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!

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [December 1999]

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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.

  1. Clint Black – “When I Said I Do (w/ Lisa Hartman Black)” 0
  2. John Michael Montgomery – “Home To You” +1
  3. Martina McBride – “I Love You” -1 [Worst Song]
  4. Brad Paisley – “He Didn’t Have To Be” +1
  5. Faith Hill – “Breathe” +1
  6. Shania Twain – “Come On Over” -1
  7. Tim McGraw – “Something Like That” +1
  8. Yankee Grey – “All Things Considered” +1
  9. George Strait – “What Do You Say To That” +1
  10. Reba – “What Do You Say” +1
  11. Alan Jackson – “Pop A Top” +1
  12. LeAnn Rimes – “Big Deal” 0
  13. Dixie Chicks – “Cowboy Take Me Away” +1
  14. Andy Griggs – “I’ll Go Crazy” +1
  15. Tim McGraw – “My Best Friend” +1
  16. Steve Wariner – “I’m Already Taken” +1
  17. Kenny Chesney – “She Thinks My Tractors Sexy” -1
  18. Randy Travis – “A Man Ain’t Made Of Stone” +1
  19. Lonestar – “Amazed” 0
  20. Clay Walker – “Live, Laugh, Love” 0
  21. Jo Dee Messina – “Lesson In Leavin’” +1
  22. Lonestar – “Smile” 0
  23. Ty Herndon – “Steam” 0
  24. Tracy Byrd – “Put Your Hand In Mine” +1
  25. Gary Allan – “Smoke Rings In The Dark” +1 [Best Song]
  26. Joe Diffie – “The Quittin’ Kind” +1
  27. Brooks & Dunn – “Beer Thirty” 0
  28. Keith Urban – “It’s A Love Thing” -1
  29. Trace Adkins – “Don’t Lie” +1
  30. 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!

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?

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2000]

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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 25, 2000.

  1. Toby Keith – “How Do You Like Me Now?!” 0
  2. George Strait – “The Best Day” +1
  3. Tim McGraw – “My Best Friend” +1
  4. Tracy Lawrence – “Lessons Learned” +1
  5. Mark Wills – “Back at One” +1
  6. Martina McBride – “Love’s The Only House” 0
  7. Lonestar – “Smile” 0
  8. Clint Black & Steve Wariner – “Been There” +1
  9. Jo Dee Messina – “Because You Love Me” +1
  10. Dixie Chicks – “Cowboy Take Me Away” +1
  11. Phil Vassar – “Carlene” 0
  12. SheDaisy – “This Woman Needs” +1
  13. Faith Hill – “Breathe” +1
  14. Andy Griggs – “She’s More” +1
  15. Faith Hill – “The Way You Love Me” 0
  16. Chely Wright – “It Was” +1
  17. Kenny Rogers & Alison Krauss – “Buy Me A Rose” +1
  18. Garth Brooks – “Do What You Gotta Do” +1
  19. Montgomery Gentry – “Daddy Won’t Sell The Farm” 0
  20. Kenny Chesney – “What I Need to Do” +1
  21. Trisha Yearwood – “Real Live Woman” +1
  22. Vince Gill – “Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye” +1
  23. Brad Paisley – “He Didn’t Have to Be” +1
  24. Jessica Andrews – “Unbreakable Heart” +1
  25. Collin Raye – “Couldn’t Last A Moment” 0
  26. Dixie Chicks – “Goodbye Earl” +1
  27. Yankee Grey – “Another Nine Minutes” 0
  28. Clay Walker – “The Chain of Love” +1
  29. Clay Davidson – “Unconditional” +1
  30. Brad Paisley – “Me Neither” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +22

Last week we looked at 2010 and it was only at +4. This week we go back 10 years before in the year 2000, where it’s a whopping +22. Clearly a much better environment at country radio at this time. This score is right around the 2005 score we looked at a few weeks back and 26 spots higher than the current pulse. Fun fact: three different artists had two songs charting at the same time on the March 28, 2000 chart. The three artists are Brad Paisley, Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks. By the way how creepy does Keith look in that cover photo?

As for my thoughts on the songs, I decided I want to do this different from here on out. Instead of me throwing my thoughts out on the songs I want to talk about I would rather just let you all ask me questions on the ones you want further clarification on and my thoughts on. It saves me time and I would rather spend more time conversing with you the reader. Sound good? Fire away with any questions below!

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2010]

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 13, 2010.

  1. Josh Turner – “Why Don’t We Just Dance” +1
  2. Billy Currington – “That’s How Country Boys Roll” -1
  3. Darius Rucker – “History In The Making” 0
  4. Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins – “Hillbilly Bone” -1
  5. Brad Paisley – “American Saturday Night” 0
  6. Easton Corbin – “A Little More Country Than That” +1
  7. Carrie Underwood – “Temporary Home” +1
  8. Keith Urban – “‘Til Summer Comes Around” 0
  9. Zac Brown Band – “Highway 20 Ride” +1
  10. Lady Antebellum – “American Honey” 0
  11. Kenny Chesney – “Ain’t Back Yet” -1
  12. Taylor Swift – “Fearless” -1
  13. Rascal Flatts – “Unstoppable” -1
  14. Kellie Pickler – “Didn’t Know How Much I Loved You” +1
  15. Steel Magnolia – “Keep On Lovin’ You” 0
  16. Justin Moore – “Backwoods” -1
  17. Eric Church – “Hell On The Heart” +1
  18. Joe Nichols – “Gimme That Girl” 0
  19. Alan Jackson – “It’s Just That Way” +1
  20. Chris Young – “The Man I Want To Be” 0
  21. George Strait – “I Gotta Get To You” +1
  22. Tim McGraw – “Still” +1
  23. Martina McBride – “Wrong Baby Wrong” +1
  24. Clay Walker – “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” +1
  25. The Band Perry – “Hip To My Heart” -1
  26. Reba – “I Keep On Lovin’ You” 0
  27. Love and Theft – “Dancing In Circles” +1
  28. Luke Bryan – “Rain Is A Good Thing” -1
  29. Lee Brice – “Love Like Crazy” 0
  30. Gretchen Wilson – “Work Hard, Play Harder” 0

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +4

As we continue to look further towards the present, the pulse continues to drop. Two weeks ago we looked the chart in 2005 and it was +22. Last week we looked at the chart in 2007 and it was at +10. This week we look at the chart in 2010 and it’s down to +4. Clearly the quality drops the closer we get to present day and the pre-cursors to the problems currently plaguing the genre are rearing their ugly heads. At the top of this chart is a good song, Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” Turner to this day continues to produce solid country music that appeals to the roots of the genre and country radio. We need more artists like Turner. Right behind that though is a problematic song in Billy Currington’s “That’s How Country Boys Roll.” This song being a success is what helped lead to a lot of country songs about how country they are. Then you have the ridiculous “Hillbilly Bone,” which was pretty much Trace Adkins last hurrah as he’s faded into obscurity since this hit. Also another song comparing country boys to city boys.

Easton Corbin just broke out with “A Little More Country Than That” and really got me excited about his potential at the time. Unfortunately he’s declined in quality ever since. What a shame. Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” was a nice return to her early beginnings after releasing mediocre pop country singles “Cowboy Casanova” and “Undo It.” Zac Brown Band’s “Highway 20 Ride” is one of the group’s most sentimental songs in their library. Kenny Chesney had run out of ideas at about this time in 2010 and really he’s still out of new ideas for songs. Same could be said for Rascal Flatts. Taylor Swift was in the midst of her big rise to becoming a superstar. Kellie Pickler was still on radio and I wish I had appreciated it more. Steel Magnolia doesn’t even exist anymore and one half of the duo is now “trying out” on The Voice.

Justin Moore’s “Backwoods” was terrible then and still terrible now. This song and really his music helped usher in bro-country. I need to pick a week when “Bait A Hook” is charting so I can rant about it. Eric Church wasn’t an egomaniac making pop rock yet. Joe Nichols was slowly starting to fall to the dark side. Sure “Gimme That Girl” isn’t terrible, but giving it a pass is what led to him making “Yeah” in my opinion. From 19-24 (other than Chris Young), torch bearers of country music from the 90s and 2000s were slowly fading in radio play. Love and Theft was still a trio and this single was actually not that bad. Luke Bryan’s “Rain Is A Good Thing” was his first big hit and it annoyed the absolute shit out of me. Radio played this one to death, at least in my area. This just made me hate rain even more.

So what do you think of this chart? What’s your favorite and least favorite of the above songs?