The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 2006]

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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 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!

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2007]

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 3, 2007.

  1. George Strait – “It Just Comes Natural” +1
  2. Rodney Atkins – “Watching You” +1
  3. Trace Adkins – “Ladies Love Country Boys” -1
  4. Keith Urban – “Stupid Boy” 0
  5. Jason Michael Carroll – “Alyssa Lies” +1
  6. Kenny Chesney – “Beer in Mexico” 0
  7. Martina McBride – “Anyway” 0
  8. Craig Morgan – “Little Bit Of Life” -1
  9. Tim McGraw – “Last Dollar (Fly Away)” +1
  10. Carrie Underwood – “Wasted” +1
  11. Joe Nichols – “I’ll Wait For You” +1
  12. Sugarland – “Settlin'” -1
  13. Rascal Flatts – “Stand” -1
  14. Sara Evans – “You’ll Always Be My Baby” +1
  15. Dierks Bentley – “Long Trip Alone” +1
  16. Brooks & Dunn – “Hillbilly Deluxe” -1
  17. Gary Allan – “A Feelin’ Like That” +1
  18. Toby Keith – “High Maintenance Woman” -1
  19. Jack Ingram – “Lips of an Angel” -1
  20. Alan Jackson – “A Woman’s Love” +1
  21. Billy Currington – “Good Directions” +1
  22. Clay Walker – “‘Fore She Was Mama” -1
  23. Josh Turner – “Me And God” +1
  24. Blake Shelton – “Don’t Make Me” +1
  25. Emerson Drive – “Moments” +1
  26. Tracy Lawrence – “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” +1
  27. Jake Owen – “Startin’ With Me” +1
  28. Josh Gracin – “I Keep Coming Back” 0
  29. Pat Green – “Dixie Lullaby” +1
  30. Danielle Peck – “Isn’t That Everything” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +10

This is quite an interesting score. It’s positive, but only +9 better than the current pulse and down 10 compared to last week’s past pulse. Keep in mind this is about two years after last week’s. At the very top is King George Strait where he belongs. Not one of my favorite songs from him, but a good song nonetheless. Trace Adkins was riding high off his popularity from “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” which helped propel “Ladies Love Country Boys” to the top of the chart. To me this song is a prime example of a precursor to bro country. Other songs I would consider precursors to current country trends are Craig Morgan’s “Little Bit of Life” (repetitive lyrics), Brooks & Dunn’s “Hillbilly Deluxe” (the tropes in this song are similar to Brantley Gilbert songs) and Jack Ingram’s “Lips of an Angel” (covering a popular song from another genre to gain attention).

One song I hated back in 2007 and still hate now is Clay Walker’s “‘Fore She Was Mama.” Now I enjoyed Walker’s work in the 90s, but I absolutely hate this song. The lyrics and theme of this song are annoying and dumb. This exercise also continues to prove that Toby Keith made terrible music across several years and has been a menace to country radio for pretty much the last decade. If you’re reading this Keith, please retire. I know you have enough money and you’re only doing it because you know your fan base will continue to buy your music no matter how bad it gets. You are beyond an embarrassment and need to retire for everyone’s sake.

Only four female artists made the top 30 at this time in 2007, compared to six female artists on the current chart. So the female problem on country radio was starting to rear its head back in 2007. The current country radio environment is technically better for female artists today compared to eight years ago. That’s actually surprising. Carrie Underwood is the only one to occupy both the 2007 chart and current chart. Also am I the only one who wishes Sara Evans was still on the radio? I find her to be underrated.

Before you ask me in the comments and I know you will, you’re going to wonder why I gave that McGraw song a +1. Well I gave it a positive score because it’s a funny song and if you don’t take it too seriously you can enjoy it. You have to remember this song is being sung from the point of view of a man-child who can’t grow up when all of his friends are growing up. Joe Nichols was still one of the “good guys.” I miss those days. Come home Joe! Blake Shelton was still one of the good guys too. Damn you corporate bastards in Nashville. I always thought Tracy Lawrence’s “Find Out Who Your Friend Are” to be an underrated song with a really good message. The music video is good also.

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