were coming back with another edition in May.

While I really enjoyed this album for the most part, I unfortunately have to point the huge flaw in this project before getting to what I enjoy. And I have to point it out first because I was enjoying it so much upon initial listens and then I finally did my “deep” listen of it. The huge flaw I discovered was “Her.” Now I know I pointed out above that music today should have a more casual nature about it and not be so overthought. But it’s hard not to come away from “Her” as anything but disappointing. A song about a guy getting his friend drunk and stealing his girl away is just not something I can get behind, no matter how “fun-loving” it tries to come off. This song is no different than the horrible Old Dominion song “Break Up with Him.” It’s just in bad taste all-around and unlike Ashley McBryde’s new album Never Will, this song doesn’t try to view the flawed characters as neutral or bad actors, but rather quite the opposite.

So after making this discovery it felt like I had just eaten a piece of delicious chocolate cake only for the chef to come up to me afterwards and whisper in my ear that there was a fly baked into it. Nevertheless, the rest of this album is the kind of fun traditional country I can get behind and put on repeat. While there are no true highlights that resonate with me like on the first volume, there was still several fun moments. “Rodeo Clown” is an hilarious song about a guy being left by his woman for a rodeo clown. While it’s an embarrassing and sad thing for the guy, it’s quite a funny image from the outside looking in. While at first “Rhinestoned” and “Speak to Me Jukebox” felt a bit on the nose, I’ve ultimately come to really enjoy these little homages to country music and previous standards that so many country listeners enjoy.

“Am/Fm” is admittedly a bit too close to the very songs these two mocked with “Standards,” but damn if it isn’t admittedly catchy too. So I can understand anybody who decidedly falls on either side of the fence with this song. “Let Merle Be Merle” can kind of come off a bit tone deaf upon first listen of the chorus, but I realized upon more listens the message is really about letting people be what they are. Particularly with country music the song is saying to let the past be the past, don’t try to be the next Haggard. And these are messages I can get behind. “Ode to Ben Dorcy” surprised me as I was greeted by the welcoming voice of Waylon Jennings. And I found the song to be even more cool when I read about the origins of it, as it pays tribute to the long-time roady who supported so many artists.

“Mi Amigo”, even with the nice feature of Asleep at the Wheel, is a bit generic and forgettable. “Warm Beer” is a bit cliché, but I’ll admit I can enjoy it too for it’s easy-going nature. “Hold My Beer” is definitely better and is the kind of song that encapsulates the entertaining, buddy-buddy personalities of Bowen and Rogers. I wish “Her” could have been replaced with another song like this one. Or another song like “This Ain’t My Town,” which I would have to pick as the best on the record. It’s a poignant commentary on the gentrification of towns like Austin and Nashville, stripping away the soul and characteristics that made the places once resonate with the city’s original residents who now feel like strangers. It’s a nice balance also with the fun moments on this album, much like how “El Dorado” served on the first volume.

Hold My Beer, Vol. 2 is a really solid album that shines for the most part, despite the flaws. Although I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to make an observation of this album and The K is Silent. Each album shares multiple writers (Jon Randall, the Beavers brothers), despite the fact that some Texas Country supporters will insist that Wade and Randy’s album is much more authentic and country. But I would make the argument that these albums are essentially the same, as each have the same fun attitude and themes throughout.

The only difference is packaging and marketing. One is trying to be “serious” and the other is a “parody.” But you could argue both for well both. The point I’m ultimately trying to make here is how hung up in perceptions us listeners can have when it comes to music and the perception we think we give by listening to a certain type of music. Really at the end of the day it’s just a matter of how it makes you feel and if you enjoy it. The other stuff is just noise artists, labels and industry people trying to suck you into this fake us vs them plot to sell more music and tickets. And unfortunately this fuels the divides that exist in music too. In the words of the Doobie Brothers, just listen to the music and you can’t go wrong.

Hot Country Knights – The K is Silent – Strong 8/10

Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers – Hold My Beer, Vol. 2 – Light 8/10


And more…

  • After enjoying the Hot Country Knights album, it actually prompted me to re-listen to Dierks Bentley’s The Mountain. And I’m glad I did. Originally I was in the very small minority of not enjoying the album. But now you can count me in the camp of liking it. I’m not sure why I originally didn’t enjoy it, and while I wouldn’t put it as one of Bentley’s best (such as Modern Day Drifter, Riser, Up on the Ridge), it’s a really solid album full of great messages that deal with overcoming fears, anxiety and finding love. “Burning Man” is the perfect opener and the Brothers Osborne are the ideal feature for this type of song. The album’s title track feels like a good summation of this album, “You Can’t Bring Me Down” is an uplifting anthem and “Son of the Sun” is where you can really tells Dierks lets his inspiration from Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives’ Way Out West shine through. And his collaboration with Brandi Carlile on “Travelin’ Light” is so enjoyable. I’m not sure I’ll ever warm up to Black, but The Mountain is an album worthy of recommendation from yours truly now.
  • Run the Jewels is dropping RTJ4 on June 5 and I am pumped! All three albums they’ve released have been great (RTJ2 in particular is one of the best albums of the past decade), so I’m quite confident that this will be another can’t miss record from the dynamic duo of El-P and Killer Mike. I got even more excited when I saw the all-star features list for the album, including the likes of 2 Chainz, Zack De La Rocha, Pharrell Williams and Mavis Staples. I’ve only listened to small snippets and plan to not listen to any of the full songs before the album to go in completely blind. Needless to say this is an album that on paper has a great shot of making my top albums of the year list.
  • I just reposted my review of Kenny Chesney’s great Songs of the Saints album. But unfortunately his new album is right back to the generic garbage I’ve come to hate from him. I didn’t even make it halfway through before shutting it off. It’s a shame how his mediocre stuff is what always ends up as hits while his better material never seems to resonate with listeners as much. Then again when you condition your audience into coming to concerts to get blackout drunk and trash venues up, it’s not really that surprising I guess.
  • I recently started to explore the discography of the Carpenters and I wish I would have done so sooner. Their melodies are gorgeous and Karen Carpenter has to be one of the most underrated artists of all-time. It’s a shame her life was cut so short. Close To You is the standard recommendation with this duo and for good reason, as I enjoy it front to back. The love songs like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “They Long To Be Close To You” easily standout thanks to the beautiful voice of Karen and their different take on the cover of “Help” holds up right next to The Beatles.
  • I gotta say I’m not a fan of the COVID-19-inspired songs being released. It’s bad enough to be profiting off a deadly virus, but then the songs themselves are so boring and uninspiring. I don’t really think anybody needs another reminder of it either. Country music in particular seems to be releasing the most songs about the topic and it reminds me so much of immediate post-9/11 country music. Luke Combs has the most popular song with “Six Feet Apart.” It’s just decent and for me it’s starting feel like all of his songs have the same cadence and feel about him. They just sort of blend together, so I hope he plans for more variety in future songs. Brad Paisley though has released the worst with “No I in Beer.” It’s so lazy, the pandering is tacked on at the end and it feels like a watered down conglomeration of his past songs. Please start doing better, Brad.
  • I don’t really pay a lot of attention to country radio nowadays, but I glanced through the chart the other day and I was happy to see LOCASH’s “One Big Country Song” is rising up the charts and becoming a hit. I’ve never been a big fan of the duo, but this song really caught my ear when I heard it last year. While the topic of the song is quite overused in country music, LOCASH manages to pull it off thanks to the fun, singalong nature and the catchy guitar licks.

Thanks for reading the first edition of The Endless Music Odyssey! This will be not necessarily a weekly feature, but a regular feature for sure. I will still do regular reviews when I have a ton to say about the album, but otherwise my thoughts will be in this feature. Josh’s Jukebox Journal will still be a feature and I plan to reveal at least one more feature very soon. I hope you enjoy my new approach to writing as much as I do! As always be sure to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments below!

Reacting to The Absolute Joke of the 2017 ACM Awards Nominations

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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 [Nov. 7]

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -28

The pulse drops five spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend”
    • It’s been a while since we’ve seen you in the top 30, Brantley. I was starting to think he would never make it back. It feels like a long time since he’s had a hit and has sort of become irrelevant in the grand scheme of things in country music since the death of bro country. Gilbert returns with “The Weekend,” a song that is simply terrible. Most annoying Gilbert songs in the past at least had a hook, but this song isn’t catchy either. It’s just plain bad. The whole thing is just so stilted and clunky. Gilbert’s voice sounds worse than normal. The song is somewhere between bad hip hop and bad rock music, not really able to decide what the hell it even is. You can call the lyrics mailed in and boring at best, cliché and obnoxious at worst. This is supposed to be a fun song about looking forward to the weekend, but there’s absolutely no sense of joy or happiness in this song. It’s just one big drag. How can I award it any points when there’s nothing about the song I can find redeeming? You can’t even get angry, it’s just unpleasant. This might be the most boring -5 song ever. 0/10
  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Brad Paisley – “Today” – Up 4 from #26 to #22
  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” – Up 3 from #14 to #11
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” – Up 3 from #23 to #20

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • LoCash – “I Know Somebody” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting the World on Fire” – Down 3 from #3 to #6

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

  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting the World on Fire”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” (This song has made sluggish gains for weeks now, so I’m officially putting it on the hot seat. Even if it makes a turnaround I only see this reaching the top ten at best. Most realistically it peaks at #15.)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (Their debut album with Warner drops next week, so I’m guessing this is how much longer this song is pushed. It’s not making enough gains to justify a long push, but hey that hasn’t stopped major labels before)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Be concerned about this song because like the above two songs it just hasn’t been showing much progress)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy”
  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots”
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man”

 

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [October 31]

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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. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 1)
  2. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 1)
  3. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Down 2)
  4. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime”
  5. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 2)
  6. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Down 1) [Worst Song]
  7. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 1)
  8. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 1)
  9. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Down 3)
  10. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 1)
  11. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Down 1)
  12. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 1)
  13. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Down 1) 
  14. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 0
  15. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 
  16. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 
  17. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 
  18. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  19. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 
  20. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song]
  21. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 
  22. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 1)
  23. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Down 1)
  24. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 1)
  25. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Down 1)
  26. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Re-Enters Top 30)
  27. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Down 1)
  28. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 1)
  29. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” 0 (Down 1)
  30. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 3)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -23

The pulse improves five spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” -3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brad Paisley – “Today”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Brad Paisley – “Today” – Up 5 from #31 to #26
  • Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” – Up 2 from #7 to #5

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” – Out of the Top 30 (to #31)
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” – Down 3 from #6 to #9
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” – Down 3 from #27 to #30

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

  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Losing spins fast, as it appears it has hit it’s ceiling)
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” (Shocked it’s still here)
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (This does not appear to have the airplay support to last in the top 30 much longer)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (It’s been on the chart for 26 weeks already and there are a plethora of songs rising fast behind it. It’s in trouble and will need some serious label support if it wants to stick around, which I could see happening)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy”
  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots”
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”

 

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [October 24]

world-on-fire

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -28

The pulse drops two spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” – Up 8 from #27 to #19
  • Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” – Up 3 from #17 to #14
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Up 3 from #7 to #4

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” – Down 9 from #19 to #28
  • LoCash – “I Know Somebody” – Down 4 from #1 to #5

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

  • LoCash – “I Know Somebody”
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Brad Paisley – “Today”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” (Oh joy to the world, I’m so excited about this)
  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” (This is well on it’s way to being a big hit for Pardi, as it’s having great sales)
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”

 

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