The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 1996]

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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 August 17th, 1996. As some of you may remember, a couple of weeks ago I asked if there were any charts you’d like to see me feature here. Last week’s chart was dedicated to Scotty J, and this week goes out to commenter Amanda! (It’s not exactly the date you said but it’s the closest I could get!)

  1. George Strait – “Carried Away” +3
  2. Wade Hayes – “On A Good Night” +3 (Pretty fun song)
  3. Brooks & Dunn – “I Am That Man” +1
  4. Neal McCoy – “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” +2
  5. Clay Walker – “Only Days That End In “Y”” +3 (Corny sure, but that’s what made the 90’s so great!)
  6. Tim McGraw – “She Never Lets It Go To Her Heart” +3
  7. James Bonamy – “I Don’t Think I Will” 0 [Least Good Song] (More because I just really couldn’t get into this guy’s voice)
  8. Garth Brooks – “It’s Midnight Cinderella” +1 (See Clay Walker)
  9. Mindy McCready – “Guys Do It All The Time” +3
  10. Diamond Rio – “That’s What I Get For Lovin’ You” +1
  11. Ricochet – “Daddy’s Money” 0 (Fun, but creepy lyrically)
  12. Lee Roy Parnell – “Givin’ Water To A Drownin’ Man” +4
  13. Bryan White – “So Much For Pretending” 0 (See James Bonamy)
  14. Rhett Akins – “Don’t Get Me Started (On Why My Son Would Ever Record That Dumb “Vacation” Song)” +2
  15. Lonestar – “Runnin’ Away With My Heart” +3
  16. Rick Trevino – “Learning As You Go” +3
  17. Ty Herndon – “Living In A Moment” +4
  18. Shania Twain – “No One Needs To Know” +3
  19. Billy Dean – “That Girl’s Been Spyin’ On Me” +1 (Props for some hard hitting production but it’s a little creepy lyrically…)
  20. Blackhawk – “Big Guitar” +3 (See Clay Walker)
  21. Pam Tillis – “It’s Lonely Out There” +3
  22. Faith Hill – “You Can’t Lose Me” +2 (A little sappy but easy to enjoy)
  23. Tracy Byrd – “4 To 1 In Atlanta” +3
  24. Randy Travis – “Are We In Trouble Now” +4 [Best Song] (Probably his most underrated single)
  25. Mark Wills – “Jacob’s Ladder” +3
  26. Vince Gill – “Worlds Apart” +3
  27. Trisha Yearwood – “Believe Me Baby (I Lied)” +3
  28. Jo Dee Messina – “You’re Not In Kansas Anymore” +3 (Again, I like the production here)
  29. Collin Raye – “Love Remains” +2
  30. Toby Keith – “A Woman’s Touch” +3

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +72

Well it appears we have another good chart this week! I have to admit, there’s a lot of corny songs but hey, it was the 90’s. They all were delivered with heartfelt sincerity that made them easy to enjoy. I’m not quite sure there was a song here that really blew me out of the water except for Randy, but still we have a good chart here.

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!

Country Perspective’s Best Country Albums of 2014

We have reached the end of 2014 and over the course of the year we’ve reviewed a lot of great country music. So in case you just found the site or don’t remember all of the great country albums we’ve reviewed, you’re in luck. Here are the links to every album we rated an 8/10 or higher over the course of the year. These are the albums we give a solid recommendation or more for you to listen to. Keep in mind this site started in May, so we won’t have every single great album. For example we never got around to reviewing Dierks Bentley’s album or Don Williams’ album, two albums that would have definitely made this list. So if there are albums missing that you love, they were most likely not reviewed. Others of course may have not been rated high enough to make it. I’m also including our album of the year candidates in case you missed those too. One more thing: only albums are included, no EPs. So without further ado here are Country Perspective’s most recommended albums of 2014.

10/10 (Album of the Year Candidates)

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music 

Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time 

Karen Jonas – Oklahoma Lottery 

Lucette – Black Is The Color 

Tami Neilson – Dynamite! 

Sunny Sweeney – Provoked 

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold 

Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy 

The Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down 

9.5/10

Angaleena Presley – American Middle Class 

Micky & The Motorcars – Hearts From Above 

Stoney LaRue – Aviator 

9/10

Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen 

Matt Woods – With Love From Brushy Mountain 

Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’ 

BlackHawk – Brothers of the Southland 

The Roys – The View 

Jason Eady – Daylight & Dark 

Mack McKenzie – One Last, One More 

Bonnie Montgomery – Bonnie Montgomery 

8.5/10

Jon Pardi – Write You A Song 

Ray Scott – Ray Scott 

Mary Sarah – Bridges 

The Buffalo Ruckus – The Buffalo Ruckus 

Rich O’Toole – Jaded 

Corb Lund – Counterfeit Blues 

8/10

Eric Paslay – Eric Paslay 

Phillip Fox Band – Heartland 

Terri Clark – Some Songs 

Country Perspective’s 2014 Song of The Year Nominees

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As 2014 comes to a close, Country Perspective will be handing out a number of awards to the artists, songs, and albums we covered over the year. We’ll be crowning the best of the best and the worst of the worst.  Despite the piles of garbage thrown out to radio this year, there were many great, downright spectacular country songs released for music fans.  More times than not, one had to dig deep into the realms of independent country, or even search international lands for great country song. And surprisingly, a few mainstream artists popped out few tunes this year worthy to be nominated by Country Perspective for Song of Year.

Awards will be handed out in mid-late December. Josh and I will deliberate and reach the final decisions together, but we will also take reader input into consideration. So if you have a strong opinion about a song listed here, or about a song we may have forgotten, feel free to comment below and let us know. Who knows, you may sway the vote! Best Song of the Year may be one of the toughest categories to choose. There are several songs we have listed that could all reasonably be crowned this award. Due to the extensive nature of our list, I’ll give a short-short blurb about each song to keep this post reasonable.

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Without further ado, and in no particular order, your 2014 Country Song of the Year Nominees:

  • Cry Over You” by Tami Neilson – A timeless, 1950s style country song with a spine-tingling vocal delivery from Tami. Great production behind the vocals, and lyrics about heartbreak. This song is everything that makes country music great. Full review of Dynamite! here.
  • Liberty Bell” by Matt Woods – Great acoustic instrumentation that builds to a roaring middle. Woods’ voice carries this song about getting through life’s hardships with hope and perseverance. Full review of With Love From Brushy Mountain here.
  • Find Me” by Sunny Sweeney – On an album with 3 or 4 worthy nominees, “Find Me” stands out for one main reason: Sunny’s emotional delivery of a song about a soul longing for the one. The instrumentation is perfect and builds appropriately behind brilliant lyrics. Full review of Provoked here.
  • What We Ain’t Got” by Jake Owen – This just might be Jake Owen’s best song ever recorded. His voice sells this heartbreaking piano ballad. Owen straight knocks this one out of the park. This song is about as real as life gets. Full song review here.
  • Turtles All the Way Down” by Sturgill Simpson – A song that brilliantly combines the pure, classic sounds of country with modern influences. A song that challenges faith, drugs, and love. This song is Metamodern in the truest sense, and best encapsulates what Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is all about. Full review here.
  • Oklahoma Lottery” by Karen Jonas – A dark, heartbreaking song about struggling through a hard spell of life: Droughts on the farm, faith challenged, and heading West for a better life. Karen Jonas’s voice fluctuates perfectly with the story, and the simple instrumentation is perfect behind the lyrics. Full review of Oklahoma Lottery here.
  • Dearly Departed Friend” by Old Crow Medicine Show – A song discussing the hardships of war: lamenting the loss of a soldier, and touching on topics of PTSD. The folk instrumentation fits with the topic, and shows OCMS’s strength. Full review of Remedy here.
  • Cedar Lane” by First Aid Kit – Beautiful melodies, subdued instrumentation, and deep, thoughtful lyrics about a long-lost of love. This Swedish duo delivers on this impressive song. Full review of Stay Gold here.
  • Baby, The Rain Must Fall” by BlackHawk – Love ends bitterly in this heartbreak song. A simple, acoustic instrumentation with wonderful vocal deliveries and harmonies. Full review of Brothers of the Southland here.
  • I Thank God” by Rich O’Toole – Born out of a surprise pregnancy in an affair, Rich reflects on how he might not have been here if his Mom had gotten an abortion. The lyrics show depth and understanding on the situation. It’s just a beautiful song.  Full review of Jaded here.
  • Liars & Fools” by Jason Eady – Eady sings about trying it out, and giving it your all here. Simple, pure country instrumentation and a heartfelt vocal delivery. Full review of Daylight & Dark here.
  • When I Come Around” by Lee Ann Womack – A great song from the long-awaited release from Lee Ann Womack. Beautiful vocals from Lee Ann about searching for a man she once knew. “When I Come Around” has wonderful country instrumentation to top it off. Full review of The Way I’m Livin here.
  • She Don’t Love You” by Eric Paslay – A heartbroken girl is in a new relationship. Paslay comments to the new man about her brokenness, only for us to learn that Paslay may be one who broke this woman. Simple, honest lyrics that tell a heartbreaking story, and Eric Paslay sings the song with a voice that perfectly compliments the material. A great modern representation of country music. Full review of Eric Paslay here.
  • Walk Alone” by Moot Davis – An uptempo song about getting over a relationship. A fun, upbeat country melody, and Davis’ voice is nothing short of fantastic. We have no official review for the song or album, but both have been featured on Country Perspective’s midyear “Best Of” lists.
  • River Rising” by Lucette – A more subdued track, and one of the best from the brilliant Black is the Color. Lucette’s lyrics are full of mystery and require careful listen to grasp the story. I think this is a song about dying due to this line, “so let the river carry me home.” Lucette’s vocals are beautiful here. Full review of Black is the Color here.
  • Coping Mechanism” by Shovels & Rope – This song is about finding a better way to cope with a broken heart. Cary Ann’s vocal delivery is powerful here, with Michael harmonizing perfectly behind her. The instrumentation is upbeat, intense, and fits like a glove behind the vocals. As Josh wrote, “this song has the total package.” Full review of Swimmin’ Time here.
  • West Texas Rain” by Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen might just have the best modern country sound. This song about recognizing one’s imperfections is well written with a roaring vocal delivery from Bowen to cap it off. Full review of Wade Bowen here.
  • There’s No Country Here” by Melody Williamson – In the year of anti bro-country, YouTube sensation Melody Williamson has the best of them all. Written as heartbreaking disappointment over the direction of modern country, Melody’s voice captures the emotions with every note. A song of the year dark horse if there ever was one.
  • This Side of Heaven” by The Swon Brothers – I think we were all shocked that this duo from The Voice has a song like this. A great offering off an otherwise rocky, back and forth album. Life can be tough, but we have heaven to look forward to. A wonderful, heartbreaking song of faith. And let’s not forget Carrie Underwood’s harmonies that only help this song soar. Full review of The Swon Brothers here.
  • Here On Earth” by Dierks Bentley – Cowritten by Bentley, and we have to imagine this song is an expression of his confusion and hurt in response to his father’s passing. This song captures the thoughts most have after a loss like that, and still keeps hope alive within life’s darkest moments.

That’s far from the end of possibilities, but we had to cap our selections at some point. Please share your thoughts and help us decide what to crown as the best country song of 2014. This is one of the hardest categories to choose as many of them have a legitimate argument to be chosen, so your comments and votes will definitely help. If you haven’t already, check out the rest of our nominations for our awards: best male and female singers, best duo or group, best and worst albums, and worst song of 2014.

 

Top Ten Country Songs – July 2014

(Note: Only songs released in July 2014 are eligible)

In June I predicted July would be a great month for country music. Did it live up to expectations? Not only did it live up to expectations, but it exceeded them. There were so many great country songs released in July that I could have probably made a top 25 list. So at the end of this I will list some honorable mentions that deserve recognition. Now let’s break down Country Perspective’s Top Ten Country Songs of July 2014.

Coming in at #1 is a song from the very first album I looked at in July. Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Sweet Amarillo” is not only the #1 song of July, but one of the front-runners for Country Perspective’s Best Song of 2014 award. This song is in the same vein as “Wagon Wheel,” a country song that is fun to listen to and has meaning behind it. OCMS once again took a Bob Dylan penned song and created magic. The band not only took my top spot, but also the #2 spot with “Mean Enough World.” It’s refreshing to hear a song that calls out all the hatred in today’s world. This song was only a tick below “Sweet Amarillo.” Coming in at #3 is the Mary Sarah and Vince Gill duet of “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” While Sarah couldn’t match the original version of this iconic song, she shined right alongside the always great Vince Gill. Old Crow Medicine Show once again comes in at #4 on the countdown with “Dearly Departed Friend,” a touching song about losing a close friend. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Old Crow Medicine Show’s new album Remedy is fantastic and if you haven’t done so yet, go check it out. Rounding out the top five is BlackHawk’s “Baby, The Rain Must Fall,” the standout song from their solid comeback album.

Sixth on the countdown is Dwight Yoakam’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s #1 hit. Based on this song, I’m anxious to hear Yoakam’s new album later this year. At #7 is Dean Miller’s “‘Til You Stop Getting Up.” It’s a great song about bouncing back from failure and keeping your head up. This is followed by Mary Sarah & Dolly Parton’s duet of “Jolene.” Their voices mesh together so well in this song and I wouldn’t mind hearing another duet from these two. Coming in at #9 is another appearance by BlackHawk with “Heart with a View.” It’s a tender, heartbreak song where the band’s signature harmonies shine. Rounding out the top ten list is the feel good pop country song, Kristian Bush’s “Trailer Hitch.” The song has a great message and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Bush.

What will August be like for country music? It’s a wildcard month based on what’s set to be released. Sunny Sweeney’s new album is being released in the first week (I’m expecting good things), but later in the month is Chase Rice’s new album (I’m dreading this review). There’s also Brad Paisley’s new album, which is a giant question mark. Just enjoy this July playlist for now because August might be rough for new country music.

Honorable Mentions:

Maddie & Tae – “Girl In A Country Song” – This is the big omission everyone notices when first looking at this list. It was the first song to miss the cut and it came down to this song and “Trailer Hitch.” The latter won out because it was simply a better overall song. “Girl In A Country Song” has a great message behind it and is a song I can enjoy. But what hurts it from being great is the questionable instrumentation used in the song. It’s a little too corporate produced for my taste.

Florida Georgia Line – “Dirt” – This is the other big omission. While it was still by far the duo’s best song they’ve ever released, it was also hurt by being too corporate produced. There’s also a few questionable lines that I don’t agree with. Still it’s a solid song that deserves numerous plays on the radio and galaxies better than “This is How We Roll.”

Old Crow Medicine Show – “The Warden” & “Shit Creek” – The three song limit per artist rule prevented these songs from having a crack at the top ten.

Mary Sarah & Merle Haggard – “The Fightin’ Side of Me” – The most underrated and ballsy song from Sarah’s album.

Dean Miller – “River Across My Heart” – Stiff competition prevented this song from making the list.

Corb Lund – “Truth Comes Out” – See reason above.

Breaking Down Dallas Davidson Songs [Infographic]

One of the most talked about writers in Nashville is Dallas Davidson, famous and infamous for writing some of the top country hits over the past few years. Some of his most notable recent hits include Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again” and Brantley Gilbert’s “Small Town Throwdown.” Many traditional country fans put part of the blame on Davidson for the popularity of bro country songs, while many mainstream fans are clueless of how big of an impact Davidson has on country music. So I decided to take a look at Davidson’s entire song catalog. I put my mathematician hat on and crunched the numbers to find some interesting stats about Mr. Davidson. I put them in a friendly to read infographic below:

Breaking Down Dallas Davidson Songs

 

 

  • If you’re curious as to what the top four rated albums are on Country Perspective, here are the four: Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold, BlackHawk’s Brothers of the Southland and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Remedy. The song that contained one of the terms in its title was OCMS’s “Brave Boys,” which is not even close to sounding like a Dallas Davidson song.
  • To view every song on Davidson’s catalog, you find them by clicking here.
  • If you have anymore questions about this infographic or data I found, feel free to reach out to me.
  • If you would like to share this infographic on social media or your own website, feel free to do so. However I ask you to please site Country Perspective as the source. I would greatly appreciate it.

I hope everyone is a little more educated on Dallas Davidson and the process behind his songwriting.