(This is part two of my two-part look at country music in 2005. If you missed part one, you can read it by clicking here.)
So after getting those two embarrassing songs, “XXL” and “Redneck Yacht Club”, out of the way let’s take a look at my now current favorite song on this album, Ray Scott’s “My Kind of Music.” This song has the perfect blend of seriousness and humor. The story of the song is Scott has found his perfect woman, until he finds out she hates country hate and she calls it “hokey.” Scott becomes more frustrated with her lack of appreciation and knowledge throughout the song until the end where Scott finally has enough of her and tells her to kiss his ass. I wish this song came out today because as a single guy I’m always talking with girls who say they like “country” music and then proceed to list their favorite artists as Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Chase Rice. It makes me cringe. I then cringe even more when I explain to them who my favorite country artists are (Waylon, Alan Jackson, George Jones, etc) and they have no clue who I am talking about. Or worse she says they’re old and boring. So I guess I can relate to this song quite well and I wish there was a song like this on the radio right now.
The next song on the album is Lonestar’s “You’re Like Coming Home.” This group of course is known for their hits such as “I’m Already There,” “My Front Porch Looking In” and “Mr. Mom.” If you listened to country music radio in the 2000s, you’ll remember them quite well as they were quite popular and received plenty of radio time. Yes these guys made pop country songs, but I actually enjoyed Lonestar. At least the songs had some heart and sounded country for the most part. “You’re Like Coming Home” peaked at #8 on the country charts and this was really one of their last hurrahs as they only had one top ten single after this. The reason I think they declined in popularity is because the band was climbing in age and Rascal Flatts pretty much came along and took their spot. I would take Lonestar over freaking Rascal Flatts every single time. If there’s going to be pop country on the radio, at least give me the good pop country.
This is followed by Blake Shelton and his cover of “Goodbye Time.” Older fans and country music historians will recognize that this song was originally recorded by Conway Twitty. Turns out this song was originally pitched to Reba McEntire, but she turned it down because she was going through a divorce at the time and the song felt pretty similar to what she was going through. Conway had good success with it, as it peaked at #7 on the country chart. Shelton was able to duplicate this success with his cover also, as it reached #10 on the country chart. Going back and listening to pre celebrity/bro country/egotistical douche Blake Shelton music is quite surreal. Shelton could have had a great country music career AND kept people’s respect, but he obviously chose a different route. There’s no dispute the man is talented and capable of producing great country songs and “Goodbye Time” is certainly proof. It’s also pretty ironic Shelton was one of the most country sounding artists on the radio. Oh how things change so drastically over such a short time…
Speaking of that the next song is Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown.” Although I feel Aldean isn’t as talented as Shelton, he too could have had a good country career that also earned people’s respect. The possibility of that of course is washed away, especially after “Burnin’ It Down.” Again it’s quite surreal to go back and listen to “Hicktown” just like I said with “Goodbye Time.” This is a decidedly country song that depicts small towns and southern culture in a way that isn’t offensively false. The year 2005 actually marked the debut of Aldean in country music as his self-titled album was his first album and “Hicktown” was his first ever single. It reached #10 on the country chart and was his introduction to the country music world. He would follow this up with “Why,” which reached #1, and “Amarillo Sky,” which reached #4. Both of these songs also decidedly country sounding and actually good in quality too. Where did it all go wrong with Aldean? I’d say he was going downhill with “She’s Country” and “Big Green Tractor.” In my opinion, he was officially gone with songs like “My Kinda Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem.” Shelton and Aldean infuriate me so much with their career choices.
Moving onto the next song, you might want to grab some tissues for this one. It’s Martina McBride’s “God’s Will,” a song about McBride meeting a little boy who was crippled named Will. It tells the heartbreaking story of McBride getting to know Will and how his tough life has taught her so much. The song reached #16 on the country chart and really it should have been so much higher. This song is fantastic and I can see why McBride did an album of R&B covers recently. Country music radio never appreciated her as much as they should have. Anyway you should listen to this song if you don’t remember it.
The next song is Andy Griggs’ “If Heaven,” a song that speculates on what heaven looks like. My apologies to Griggs and his fans, but I don’t remember him or this song at all. That’s a shame because after listening to this song it shows that Griggs is a talented artist and belongs more on the radio than most artists that are currently on it. This song reached #5 on the country chart and was his sixth top ten country hit. After this Griggs hasn’t had a song reach no higher than #52 on the country chart. According to this interview he gave in 2006, Griggs left major label RCA Nashville over creative differences. So pretty much another talented country artist leaving a Nashville label because they refused to make corporate country music that appeals to the label’s demographics. I hate you Nashville. By the way Griggs is still making music and you can find more about him here.
The final song on the album is Brooks & Dunn’s “It’s Getting Better All The Time.” This was one of many #1 hits for the iconic duo. They would go onto produce music together for five more years and split in 2010, as everyone I’m sure remembers. For decades they were the top duo in country music and for the most part made pretty good music. Now we’re stuck with Florida Georgia Line. I sometimes wonder how it would have played out if they had stuck together and the duos went head-to-head on the awards circuit. We’ll never know. From what I’ve gathered, Kix Brooks is pretty much a shill for mainstream country music now. This doesn’t surprise me as he’s trying to get into the career of becoming a DJ. Ronnie Dunn is still making music and if you follow him on social media, he has a big piece of news he plans on announcing soon. I’m speculating he’s been signed to NASH Icons. I know he’s made several posts on fighting the mainstream country music system and he made a candid post months ago about his latest album trying too much to appeal to radio. It looks unlikely we’ll see these two together again anytime soon.
So that concludes our look back to country music back in 2005. The landscape has certainly changed since then and not for the good either. All in all country music still sounded like country music in 2005 and that’s something I would love to get back to someday. For now we have our traditional country music in the independent and Texas scenes. Maybe the NASH Icons project can return us to greener days. Ten years after Totally Country Volume Five we’ll find out if this comes true.