The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 1)

Let me introduce you to The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music. This chart takes data from four Billboard country music charts: Digital Song Sales, Album Sales, Airplay and Streaming. I take the numbers from these charts, plug them into my formulas and methodology and it spits out a number I refer to as a Popularity Rating or Pop Rating for short. This determines the order of the top 25 rankings you’ll see below.

What I love about my chart is it’s simple, but fluid and dynamic. It accounts for all types of artists across the board, whether the artist is strong at radio (Chris Lane, Dustin Lynch) or album sales (Chris Stapleton). It allows independent and older artists to enter it too, as three of the four categories are ultimately controlled by you the listeners. Not to mention I feel it’s more inclusive of a variety of styles of country music and women artists. It’s a true real-time indicator of who is popular in country music with built-in natural weights that ensures fairness.

One last thing: I will of course be adding my own personal opinion to the chart with a rating of +1, 0 or -1 based on whether I think the artist’s contributions towards their pop rating are helping, hurting or not effecting the genre. Onto the chart!

  1. Florida Georgia Line (#1 Digital Songs) -1
  2. Luke Combs +1
  3. Jason Aldean (#1 Airplay) +1
  4. Kane Brown (#1 Streaming) -1
  5. Brett Young -1
  6. Thomas Rhett -1
  7. Cole Swindell +1
  8. Dan + Shay +1
  9. Kenny Chesney +1
  10. Chris Stapleton (#1 Album) +1
  11. Miranda Lambert (#1 Airplay) 0
  12. Luke Bryan 0
  13. Eric Church +1
  14. Bebe Rexha -1
  15. Old Dominion 0
  16. Sam Hunt 0
  17. Carrie Underwood 0
  18. Mitchell Tenpenny -1
  19. Dylan Scott -1
  20. Chris Janson +1
  21. Dierks Bentley -1
  22. Russell Dickerson -1
  23. Keith Urban -1
  24. Lauren Alaina 0
  25. Morgan Evans -1

The Ultimate Pulse: -3

Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Chris Janson, Dierks Bentley, Russell Dickerson
  • Gone: Cody Johnson, Chris Lane, Tori Kelly, Morgan Wallen
  • The pulse improves one spot this week to -3, despite no significant difference between the new group of artists to enter the chart and the ones that left. Johnson was expected to leave and the other three were helped significantly by airplay, which they all lost this week. No surprise with these artists.
  • Florida Georgia Line remains atop the chart and actually extend their lead on the rest of the chart, despite a sizable streaming loss this week. Expect them to remain atop next week and extend their lead even more in the next couple weeks, as they just released their new song “Sittin’ Pretty.” It’s selling really well when they’re already #1 in the digital song sales category this week and they could get even more points if their four songs being grouped as an EP count towards album sales.
  • Luke Combs and Jason Aldean both tied for #2 this week, but Combs gets it based on tiebreaker rules (if you missed the explanation for this, see last week’s chart). Combs will eventually hit the #1 spot on the chart, as he continues to put up big sales and streaming numbers. When his airplay starts peaking, he should start seriously challenging for the #1 spot.
  • Aldean with another week of consistent numbers across the board, as he tops airplay for a second straight week.
  • Kane Brown drops to #4, as he takes a sizable loss in digital song sales. But he continues to put up monster streaming numbers and takes the #1 streaming spot from Florida Georgia Line.
  • As expected Cole Swindell makes a big jump into the top ten with the release of his new album. He made great gains across the board and it’ll be interesting to see if “Dad’s Old Number” continues to sell well. It could be a future single. It’ll be interesting to see how his album continues to sell too.
  • Dan + Shay actually tied Swindell, but lost on tiebreaker due to losing airplay this week.
  • Kenny Chesney fell in three out of four categories this week and should lose airplay next week. Expect him to fall more as his team begins to work his new single “Better Boat.”
  • Chris Stapleton makes his debut in the top ten this week, beating Miranda Lambert in tiebreaker rules. With his consistent album and streaming numbers, Stapleton is a top 15 lock. With some help in digital song sales and/or airplay, he can consistently be top ten.
  • Eric Church makes a nice leap up to #13 this week, beating Bebe Rexha on tiebreaker rules. The gain is thanks to “Heart Like a Wheel” selling quite well.
  • Despite gaining in points thanks to airplay, Old Dominion somehow manages to lose positions on the chart this week. Other artists simply had an even better week than the group.
  • Carrie Underwood and Dylan Scott are each slowly climbing the chart thanks to increases in airplay.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny makes consistent gains across the board to jump into the top 20. As I said before, he’s unfortunately not going to way. I think he’s definitely tapped into the bro country crowd who never really tired of that terrible sub-genre.
  • There was a whopping five-way tie for #20 on the chart this week. Newcomers Chris Janson and Dierks Bentley got first crack and Janson beat him on tie breakers thanks to just slightly better digital song sales.
  • Russell Dickerson beat out Keith Urban (who continues to fall) who beats out Lauren Alaina based on tie breakers.
  • Morgan Evans barely hangs onto the final spot on the chart this week and should fall off next week. You live by airplay, you fall by airplay.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 25

  1. Jon Pardi
  2. Sugarland
  3. Taylor Swift
  4. Chris Young
  5. Maren Morris

Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts below and feel free to make predictions for next week’s rankings. Feel free to ask questions if you need any clarification on the methodology and rankings.

5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 1)

  1. Swamp Opera August 29, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    Hey Josh, if you don’t mind, could you explain a little more about the scoring there? Like, I think I understand certain artists, but there’s others where I’m confused.

    For example, I know you said you liked “Simple,” and considering they’re still selling quite well, where does the negative grade stem from? I’m also guessing Miranda Lambert is a 0 because she’s not doing much of anything right now good or bad?


    • Josh August 29, 2018 / 7:51 pm

      No problem! So for Florida Georgia Line: I do like “Simple.” However I don’t like the rest of their contributions, which include: their first two albums on the album chart, “Meant to Be” in the digital and streaming categories and then their feature on that terrible “Up Down” song by Morgan Wallen. So while I view “Simple” as a positive contribution, I view the rest of their points as negative and it just tips them to a -1 rating. With the artists toward the top of the chart there’s multiple contributions to take into consideration with the rating I give them and I have to determine how much each affects their pop rating, as well as how I view their quality of music. If “Meant to Be” still wasn’t a juggernaut in sales and streaming, I would probably give them a 0 or even possibly a +1. But it’s still contributing 35% of their pop rating, which is significant. I wish that song would go away haha.

      Pretty much for Lambert. I find “Drowns the Whiskey” to be okay and her feature really doesn’t have an effect in regards to quality or impact for me. With that being her only contribution to her current pop rating, I have to give a 0. It’s the same situation with Lauren Alaina further down the chart. As the contributions for each artists fluctuate, so will their rating. So for example Dierks Bentley gets a -1 from me right now. He’s currently getting point contributions from album sales with The Mountain and digital sales with “Burning Man.” I did not like the album which is contributing more points and the song which I like is contributing less. If the song takes off in sales and radio and ultimately contributes more than the album does to his pop rating, I’ll switch him to a +1. I hope I explained that well, as the chart can be confusing at first glance and it takes into account four different Billboard charts.


      • Swamp Opera August 29, 2018 / 8:51 pm

        I got you now. See in my mind I was only thinking of recent contributions. I didn’t think of certain music that was still relevant in 2018! My bad.

        No, I hear you on the others. It’s cool to take all that into consideration since it’s a fairer view of the artist’s career up to this point as well as where they are now. I like the new feature!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Josh August 29, 2018 / 9:49 pm

          Thanks! Glad my explanation cleared things up too. Yep, the fluidity of the chart I think really gives an up to date look constantly at the artist and where they stand in country music at the moment.

          Liked by 1 person

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