This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Every week, I take a look at the Billboard Country Airplay Chart (or, “Hot Country Songs” as it used to be called) from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. Each song on the chart will receive either a +1, 0, or -1. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the top 30 songs with the highest score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. Songs rated between a 7 and 10 will receive a +1. Songs rated either 5 or 6 will receive a 0. Songs rated 4 or lower will 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 will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from December 4, 1999.
- Clint Black – “When I Said I Do (w/ Lisa Hartman Black)” 0
- John Michael Montgomery – “Home To You” +1
- Martina McBride – “I Love You” -1 [Worst Song]
- Brad Paisley – “He Didn’t Have To Be” +1
- Faith Hill – “Breathe” +1
- Shania Twain – “Come On Over” -1
- Tim McGraw – “Something Like That” +1
- Yankee Grey – “All Things Considered” +1
- George Strait – “What Do You Say To That” +1
- Reba – “What Do You Say” +1
- Alan Jackson – “Pop A Top” +1
- LeAnn Rimes – “Big Deal” 0
- Dixie Chicks – “Cowboy Take Me Away” +1
- Andy Griggs – “I’ll Go Crazy” +1
- Tim McGraw – “My Best Friend” +1
- Steve Wariner – “I’m Already Taken” +1
- Kenny Chesney – “She Thinks My Tractors Sexy” -1
- Randy Travis – “A Man Ain’t Made Of Stone” +1
- Lonestar – “Amazed” 0
- Clay Walker – “Live, Laugh, Love” 0
- Jo Dee Messina – “Lesson In Leavin’” +1
- Lonestar – “Smile” 0
- Ty Herndon – “Steam” 0
- Tracy Byrd – “Put Your Hand In Mine” +1
- Gary Allan – “Smoke Rings In The Dark” +1 [Best Song]
- Joe Diffie – “The Quittin’ Kind” +1
- Brooks & Dunn – “Beer Thirty” 0
- Keith Urban – “It’s A Love Thing” -1
- Trace Adkins – “Don’t Lie” +1
- SHeDAISY – “This Woman Needs” +1
The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +15
Wow, a double-digit positive score, and one that’s halfway to a perfect score! Sure beats 2010 from last week. As you all remember, 2010 didn’t even have a Pulse! As a child of the 2000s, I have to admit I was very unfamiliar with a few of these songs and artists prior to conducting this pulse. That’s why doing this particular Past Pulse was especially fun. I get to discover some great new songs! First of all, I never had once heard of Yankee Gray. “All Things Considered” isn’t exactly something anyone would call “deep”, but it’s fun enough with the catchy melody and bouncy fiddles. This was their only top 10 hit. Elsewhere, while I am familiar with artists such as Clint Black, John Michael Montgomery, Steve Wariner, and Tracy Byrd, I can’t say that I had ever heard any of their respective singles on this chart. I’ve also never heard a single SHeDAISY song despite hearing of them multiple times. “This Woman Needs” is a pretty enjoyable country-pop tune.
However, I’m not totally out of tune with what was going on in 1999. Alan Jackson’s “Pop A Top” was (and still is) a damn catchy tune that hardly feels like a cover song at all. And of course there’s the monster hit by the Dixie Chicks with “Cowboy Take Me Away.” I can understand why they are a very polarizing band to many, but when you look at them from a pure musical standpoint, they were a very talented group who made some fine country music. With Gary Allan, they share the honor of being tied for the best song on this chart. I’ve always loved “Smoke Rings In The Dark” for its dark, ominous atmosphere and sharp lyrics combined with Gary’s vocal delivery. In fact, it’s probably my favorite Gary song ever. Oh, can we also talk about how awesome Trace Adkins is when he’s trying to be a serious country singer? The man has always had a set of pipes, and when he’s not doing the whole “Swing” or “Honkytonk Badonkadonk” crap, he’s excellent.
But of course, at any given moment there’s always some type of bad in country music, even in 1999. Hell, I’m sure at one point somebody somewhere declared Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” the worst country song in history. Nowadays it wouldn’t come anywhere close. Elsewhere, we had Martina McBride’s annoying “I Love You” which easily is the worst song here. To put it bluntly, this song sounds extremely immature and annoying. And then of course we have “Come On Over.” Now, I actually like Shania Twain for the most part, but this song is just terrible and definitely didn’t belong on country radio, especially not in 1999. Keith Urban’s first song also wasn’t great either. But that’s it folks. FOUR negative scores on the pulse. Nowadays that’s about as many positive scores you’ll find on the pulse. Evolution my ass.
If you have any questions as to why I gave a certain song the score I did, or perhaps just want to make your own Pulse, sound off in the comments!