The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2004]

Every week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. It could be 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even further back. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site by either Derek or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I take a look at the top 30 on the Country Airplay Chart from March 27, 2004.

  1. Tim McGraw – “Watch The Wind Blow By” +1
  2. Toby Keith – “American Soldier” -1
  3. Brad Paisley – “Little Moments” +1
  4. Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker – “When The Sun Goes Down” -1
  5. Sara Evans – “Perfect” 0
  6. Trace Adkins – “Hot Mama” 0
  7. Buddy Jewell – “Sweet Southern Comfort” 0
  8. Alan Jackson – “Remember When” +1
  9. Keith Urban – “You’ll Think Of Me” +1
  10. Martina McBride – “In My Daughter’s Eyes” +1
  11. Jimmy Wayne – “I Love You This Much” +1
  12. Rascal Flatts – “Mayberry” +1
  13. John Michael Montgomery – “Letters From Home” +1 (Hey Toby, this is how you do a song about soldiers)
  14. Gary Allan – “Songs About Rain” +1
  15. Josh Turner – “Long Black Train” +1
  16. George Strait – “Desperately” +1
  17. Clint Black – “Spend My Time” 0
  18. Blue County – “Good Little Girls” -1
  19. Carolyn Dawn Johnson – “Simple Life” +1
  20. Tracy Lawrence – “Paint Me Birmingham” +1
  21. Dierks Bentley – “My Last Name” +1
  22. Montgomery Gentry – “If You Ever Stop Loving Me” +1
  23. Brooks & Dunn – “That’s What She Gets For Loving Me” +1
  24. Big & Rich – “Wild West Show” +1
  25. SheDaisy – “Passenger Seat” 0
  26. Brian McComas – “You’re In My Head” +1
  27. Lonestar – “Let’s Be Us Again” 0
  28. Reba McEntire – “Somebody” +1
  29. Clay Walker – “I Can’t Sleep” 0
  30. David Lee Murphy – “Loco” -1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +15

Last week we look at the chart in March 2000 and had a very healthy score of +22. This week we go four years ahead of that to the year 2004, where the pulse is slightly lower at +15. You can tell a lot of the old guard of the 90s is fading out at this time and giving way to new artists such as Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts. Garth Brooks and Shania Twain are nowhere to be found. It’s interesting that the 2005 score we looked at weeks ago was closer to 2000 in terms of the pulse than 2004. The 2000 pulse at this time was 18 points better than the current pulse.

As is now customary, fire away with your comments and questions about this week’s past pulse. Recognize some old favorites? Maybe a few you would like to not be reminded about?

20 thoughts on “The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2004]

  1. Raymond March 27, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    Ok I want you to explain Toby Keith song Kenny Chesney Sara Evans Alan Jackson Rascal Flatts Keith Urban Gary Allan Dierks Bentley and final Reba those are the songs I’ve heard and I want you to explain your reasoning for each song and what you would give them out of 10.

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    • Josh Schott March 27, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      The Keith song is a little pandering and hard to take serious coming from him. Chesney and Kracker just sound like idiots on this song. It’s just another beach song. However I’ll admit I actually liked this song growing up. “Perfect” is a decent song, but a little too bland for me. “Remember When” is simply brilliant. Nothing else to say. “Mayberry” is one of Rascal Flatts’ more country songs and fits perfect in their vocal range. It’s also down to earth and easy to relate to. “You’ll Think of Me” is one of Urban’s better vocal performances and really helps sell the vengeful emotion of the song. Allan is at his best with sad songs and “Songs About Rain” is no different. He simply gets heartbreak songs. Bentley’s “My Last Name” is heartfelt and really captures the essence of what family is all about without having to rely on stupid clichés. It’s really one of Dierks’ most underrated songs. “Somebody” does a great job of telling a story, while also being relatable to every person who listens. Who doesn’t think about the strangers they see around them? This is the kind of song Reba knocks out of the park and needs to get back to. She doesn’t need the upbeat, pop country crap. She needs a great song and her voice can take care of the rest.

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      • Raymond March 27, 2015 / 2:35 pm

        Ok I agree on the Keith song I like the Chesney song for the laid-back vibe still it would be a 0. Sara Evans Perfect well yeah a 0. Alan Jackson’s yes pure country music perfection. Rascal Flatts song does nothing for me I don’t hate it but it’s just so bland. I kinda figured you’d be subjective and give Keith Urban a 0. Gary Allan nough said. Dierks yeah funny story the song had something to do with my English class and when my teacher played it was embarrassing cause I was humming along to the song. Reba well I don’t mind some of her pop country stuff like Because Of You Consider Me Gone but it’s still at times sub par are you looking forward to Reba’s album or not.

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  2. Derek Hudgin March 27, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    I agree that “Letters From Home” is a much better song than “American Soldier” but I think A.S. isn’t a -1. It’s a little pandering, but I think it does a good job describing a soldier and their duties in a respectable way. It doesn’t really tell a story, it’s more of a description song. But I think a -1 is a bit harsh… I’d give it a 0.

    But there’s some great songs on this chart. “Remember When” is one of my favorites, “My Last Name” is awesome. “Long Black Train” & “Little Moments” are both great! It’s also a time when Rascal Flatts were at least tolerable! (never really liked them at all)

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    • Josh Schott March 27, 2015 / 2:16 pm

      Yeah I was maybe a little too harsh on “American Soldiers” and kind of let my hate of Keith affect my grading. So I would maybe change that to a 0.

      “Remember When” is also one of my favorites. One of Jackson’s all-time best songs. All those songs you mentioned were some of my favorites of the 2000s. I would say “Mayberry” is one of Rascal Flatts’ best songs.

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      • Scotty J March 27, 2015 / 2:35 pm

        Yeah I think -1 is a little harsh for ‘American Soldier’ which I think along with ‘My List’ are Toby Keith’s best singles in the years immediately after 9/11. People often throw out the pandering charge about songs with military themes but I think that’s a little unfair at times because it seems to imply that only negative tinged military songs meet with the approval of some critics. I would put ‘American Soldier’ in a class with “I Drive Your Truck’ which I also would differ with people calling a pander.

        It also should be noted that ‘Songs About Rain’ and ‘Long Black Train’ eventually peaked at #12 and #13 respectively so although they are both great songs and quickly cited by fans of Allan and Turner they were not giant hits.

        I would argue that ‘Long Black Train’ may be one of the greatest country songs of all time if you take in the entire package of lyrics, music, theme, and vocal performance. Just brilliant in my mind. I wish I were there the night he performed that at the Opry as an unknown before it was released as a single and apparently he played it several times in a row as the crowd just kept asking for more.

        ‘Remember When’ is a great example of the type of song that I fear is lost to us on mainstream country radio. Sang from experience and life lived together. Great stuff.

        ‘Wild West Show’ a +1? Oh my, Josh.

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        • Josh Schott March 27, 2015 / 3:02 pm

          That’s a good comparison between “American Soldiers” and “I Drive Your Truck.” I actually enjoy the latter song a lot. One of the very few truck songs in the last few years that actually has meaning behind it. Like I said I think I let my hate toward Keith affect my grading.

          Oh really? I didn’t know that story about “Long Black Train.” That’s pretty cool and I wish I would have been there too. It really is a brilliant song. It’s underrated, much like Josh Turner’s career. He deserves more credit than he gets.

          Yep, as I said above “Remember When” is fantastic and I’m always blown away when I hear it.

          As for “Wild West Show,” in my defense it’s barely a +1. I mean this is one of their better songs and it’s much better than “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy.” You have to remember too that you can’t take Big & Rich too seriously. I also like the instrumentation in this song, despite the mediocre lyrics.

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      • Scotty J March 27, 2015 / 3:16 pm

        Just did a little searching and apparently the appearance was on December 21, 2001 at the Opry and he was signed to a recording contract shortly after that performance. Can you imagine sitting there and out comes some young guy just out of college you have never heard of and then he starts with that voice and that song. Plus, thinking about it I went and watched the video and it is perfect also.

        Well, I will agree that ‘Wild West Show’ is better than ‘Save A Horse’ that’s for sure.

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        • Josh Schott March 27, 2015 / 3:29 pm

          Wow! So that was a life-changing performance. Yes I can’t imagine what the audience was feeling. You never expect such a big voice to come out of him. I couldn’t find the 2001 video, but I did find a video of him performing it with Randy Travis and it’s awesome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5y2a16aF58

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      • Scotty J March 27, 2015 / 3:45 pm

        That is a great performance and worth watching just for the smile that comes across Randy Travis’ face when Turner starts singing at the very beginning. Two incredible country voices.

        A few years I searched everywhere I could think of to try and find that video from 2001 but if it exists it has never been put on the internet.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scotty J March 27, 2015 / 3:49 pm

        ‘A few years ago I searched’ not a few years I’m not that obsessed.

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      • bob March 27, 2015 / 6:20 pm

        Maybe when you were a bit harsh on “American Soldiers” you were think of TK’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” with these awful lyrics?
        “Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
        It`s the American way.”
        I like the John Michael Montgomery soldier song. Soldiers appreciate letters – and packages.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Zack March 27, 2015 / 4:14 pm

    Lots of great tunes here, I really love the past pulse section. Brings up so much nostalgia!
    And yes, Turner’s career is very underrated. His best album is definently the live record that he did at the Ryman. Listen to his version of “Silver Wings”, he knocks it out of the park!

    Anyway, here are some of my favorites:
    Alan Jackson- Remember When (the man is a legend, nothing more to say)
    Keith Urban- You’ll Think Of Me (One of Urban’s better ones)
    John Michael Montgomery- Letters From Home (Heartfelt, and has a relaxing mood to it)
    Gary Allan- Songs About Rain (one of his best and most underrated)
    Josh Turner- Long Black Train (I did this song for a guitar recital a few years ago, people loved it!)
    Montgomery Gentry- If You Ever Stop Loving Me (I LOVE these guy’s earlier stuff, but the newer stuff, save for I’ll Keep The Kids is a bit lackluster)
    Big and Rich- Wild West Show (one of the only songs I like from a duo who I pretty much strongly dislike)
    Dierks Bentley- My Last Name (yes Josh, definently an underrated tune)

    There might be more but I’m probably unfamiliar with them

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Truth No. 2 March 27, 2015 / 7:04 pm

    Long time reader, first time poster. I would have given SHeDAISY a +1 because Passenger Seat is everything a modern pop country song is not. It is a truck song that one can enjoy and sing along to. It is a song about a girl riding shotgun and enjoying that works in a way Maggie Rose could not. SHeDAISY in general is about the only time pop country works for me.

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    • Josh Schott March 27, 2015 / 7:09 pm

      Welcome! Glad to hear you weigh in!

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  5. Pete Marshall March 27, 2015 / 11:41 pm

    I have to disagree with you about Toby Keith “American Soldiers” it’s a +1, and Kenny Chesney a 0.

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  6. DimM March 28, 2015 / 3:41 am

    ”Long Black Train” was one of the greatest songs of the past decade.Too bad it wasn’t a Top 10.
    I agree ”Mayberry” was a good one for Flatts.
    ”Somebody” was another usual Reba style pop tune, deserves -1. ”Hot Mama” also deserves -1 just for this silly title.
    ”Paint me a Birmingham” was one of the best songs ever recorded by Lawrence in the end of his careeer , first charted by Ken Mellons in January 2004.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fromthewordsofbr March 28, 2015 / 2:37 pm

    You misspelled “Soldier” as “Solider”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. kjh6395 October 20, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    I guess I have an unpopular opinion, but for me Buddy Jewel’s “Sweet Southern Comfort” is the best song on this list and should have a +1. It kind reminds me of “Mayberry” and is a classic country reminiscing song.

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