Album Review — Tim McGraw’s “Here on Earth”

Something felt different about this album from the moment I saw it’s album cover art. Tim McGraw has certainly not shied away from trying out different sounds and approaches in his career, although his temporary fling in bro country scared him away from this for a bit. But he’s started inching back towards this. The concept and production’s presentation of this album is intriguing. The experimentation of the production shouldn’t be entirely surprising, as McGraw shows hints and dabbled with it a lot on his previous album. With Here on Earth, he dives deeper into experimenting and while it works for the most part, it feels like a lot is left on the table too.

It starts off promising with the lush and string-laden “L.A.” It sounds very much like something you would hear on a Glen Campbell album. The same can said of “Not From California,” which has one of the best deliveries on the album as he conveys his ache and yearning. Then you get to a song like “Chevy Spaceship.” It feels like this album mostly contains songs like this: corny and a bit cliché, but well intentioned heart behind them. When it comes to these songs on this album, it’s hit and miss.

“Chevy Spaceship” surprisingly works for me, but in kind of an ironic way because it’s unintentionally one of the funniest songs I’ve heard this year. This is thanks to McGraw delivering lines like “I got the good stuff sittin’ right here/We can catch a little buzz lightyear” and “Let me come by and pick you up/We can do some intergalactic lovin’” with utmost seriousness. It’s just stupid and goofy enough to win me over. I can say the same of “Good Taste in Women.” This is usually a song that would annoy me, yet McGraw’s charisma and the catchy delivery make it effective.

“Sheryl Crow” comes off a bit forced at first, but again I find the charisma and joyful nature of the song to be endearing. “7500 OBO” sounds quite stupid on paper, but once you figure out it’s more about erasing the memory of an ex and less about selling a truck, it’s an easy song to find a connection with. Also McGraw sampling his own “Where the Green Grass Grows” and directly referencing it in the song is a surprise, but a welcome one. It’s a bit egotistical, but since the sampling fits the song and is done to the benefit of the song, I can overlook this. The fiddles are so memorable and reintroducing them on another song won’t get a complaint out of me.

There’s also though the flip side of corny on this album where it doesn’t work. “Hallelujahville” and “Doggone” are gratingly mawkish. With the album being too long for my taste at 16 songs long at just over an hour, these are the first two songs I would cut. “War of Art” and “Hard to Stay Mad At” are based around solid ideas, but it’s too cookie cutter and bland in style. “Here on Earth,” “Hold You Tonight” and “If I Was a Cowboy” are a little better, but suffer the same issue to a lesser extent. If these three songs were less formulaic (lending to better replay value) and given a bit more “depth,” it would have went a long way into help making this a great album.

McGraw would have did better too by having a few more serious songs on the album, as he does a pretty good job delivering on the few songs in this vein. “Damn Sure Do” is a warm ode to reaffirming your commitment to a loved one and lead single “I Called Mama” is a nice song about how reminders of mortality makes you reexamine your appreciation for what and who you have in your life. “Gravy” is another song in this same lane, as the laid back and smooth nature of the production lends well to conveying the emotions of the lyrics.

What’s funny is if you asked ten different people who listened to Tim McGraw’s Here on Earth about their thoughts on it, I think each would give you completely different answers about each song on this album, as each song’s appeal and this album as a whole’s appeal is very much going to come down to your own personal preferences with corny country music. Not to mention the production’s lack of focus could come off as interesting like it does for me or make for a lackluster listen.

Ultimately for me it works more than it doesn’t work. On one hand I could easily make the argument that this album is only a couple changes away from being great. On the other hand I feel like this is an album I’m going to remember because it’s so weird and different from what McGraw has done previously. Here on Earth is an odd album, yet it’s quite interesting and worth at least one listen if only to figure out for yourself where you stand with it.

Grade: 7/10

Josh’s Jukebox Journal — Country Hits: 2006

Once upon a time there was a popular feature on this blog called The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music and it’s sister feature The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music. It was an enjoyable feature for both you and I, before I decided to take a hiatus from blogging. My own enjoyment of the feature had waned, but I’ve wanted to return to a feature like this ever since.

Kyle over at Kyle’s Korner Blog took over the torch for The Current Pulse and is doing a fantastic job with it, so please go check it out if you haven’t done so. But I was wanting to do a Past Pulse. Unfortunately as I’ve discovered, Billboard has become greedy and decided to lock past charts behind a paywall. Quite an asinine decision in my view. So with this stupid decision by Billboard, I obviously can’t do The Past Pulse. But that sent me down the idea rabbit hole and I got to thinking how I could re-adapt the Past Pulse into something new. Combined with another feature idea I had been tinkering with, I’ve come up with Josh’s Jukebox Journal.

Josh’s Jukebox Journal is a brand new feature on the blog that will be similar to The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music, but with a twist. Rather than rely on past charts from Billboard instead I will look at playlists. This could be from any genre, from any year, past or present, various artists or just one artist. I will run through the playlist giving a thumbs up (let it play), shrug (essentially playlist filler) or a thumbs down (skip it). The best song will get two thumbs up and the worst will get two thumbs down. At the end I will give a grade for the quality of the playlist. These playlists can come from any of the streaming services (preferably Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube).

This feature won’t have a set day or time of when it releases. It will essentially be when I want to do one. And of course I want to hear playlist ideas for future versions of Josh’s Jukebox Journal in the comments! Today I will take a look at the Apple Music playlist Country Hits: 2006…

    • Rodney Atkins – “If You’re Going Through Hell” 👎
    • Rascal Flatts – “What Hurts the Most”🤷
    • Josh Turner – “Your Man” 👍
    • Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take the Wheel” 👍
    • Jennifer Nettles & Bon Jovi – “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”🤷
    • Brad Paisley – “When I Get Where I’m Going (feat. Dolly Parton)” 👍
    • Jason Aldean – “Why”🤷
    • Kenny Chesney – “Summertime”🤷
    • Phil Vassar – “Last Day of My Life” 👍
    • LeAnn Rimes – “Something’s Gotta Give”🤷
    • George Strait – “She Let Herself Go”🤷
    • Jack Ingram – “Wherever You Are” 👍
    • The Wreckers – “Leave the Pieces” 👍
    • Kenny Chesney – “Living In Fast Forward” 👍
    • Brad Paisley – “The World” 👍
    • Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats” 👍
    • Trace Adkins – “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” 👎👎
    • Rascal Flatts – “My Wish (10th Anniversary)” 👎
    • Blake Shelton – “Nobody But Me” 👍
    • Dierks Bentley – “Settle for a Slowdown” 👍👍
    • Steve Holy – “Brand New Girlfriend” 👍
    • Josh Turner – “Would You Go With Me” 👍
    • Little Big Town – “Bring It On Home” 👍
    • Sugarland – “Want To” 👍
    • Toby Keith – “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” 👎

Thumbs up: 15
Shrugs: 6
Thumbs down: 4

Grade: 7/10

This is a pretty solid playlist (until you see a lot of the songs missing I list below that I would have added and then you’re going to get angry like me). I was actually a little surprised, but then as I listened to it more not so much because I remember every single one of these songs vividly. I was 14/15 years old when these songs were popular and this was when my brother and I would watch the CMT music video countdown show every week. So I definitely got some nostalgia running through this playlist. And I can’t get over how much mandolin was allowed on country radio back then!

So many great songs to choose from for the best. Josh Turner was absolutely on fire during this time. I really enjoyed Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley’s material at that time too. Underwood of course just released her debut album and it’s arguably still her best record. Paisley helped Dolly get another hit and that’s always great. But I had to go with Dierks Bentley’s “Settle For a Slowdown” from the excellent Modern Day Drifter album. The ominous and dark atmosphere created by the guitars and the descriptive lyricism that so perfectly lays out the longing heartbreak taking place in the song made me choose it as best.

Not a lot of bad songs to choose from on this playlist, which is nice of course. I enjoyed all of Rodney Atkins biggest hits at first, including the one above, but thank country radio and grocery stores for overplaying them to the point I cringe when I hear them. I don’t mind Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish,” but for some bizarre reason they put a flat and bad 10th anniversary version on this playlist. Long-time readers know how I feel about post-9/11 Toby Keith. But picking Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” as the worst was a slam dunk choice. This song was everywhere, well rather the remix version, which I’m surprised isn’t what was chosen for this playlist. It’s an annoying novelty song that will only age worse with time. (That I’ll also admit that teenager me loved at the time)

Songs I Would Have Added to the Playlist

  • Billy Currington – “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” (Currington was so good during this time and his omission is bad)
  • Dierks Bentley – “Every Mile a Memory”
  • Brooks & Dunn – “Believe”
  • Little Big Town – “Boondocks” (A cult classic!)
  • George Strait – “Give It Away” (How in the hell was this not on the playlist, yet the sleepy Strait hit was chosen?!?)
  • Emerson Drive – “A Good Man”
  • Eric Church – “How ‘Bout You” (Not a single Church song on the playlist is criminal!)
  • Kenny Rogers – “I Can’t Unlove You” (Rest in peace Mr. Rogers. Also people forget this was a top 20 song for him in 2006 and definitely worthy of this playlist)
  • Gary Allan – “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” (Why was this not on the playlist either?!)
  • Alan Jackson – “Like Red on a Rose” (I’m just getting more angry at what was not on this playlist)
  • Jack Ingram – “Love You”
  • Van Zant – “Nobody Gonna Tell Me What to Do”
  • Eric Church – “Two Pink Lines” (Incredible song!)
  • Keith Urban – “Once in a Lifetime”
  • George Strait – “The Seashores of Old Mexico”
  • Joe Nichols – “Size Matters (Someday)”
  • Tim McGraw – “When the Stars Go Blue” (Not a single McGraw song on the playlist, especially not this one?! Come on)
  • Billy Currington – “Why, Why, Why”
  • Jake Owen – “Yee Haw”
  • Kenny Chesney – “You Save Me” (Take the two songs he has on the playlist and replace them with just this one, his best hit of the year)

Be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts on the playlist and what you would have added to the playlist too below!

Reacting to The Absolute Joke of the 2017 ACM Awards Nominations

pile_of_shit

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

Entertainer of the Year

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

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

Male Vocalist

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

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

Female Vocalist

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

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

Vocal Duo

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

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

Vocal Group

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

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

New Male

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

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

New Female

  • Lauren Alaina
  • Cam
  • Brandy Clark
  • Maren Morris

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

New Vocal Duo/Group

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

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

Album

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

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

Single

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

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

Song

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

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

Video

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

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

Songwriter

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

McKenna has to win this one, right?

Vocal Event 

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

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

Predictions for Country & American Roots Categories at the 2017 Grammy Awards

Grammy

This Sunday we celebrate the biggest music awards show of the years. I’m of course referring to the 59th Grammy Awards, set to air Sunday night at 8 pm ET on CBS. Many of the awards however are presented in the pre-show that’s live streamed online and information for this can found be found here. After hosting for five years, LL Cool J steps aside as host and The Late Late Show host James Corden takes over. Multiple country artists will be performing on the show, including Sturgill Simpson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban (most likely new single “The Fighter”), Little Big Town (part of tribute to Bee Gees), Maren Morris (duet with Alicia Keys) and Kelsea Ballerini (duet with Lukas Graham). Now let’s get to the predictions! Keep in mind I’m not the best at this prediction game, but I feel like I do a little better each year. The award shows can be unpredictable. And be sure to make your own predictions in the comments.

Note: I will not be doing a live blog this year. I will however be live tweeting it all on Twitter, where you can all of my live thoughts as the show unfolds. Just go to twitter.com/realcountryview to follow if you don’t have Twitter. I’ll also most likely be doing a recaps/reaction post.

Album of the Year

  • Adele – 25
  • Beyoncé – Lemonade 
  • Justin Bieber – Purpose 
  • Drake – Views
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth of course. Just imagine the outcries afterwards of all the big names that got taken down by some guy from Kentucky who made an album for his son.

What I Predict Will Win: Beyoncé’s Lemonade is the clear favorite I think, with Adele being the closest competition. But with other big names in Drake and Bieber also here, the votes could easily split and lead to Sturgill pulling off an upset similar to Beck a few years ago. I’d be fine with Beyoncé and Adele winning if Sturgill doesn’t, as I enjoyed both of their albums.

Best New Artist

  • Maren Morris
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Anderson .Paak

Who I Would Pick To Win: Anderson .Paak or Chance The Rapper, as both of their latest albums were awesome. But if I had to pick between these two, I would go with .Paak.

Who I Predict Will Win: Honestly I have no clue here. I could see any of these nominees winning, even Kelsea Ballerini because despite being a complete unknown outside of the country music bubble, Black River Entertainment continues to prove they have a lot of friends in high places. Morris is getting to duet with Alicia Keys and is quickly becoming a darling on the awards circuit. I’ll be content as long as Ballerini or The Chainsmokers don’t win.

Best Country Solo Performance 

  • Brandy Clark – “Love Can Go To Hell”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells”
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

What I Would Pick To Win: Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” (Anything but Urban’s song, which is ironically exactly what I wrote here last year)

What I Predict Will Win: Maren Morris’ “My Church” due to as I said above Morris quickly become an awards circuit favorite and this single being extremely popular. The other favorite I would think is Underwood, as she’s been a favorite of the Grammys.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • Kenny Chesney & P!nk – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Dolly Parton & Pentatonix – “Jolene”
  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Woof this category is rough. I guess I would go with “21 Summer.”

What I Predict Will Win: Dierks Bentley & Elle King’s “Different For Girls” because apparently people are okay with stereotypical bullshit and really think this is some deep song.

Best Country Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen)
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” (Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur)
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” (Lori McKenna)
  • Maren Morris – “My Church” (Maren Morris & busbee)
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne)

What I Would Pick To Win: Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” (Not Urban or Rhett)

What I Predict Will Win: Any of these have a great shot at winning I think. But I think they’ll go with “Humble and Kind” or “Vice.”

Best Country Album

  • Brandy Clark – Big Day in a Small Town
  • Loretta Lynn – Full Circle
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth 
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Predict Will Win: A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is pretty much a lock here, with Simpson getting an overall Album of the Year nomination and a performance slot.

Best American Roots Performance 

  • The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”
  • Blind Boys of Alabama – “Mother’s Children Have a Hard Time”
  • Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”
  • Sarah Jarosz – “House of Mercy”
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”

What I Predict Will Win: The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”

Best American Roots Song

  • Robbie Fulks – “Alabama at Night” (Robbie Fulks)
  • Jack White – “City Lights” (Jack White)
  • Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars – “Gulfstream” (Eric Adcock & Roddie Romero)
  • The Time Jumpers – “Kid Sister” (Vince Gill)
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You” (Lori McKenna & Felix McTeigue)

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Predict Will Win: Jack White – “City Lights”

Best Americana Album

  • The Avett Brothers – True Sadness 
  • William Bell – This Is Where I Live
  • Kris Kristofferson – The Cedar Creek Sessions
  • Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle
  • The Time Jumpers – Kid Sister

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle

What I Predict Will Win: William Bell – This Is Where I Live

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 23]

Creepy Blake
You get another week of creepy eyes staring back at you. Hey don’t blame me, blame country radio.

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

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

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -28

The pulse drops three spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” 0
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”
    • This is the second single from Lambert’s great album The Weight of These Wings. It’s certainly not as good as previous single “Vice” and this is probably one of the lesser songs of the album. That being said it’s solid. It’s a clever song about Lambert identifying who she has a friend in, from the frankly honest to the heartbroken. She keeps the song simple and it works. I’m not sure if country radio will get behind it, but it should at least reach top 20/top 15 I think. It should also be pointed out Lambert wrote this one completely herself. While this is certainly not a highlight of her most recent album, one of Lambert’s lesser songs still beats most of the songs at country radio right now. 7/10

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 4 from #27 to #23
  • Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” – Up 3 from #10 to #7

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Down 2 from #3 to #5

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

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (Another bad week and yet again keeps the bullet)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” (Also had another bad week and is still here)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (This one continues to stay alive too)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (Insert what I said above)
  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” – (Bad sales and a really bad week at radio. Also lost bullet. Needs a lot of help to prevent going recurrent)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Call me crazy, but I have the strangest feeling this will somehow luck it’s way into the top ten. It’s odds of making top 15 are pretty good. If it does, I’m gonna laugh so damn hard that Garth has a top ten at country radio in 2017.)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
  • Runaway June – “Lipstick”
  • Rascal Flatts – “Yours if You Want It”
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”

Note: Well on the bright side, there’s five solo women artists in the top 30 and I can’t remember the last time this has happened. On the obvious negative side of course, the pulse just continues to plunge. This week you can blame Lady Antebellum and their horrible new song. Also labels and their incessant gerrymandering to keep 40 week plus old songs around.

 

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