The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Dec. 2005]


This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Each 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. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. 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 +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. The grade I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

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 24th, 2005.

  1. Dierks Bentley – “Come A Little Closer” +2
  2. Kenny Chesney – “Who You’d Be Today” +3
  3. Joe Nichols – “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” -1 (sorry, this is way too corny for me)
  4. Garth Brooks – “Good Ride Cowboy” +3 (I don’t think Chris LeDoux would want to see the current pulse of mainstream country music…)
  5. Billy Currington – “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” 0 (more boring than anything else)
  6. Toby Keith – “Big Blue Note” -2
  7. George Strait – “She Let Herself Go” +3
  8. Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take The Wheel” +2
  9.  Faith Hill – “Like We Never Loved At All” +2
  10. Trace Adkins – “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” -4 [Worst Song]
  11. Little Big Town – “Boondocks” +3
  12. Keith Urban – “Better Life” +2
  13. Chris Cagle – “Miss Me Baby” +3
  14. Gary Allan – “Best I Ever Had” +4
  15. Tim McGraw – “My Old Friend” +4
  16. Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton – “When I Get Where I’m Going” +5 [Best Song]
  17. Sugarland – “Just Might (Make Me Believe) +3
  18. Josh Turner – “Your Man” 0
  19. Montgomery Gentry – “She Don’t Tell Me To” 0
  20. Keith Urban – “Tonight I Wanna Cry” +3
  21. Brooks & Dunn – “Believe” +4
  22. Gretchen Wilson – “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today” +3
  23. Big & Rich – “Comin’ To Your City” -3 (props for the Buffalo reference, but that’s it)
  24. Sara Evans – “Cheatin'”+3
  25. Miranda  Lambert – “Kerosene” +3
  26. Martina McBride – “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” +2 (Wasn’t sure what to grade this one. I think the original Lynn Anderson version is overall better but Martina does good vocally here).
  27. Jamey Johnson – “The Dollar” +4
  28. Blake Shelton – “Nobody But Me” +3
  29. Terri Clark – “She Didn’t Have Time” +3
  30. Van Zant – “Nobody Gona Tell Me What To Do” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +58

Pretty good chart this week! Sure, there’s a couple awful songs here but overall, there’s some pretty good stuff here. The middle of the chart in particular features some truly excellent songs. Of course, that’s only my take on it. What do you guys think?

As always, if you have any questions as to why I gave a song a certain grade feel free to ask me. Also, let me know what you guys think of the chart in the comments!

29 thoughts on “The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Dec. 2005]

  1. Justin W Adams August 26, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    Best I Ever Had was one of my favorite Gary Allan tunes. Considering what he had just gone through it would have to by my best song on the list. Even though he didn’t write it I think you can feel the pain in his voice


  2. Scotty J August 26, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    Some really great songs on here. Along with Paisley I would give ‘Believe’ a +5 also as it is one of Ronnie Dunn’s very best vocal performances. The phrasing is just awesome in that song. ‘Tonight I Wanna Cry’ is one of Keith Urban’s best singles and I also think ‘Nobody But Me’ is a window into what could have been from Blake Shelton. They would both get +4 from me. I still like ‘Kerosene’ which may get downgraded by some because of the numerous knockoffs that Lambert and others have produced afterwards but in context it is a pretty good song to men anyway.


  3. Amanda August 26, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    My chart:

    1. Dierks Bentley, “Come a Little Closer” +2
    2. Kenny Chesney, “Who You’d Be Today” +2
    3. Joe Nichols, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” +1 (when I was a kid, I found it hilarious. And I like the instrumentation.)
    4. Garth Brooks, “Good Ride Cowboy” +2
    5. Billy Currington, “Must Be Doing Something Right” 0
    6. Toby Keith, “Big Blue Note” -3 (this song irritated the hell out of me)
    7. George Strait, “She Let Herself Go” +3
    8. Carrie Underwood, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” +3
    9. Faith Hill, “Like We Never Loved at All” +2
    10. Trace Adkins, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” -5 (worst song) (bro country before bro country was even a thing. I was in the fourth grade when this song came out and it was my teacher’s ringtone. I did think it was a funny song at the time, but now it’s just an embarrassment to country music.)
    11. Little Big Town, “Boondocks” +3
    12. Keith Urban, “Better Life” +1
    13. Chris Cagle, “Miss Me Baby +3
    14. Gary Allan, “Best I Ever Had” +5 (best song) (Let’s just get this out of the way–I admit to being a unashamed, half-crazed Gary Allan fan girl. No shame. I love his music and think he is the sexiest thing that ever walked the earth. With that out of the way, this is just a flat-out musical masterpiece. His strong (and sexy) voice and the emotion he puts into the song makes this one incredible.)
    15. Tim McGraw, “My Old Friend” +4
    16. Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton, “When I Get Where I’m Going” +3
    17. Sugarland, “Just Might Make Me Believe” +2
    18. Josh Turner, “Your Man” +2 (cheesy song but incredible vocal performance by Josh and the steel guitar sounds awesome.)
    19. Montgomery Gentry, “She Don’t Tell Me To” 0
    20. Keith Urban, “Tonight I Wanna Cry” +4
    21. Brooks and Dunn, “Believe” +4
    22. Gretchen Wilson, “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today” +3
    23. Big and Rich, “Comin’ to Your City” -3 (stupid song and the video looks like an acid trip)
    24. Sara Evans, “Cheatin'” +4
    25. Miranda Lambert, “Kerosene” +4
    26. Martina McBride, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” +2
    27. Jamey Johnson, “The Dollar” +3
    28. Blake Shelton, “Nobody But Me” +3 (can we please have this Blake back? Pretty please?)
    29. Terri Clark, “She Didn’t Have Time” +3
    30. Van Zant, “Nobody Gonna Tell Me What to Do” 0


  4. OlaR August 26, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    Pretty good week!
    “Come A Little Closer” is one of the few Dierks Bentley songs i like.
    Best tracks (+4 or higher): “Best I Ever Had”, “Boondocks” & “When I Get Where I’m Going”
    Worst tracks (-3 or lower): “Your Man”, “Honky Tonk Blablabla” & “Tonight I Wanna Cry”

    “Best I Ever Had”: the song, the pain in the voice & the video.
    “Boondocks”: great dance track. Even friends who don’t like country music like the song.
    “When I Get Where I’m Going”: you can’t go wrong with Dolly Parton. Like “Best I Ever Had” pure emotion.
    Now: Paisley & Allan on auto-pilot with fast-food songs.

    “Your Man”: one of the best voices with just another b-list song.
    “Tonight…”: wake me up when the track is over.
    “Honky Tonk…”: Dallas Davidson, Randy Houser & Jamey Johnson should *beep*, *beep* & *beep*. Trace Adkins too.


  5. Amanda August 26, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    Off topic, but has anyone else heard the new song William Michael Morgan has released, “Missing”? Damn solid country song. Can’t wait for his album.


  6. Colton August 26, 2016 / 2:49 pm

    I think this might be my favorite feature. Keep it up


  7. Kevin Davis August 26, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    Joe Nichols’ “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” obviously deserves a positive score. When did we lose our sense of humor? As Amanda notes, the instrumentation is great, and I would say that the lyrics are just right…for the humor and charm it is supposed to elicit. This song is still played on country radio as a sort of “classic” from the past two decades.

    LBT’s “Boondocks” was such a great start to their mainstream success. I am tempted to say that this is the best song on this chart, but I agree with you that the Paisley/Porton duo is the best.


    • Zackary Kephart August 26, 2016 / 9:44 pm

      Hey, if you like it that’s all that matters 🙂

      All of these picks are simply my opinion after all. I know I’ve been pretty lazy about commenting and replying to others but I always enjoy seeing what scores other people give these songs.

      I was born in 1997 and didn’t actually get into country until about 2010 so a lot of these charts feature songs I’m hearing for the first time. That’s why I always love it when it becomes a trip down memory lane for someone else.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin Davis August 26, 2016 / 9:50 pm

        It’s all good. I like your opinion and everyone’s opinion here. It’s fun to just challenge and oppose each other in a lighthearted manner. Keep up the good work. I didn’t realize how young you were! You have a lot of great stuff to look forward too…in the past!


      • Scotty J August 27, 2016 / 1:57 pm

        The great thing about country music has always been the timeless nature of it. I’ve always liked the old stuff but I found about 5-10 years ago as the new stuff starting going down hill I began really diving into the catalogs of the greats and it really can almost be an endless exercise.

        Many times I thought to myself ‘how have I never heard this before?’ or ‘why had I never heard of so and so?’

        It’s why so many people are so disheartened by the current state of the genre. Yes, there are lots of talented independent artists right now but there was a time when the most famous and successful acts were also the best.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Frank the Tank August 27, 2016 / 2:36 pm

          I often have the same thoughts when I dig into different artist’s catalogues. Even for artists that I think I’m very familiar with, I usually discover something previously unknown to me (or forgotten).

          When I have the time, I like to start at the beginning and listen to an artist’s entire catalogue. It’s always interesting to me to see the progression is the sound/songwriting as their careers develop. Sometime it’s for the better and sometimes not. For many artists, I’m quite familiar with the singles and maybe some, but not all, of the albums, so it’s good to get the full picture.

          I’ve been doing this for some 90s/early 2000s artists lately (eg. Alan Jackson, Josh Turner, Trisha Yearwood, Miranda Lambert) since their catalogues aren’t too massive, but I intend to do this for some older artists soon.


  8. Frank the Tank August 26, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    I love this feature! I enjoy the Current Pulse as well, but I am usually familiar with many more of the songs on the Past Pulse (especially those pre-2008/2009).

    A few thoughts on some of the songs:

    “Come a Little Closer” – one of my favourite Dierks Bentley songs +3
    “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” – I actually quite like this song – good humour, great voice, great instrumentation
    “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” – easily one of the worst songs I have ever heard, especially considering Trace Adkins’ vocal talent (I’ve never been much of a fan of his, but he did have some good songs early on); this has to be -5 in my books
    “Best I Ever Had” – one of Gary Allan’s best songs +4
    “When I Get Where I’m Going” – can we please get this Brad Paisley back?
    “Your Man” – I like this song quite a bit +3
    “Comin’ To Your City” – simply awful -5
    “Cheatin'” – one of Sara Evans’ best songs +4
    “Kerosene” – I wasn’t a huge fan of this song at first, but it’s grown on me since +2


  9. Raymond August 27, 2016 / 11:10 am

    I have to say for my favorite song it’d be a 4 way tie between these songs

    “Jesus Take The Wheel”
    “Like We Never Loved At All” (Faith Hill sings with such passion and Tim provides excellent harmonies)
    “Who You’d be Today” (this is my favorite Kenny Chesney song)
    and “When I Get Where I’m Going”

    All songs have stand the test of time and I love all of them so much.


  10. Brett August 27, 2016 / 12:05 pm

    2005, wow! This is the year i graduated high school. Very depressing to see what we had and the inevitable downward spiral coming. I remember that Gary Allan was the go to for me at this point and being a Kentucky boy, certainly would have put Montgomery Gentry in the +’s, they had a very consistent hit flow at this time. I disagree with that, but couldnt agree more about Brad and Dolly. I lost my grandfather the summer of that year and really uplifted me. Really enjoy the past pulse, fun to look back. Thanks


  11. Zackary Kephart August 27, 2016 / 12:31 pm

    Btw everyone, I usually pick these charts at random. That being said, if anyone’s got a particular decade they want me to cover (or heck, even a particular year, month, week) then I’m more than happy to do it. Let me know!


    • Scotty J August 27, 2016 / 1:38 pm

      March 21, 1981.
      April 8, 1989.
      November 28,1998.
      October 30, 2004.
      February 19, 2011.


      • Scotty J August 27, 2016 / 3:11 pm

        Or June 27, 1992 but don’t tell my heart, my…


        • Amanda August 27, 2016 / 7:40 pm

          achy breaky heart! I just don’t think it understands. Cause if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart, it might blow up and kill this man! Ooooooohhhhh! The awful song that inspired line dance fever all across the nation, or so I’m told. I was born in 1996 but I do think it’s an awful song regardless. However, as bad as “Achy Breaky Heart” is, I don’t even think it would make a top 10/top 20 worst country songs of all time list because of all of the awful shit coming out of Nashville in the past five years. Thanks bro country, lol.


          • Raymond August 27, 2016 / 8:09 pm

            Isn’t bro country basically dead now. Looking at the top 30, the only songs I can qualify as bro are the ones from LoCash, Luke Bryan and Granger Smith. I mean there’s still a sniff of it but it’s not a trend anymore. Really mainstream country is lacking a trend besides the pop star duet thing but even that isn’t that prevalent as only two of those are in the Top 30.


          • Scotty J August 27, 2016 / 9:00 pm

            Not sure there has ever been a song that has been such a mixed blessing for it’s performer as that one. On one hand it was a massive hit and led the album ‘Some Gave All’ to be #1 on the all genre Albums Chart for months and has sold something like 9 million copies but man it type cast Billy Ray Cyrus big time and probably led him to be the somewhat joke novelty act he has become.

            And the thing is songs like ‘Could’ve Been me’ and ‘Some Gave All’ are great songs but they are little remembered because of Achy Breaky.


          • Amanda August 27, 2016 / 9:02 pm

            Bro country has died out for the most part, but many of the worst country songs ever came from the bro-country era and the R&B “country” era made popular by Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett. “Burnin’ It Down”, “Sun Daze”, “Donkey”, “1994”, numerous Luke Bryan songs and other FGL songs, any songs by Cole Swindell and Chase Rice, “Real Men Love Jesus”, “Break Up With Him”, “Bottoms Up”, and the absolutely god-awful “South Side” and “Vacation” would be on my personal list of all-time worst songs. If there was still room, I’d also include “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Red Solo Cup”.


          • Scotty J August 27, 2016 / 9:10 pm

            Bro country is like a virus that killed half the population but now has been mostly eradicated. So yeah it’s mostly gone but unfortunately it practically killed the genre in the mainstream first.


    • Frank the Tank August 27, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      Anytime from mid-80s to early 2000s.


    • Amanda August 27, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      August 13, 1996 (my birthday)! Or anytime in 1999 or 2000 when my absolute favorite song, Smoke Rings in the Dark, was charting.


    • Raymond August 27, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      If there is a chart it’d probably be in 2007 when songs like “Our Song”, “Stay”, “Because of You” and many more as that was the year I officially got into country music.


    • jmartin103 August 28, 2016 / 2:51 pm

      December 26, 1992
      September 15, 2001
      March 8, 2003
      May 22, 2004
      June 27, 2009


    • jmartin103 August 28, 2016 / 2:53 pm

      December 26, 1992
      June 13, 1998
      March 8, 2003
      May 22, 2004
      June 27, 2009


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