Country Music Power Rankings, January ’24

Unlike Texas, we’re baaaack folks – with the first Inside the CC50 column of 2024. We can only hope this year doesn’t bring us any losses to 1-9 Kansas. But, since this is a country music column rather than a 2016 college football column, let’s jump into the January numbers. We’ll start with our usual overview of January’s rankings, but this month we’ll also take a look at the biggest risers and fallers since we debuted the CC50, as a bit of an end-of-year recap.

Artist

Agree %

Disagree %

Not Sure %

Monthly Change in Agree %

Zach Bryan

77.67%

17.03%

5.30%

1.65%

Morgan Wallen

73.51%

20.64%

5.84%

1.39%

Cody Johnson

73.41%

14.20%

12.39%

0.91%

Chris Stapleton

70.48%

18.01%

11.50%

2.53%

Luke Combs

70.25%

19.10%

10.66%

-1.93%

Riley Green

59.53%

22.81%

17.66%

-3.23%

Megan Moroney

55.95%

28.50%

15.55%

3.08%

Tyler Childers

54.52%

29.45%

16.04%

1.16%

Parker McCollum

51.90%

29.56%

18.54%

1.50%

HARDY

50.68%

33.44%

15.88%

-0.38%

Bailey Zimmerman

49.33%

34.80%

15.87%

2.18%

Lainey Wilson

48.88%

33.43%

17.68%

1.12%

Noah Kahan

48.19%

31.51%

20.31%

3.39%

Colter Wall

45.43%

29.53%

25.04%

-0.98%

Flatland Cavalry

44.65%

25.70%

29.66%

1.43%

Wyatt Flores

42.73%

27.95%

29.32%

6.17%

CWG

42.52%

27.54%

29.93%

-1.27%

Jon Pardi

40.38%

33.48%

26.14%

-1.51%

Dylan Gossett

39.82%

25.84%

34.34%

5.41%

Sam Barber

38.71%

29.32%

31.98%

3.82%

Turnpike Troubadours

37.72%

28.69%

33.59%

-1.00%

ERNEST

37.36%

35.00%

27.64%

-3.04%

Eric Church

37.18%

36.07%

26.74%

-3.49%

Zac Brown Band

35.45%

35.63%

28.93%

-2.03%

Red Clay Strays

34.05%

24.82%

41.13%

0.00%

Muscadine Bloodline

33.21%

28.23%

38.56%

-0.81%

Koe Wetzel

32.30%

32.00%

35.71%

-1.48%

Treaty Oak Revival

29.80%

27.02%

43.17%

0.00%

Whiskey Myers

29.74%

29.67%

40.59%

5.42%

Jason Aldean

27.89%

42.39%

29.71%

-1.04%

Thomas Rhett

27.56%

40.44%

32.00%

-0.30%

Dylan Marlowe

27.20%

32.13%

40.67%

0.98%

Kenny Chesney

26.97%

40.28%

32.75%

-0.96%

Warren Zeiders

26.93%

36.90%

36.16%

-0.69%

Cody Jinks

26.56%

34.10%

39.34%

-3.37%

Luke Bryan

26.37%

41.40%

32.24%

2.14%

Jordan Davis

25.98%

36.51%

37.51%

0.33%

Midland

25.82%

35.07%

39.11%

-1.42%

Chase Rice

23.25%

26.54%

50.22%

-1.88%

Jelly Roll

23.21%

44.16%

32.64%

-0.70%

Dierks Bentley

22.93%

38.00%

39.07%

-2.19%

Oliver Anthony

22.38%

42.19%

35.43%

-1.08%

Corey Kent

20.60%

33.63%

45.76%

0.00%

Tim McGraw

20.19%

42.86%

36.95%

-2.01%

Darius Rucker

19.36%

39.48%

41.16%

-0.98%

Kameron Marlowe

19.17%

37.82%

43.01%

-2.94%

49 Winchester

19.16%

34.49%

46.35%

-1.69%

Larry Fleet

18.70%

36.69%

44.61%

-2.22%

Zach Top

17.78%

35.38%

46.84%

0.00%

Cole Swindell

17.59%

39.48%

42.92%

0.00%

January’s voting unsurprisingly saw Zach Bryan top the charts again, followed by Wallen and Cody Johnson. Of note though, is that CoJo actually has the best Agree to Disagree ratio on the charts, he just has a higher % of Unsure voters than either ZB or Wallen. That signals that if he had the name recognition of the Top 2, he would likely top the chart. Meg Moroney slid past Childers, moving her into 7th and within striking distance of Riley Green (not to be confused with Riley Greene, outfielder extraordinaire for the Detroit Tigers). Further down, the young trio of Flores, Gossett, and Barber continued their ascent of the charts, moving into 16th, 19th, and 20th, respectively.

Biggest Risers and Fallers Since CC50 Launch

As I mentioned earlier, we’re changing this section up a bit this month to look at the cumulative changes since we launched the CC50 back in September ‘23. Taking a step back like this will help eliminate some of the month-to-month white noise and identify sustained trends. To do this, we will look at the first Agree% the artist received (for most of these artists, that will be 9/1/23, for wildcards it will be later since they weren’t in the initial voting), and compare to the most recent Agree% recorded (making a market adjustment to be on the same level as the 9/1/23 voting). The difference, positive or negative, reflects the shifting of audience enthusiasm for those artists over the last 4 months. Let’s start by looking at the biggest risers.

Artist

First

Adjusted Last

Difference

Dylan Gossett

28.30%

46.68%

18.39%

Noah Kahan

40.30%

55.05%

14.74%

Wyatt Flores

37.44%

49.59%

12.16%

Parker McCollum

47.56%

58.76%

11.20%

Riley Green

58.32%

66.39%

8.07%

By now, you should recognize the first and third names on this list; both Barber and Flores were mentioned in the monthly rankings recap as they’ve seen both recent and long-term growth. What makes their growth even more impressive is how little popularity they had in their first appearance in the rankings. 28% and 37% are solid numbers in the grand scheme of things, but definitely towards the back of the rankings, and now they are both within striking distance of 50%. Having half of country music fans excited for your new releases is great news to any artist, especially those early in their career, it will be interesting to see if they can build on this success in 2024. We’ve discussed Noah Kahan ad nauseum in this column, but his inclusion isn’t a surprise either, as his music has become increasingly popular in the mainstream. 

Artist

First

Adjusted Last

Difference

Oliver Anthony

52.59%

29.24%

-23.35%

Dierks Bentley

39.04%

29.79%

-9.25%

Eric Church

52.74%

44.04%

-8.70%

Zac Brown Band

50.68%

42.31%

-8.38%

Jon Pardi

54.54%

47.24%

-7.30%

Pivoting to the side of the chart you don’t want to be on, there is no surprise who the biggest faller since the launch of the rankings is. We don’t need to harp on Oliver Anthony at this point, but the strong support he received in September and October was clearly never capitalized on and faded into short-term hype rather than sustained interest. The next three all fall into a similar category of respected artists in the twilight of their careers. I don’t see their slipping as any reflection of how people feel about their music, just a combination of less excitement about new releases as they become less relevant in the current music scene and less voting on them as they move down the rankings.


Quick Hits


Wyatt Flores’s recent album Life Lessons continues to be a hit with his audience; most artists see a boost in enthusiasm when they release music, but his monumental gains stand out compared to the typical release. He still doesn’t have the name recognition of most of the artists around him in the rankings, but if he continues to make the quality of music that he has, I think we will see that change in 2024. Compared to a lot of my Country Central colleagues, I was a little bit late to the Wyatt hype train but was able to go to his show in Knoxville this fall and became an immediate believer in his potential. He couples terrific, incisive songwriting for a genuinely engaged fanbase, the keys to success in today’s country scene. My favorite song on his setlist, “Milwaukee,” is being released on the 26th; keep an eye out for it!


Just last month, I described Riley Green as an artist “a tier just below the Big Five, but still well ahead of the rest of the pack.” Evidently, Meg Moroney took that personally, as a strong month coupled with a sluggish one from Green pulled her within four percentage points of sixth place. She’s seen consistently strong results in the CC50 but has kind of flown under the radar without any major jumps until now. After the success of “Lucky” this past year, she has a real shot of cementing herself as the singular successor to the previous generation’s greats like Carrie and Miranda. 

The overall mood in January was very similar to December, with an average Agree % of 38.2%. The overall vote count bounced back after a lower total during the December voting (occurring over the holidays), hovering around 400k total votes.


Wildcards to Watch


As predicted, both the Red Clay Strays and Treaty Oak Revival had huge debuts on the main CC50 voting this month, slotting in at 25th and 28th respectively. They will almost certainly rise from those spots as they get more people voting on them in next month’s rankings. While none of the five Wildcards voted in this month seem likely to replicate that level of success, there are still some solid names on the list: Conner Smith, Carrie Underwood, Carly Pearce, Charley Crockett, and Ashley McBryde. All five of these were on the CC50 when it launched, but fell off as the rankings sorted themselves out. Conner Smith will be especially interesting to watch after his excellent release “Somewhere in Carolina” this past week. Josh Meloy and Colby Acuff just missed the cut and will look to break through in February.


Lyric of the Month


“We dug that mine a mile below us

And built up this little town

Oh, and we’re still digging holes

But these are six feet down

There’s coal under the mountains

And gold in them their pills

If living here don’t kill you

The medicine will”


-Brad Paisley, The Medicine Will


Since his last album back in *checks notes* 2017, Brad Paisley has done perhaps the most Brad Paisley thing possible: sporadically releasing songs with wildly different themes and levels of quality. So this past fall when he announced he would be releasing a new album called Son of the Mountains in early 2024, I was really curious to see what direction he would go in. Based on the two tracks he released alongside the announcement, the title track and The Medicine Will, this could be a really strong effort. The two songs play off each other perfectly, highlighting the duality of the beautiful and difficult realities of West Virginia and Appalachia in general.


The Medicine Will is particularly poignant, emotionally wrestling with the opioid epidemic that has ravaged so many Appalachian communities. The writing is excellent, treating the topic respectfully and communicating the heartbreak and anger felt. This excerpt from the first verse and chorus illustrates it well, drawing parallels between the digging of mines and graves, the corporate exploitation of both coal and pills to great profit, and wryly reflecting that as difficult as it is to live here, even the medicine you’re given is harmful. The rest of the song is similarly written, fitting a lot of memorable lines into a small space but drawing them all together cohesively. All around an excellent job by Paisley of drawing attention to a huge issue that is often ignored outside the affected communities, well worth a listen!


Appreciate y’all joining me here again this month, looking forward to rolling out different content around the CC50 this year. Make sure to remember to vote the first week of February both for the CC50 and Wildcard rankings! We’re working on adding a way to vote on the website as well as on Instagram, so hopefully we can open this up to folks who aren’t on the app sometime this year!

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