The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Nov. 10)

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 Streaming) +1
  2. Dan + Shay (#1 Digital Songs) +1
  3. Kane Brown -1
  4. Chris Stapleton (#1 Album) +1
  5. Florida Georgia Line -1
  6. Jason Aldean +1
  7. Thomas Rhett 0
  8. Bebe Rexha -1
  9. Mitchell Tenpenny -1
  10. Brett Young -1
  11. Sam Hunt 0
  12. Jimmie Allen +1
  13. Eric Church +1
  14. Josh Turner 0
  15. Jake Owen -1
  16. Carrie Underwood 0
  17. Lauren Alaina 0
  18. Jon Pardi +1
  19. Cody Johnson +1
  20. Blake Shelton 0

The Ultimate Pulse: +2


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Josh Turner, Jon Pardi, Cody Johnson & Blake Shelton
  • Departures: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Cole Swindell, Old Dominion and Maddie & Tae
  • The Ultimate Pulse drops one spot to +2 this week. As expected Jason Isbell and Maddie & Tae drop out. Meanwhile Cole Swindell and Old Dominion both see a big drop in sales to fall off the chart.
  • Luke Combs is the new #1 this week, his third reign at the top of The Ultimate Pulse. His consistent sales and ever impressive streaming numbers continue to make him the one to beat on the chart.
  • Dan + Shay surprisingly rise to #2 for a new all-time for the duo. Just like Combs they continue to steadily put up great numbers in sales and streaming.
  • Kane Brown falls to #3 coming off a big sales bump from a new single. As always he’ll rebound and is due for a huge week when his album drops.
  • Chris Stapleton finally takes the #4 spot away from Florida Georgia Line, making nice gains in both sales and streaming. If he keeps these kind of gains up he can challenge easily for the top three.
  • Jason Aldean rises back up to #6, as “Girl Like You” is getting good sales to allow for the rebound. Aldean and the rest of the chart are still a long way behind the top five though.
  • Brett Young re-enters the top ten due to finally stabilizing his pop rating from free-falling and artists in front of him falling off in their own pop rating. His new single is still not selling well though.
  • Sam Hunt jumps up to #11, despite releasing two new singles in three years, because the chart is so damn weak. I know I’m beating a dead horse pointing out the weakness of the chart at this point, but it’s worth reminding just how pathetic the genre’s artists are right now outside of the top five. The top five are shining, while the rest are throwing shit against the wall that temporarily sticks.
  • Josh Turner makes his debut on The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music at #14. His new gospel album sold quite well and it’s a good career move for an artist that is no longer mainstream viable. Unfortunately for me I don’t care about gospel music and I can’t be bothered to listen to this album, as I have better music to spend time on.
  • Cody Johnson makes his return to The Ultimate Pulse after being apart of one of the inaugural charts. He released several songs from his new upcoming album due in January and “Dear Rodeo” was the best seller by far. It’s a solid song about Johnson’s time and reflection on his days in the rodeo. It’s worth checking out.
  • Finally Blake Shelton makes hid debut on The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music at #20. He beat out both Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne in a tiebreaker to take the final spot. The combination of sales from his greatest hits album and his current single “Turnin’ Me On” allowed him to make his debut (and of course the weakness of the chart). The single is just okay, as it really doesn’t earn much of a reaction out of me.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 20

  1. Dierks Bentley
  2. Brothers Osborne
  3. Zac Brown Band
  4. Cole Swindell
  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.

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Nov. 3)

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. Kane Brown (#1 Digital Songs) -1
  2. Luke Combs (#1 Streaming) +1
  3. Dan + Shay +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. Brett Young -1
  12. Jimmie Allen +1
  13. Cole Swindell 0
  14. Sam Hunt 0
  15. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit +1
  16. Jake Owen -1
  17. Carrie Underwood 0
  18. Old Dominion +1
  19. Maddie & Tae +1
  20. Lauren Alaina 0

The Ultimate Pulse: +3


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit; Maddie & Tae
  • Departures: Morgan Evans & Jon Pardi
  • The Ultimate Pulse improves two spots to +3 this week. Morgan Evans dropped like an absolute rock out of the chart. It was expected, but not this drastically. It was a huge one week blip for him and then right back into irrelevancy. Jon Pardi continues to lack traction with his current single.
  • Kane Brown is the new #1 this week, his third appearance at the top spot. This was expected, as another new single from his upcoming album sold well and also got streaming help too. There’s a good chance he sets a pop rating record when his album drops.
  • Brown has a small lead over Luke Combs, who narrowly kept the top streamer spot. These two will continue to fiercely battle over the #1 spot and as I’ve said before, streaming will likely determine who’s at the top next week.
  • Last week I said Chris Stapleton should take the #4 spot this week. But once again Florida Georgia Line barely holds him off to keep the spot. I’ll be really shocked if Stapleton doesn’t take it next week, as “Millionaire” is selling quite well and Florida Georgia Line’s new single has yet to take off.
  • Jason Aldean’s new single “Girl Like You” is starting to really take off in sales, so his spot near the top will be solidified. If he can get it to stream well too he’ll challenge for the top five again.
  • As expected Mitchell Tenpenny has a small bounce back and re-enters the top ten.
  • Eric Church, Brett Young and Cole Swindell essentially stayed the same in pop rating, so their gains in chart position were more because of artists falling off in front of them and nothing to do with making gains.
  • Jimmie Allen falls out of the top ten to #12, as expected coming off the album bump. “Best Shot” continues to sell and stream well though, so he’ll continue to remain in his current vicinity on the chart and challenge for the top ten.
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit make their debut on The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music at #15 this week. It’s a pleasant surprise from a group that doesn’t really consider themselves to be country. Nevertheless I’ll gladly accept quality artists any time on this chart, especially when they release a good live album like this group did to land on the chart.
  • “Down to the Honkytonk” is looking like a career hit for Jake Owen, as it’s selling really well. So expect him to stick around on the chart for a while.
  • Sales have fallen off for “Make It Sweet” and it has yet to make an impact streaming-wise, so Old Dominion will linger near the bottom of the chart in the coming weeks. It’s interesting to see how this group’s singles similarly perform to each other. Based on my observations, all of their singles get a strong start and then fall off to about the #15-20 range on iTunes.
  • Maddie & Tae make their debut on The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music at #19 this week. Their new single “Die From a Broken Heart” surprisingly sold really well in its opening week. It’s a great surprise to see for a great song to boot. It’s much better than the first single they released. Hopefully this song will find long-term traction.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 20

  1. Jon Pardi
  2. Zac Brown Band
  3. Dierks Bentley
  4. Brothers Osborne
  5. Taylor Swift

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 (Oct. 27)

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 Streaming) +1
  2. Kane Brown -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. Jimmie Allen +1
  9. Morgan Evans -1
  10. Bebe Rexha -1
  11. Eric Church +1
  12. Mitchell Tenpenny -1
  13. Old Dominion +1
  14. Brett Young -1
  15. Cole Swindell 0
  16. Carrie Underwood 0
  17. Sam Hunt 0
  18. Lauren Alaina 0
  19. Jake Owen -1
  20. Jon Pardi +1

The Ultimate Pulse: +1


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Morgan Evans & Cole Swindell
  • Departures: Tim McGraw & Zac Brown Band
  • The Ultimate Pulse drops four spots to +1 this week. There was some movement this week, but much less compared to the last two weeks. Unfortunately Tim McGraw’s sales of “Neon Church” didn’t sustain, so he drops out. The shuffling of the album sales chart knocks out Zac Brown Band.
  • Luke Combs remains at #1 for a second straight week. He extended his lead this week thanks to a small boost in streaming, which also allowed him to take the #1 Streaming spot away from Kane Brown. I expect “Beautiful Crazy” will be his next single, so expect Combs’ dominant numbers to continue.
  • Kane Brown just barely hangs onto the #2 spot this week over Dan + Shay. A small loss in sales and streaming nearly dropped him to #3. Dan + Shay’s consistency nearly got them to their highest spot yet. Expect Brown though to possibly temporarily regain the top spot, as he just released another song and as usual it’s selling well.
  • After the top three it’s a drop down to #4, where this week Florida Georgia Line and Chris Stapleton tied. Florida Georgia Line though gets the spot based on tiebreaker rules. The duo continues to steadily drop in pop rating, so they need their new single “Talk You Out of It” to take off in sales and streaming if they want to regain their top status.
  • On the flip side, Chris Stapleton just continues to gain thanks to the increasing sales of “Millionaire.” Even better is it shows no signs of slowing in sales. Don’t be surprised if Stapleton takes the #4 spot outright next week.
  • After these two it’s a big drop down to the rest of the field. I point this out because after the top five it’s a mess. The chart is weaker and weaker as you go down it, which shows just how much the top five is dominating the genre and how everyone else is playing catch-up.
  • Thomas Rhett and Jason Aldean have their spots thanks to the absolute strength of past singles. The good news for both is their new singles are starting to slowly sell, as Aldean’s “Girl Like You” finally makes a dent in the chart and “Sixteen” for Rhett is climbing iTunes.
  • We then get to the most interesting spot on The Ultimate Pulse this week, as there was a three-way tie for #8 between Jimmie Allen, Morgan Evans and Bebe Rexha. Based on tiebreaker rules…
  • Jimmie Allen gets the #8 spot thanks to having strength in all three categories, as his debut album sold well. He made a whopping 11 spot jump! Meanwhile “Best Shot” just continues to sell and rise in streaming, with no signs of slowing down. Allen has a true hit on his hands and it’s setting him up to become a new star in the genre.
  • Morgan Evans gets the #9 spot, as he beats Rexha in two of the three categories. His debut album also sold well. Evans made an even bigger jump, going from no points and unranked to the top ten for the first time ever. He also got help from the great sales of “Thing That We Drink To.” Unfortunately I’m not a fan of the single or the album. I don’t expect these numbers to keep up and he’ll probably be off the chart again in a couple of weeks.
  • Eric Church stabilizes well coming off his album bump, only dropping a spot. Just like Carrie Underwood, expect him to have a solidly safe spot on the chart thanks to great album sales.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny falls out of the top ten to #12, as his sales and streaming took a slight loss. As I said before he’s peaked for now, as he’ll probably get a slight boost back up and not much more.
  • Old Dominion jumps up two spots to #13 this week, as their new single continues to sell well. It’s starting slightly fall off though now and will cause them to drop in the coming weeks. They need streaming help for sure.
  • Brett Young’s fall continues, as “Here Tonight” is just not selling and streaming well. His only hope is that rising airplay will help boost sales and streams.
  • Cole Swindell makes his return to The Ultimate Pulse at #15 after a one week hiatus. His sales bounced back and will need them to stay back to keep his spot.
  • Lauren Alaina falls seven spots to #18. The sales for “Ladies of the ’90s” have cratered, dropping her on the The Ultimate Pulse as a result. She’ll need airplay and/or streaming to help her bounce back.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 20

  1. Zac Brown Band
  2. Blake Shelton
  3. Dierks Bentley
  4. Brothers Osborne
  5. Russell Dickerson

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 Poison Pen, Volume 2: Expecting More Than Generic Mediocrity

This feature is called The Poison Pen. It’s really quite simple: this is where I’m going to share my negative reviews. They won’t be near as long as full reviews, but at the same time long enough to properly convey my points. Because at the end of the day the bad music still needs to be called out. So without further ado, here are some albums I do not like.

Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty 

At this point in Carrie Underwood’s career, an album of this quality is just completely unacceptable. Her albums though have been on a steady decline since the “Cowboy Casanova” era, so I guess I can’t be too surprised. But usually her albums have some songs of merit. I can’t find any on this album. Really this album exemplifies everything I hate in modern music: its generic mediocrity that has been market-tested and put through the blender to make the most safe and boring music to appeal to the most amount of people as possible. When you try to appeal to all, you appeal to none.

The album’s title track is one of the most cut and paste vanilla motivational tracks you’ll hear this year. It’s the very definition of a wallpaper song. “Ghosts On The Stereo” is another pandering song that relies on name-dropping of country legends to garner your support. Just like the Brothers Osborne though, Carrie will get a pass for it because she’s another media darling who is immune to certain criticisms, while other artists will get dragged through the coals for it. Songs like “Backsliding,” “Southbound” and “Drinking Alone” are your average, dime-a-dozen pop diva songs that have absolutely nothing to say. They’re not fun or catchy either. Underwood has pretty much given up using her voice to deliver spin-tingling vocal performances and instead just screams over the most average production possible.

The rest of the album just sort of blends into each other. Every song is just slightly different from the other. “Kingdom” and “Spinning Bottles” also sees Underwood doing her best Martina McBride impersonations, reminding us that sappy grocery store country that McBride helped popularize is unfortunately still alive and well. If I had to pick the best song on the album, it would be the bonus track “The Champion” because at least it’s catchy and I’ll remember it. Ludacris did well on his feature too. The other good news is at least I’ll have forgotten the songs on this album weeks from now.

David Nail and The Well Ravens – Only This and Nothing More 

The lead single “Heavy” made me excited to hear this album. I thought we were going to hear David Nail really flex his creative muscles in his first project since being dropped from his major label. Instead Nail and his band deliver generic rock music with Only This and Nothing More. “The Gun” appears to try to be a song about domestic violence, but it doesn’t really go anywhere significant lyrically. You can pretty much say this for the whole album. Each song just kind of glazes over you, with two exceptions. While “Heavy” is the one lone bright spot on this album, the biggest stain by far on the album is “White Trash Girl.” The term “white trash” is beyond antiquated with its negative connotations it evokes. Yet being “white trash” is cause for celebration and praise in the song. It’s just plain stupid. I can’t believe how much better The Fighter is compared to this album.

Jimmie Allen – Mercury Lane

Man I was hoping I didn’t have to put this album here. But when the majority of the lyrics on an album sound like the leftovers from Chris Young’s last couple of albums, it’s not a surprise. Jimmie Allen has a pretty good voice and the production on this album isn’t bad. But he has to step up lyrically if he wants to be taken more seriously on future projects. Fortunately there are hints of promise. “All Tractors Ain’t Green” is the gem of the album, as Allen addresses his race in a genre that is mostly white. It’s a great song that I hope he builds off of for the next album. “Best Shot” and “How To Be Single” are good moments on the album because they don’t try to cram every kind of cliché in like a lot of the other songs. Allen’s rendition of “Boy Gets a Truck” is better than Keith Urban’s version. Perhaps the biggest problem on this album though is there are wayyyyy too many Jack and Diane references. In fact there are too many in country music nowadays period. I vote that this reference to be banned from here on out. The quota has been met and then some.

Walker Hayes – “90’s Country”

This guy’s voice just plain blows. It’s painfully thin, as Hayes couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. The lyrics, unlike Lauren Alaina’s “Ladies of the ’90s”, don’t take any time to show the references have any sort of meaning or feelings behind them. They’re just crammed in like MadLibs and we’re expected to be impressed that Hayes can name drop a bunch of 90’s country. I’m not. It’s a shame the great production gets wasted on this terrible song and artist.