[Dumping Country Radio Edition] The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 22)

  1. Kane Brown
  2. Luke Combs
  3. Florida Georgia Line
  4. Dan + Shay
  5. Jason Aldean
  6. Chris Stapleton
  7. Brett Young
  8. Thomas Rhett
  9. Bebe Rexha
  10. Carrie Underwood
  11. Luke Bryan
  12. Mitchell Tenpenny
  13. Sam Hunt
  14. Kenny Chesney
  15. Miranda Lambert
  16. Upchurch
  17. Cole Swindell
  18. Lauren Alaina
  19. Jon Pardi
  20. Old Dominion
  21. Jake Owen
  22. Eric Church
  23. Zac Brown Band
  24. Dierks Bentley
  25. Brothers Osborne

So this is what The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music looks like when you take away airplay. I’ve decided I’m removing the airplay component to my chart. Why? Because I’m tired of acting like it matters. Maybe it matters to industry insiders and labels. They want it to matter because it’s easily manipulative. It’s much, much easier to go convince some radio guy to play your artist than convince the average country listener to truly care about your artist. As someone who has reviewed music for years, I know this more than anyone. Convincing people to care and listen to music, especially new music is like trying to pull freaking teeth. It’s extremely difficult and it’s why I spend as little time as possible reviewing music. And when I do review music, I have to really be excited about it to write about it. Welcome to the era of streaming music, where good isn’t good enough in the land of a thousand choices.

I feel like everyone has forgotten what the point of radio is in the first place. Playing songs on the radio when boiled down to what it’s true purpose is: it’s just advertising. A song on the radio is no different from those terrible car ads or a McDonald’s commercial. The sole purpose is to get you to buy into what they’re selling, which in the case of the song is getting you to buy the song/stream it and furthermore buy into the artist/act singing it. That’s it! It’s nothing more than advertising. Yet there’s still these great celebrations over artists topping the airplay charts and reaching the top five/ten/fifteen. I hate using all caps, but let me say this loud and clear: AIRPLAY MEANS NOTHING IF IT DOESN’T CONVERT TO MEANINGFUL SALES AND STREAMING. 

I look at the majority of those receiving airplay not being able to convert it into sales and airplay. This tells me that airplay is not effective for most in 2018. So why continue to acknowledge it? I’m not. I no longer want to be a part of this charade and The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music will no longer acknowledge the flawed and failing country radio.

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 22)

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 having an effect on the genre. Onto the chart!

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

The Ultimate Pulse: -1


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Upchurch, Jon Pardi
  • Gone: Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks
  • The Ultimate Pulse remains the same at -1 this week. This is despite two new departures off the chart. Dierks Bentley’s album sales once again take a big dive and it’s enough to drive him out of the top 25. I continue to be confounded as to why his album sales are a rollercoaster. Garth Brooks falls out because if you rise by airplay, you fall by airplay too.
  • Kane Brown is the new #1 this week and the second artist to top the chart since the beginning of the Pulse, ending Florida Georgia Line’s four-week run at the top. This was expected, as Brown opened up pre-orders for his new upcoming album and released a new song too, which greatly spiked his digital song sales. I can see Brown maintaining this spot next week, but it’s going to be much tighter and dependent on how fast Brown’s pop rating normalizes.
  • Luke Combs continues to solidify himself at #2 and is set up nicely to have his shot at #1 really soon. Combs also surprisingly takes the top streaming spot away this week, just edging out Brown. He just continues to pick up steam in streaming and the battle between him and Brown will continue to be tight for top streamer.
  • Florida Georgia Line falls to #3 this week, even though their pop rating remains basically static. The duo’s streaming numbers remain impressive, but they’re simply getting outpaced by Brown and Combs’ monster pace in streaming at the moment.
  • Dan + Shay are pretty solidly #4 for the time being and remain in a great position to break up the Big Three above them in the future once they start receiving significant airplay help.
  • Both Jason Aldean and Thomas Rhett should lose airplay help next week as they’re set to go recurrent. This will cause both to drop, but Rhett’s drop will be more noticeable. Both are working new singles, so expect them to rebound of course. These drops should help you see how reliant each artist is on airplay based on how far each drop. It widely varies.
  • Chris Stapleton makes a jump up to #7 this week thanks to his continually steady numbers, plus Brett Young seeing losses in both sales and streaming. Stapleton actually nearly passed Rhett this week and is guaranteed to pass him next week.
  • Young sees losses this week, but will see a boost next week thanks to opening pre-orders on his new album and his new single selling well.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny rises to #11 this week, as his ascent into the top 10 is nearly complete. He was just a few pop rating points shy of passing Miranda Lambert. The big question now is how far can he climb into the top ten?
  • Old Dominion and Bebe Rexha tied for #12 this week, but Old Dominion gets the spot based on tiebreaker rules (they have three categories of strength versus Rexha’s two categories). The group rises a few spots this week thanks more to artists have losses in front of them rather than making gains themselves.
  • Cole Swindell continues to fall, as he retained very little of the big boost from his album release. The sales and streaming performance of his next single will largely determine if he can make a move back up the chart.
  • Carrie Underwood jumps up to #15 this week thanks to the great sales of “End Up With You.” She’ll get her album boost next week and it will propel her into the top ten. I’ll be interested to see how deep into the top ten she can get, as digital song sales will largely determine this along with any possible streaming help.
  • Kenny Chesney falls five spots to #17 this week, as his sales and streaming numbers for “Get Along” fell even more. While many artists towards the top of the chart have been able to maintain their sales and streaming on singles that have went recurrent, Chesney’s nose-dived as soon as he lost airplay. So Chesney is either more tied to airplay than other artists or this song finally stagnated with listeners.
  • So Upchurch makes his Ultimate Pulse debut at #21 this week thanks to his new album Supernatural. Yeah I didn’t see this coming either. While I don’t like his brand of country hip-hop, he did pull off a smart little trick to help him on the Top Country Albums chart. Instead of releasing his new album on Friday like everybody else, he released it on the old music release day of Tuesday. This gave him a few extra days of sales, which undoubtedly gave him a boost and allow him to chart even higher. Independent country artists should take note of this.
  • The other new arrival Jon Pardi also makes his debut on The Ultimate Pulse thanks to album sales. His sophomore album California Sunrise continues to sell well years later and if he can get any help from his current single “Night Shift” he can climb higher on the chart.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 25

  1. Garth Brooks
  2. Jake Owen
  3. Maren Morris
  4. Blake Shelton
  5. Dierks Bentley

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.

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 15)

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 having an effect on the genre. Onto the chart!

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

The Ultimate Pulse: -1


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: None
  • Gone: None
  • The pulse declines one spot to -1 this week. Due to a slow week in movement on three of the four Billboard charts, there are no new arrivals or departures. The pulse however drops one as I’ve once again changed Dierks Bentley’s score. Again it’s changing based on his album sales seesawing back and forth, affecting his pop rating’s influence. So I decided I’m just going to leave it at 0 for now.
  • Florida Georgia Line barely hangs on to the #1 spot for the fourth straight week. As expected their numbers returned back to normal levels this week. But they just barely hold on and will most likely lose it next week.
  • Luke Combs just missed the top spot this week, coming within a handful of points of knocking off Florida Georgia Line. He did it by essentially holding steady in his gains across all categories. However I would not expect him to get #1 next week…
  • Kane Brown solidifies himself at #3 and makes one of the bigger gains on the chart in terms of pop rating this week. I will be shocked if he doesn’t take the #1 spot next week, as he just announced his new album, opened pre-orders for it and released a new song that’s still near the top of the all-genre iTunes chart. He should make large gains in streaming and sales that will propel him to the top of the chart.
  • Dan + Shay jump up to #4 thanks to big gains in sales and streaming with their new single “Speechless.” I’m starting to think this duo could seriously challenge the Big 3 at the top. Keep in mind they aren’t even getting any help from airplay in their pop rating right now, which is quite impressive.
  • Jason Aldean remains in the top five, but will drop in the coming weeks with the loss of airplay. He should remain top ten though.
  • Thomas Rhett is going to drop thanks to losing airplay too. But his drop will be much more impactful, as I did not realize how much his pop rating relied on it. He’ll need his next single to be big if he wants to get back in the top five.
  • Luke Bryan tops the airplay chart this week to move up to #9, but like Rhett will see a big drop when he loses it.
  • Kenny Chesney lost his airplay and as a result falls out of the top ten. He should recover soon enough though and re-enter the top ten.
  • Cole Swindell continues to fall and his album sales will need to keep up to prevent the continuous free-falling.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny’s steady rise continues. With the amount of artists set to drop in front of him, he’s poised to make a big jump into the top ten in the coming weeks.
  • Old Dominion remains in the top 15 and are set to peak in airplay. But once that disappears they are in severe danger of dropping out of the top 25.
  • Dierks Bentley makes the biggest jump this week up to #16. His album sales once again balloon up and I don’t understand why. I’m not trying to be snarky nor am I commenting on the quality of his album. Like I legitimately don’t understand how it keeps fluctuating. If he can consistently keep it up, he can solidly remain in the top 15.
  • Carrie Underwood as expected makes a jump this week thanks to “Love Wins” topping the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart. She will see another boost next week since she released another song from her new album that is selling well and will see another boost the following week with the album dropping. I’ll be curious to see how high she can climb the chart.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 25

  1. Maren Morris
  2. Jon Pardi
  3. Zac Brown Band
  4. Blake Shelton
  5. Carly Pearce

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.

An Even Closer Look at Country Music’s Streaming Numbers

After writing up my piece on the success of the few in country music today actually embracing streaming, I decided to take an even closer look at the numbers to present an even better look at the genre. Since Spotify is the only platform open with their data and numbers, I will be using data from their platform. Listed below are the number of monthly listeners for 110 artists in country music. They cover a wide spectrum of the genre from past to present, mainstream to independent to give an accurate cross-section of how country music streams. They’re listed in order of highest to lowest listeners per month (numbers in millions unless otherwise noted).

  1. Florida Georgia Line – 12.8
  2. Maren Morris – 12.6
  3. Sam Hunt – 6.4
  4. Johnny Cash – 6.4
  5. Thomas Rhett – 6.3
  6. Dan + Shay – 5.9
  7. Jason Aldean – 5.5
  8. Luke Bryan – 5.5
  9. Keith Urban – 5.1
  10. Kane Brown – 4.9
  11. Kenny Chesney – 4.9
  12. Luke Combs – 4.8
  13. Blake Shelton – 4.6
  14. Dolly Parton – 4.4
  15. Zac Brown Band – 4.3
  16. Eric Church – 4.1
  17. Dierks Bentley – 4.1
  18. Rascal Flatts – 4.0
  19. Dustin Lynch – 4.0
  20. Darius Rucker – 4.0
  21. Carrie Underwood – 3.9
  22. Old Dominion – 3.9
  23. Tim McGraw – 3.9
  24. Chris Young – 3.8
  25. Cole Swindell – 3.8
  26. Jon Pardi – 3.7
  27. Chris Stapleton – 3.5
  28. Jake Owen – 3.4
  29. Brett Young – 3.3
  30. Lady Antebellum – 3.0
  31. Rodney Atkins – 2.8
  32. Alan Jackson – 2.6
  33. Morgan Wallen – 2.6
  34. LANCO – 2.6
  35. Russell Dickerson – 2.6
  36. Chase Rice – 2.6
  37. Josh Turner – 2.5
  38. Jordan Davis – 2.5
  39. Willie Nelson – 2.4
  40. Kelsea Ballerini – 2.4
  41. Brett Eldredge – 2.4
  42. George Strait – 2.3
  43. Brantley Gilbert – 2.3
  44. Little Big Town – 2.3
  45. Brooks & Dunn – 2.1
  46. Miranda Lambert – 2.1
  47. Brothers Osborne – 2.1
  48. Randy Houser – 2.0
  49. LeAnn Rimes – 1.9
  50. Kip Moore – 1.8
  51. Kacey Musgraves – 1.7
  52. Midland – 1.7
  53. Dixie Chicks – 1.6
  54. Dylan Scott – 1.6
  55. Justin Moore – 1.6
  56. Travis Tritt – 1.5
  57. Faith Hill – 1.5
  58. Sugarland – 1.4
  59. Mitchell Tenpenny – 1.4
  60. Chris Janson – 1.4
  61. Waylon Jennings – 1.3
  62. Alabama – 1.3
  63. Danielle Bradbery – 1.3
  64. Easton Corbin – 1.3
  65. Jerrod Niemann – 1.3
  66. Linda Ronstadt – 1.2
  67. Walker Hayes – 1.2
  68. Hank Williams Jr. – 1.1
  69. Merle Haggard – 1.0
  70. Lauren Alaina – 1.0
  71. Gary Allan – 1.0
  72. Alison Krauss – 1.0
  73. Emmylou Harris – 1.0
  74. Clint Black – 910,070
  75. Dwight Yoakam – 905,476
  76. Reba McEntire – 888,062
  77. Jamey Johnson – 885,822
  78. Jo Dee Messina – 824,219
  79. Carly Pearce – 791,799
  80. Kris Kristofferson – 769,426
  81. Cody Johnson – 746,301
  82. Trisha Yearwood – 733,258
  83. Cody Jinks – 725,912
  84. Maddie & Tae – 662,298
  85. Aaron Watson – 630,905
  86. Josh Abbott Band – 628,100
  87. Hank Williams – 621,728
  88. Lee Ann Womack – 617,337
  89. Patty Loveless – 577,957
  90. Sammy Kershaw – 570,943
  91. Tyler Childers – 555,986
  92. Sturgill Simpson – 536,202
  93. Loretta Lynn – 482,320
  94. Turnpike Troubadours – 469,565
  95. Blackberry Smoke – 468,455
  96. Randy Rogers Band – 419,794
  97. Drake White – 414,573
  98. Wheeler Walker Jr. – 393,758
  99. Gretchen Wilson – 393,311
  100. Colter Wall – 385,205
  101. Tanya Tucker – 374,499
  102. The Judds – 292,489
  103. Wade Bowen – 288,212
  104. Ashley McBryde – 277,619
  105. Whitey Morgan and the 78s – 237,902
  106. William Michael Morgan – 204,518
  107. Lindi Ortega – 163,118
  108. Margo Price – 153,908
  109. Nikki Lane – 146,890
  110. Paul Cauthen – 145,392

 

Notes

  • Something interesting that immediately caught my eyes is where the most listeners for each artist come from. The vast majority of artist’s top five cities were Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Some notable exceptions…
  • Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Morgan Wallen, Jake Owen, Margo Price, Danielle Bradbery, Russell Dickerson, Chase Rice, Old Dominion, Dan + Shay, Zac Brown Band and Mitchell Tenpenny, all have the same list except replace Houston with New York City.
  • Maren Morris’ top five cities are London, Quezon City, Philippines; Los Angeles, Chicago and Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Alan Jackson’s top five cities are Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Oslo, Norway.
  • Lady Antebellum’s top five cities are Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris’ top five cities are London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway.
  • Kris Kristofferson and Alison Krauss’ top five cities are Oslo, Norway; Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
  • Linda Ronstadt’s top five cities are Mexico City, Los Angeles, Chicago, London and New York City.
  • LeAnn Rimes’ top five cities are London, Quezon City, Philippines; Jakarta, Indonesia; Makati City, Philippines and Los Angeles.
  • Johnny Cash’s top five cities are London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Oslo, Norway.
  • Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen’s top five cities are Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth.
  • Aaron Watson, Turnpike Troubadours and Cody Johnson’s top five cities are Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Austin.
  • Josh Abbott Band’s top five cities are Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Austin and San Antonio.
  • Blackberry Smoke’s top five cities are Dallas, Atlanta, London, Chicago and Houston.
  • If an artist didn’t make the list above, it was simply because I chose to stop at 110,00 and wanted to provide a variety of artists across several decades of country music. Some did not make it though because they have less than 100,000 monthly listeners and I chose to not to include these artists.
  • One thing to keep in mind when looking at these numbers is the amount of variables involved in amount of monthly listeners. High-profile features can give a nice boost. Some artists have huge catalogs that can help them have a bunch of monthly listeners, but not necessarily have something from their current album streaming well. One hit can carry an artist’s almost entire streaming numbers, while some have their numbers spread evenly.
  • The Billboard Country Streaming Songs chart factors in Apple Music, Google Play, YouTube and other streaming platforms. Some artists do better on certain platforms and worse on others.
  • Eight of the top 15 artists on this list are ones I mentioned previously as embracing streaming. Brett Young is the lowest of those artists on the list at #29.
  • One last thing: All of these numbers are public data. I’m simply the messenger organizing these numbers into a readable list. Feel free to go on Spotify and see the numbers for yourself and check out any artist I did not mention.

Ultimate Pulse Takeaway: Only A Few Country Artists Embrace Streaming & They’re Dominating The Field

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music has so far been my most favorite feature I’ve ever created. While I haven’t exactly received the same enthusiasm back from the few of you reading, I nevertheless approach this feature with passion and energy. It’s only been a few weeks and one immediate takeaway has emerged in my eyes. There’s only a handful of country artists truly embracing streaming and they’re dominating the competition on the chart as a result. The top three in the chart in particular are just putting up amazing streaming numbers with multiple songs: Florida Georgia Line, Luke Combs and Kane Brown.

Regardless of how you feel about their music, there’s no denying that these three artists have gotten their fans and listeners to embrace them in a big way on streaming platforms. These three are tightly close together in terms of streaming and have a healthy margin on the rest of the chart in this category. These three artists each sound different from the other in terms of sound. But the common thread is they’re all young and/or appeal to younger listeners with their music. Just a few years ago both Combs and Brown were independent artists largely nobody knew. Now they’re dominating all of the charts, most notably streaming. Meanwhile Florida Georgia Line have by far transitioned better out of bro country than any other act in that sub-genre. They’ve managed to hold onto a majority of the young audience they attracted from bro country and keep them as fans, while most other bro country acts have completely cratered.

While these three are the top of country streaming, there’s another group of artists in the genre that have gained solid traction in this arena too. That would be Jason Aldean, Dan + Shay and Brett Young. Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt both have huge hits still streaming well. Thomas Rhett and Kenny Chesney are putting up decent numbers. None of these artists are below 16th on the chart. These artists comprise nine of the top ten spots on the chart. The data is loud and clear. If you want to actually gain traction and relevancy in country music, you better embrace streaming.

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 8)

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 having an effect on the genre. Onto the chart!

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

The Ultimate Pulse: 0


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Chris Young, Garth Brooks
  • Gone: Keith Urban, Morgan Evans
  • The pulse improves three spots this week to 0. So country music has no pulse right now (this feels so appropriate). Keith Urban has steadily fallen down the charts ever since “Coming Home” went recurrent at radio. And Morgan Evans of course is a radio darling, who completely hinges on them to be relevant on this chart.
  • Florida Georgia Line easily remains #1 for a third straight week. I said last week they could be poised for a big week and they deliver an even bigger pop rating than I expected. They absolutely crush the rest of the field and hold a commanding lead thanks to big gains in sales of “Sittin’ Pretty” topping the Billboard Country Digital Song Sales chart. In addition Billboard did decide to count their four song bundle as an EP, so they get even more points in the album category to take the top title from Stapleton. When their album drops I can’t imagine what kind of crooked number they will put up. Once again the country music media looks absolutely stupid for trying to paint this duo as waning in relevancy.
  • Now if you’re fretting over this, there’s good news for you because Luke Combs is going to mount a serious challenge in the coming weeks to take the top spot. He had a great week himself and holds a nice lead in the #2 spot over the rest. He made gains in every category, including the biggest gain in airplay. His streaming and sales are extremely consistent. He’ll close the gap on Florida Georgia Line when their sales return to more normal levels for them and will challenge for #1 once they peak and go recurrent at radio. I think it’s become clear that Combs is one of the new superstars in country music.
  • Kane Brown moves to #3 this week and could be in the conversation for the top spot too if he releases a new song or improves his current digital song sales. His streaming numbers continue to beat everyone, although his label mate Luke Combs is in an almost dead-heat for the top streamer spot (Florida Georgia Line isn’t far behind either).
  • Jason Aldean continues to put up consistent numbers in every category and if his next single blows up, he might be able challenge for the top spot. But he’s more of a long-shot, as he’s currently getting blown out by the top three in streaming.
  • Dan + Shay, Thomas Rhett and Brett Young are all a solid ways behind the top four and have similar numbers to each other. Although it should be said neither the duo or Young have airplay helping them right now, while Rhett does. Expect Rhett to take a slight drop here soon with his airplay peaking this week, while the other two battle over the top five.
  • Kenny Chesney remains in the top ten, but next week should fall into the top 15 as he loses airplay and works his new single up the charts.
  • While Chris Stapleton does lose the top spot in the album category this week, he moves further into the top ten. His consistency continues to pay off. With increasing airplay and digital song sales, look for him to be a mainstay in the top ten for a while.
  • Cole Swindell takes a sharp drop this week, falling from #7 to #12. Unfortunately for him he couldn’t maintain a lot of the big bump he got from his album dropping. But thanks to weak competition on the chart, he will hang in the top 15 easily for the foreseeable future and maybe get back in the top ten when airplay peaks.
  • Last week Old Dominion gained points and lost positions on the chart. This week they lost points and gain positions on the chart. This is weirdly funny.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny jumps into the top 15 this week after jumping into the top 20 last week. He made big gains across all of his categories of strength and continues to gain steadily. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion he will make the top ten by the end of the year based on his current trajectory.
  • As expected, Eric Church takes a fall this week from #13 to #17. The big gain from “Heart Like a Wheel” was going to be temporary. But the good news it seems country radio likes “Desperate Man,” so he will continue to maintain a presence around the top 15 until his album drops.
  • Both Dylan Scott and Russell Dickerson maintain their presence in The Ultimate Pulse thanks to radio. Scott can’t even get “Hooked” up the digital song sales chart with the $0.69 trick. This is why I don’t get that riled up anymore over the radio darlings: most don’t do shit in other categories, which says a lot. They’re here and gone with the wind.
  • Carrie Underwood had an interesting week, as she takes a sizable drop down the chart. While she got a big bump in digital song sales thanks to pre-orders opening on her new album, she got a big drop in airplay thanks to “Cry Pretty” going recurrent. She will rebound next week with the big sales of her new single “Love Wins.”
  • Dierks Bentley lost a lot in the album sales category this week, but made solid gains in digital song sales and airplay. Also thanks to this tipping of points, his score changes to a +1 this week. For an explanation on this, see my comment in the comments sections from last week.
  • Chris Young makes his Ultimate Pulse debut this week thanks to radio. He continues to disappoint me with his music. Rinse, wash, repeat.
  • Finally, Garth Brooks makes his debut too this week thanks to streamhahahaha. Yeah I couldn’t finish that. Radio helped him make the chart. But since the only way to listen to his singles involves sending a carrier pigeon to aliens on Mars, I view him as having no impact.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 25

  1. Jon Pardi
  2. Maren Morris
  3. Zac Brown Band
  4. Carly Pearce
  5. Blake Shelton

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.