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 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.

Review – Tim McGraw’s “Neon Church”/ “Thought About You”

It’s been too long since we’ve received new solo music from Tim McGraw. His last album Damn Country Music was pretty good and really his last few albums have all have been of high quality. What I love most about McGraw recently though is his ability to remain true to his sound while also pushing the sonic boundaries. His new singles pick up right where he left off in his more experimental moments on Damn Country Music. “Neon Church” is a declarative, anthemic song for the broken-hearted and lost looking for answers at the bar. But as McGraw espouses through the song, it’s less a bar and more a place of healing and escapism from their pain. The hook of the song is infectious and the blending of steel guitar, organs and electric guitars create an eclectic sound that really sticks with you. As much I enjoy this song though, I actually enjoy the B-side single “Thought About You” even more. It actually kind of reminds me of McGraw’s cover of “When The Stars Go Blue” because of the soaring atmospheric vibes the instrumentation conveys. The bridge emphasizes this sound even more. It shows the importance of interesting production, as it takes well-trotted lyrical material and elevates it into a great song. This kind of production from Byron Gallimore and McGraw has me excited to hear what else they have in-store for the rest of the album.

Grade: “Neon Church” – 7/10 ; “Thought About You” – 8/10


Songwriters: Ben Stennis, Ross Ellis Lipsey, Ben Goldsmith, Brett Warren, Brad Warren, Lee Miller