The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Oct. 6)

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 Streaming) -1
  2. Luke Combs +1
  3. Dan + Shay +1
  4. Florida Georgia Line -1
  5. Chris Stapleton (#1 Album) +1
  6. Jason Aldean +1
  7. Thomas Rhett -1
  8. Brett Young -1
  9. Bebe Rexha -1
  10. Mitchell Tenpenny -1
  11. Carrie Underwood 0
  12. Sam Hunt 0
  13. Cole Swindell 0
  14. Kenny Chesney +1
  15. Luke Bryan 0
  16. Lauren Alaina 0
  17. Jon Pardi +1
  18. Zac Brown Band +1
  19. Miranda Lambert 0
  20. Eric Church +1

The Ultimate Pulse: +2


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Lauren Alaina, Jon Pardi & Zac Brown Band
  • Gone: Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton & Sia
  • The Ultimate Pulse stays the same at +2 this week. As expected Dolly Parton and Sia drop off, as they were on the chart thanks to the great first week sales of “Here I Am.” And of course Dierks Bentley’s album sales dive again. Next week they will spike again based on the last month of this feature.
  • Kane Brown is the new #1 this week, taking back the top spot from Luke Combs for his second appearance at the top of the chart. Brown re-takes the spot thanks to a big increase in both digital song sales and streaming. He’ll get another increase next week thanks to the release of another single, so I highly expect him to remain #1.
  • Luke Combs falls to #2 based solely on Brown’s gains, as he maintained his numbers from last week.
  • The big surprise of the week is Dan + Shay knocking off Florida Georgia Line from the #3 spot. While Florida Georgia Line has remained essentially static in their numbers, Dan + Shay continue to see great increasing sales and streaming from their current and previous singles. Their album sales are still good too. If their next single manages to do similar numbers, they will challenge the top two.
  • Chris Stapleton enters the top five for the first time this week thanks to a surprisingly big bump in sales of “Tennessee Whiskey.” It’s consistently charted in the teens on the digital song sales chart for the last several months, but for some reason it took off this past week to put it back in the top five. The only explanations I can come up with: somebody performed it on The Voice, Farm Aid, or Stapleton’s recent appearances at Timberlake concerts.
  • As expected Brett Young’s digital sales normalized to bring him down this week. But it’s interesting how the sales of his new single immediately dropped. It’s early, but his situation eerily reminds me of Brett Eldredge when he took off. Both had great success early in their careers with what I would call mellow ballads. But Eldredge couldn’t consistently replicate it with more upbeat singles. Young is showing the same early with his new single. It’s something to keep an eye on.
  • Mitchell Tenpenny finally makes the top ten. He should stay in the top ten too. But at the same time his numbers feel like they’ve peaked. The performance of his next single will let us know if he’s here to stay or a one-hit wonder.
  • Carrie Underwood’s numbers normalize and she only falls to #11. While last week was glass-half empty with her small album release bump, this week it’s glass-half full in that means only a small drop. Her album sales are going to be great for a while, so expect her to hang around the 10-15 range on the chart.
  • Cole Swindell rises back up to the top 15 this week thanks to seeing modest increases in album sales and streaming.
  • Lauren Alaina is back in the top 20 because “What Ifs” is still streaming well. This is what happens when you have a true hit and not a radio hit; you remain on the streaming charts for a long time. I should point out this isn’t a shot directed at Alaina or any artist in particular. I would just be remiss to not point this out, as I continue to prove the worthlessness of radio.
  • Jon Pardi’s California Sunrise continues to have good sales, allowing him to make the top 20. You have to wonder why his label didn’t decide for him to release a new single, instead of a fifth single off that album. Fifth singles almost never do well in sales and streaming.
  • Zac Brown Band’s greatest hits album is in the same boat in album sales. It’s a bit ridiculous to see this group make the top 20 based on the fact their last album flopped and the previous had a mixed reception. But at the same time it highlights the impact they’ve had in the past, the amount of fans they still have and really the lack of interest in several other acts.
  • Eric Church barely hangs onto the top 20, as his digital song sales normalized. He could possibly fall off before his album drops, but with his album sales always being strong he’ll safely be in the top 20 after it drops.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 20

  1. Jake Owen
  2. Dierks Bentley
  3. Old Dominion
  4. Jimmie Allen
  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.

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music (Sept. 29)

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. Florida Georgia Line (#1 Digital Songs) -1
  4. Dan + Shay +1
  5. Brett Young -1
  6. Chris Stapleton +1
  7. Jason Aldean +1
  8. Bebe Rexha -1
  9. Carrie Underwood (#1 Album) 0
  10. Thomas Rhett -1
  11. Mitchell Tenpenny -1
  12. Eric Church +1
  13. Sam Hunt 0
  14. Dierks Bentley -1
  15. Dolly Parton +1
  16. Sia +1
  17. Kenny Chesney +1
  18. Luke Bryan 0
  19. Cole Swindell +1
  20. Miranda Lambert 0

The Ultimate Pulse: +2


Notes & Observations

  • New Arrivals: Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton & Sia
  • Gone: Old Dominion, Russell Dickerson & Dylan Scott
  • The Ultimate Pulse improves a whopping three spots to +2 this week. Who would have thought removing country radio from the equation would be a good thing for country music? Anyone paying attention, that’s who. As you can see I’ve also culled down the ranking from top 25 to top 20, due to one less category and the fact the bottom five I felt didn’t really have much of an effect. So if you’re wondering if that helped The Ultimate Pulse this week, it wouldn’t because it would still be the same if I included them. The arrivals and departures are based solely on the top 20 from last week. All of the departures were majorly propped up by radio. So shocking!
  • Luke Combs is the new #1 this week and the third different artist to top the chart. This was weeks in the making, as Combs’ steaming numbers are fantastic. He managed to somehow increase them more this week, which I didn’t think was possible. Combined with his almost equally great sales, Combs is poised to be a superstar in country music for years to come and I’m perfectly good with this, as his brand of country music is a good representative of the genre.
  • Kane Brown and Florida Georgia Line tied for #2 this week, but Brown gets the spot based on tiebreaker rules (he beats the duo in both streaming and album sales). Brown’s numbers normalize this week after the big bump he got from pre-orders and the sales of his new single. As you can see the top three don’t need radio and were unaffected by the chart change.
  • Brett Young jumps into the top five this week thanks to opening pre-orders for his new album and the good sales of his new single. If he wants to compete with the top four, his streaming numbers will need to improve.
  • Chris Stapleton and Jason Aldean tied for #6 this week, but Stapleton gets the spot based on tiebreaker rules. Stapleton is putting up strong numbers several months after dropping new music because that’s what happens when you have true hits. I can’t imagine the big numbers he will put up when the next album drops.
  • Aldean and Miranda Lambert continue to drop due to the dropping sales of “Whiskey Drowns the Memory.” But on the other hand “You Make It Easy” continues to sell and stream well for Aldean.
  • Bebe Rexha and Carrie Underwood tied for #8 this week, but Rexha gets the spot based on tiebreaker rules. Yeah I wish she would drop off the chart, but while she’s still on it I have to count her.
  • Carrie Underwood rises just to #9 with her album bump. I honestly expected more. She still manages to take the #1 Album spot from Stapleton though. I don’t expect her to maintain this top ten position long, as her sales don’t appear to stay for the long haul and she has zero streaming help.
  • Eric Church makes a big jump up to #12 this week thanks to sales from “Monsters.” He’ll drop back down next week.
  • Dierks Bentley is back again because once again his album sales spiked. If anyone has an explanation for why his album sales jump up and down, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter. I want to figure this out!
  • Dolly Parton and Sia make their debuts on The Ultimate Pulse! It’s awesome to have the queen of country music make an appearance, as well as a pop singer in Sia I have a great respect towards. They make their debuts thanks to the great sales of their re-recording of Parton’s smash hit “Here I Am” for the move Dumplin’. If you haven’t heard it yet, please check it out. I’ve also added it to the Fusion Country Favorites playlist.
  • Willie Nelson should have joined them this week, but Billboard did what I feared and put his new album My Way on the Top Jazz Albums chart. It’s pretty stupid considering Willie is country and it’s advertised as such on iTunes. Meanwhile Upchurch’s album was advertised as hip-hop on iTunes, but impacts the country albums chart. If anything Willie’s album should have debuted on both jazz and country.

Next Five Artists Knocking on the Door of the Top 20

  1. Lauren Alaina
  2. Jon Pardi
  3. Jake Owen
  4. Zac Brown Band
  5. Old Dominion

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.