The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Oct. 20)

Let me introduce you to The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music. This chart takes data from three Billboard country music charts: Digital Song Sales, Album Sales 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 20 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. It allows independent and older artists to enter it too, as all three 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. Luke Combs +1
  2. Kane Brown (#1 Streaming) -1
  3. Dan + Shay (#1 Digital Songs) +1
  4. Florida Georgia Line -1
  5. Chris Stapleton (#1 Album) +1
  6. Thomas Rhett 0
  7. Jason Aldean +1
  8. Bebe Rexha -1
  9. Mitchell Tenpenny -1
  10. Eric Church +1
  11. Lauren Alaina +1
  12. Brett Young -1
  13. Carrie Underwood 0
  14. Tim McGraw +1
  15. Old Dominion +1
  16. Sam Hunt 0
  17. Jon Pardi +1
  18. Jimmie Allen +1
  19. Zac Brown Band +1
  20. Jake Owen -1

The Ultimate Pulse: +5


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi & Jake Owen
  • Gone: Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Cole Swindell, Travis Tritt & Loretta Lynn
  • The Ultimate Pulse improves two spots to +5 this week, another new all-time high. There was a ton of movement again this week, with yet another five artist swing in arrivals and dismissals. Bentley once again drops in album sales, which is tradition at this point. Rascal Flatts couldn’t maintain their impressive sales and probably won’t recoup them. Swindell has almost consistently lost traction since his album release and will need his next single to be a hit to rebound. Tritt and Loretta were both expected to only last a week.
  • Luke Combs is the new #1 this week, his second reign at the top of the chart. He just edges out Kane Brown by about the same margin Brown edged out Combs in last week’s chart. It’s impressive how Combs consistently maintains his numbers, as they never waver and stay in the same vicinity every week, whereas Brown’s numbers ebb and flow in sales. Brown’s streaming numbers are more consistent than anybody though.
  • At this point Dan + Shay have essentially replaced Florida Georgia Line in The Big Three at the top. They’ve got a large lead on Florida Georgia Line now and have also taken over the #1 Digital Song sales spot. They’re also nipping at the heels of Combs and Brown. If they can just increase their streaming number a little bit, they have a great shot at the #1 spot.
  • As Florida Georgia Line has dropped, Chris Stapleton makes a solid gain this week and almost had enough to pass the duo for the #4 spot. This is thanks to his current single “Millionaire” starting to make a dent in sales. If it can continue to rise in sales with it, he just may move to #4 in the coming weeks.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny continues to steadily gain every week in sales and streaming with his single “Drunk Me,” rising to #9 this week. He’s also just announced his debut album release and opened pre-orders, so this will help his gains even more. While I hate the song, you can’t deny it’s a true hit.
  • As expected Eric Church re-enters the chart this week and in a big way, breaking into the top ten. In a crowded album release schedule, Church did great sales with his excellent album Desperate Man. For the first time he also gets streaming help, as the title track debuted on the Country Streaming Songs chart. Equally surprising, the song fell off the sales chart, which makes no sense considering I haven’t seen it fall from its current position on iTunes.
  • Nevertheless, Church should be able to hang around this spot on the chart due to his albums always selling through well and the chart being pretty weak right now.
  • Lauren Alaina rises to #11 thanks to the sales of her new single. I’ll be curious to see if she makes a streaming impact.
  • Brett Young continues to hemorrhage sales and streaming, falling out of the top ten. It’s clear at this point that there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm and excitement around his new single. But I’m sure this won’t stop the industry and media from gas lighting everyone into thinking it’s a hit when it tops the radio chart.
  • Tim McGraw makes his debut on The Ultimate Pulse at #14, thanks to the sales of his new songs. I imagine he should be able to maintain sales for “Neon Church,” allowing him to stay on the chart.
  • Old Dominion makes their return to The Ultimate Pulse, thanks to the sales of their new single “Make It Sweet.” It’s selling well and seems to be resonating with listeners, so they should be able to stick around on the chart. I wouldn’t be surprised if they garnered some streaming traction too.
  • Jake Owen makes his debut on The Ultimate Pulse at the final spot on the chart, thanks to the sales of his single “Down to the Honkytonk.” This looks like it will be a hit for him. It’s been a while since Owen has had a true hit and not a radio hit. Unfortunately I do not like this song at all. It’s some of the cheapest, laziest songwriting I’ve heard this year. It panders so hard toward traditionalists. The song relies on tired references to get you hooked, not to mention the hook itself is repeated too much.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 20

  1. Cole Swindell
  2. Blake Shelton
  3. Dierks Bentley
  4. Taylor Swift
  5. Brothers Osborne

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.

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Oct. 20)

  1. Sunny October 17, 2018 / 11:47 am

    Shouldn’t Eric Church have #1 album?
    And the reason why Desperate Man is not on digital sales chart is because its sales are essentially classified as album sales as some people use “Complete My Album” feature in itunes.

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    • Josh October 17, 2018 / 11:56 am

      No because it’s based on points, not the Billboard chart placement. Stapleton has two albums charting, therefore earning more points and the #1 spot. Church and Carrie Underwood have two albums charting right now too, but Stapleton earns more points with his placements than them. And that makes sense in regards to the digital sales. I had forgotten about that quirk in charting, so next week “Desperate Man” should return on the digital song sales chart.

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  2. Raymond October 18, 2018 / 11:09 pm

    I personally like “Drunk Me” but thats neither here nor there.

    Anyways. It is amazing how Dan + Shay, Luke Combs and Kane Brown have so quickly jumped out and become so popular to where I wouldn’t be 100% shocked if Luke Combs somehow gets Male vocalist at the CMAS next month. I just wish there was a newer female artist who sold and streamed really well. The closest is Maren Morris I guess. Maybe Lauren Alaina can get some good traction beyond “What Ifs” if she can get her new song to hopefully stixk.

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    • Josh October 19, 2018 / 12:31 pm

      Well the common denominators for all three are they’ve been smart with single choices, appeal to younger listeners and appeal to women. And of course they’re all doing great streaming. Dan + Shay in particular picked back to back home runs for single choices in this album era and they have another one queued up with “Keeping Score.” Combs is killing it in all facets, including ticket sales as he’s sold out his upcoming tour. Kane Brown is going to have one of the best selling country albums of the year. They’re showing the rest of the genre the template you need to succeed. I see it coming down to Combs and Stapleton for Male Vocalist. If Stapleton is winning EOTY, then Combs will win MV. I think Maren Morris can be that artist, but she made the bad decision of releasing a 5th single. Those never really do well selling and streaming wise because by now most people who are interested in Morris or the song have already streamed/purchased it. It just really serves no purpose. The lead single of the next album will be really important for her. I think Alaina will blow-up if she can find that breakthrough single. I don’t know if “Ladies of the ’90s” is that single, as sales have dropped like a rock after the first couple of weeks. It has all of the ingredients of a hit song, but the audience will ultimately determine if it can bounce back.

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