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.