The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 2006]


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 August 26, 2006.

  1. Rodney Atkins – “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)” +1
  2. The Wreckers – “Leave The Pieces” +1
  3. Steve Holy – “Brand New Girlfriend” -1
  4. Toby Keith – “A Little Too Late” 0 (The weird production is what kills this for me)
  5. Little Big Town – “Bring It On Home” +1
  6. Gary Allan – “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” +1
  7. Brad Paisley – “The World” +1 (It’s a little cheesy, but man do I miss the mid 2000’s Brad Paisley…)
  8. George Strait – “Give It Away” +1
  9. Brooks & Dunn – “Building Bridges (w/ Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill)” 0
  10. Faith Hill – “Sunshine and Summertime” -1
  11. Kenny Chesney – “Summertime” 0
  12. Rascal Flatts – “Me and My Gang” -1 [Worst Song]
  13. Josh Turner – “Would You Go With Me” +1
  14. Carrie Underwood – “Don’t Forget To Remember Me” +1
  15. Billy Currington – “Why. Why, Why” 0
  16. Pat Green – “Feels Just Like It Should” -1
  17. Jake Owen – “Yee Haw” 0 (Owen’s charisma elevates this to at least passable to my ears)
  18. Dierks Bentley – “Every Mile A Memory” +1
  19. Heartland – “I Loved Her First” +1 (Yeah, it’s corny, but I can at least appreciate the emotion)
  20. Big & Rich – “8th Of November” +1 [Best Song]
  21. Danielle Peck – “Findin’ A Good Man” +1
  22. Trace Adkins – “Swing” -1
  23. Alan Jackson – “Like Red On A Rose” +1
  24. Lonestar – “Mountains” 0 (Naptime!)
  25. Sugarland – “Want To” +1
  26. Rascal Flatts – “Life Is A Highway” -1 (Just listen to Chris LeDoux’s version)
  27. Blaine Larsen – “I Don’t Know What She Said” +1
  28. Montgomery Gentry – “Some People Change” +1
  29. Gretchen Wilson – “California Girls” -1 (What the hell is the point of this song?)
  30. Jack Ingram – “Love You” +1

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +10

Hey not bad! Sure, this may not have been as good as 1999, but this is still a wonderful chart to see! Remember the Wreckers from way back when? It’s a real shame they never got past three singles. They were right in line with the Maddie and Tae style of neo-traditional/country pop. I’m glad that at least Maddie and Tae have broken “the Wrecker curse” by now. In addition to this, Josh Turner was still on the radio, as was Blaine Larsen, who I’m sure many people unfortunately forgot about. If only we had him now, fighting alongside other young neo-traditional guys like Mo Pitney, William Michael Morgan and Jon Pardi. This song honestly wasn’t his best, but it’s still a solid song with a cool Spanish groove. Then we had other fantastic songs from the likes of Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Big & Rich…….wait what?!? Big & Rich??? Yeah, I know right? In fact, they arguably have the best song on this chart, which is also probably the best song they’ve had in their career thus far. “8th of November” proved that the duo could tackle serious subject matter when the time came for it, and set the joke material aside. Now, two songs that I’m sure are going to raise some eyebrows are Alan Jackson’s and Jack Ingram’s. I understand that Alan’s “Like Red On A Rose” album has been called one of his weakest albums, but I actually really like “Rose” and I think it was a cool change of pace for Alan. Jack’s song…….well yeah, it’s kind of immature, but I still thought it was kind of clever in its writing, so yeah, prepare the tomatoes to throw at me!

Now onto the bad, and really, much like 1999 I don’t have a ton to complain about. Remember last week how I said Trace Adkins was awesome when he sang stuff like “Don’t Lie”? Well he sucks when he’s doing crap like “Swing.” Seriously, what the hell is this song? Listening to this just made me want to grab a baseball bat and smash the device that I was listening to this from! The other song that raises a red flag and also takes the crown as the worst song is Rascal Flatt’s “Me and My Gang.” What the hell kind of title is this?!? If “swag” were a term back then I’m sure it would have found its way somewhere into the lyrics of this song. What’s sad is that “Bob That Head” rivals this song in bad Rascal Flatt song title choices. Other than that? Yeah, there’s not a lot else that really riles me up. Faith Hill’s song is pretty irritating as is Steve Holy’s, but still I can’t get real angry at them.

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!

13 thoughts on “The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 2006]

  1. Amanda March 4, 2016 / 1:29 pm

    Another great pulse, Zack! Man, I freaking loved the Wreckers. I still listen to their album quite frequently to this day, same with Danielle Peck. Gosh, I miss those guys. Also, absolutely love Gary Allan’s Life Ain’t Always Beautiful and Josh Turner’s Would You Go With Me. More Gary Allan and Josh Turner and less Michael Ray and Chris Lane, please. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond March 4, 2016 / 1:34 pm

    For me the best song would be, probably Sugarland “Want To”. I don’t know why but that song is so catchy and Jennifer Nettles sounds so perfect. I wonder probably have honorable mention go to Wreckers “Leave The Pieces”, for being the definition of great solid mainstream pop country. Plus everytime I listen to this song I love it more.

    Now for worst song, the honorable mention goes to, Steve Holy “Brand New Girlfriend” for just be so childish, with “Me And My Gang” getting worst out of the 30. Now I’m a decent fan of Rascal Flatts, songs like “Come Wake Me Up”, “Praying For Daylight”, “What Hurts The Most”, and my all time favorite from them “I’m Moving On”. But man the mid to late 2000s where I lost interest cause it felt like they weren’t even trying anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Derek Hudgin March 4, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    This is a nice chart. I love that Rodney Atkins song and “Leave the Pieces.” It’s amazing to think this was nearly 10 years ago. So much has changed

    Liked by 1 person

  4. FeedThemHogs March 4, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Some People Change to me is Montgomery Gentry’s best song. Although Cold One Comin’ On & Lonely and Gone are right up there too. They were my favorite artists back then. It’s a shame they faded out. Just curious, what are you all’s thoughts on MG? I know they’re not traditional, but their songs always seemed to speak to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zack Kephart March 4, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      I really like them. “Tattoos & Scars” is one of my favorite albums ever. However, their material after 2008 is well…..less than stellar. That being said, if they went back to the sound of their earlier work then I’m all ears.


      • Acca Dacca March 4, 2016 / 5:09 pm

        This. Tattoos & Scars is one of my favorites as well. Their early material was solid country rock and should have stayed that way. The title track is one of the best modern country songs I’ve ever heard, bar none. I’ve heard plenty of folks say that mainstream country music died in or before the early ’90s. Like hell. This came out in 1999 and was stellar.

        Fastforward to Folks Like Us in 2015 and MG had me wondering why I ever liked them to begin with. For a while I put off listening to T&S for fear that it wouldn’t hold up and my illusion would unravel at the seams. Once I finally mustered up the courage I was pleased to see that MG’s best work has held up in the years since. I think their biggest problem is that they’ve fallen out of mainstream prominence and (like many older performers) grasping at whatever chance they have to get it back by cutting bro-country. Here’s hoping they don’t go metro and just accept that their time in the limelight is past. I mean, they cried when they were asked to join the Grand Ole Opry, so I’m fairly certain they love real country music. I highly doubt a Sam Hunt would have shed tears at that notion.


  5. Jason March 4, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    How different things looked, back when Rodney Atkins, Toby Keith, and Brad Paisley were good and the Wreckers were shooting up the charts. A positive pulse? Have we even had that once in the current charts?

    On the other hand, you have Rascal Flatts. Hearing Gary Levox trying to sound intimidating is hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Acca Dacca March 4, 2016 / 5:03 pm

    Then we had other fantastic songs from the likes of Gary Allan, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Big & Rich…….wait what?!? Big & Rich??? Yeah, I know right? In fact, they arguably have the best song on this chart, which is also probably the best song they’ve had in their career thus far. “8th of November” proved that the duo could tackle serious subject matter when the time came for it, and set the joke material aside.

    It’s not a surprise for those of us that gave them a courtesy sniff past “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” back in the day. They’ve always had a depth to them that is rarely acknowledged. That they’re also goofballs is both amusing and unfortunate in how it overshadows their contributions to the country music canon. Anybody who listens to their songs like “8th of November” and tells me they “aren’t country” or are just “bad” music ain’t no friend of mine. Even when they’re making silly crossover songs they use fiddles and banjos, unlike everyone else they’re commonly lumped with. As far as I’m concerned the designation of “8th of November” as the best song here is justice well served. They rightfully received a Grammy nomination for the song back in the day, and it’s a shame it didn’t reach higher in the charts. I think perhaps it was a little hard to swallow both in terms of content and source, thus it’s prospects were limited from the start. A shame.

    As for the rest, what made Steve Holy’s “Brand New Girlfriend” a negative? I could understand a neutral 0, but -1? The song is silly, but intentionally so (unlike today where every song on the radio is a joke that the artist isn’t in on). I think the song is a riot myself, along the lines of Jack Ingram’s “Love You.” I also much prefer early 2000s Brad Paisley (I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t, to be honest), but I hated “The World” from the first time I heard it to now. The only thing that’s made it at least bearable is how bad the rest has become. It was overplayed back in 2006 and generic to boot. I also have a soft spot for Pat Green’s “Feels Just Like it Should,” though I should note that I was much younger and less discerning back in 2006, so nostalgia might very well be getting the better of me. I think “I Loved Her First” is also a solid tune, sappy or not. Country radio acts like everything has to be about bling and machismo these days; contrast that with a song about a father and daughter at a wedding (instead of a one night rodeo in a cornfield with oodles of alcohol and a hip hop beat).

    Montgomery Gentry’s “Some People Change” is also a great song, with perhaps the two drawbacks being some of the overt religious imagery (it doesn’t bother me but limits the audience) and the fact that it’s a cover. Kenny Chesney did it first, but I can at least say that MG changed the tune enough that theirs has its own identity, and it’s better to boot.

    I’m obviously biased, but I think the early 2000s are the best balance of modern neotraditional country and pop country on the charts, without either really taking over wholly. That and even the “bad” songs are at least bearable (I think of “Me and My Gang” as trashy fun), and most of the songs featured traditional country instruments and playing. It wasn’t a golden era, but it wasn’t a blight either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AndyTheDrifter March 6, 2016 / 10:55 pm

      I definitely agree that the early ’00s are an often underrated era in country music – it’s not the best, but I honestly like it better than the late ’90s.


  7. OlaR March 5, 2016 / 7:47 am

    RIP Joey Feek.

    Danielle Peck & Blaine Larsen. Two artists with talent & great voices. Danielle Peck’s “I Don’t” (her first single) is one of my all-time favourites.
    The Chris LeDoux version of “Life is A Highway” is so much better. Like the video.
    The Rascal Flatts version sounds fabricated. It’s just a cover version.
    Glad “I Loved Her First” was not recorded by Lonestar or Rascal Flatts.
    Pat Green is a +1. The other scores are right.

    Checkout – Beccy Cole:
    Australian singer/songwriter with a long career, many “Golden Guitar” awards & hit after hit on the Australian country music charts. She started in the late 80’s & her first solo single was released in 1992. “Sweet Rebecca” (from 2015) is the current album.


  8. southtexaspistolero March 5, 2016 / 11:22 am

    Not a bad month at all.

    “Brand New Girlfriend” was a guilty pleasure for me, though I understand why some folks might not like it.

    “Give It Away” is still one of my favorite George Strait songs, and the album it came from — It Just Comes Natural — was the best thing he’d done up to that point, only lately eclipsed by 2011’s Here For A Good Time.

    Jack Ingram’s “Love You” was a lot of fun. (Hilarious video, too.) I remember hearing “Truck Yeah” and thinking, yeah, Jack Ingram did this word substitution thing a fuck of a lot better back in ’06.

    I really liked Blaine Larsen as well. I have to wonder if he and Easton Corbin would have been bigger stars had it not been for the shift in the country music dynamic brought on by the defenestration of the Dixie Chicks. “Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: ‘What might have been,'” indeed.

    Hell, never mind the song, what was the point of Gretchen Wilson as an artist by that point? I bought her first album and enjoyed it quite a bit, but…well, put it like this: She was doing the bro-country approach (same songs about the same stuff over and over) before bro-country was cool.


  9. AndyTheDrifter March 6, 2016 / 11:15 pm

    I can’t say I disagree with the -1 rating for “Brand New Girlfriend”. I understand it’s supposed to be “funny”, but I just remember it as grating. It was ludicrously overplayed, however, which I’m sure affected my perception of it, so maybe it’s not as bad as I remember.

    Time Well Wasted is a great album (how I miss good Brad), but “The World” is probably the worst single from that album. If you’re gonna build a song around a girl/world rhyme, you better make up for it elsewhere. It’s not really terrible, but rather blah.

    I will sing the praises of “Like Red on a Rose” (both song and album) til I die. I enjoy the heck out of “8th of November” and “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful”, but to me it’s the best song here. I understand the sound isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I still think of it as one the prettiest and moving love songs I’ve ever heard.

    “Me and My Gang” is rather horrible, but I miss the days when RF was the worst and least country thing on the radio – compared to a lot of stuff now, they might as well be the Buckaroos (okay, maybe that’s exaggerating things a bit, but you get the idea).

    The Josh Turner song is really, really good. A lot of his material falls into the “pleasant but bland” territory for me, but when he’s on, he can be as good as anybody.

    Rodney Atkins is a basically a personal one-song wonder for me, but I absolutely love “If You’re Going Through Hell.”

    The Billy Currington, Lonestar and Jake Owen songs are total nostalgic guilty pleasures for me. X_X


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