Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). Songs that are in the color red are songs that are either recurrent or in danger of going recurrent soon, while blue is for songs that I predict will go to number 1 at some point. At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.
- Eric Church ft. Rhiannon Giddens Kill A Word (6) A-
- Craig Campbell Outskirts of Heaven (26) B+
- Runaway June Lipstick (25) B+
- Chris Janson Holdin’ Her (20) B+
- Brad Paisley Today (4) B+
- Miranda Lambert We Should Be Friends (27) B
- Darius Rucker If I Told You (23) B
- Chris Young Sober Saturday Night (2) B
- Dan and Shay How Not To (21) B
- Little Big Town Better Man (1) B-
- Josh Turner Hometown Girl (13) C+
- Jon Pardi Dirt On My Boots (5) C+
- Luke Bryan Fast (7) C+
- Jason Aldean Any Ol’ Barstool (9) C+
- High Valley Make You Mine (18) C+
- Luke Combs Hurricane (22) C
- Kenny Chesney Bar At The End of…(14) C
- Garth Brooks Baby, Let’s Lay Down… (15) C
- Trent Harmon There’s a Girl (19) C
- Lauren Alaina Road Less Traveled (8) C
- Rascal Flatts Yours If You Want It (24) C-
- Brett Young In Case You Didn’t Know (29) C-
- Keith Urban The Fighter (30) F
- Kelsea Ballerini Yeah Boy (11) F
- Dierks Bentley Black (17) F
- Dustin Lynch Seein’ Red (10) F
- Michael Ray Think a Little Less (3) F
- Lady Antebellum You Look Good (28) F
- Brantley Gilbert The Weekend (12) F
- Sam Hunt Body Like A Backroad(16) F
New To The Top 30: “You Look Good,” “In Case You Didn’t Know,” “The Fighter.” In Case You Didn’t Know is Brett Young’s second single. He follows up the sappy, whipped pop song with what do ya know another one! I have 0 interest in hearing his new album that came out a couple weeks ago. Just too many albums from artists I respect that I still haven’t gotten to. The Fighter which was performed at the Grammy’s is brutal like Urban’s entire album. Not country in the slightest and the worst part is that Carrie Underwood won’t get to release “Choctaw County Affair” because of her collaboration on this song 😦
Songs That Left the Top 30: “80’s Mercedes,” “A Guy With A Girl,” “Star Of The Show.” 80’s Mercedes will apparently be followed up by “I Could Use A Love Song” which is a phenomenal choice for her next single.
Songs I See Leaving Us Soon: “Seein’ Red,” “Better Man,” “Make You Mine,” “Outskirts of Heaven,” “Holdin’ Her,” “There’s a Girl,” “Make You Mine.” Make You Mine has been a single for over a year already give me a break. Holdin’ Her and Outskirts of Heaven have both struggled getting up the chart but their labels are continuing to promote them. There’s a Girl appears to be done and Lipstick is done.
Quick Thoughts: So as it turns out “How Not Too” is going to stay as Dan and Shay’s single despite reports that they were dropping promotion. I made some changes to Re-Charting the Chart this week and I may make more changes in the coming weeks. You may have noticed I got rid of the chart score. I may come up with a new scoring method but for now I won’t score the chart.
February was my second full month writing for this blog. Unfortunately, I was not able to write as often as I would like but, there are some exciting new additions coming to the blog including the Sunday morning feature Time Capsule. Like last month I reviewed some great material this month as well as some lesser quality material. Thank you to the people that have read the blog and I hope you enjoy my work! If you are new to the blog or missed anything this month here is a summary of everything I did this month.
Albums Reviewed In Order Of Grade
- Darrell Webb Band Lovers Leap Album Review
- Aaron Watson Vaquero Album Review
- Whitney Rose: South Texas Suite Review
Songs Reviewed In Order Of Grade
- Sam Hunt Releases Inspiring, Feminist Anthem as Lead Single
- Just A Phase: Adam Craig Single Review
- Ryan Kinder Single Review:Close
- Charlie Worsham: The Beginning of Things
- The Zac Brown Band Returns With New Single My Old Man
- The Dirty Mainstream
- The Grammy’s Country Edition
- My Grammy Reaction
- Top 10 Cody Johnson Songs
- Re-Charting The ChartRe-Charting The Chart
Aaron Watson surprised many people in 2015 when his independently released album The Underdog went to number 1 on the country album chart. The Underdog began a stream of non mainstream artists having monster album sales and success while gerrymandered pop singers who had number 1 hits on country radio could not sell anything. The Underdog had some really great moments including the best song on the album “Bluebonnets” which described how short life is and how important that it is to make the most of the little time that we get to live. Watson has released ten albums in his career and has stuck to his guns making genuine country music that he should be proud of while also maintaining some commercial sensibilities. He is a great example of the direction mainstream country should go in. I was truly excited to hear Watson’s newest album Vaquero which was released on Friday February 24th.
Highlights: The beginning of “The Arrow” reminds me so much of a song that you would find on Natalie Hemby’s Puxico with a soft acoustic sound. It sounds as though this song was meant as a message to his child which is something that he did on his last album. He tries to convey life lessons that he has learned in along the road. Things like being a good person, chasing your dreams and being tough. Another song about one of his children is the final track on the album “Diamonds and Daughters.” The moment that he laid eyes on his daughter he was brought to tears. Like diamonds, daughter’s are precious and few. She sparkles and shines just like a diamond.”One Two Step At a Time” is great for lovers of steel guitar. This song made me laugh when I heard the line “No she don’t dance with cowboys wearing skinny jeans.” I immediately pictured Luke Bryan out on a dance floor being rejected by this woman who wants a real cowboy. The albums title track starts out with the narrator sitting next to an old Mexican cowboy at a bar. The old man tells him that he’s a little short on cash but, he would be glad to trade him some advice for a shot of tequila. This song like much of the album has a Spanish vibe musically and is one of a few songs that mentions Mexico or a Mexican person. Another song with a Mexican story comes from “Clear Isabel.” Isabel is the daughter of a Mexican lawman named Mariano who watches his only son Jose gunned down by a drug cartel. The father makes the decision to take his daughter to Texas in order to assure her safety so that she would not suffer the same fate as Jose. Isabel is able to make it to America where she meets a sheriff who she falls in love with and has a child. They try to get Mariano a green card but unfortunately as soon as they do he got shot in the back and was killed. This is easily the best storytelling on the entire album. It shows what some people are forced to go through in order to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Other Noteworthy Songs: A lot of people had mixed feelings about the albums debut single “Outta Style.” The song is a little on the generic side at times but, I have to say the song is catchy and fun with phenomenal fiddle play. I think it’s a harmless song and absolutely fine for a lead single especially when you hear the rest of the album. “These Old Boots Have Roots” was one of the songs released prior to the albums official release. It’s an uptempo number about the type of person that he is and how he won’t forget or change the person that he is.
Grade, Closing Thoughts: Not surprisingly I found this to be a really enjoyable album. I actually liked it even more than I liked The Underdog. I can’t say I found any of the songs on this album to be bad which is pretty incredible for a 16 song album. Watson stays true to what he has done his entire career by putting out another solid country album that walks the line between quality and commercial appeal really well. I would put Aaron Watson in the same boat as I put Cody Johnson who is another great Texas country singer. I give this album a B and I sincerely hope that this album has even more success than The Underdog had. Great album.
Usually I couldn’t care less about the Grammy’s. In fact, before last week I had never watched more than five minutes of the Grammy awards in my life. But, with Sturgill Simpson being nominated for country album of the year and overall album of the year in addition to having a solo performance slot, I was interested. I watched the entire show from start to finish and my goodness was it a snooze fest. As I mentioned in my post Grammy’s post, even the “country” performances were boring with the exception of Sturgill who was great. I also got to live tweet the Grammy’s for the blog which was something I had never done before.
So, that brings me to my short story. In my night class on the Monday after the Grammy’s my professor had asked the class if anyone had watched the Grammy awards the night previous. I raised my hand along with a few other students and expected him to have a bit of a discussion with us about the show. Instead, my professor essentially called us corporate music listeners for daring to watch the Grammy’s. Now if you actually know me and know what I listen to, you would know that this could not be further from the truth. I regularly criticize the corporate radio machine and my favorite music comes from independent/Texas country artists who will never get played on the radio. And although this is true about me there are also some mainstream artists that I love and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
This had me again thinking about something that I had been considering for awhile and that is whether or not people simply hate the idea of the mainstream. It of course is not just in music that this is the case. We see it with attacks on the mainstream media, the movie industry and politics. Do people simply like being against the “establishment” regardless of if that particular establishment is right or wrong?
In regards to hard numbers unfortunately, I was not able to find any about music but I was able to find numbers on Americans views on what is deemed the mainstream media. In a Gallop poll conducted in September only 32% of Americans had a favorable view of the mainstream media. This is at a time when people have increasing options with the internet to get news from plenty of sources outside of the mainstream.
I won’t judge whether or not it is right or wrong for people to be always against some of these mainstream institutions but, perhaps we should have more of an open mind. Not everything in the mainstream is bad even if much of it is. There are plenty of artists in mainstream country for example that are putting out great work that should not be overlooked. William Michael Morgan, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark, Josh Turner and Eric Church are just a few examples.
So to sum up, this was just an idea I have been thinking about for a few weeks about the idea of the mainstream. I think that the word itself has become a bit of a dirty word and something that is used mostly in a derogatory way. Whether that’s right or wrong is completely subjective but it is something that interests me. With options in music, news and media continuously growing will the idea of mainstream change? Will the traditional institutions like radio and television eventually collapse? Only time will tell.
I have been following Ryan Kinder since he released his single “Tonight” to country radio in 2015. After listening to “Tonight” I listened to his first single “Kiss Me When I’m Down” which was a really good song as well. Kinder has a really great voice that does not sound like anyone else on country radio in 2017. The fact that his voice and style are unique is certainly a wonderful thing to see considering how homogeneous country radio has become.
“Close” is a song about a guy trying to pick up a woman. He tells her that they might not fall in love but, the two of them could at least get close. It’s about diving in and taking a chance at love and even if the two of them don’t actually fall in love perhaps they could get close to that feeling of fireworks when you fall in love.
The song from Kinder really tries to draw you in with the sound and the hook of the song coming from the chorus. It’s an entertaining, fun song that puts a different spin on the overplayed pickup song. Ultimately the failings of this record are what I say all the time in regards to country radio singles. The song fails to get beyond a very general, superficial level. There is a real lack of any kinds of details and everything just happens too fast. I like Kinder and I will be routing for this song to do well so we could get a full length debut. Hopefully, then we could get to know Kinder a little bit better.
Song Grade: C+
Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.
- Eric Church ft. Rhiannon Giddens Kill A Word (11) A-
- Craig Campbell Outskirts of Heaven (26) B+
- Runaway June Lipstick (27) B+
- Chris Janson Holdin’ Her (21) B+
- Brad Paisley Today (7) B+
- Miranda Lambert We Should Be Friends (28) B
- Darius Rucker If I Told You (24) B
- Chris Young Sober Saturday Night (6) B
- Dan and Shay How Not To (25) B
- Little Big Town Better Man (4) B-
- Josh Turner Hometown Girl (18) C+
- Jon Pardi Dirt On My Boots (9) C+
- Luke Bryan Fast (12) C+
- Jason Aldean Any Ol’ Barstool (15) C+
- High Valley Make You Mine (19) C+
- Kenny Chesney Bar At The End of…(20) C
- Blake Shelton A Guy With a Girl (3) C
- Garth Brooks Baby, Let’s Lay Down… (17) C
- Trent Harmon There’s a Girl (23) C
- Maren Morris 80’s Mercedes (10) C
- Thomas Rhett Star Of The Show (1) C
- Lauren Alaina Road Less Traveled (13) C
- Rascal Flatts Yours If You Want It (30) C-
- Granger Smith If The Boot Fits (5) D
- Kelsea Ballerini Yeah Boy (16) F
- Dierks Bentley Black (22) F
- Dustin Lynch Seein’ Red (2) F
- Michael Ray Think a Little Less (8) F
- Brantley Gilbert The Weekend (14) F
- Sam Hunt Body Like a Backroad (29) F
Score: 128 +4
New To The Top 30: Rascal Flatts “Yours If You Want It”
Songs That Left The Top 30: Lady Antebellum “You Look Good” just a temporary drop after IHeart stopped the hourly spins. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it back next week.
Songs I See Leaving Us Soon: Seein’ Red, If The Boot Fits, How Not To, Star Of The Show, 80’s Mercedes. Seein’ Red and Star of the Show have both already gone number 1 so they will be gone soon. Thomas Rhetts next single will be for a new album and Dustin’s next single is Small Town Boy. How Not To is still sticking around but it’s just a matter of time. If The Boot Fits and 80’s Mercedes are also done. Maren Morris’ new single is “Once”
Quick Thoughts: The chart improved 4 points this week with a bad song replacing a worse song.
Last night the 59th Grammy Awards were broadcast on CBS. Usually I do not watch the Grammy’s because I do not care for most of the performers and even the country performers aren’t actually country performers. Last night was different however with Sturgill Simpson being nominated for country album of the year and overall album of the year and the fact that he had a solo performance. Before the Grammy’s even kicked off we learned that Sturgill had won country album of the year which in hindsight should not have been a shock. Despite being tired as hell last night I persevered through the boring show that seemed to never end because I could not miss Sturgill possibly win album of the year over Adele and Beyonce. Despite my prediction and wishes he lost out on the award after Adele won album of the year for 25. Needless to say I was rather pissed off even if I wasn’t surprised. As for his performance what can I say? Sturgill is an excellent performer and other people must have thought so too since his album is currently number 1 on Itunes Country Chart.
Other “country” performances last night included Maren Morris with Alicia Keys singing her new single “Once,” Kelsea Ballerini doing a mashup with Lukas Graham, Keith Urban singing his new “song” “The Fighter” with Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town honoring the Bee Gees. Maren Morris and Alicia Keys did pretty well and I like “Once” as a song even though it’s not country. Kelsea Ballerini was dreadful. This isn’t just me hating on the Disney glitter pop singer she just can’t sing particularly well and her songs are embarrassingly stupid. Also, the mashup was very clumsy, it just didn’t work on any level. Keith Urban’s new single is his worst single he has ever released and he should be ashamed of himself. Others have mentioned and I agree that it sounds like a bad 80’s pop song. Finally, the guys from Little Big Town actually sang short solo’s and were pretty good I might add.
As for other notable awards Maren Morris won country solo performance of the year for “My Church,” “Humble and Kind” won best country song, best country duo performance went to Dolly Parton and Penatonix for their CMA rendition of “Jolene.” Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini were both nominated for best new artist but lost to Chance the Rapper who had a monster night and great performance.
Some other country names that were at the show included Thomas Rhett who presented an award, Dwight Yoakam who introduced Sturgill Simpson and Tim Mcgraw and Faith Hill who presented the album of the year and record of the year to Adele.
Here is a link to my predictions prior to the Grammy’s so that you can laugh at me. Also this is a link to my Twitter page where I live tweeted the awards show.