The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [December 1992]

vince_gill_-_dont_let_our_love_cd_single

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 26, 1992. In honor of my ongoing chart request archive, this week’s chart goes out to commenter jmartin103. Thanks for reading jmartin103!

  1. Vince Gill – “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” +3
  2. Alan Jackson – “She’s Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues)” +3
  3. Garth Brooks – “Somewhere Other Than The Night” 0 (Since I don’t have the CD with this song on it, I have no clue what to grade this song. Of course it isn’t anywhere on the Internet and I haven’t heard it before so it’s not going to help or hurt the Pulse)
  4. Hal Ketchum – “Sure Love” +1 [Least Good Song] (It’s just more “meh” than outright bad)
  5. Clint Black – “Burn One Down” +4
  6. George Strait – “I Cross My Heart” +2
  7. Trisha Yearwood – “Walkaway Joe” +4
  8. Brooks & Dunn – “Lost & Found” +3 (One of the few B&D songs featuring Kix on lead vocals. I haven’t checked, does Kix still have more solo songs than Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line? Dead serious)
  9. Restless Heart – “When She Cries’” +3 (Probably too pop for 1992 but still a good song)
  10. Tracy Lawrence – “Somebody Paints The Wall” +3 (The George Jones version is obviously highly recommended as well)
  11. Randy Travis – “Look Heart, No Hands” +3
  12. Lee Roy Parnell – “Love Without Mercy” +2
  13. Reba McEntire – “Take It Back” +3 (Probably being a little gracious, but it is certainly fun)
  14. Sammy Kershaw – “Anywhere But Here” +3
  15. John Michael Montgomery Gentry – “Life’s A Dance” +4 [Best Song]
  16. Ricky Van Shelton – “Wild Man” +3
  17. Doug Stone – “Too Busy Being In Love” +1
  18. Tanya Tucker – “Two Sparrows In A Hurricane” +3
  19. Alabama – “I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” +4 (It’s a damn fun song with a good message. We CAN make them!)
  20. Diamond Rio – “In A Week Or Two” +3
  21. Little Texas – “What Were You Thinking” +3
  22. Travis Tritt – “Can I Trust You With My Heart” +2
  23. Chris LeDoux – “Cadillac Ranch” +3 (There’s a lot of big names that came from the 90’s, but ironically enough Chris was one of the first artists from before 2000 I ever listened to)
  24. John Anderson – “Let Go Of The Stone” +3 (The one, two, three punch of Tritt, LeDoux, and Anderson is just awesome)
  25. Wynonna – “My Strongest Weakness” +2
  26. Confederate Railroad – “Queen Of Memphis” +2
  27. Mark Collie – “Even The Man In The Moon Is Cryin’” +3
  28. Billy Dean – “If There Hadn’t Been You” +3 (Borderline +3. The production is a little too sleepy for my tastes)
  29. Suzy Bogguss – “Drive South” +3
  30. Wynonna – “No One Else On Earth” +4 (A.K.A, the better Wynonna song here)

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +77

It’s getting a little cliché at this point, but there’s really not much else to say other than this is another great chart! A little bit of a step up from last week even if there still wasn’t a song here that outright blew me away. Even still, when you have artists like Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Randy Travis, Reba, Sammy Kershaw, John Anderson, Chris LeDoux, Wynonna and SO many more cranking out at least great songs, there’s not much to complain about.

As an additional note, I have to say that the 90’s charts are always my favorite ones to listen to and rank. Sure, it’s not perfect, but nothing really is. These charts are always highly enjoyable and bring tons of great songs that are a better representation of country music than a lot of the stuff we have today.

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [August 1996]

mudd806

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!

Derek’s Top Ten Country & Americana Songs – August 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 12.42.48 PM

August was a quietly great month for new Country and Americana music! Maybe it was just due to the fact that I didn’t know many of the albums were going to be released, except for the highly anticipated Lindi Ortega and Maddie & Tae albums. Either way, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of music released across the board this month, from Americana, to mainstream country, to Texas country, and even Canada! August also featured two albums that jumped toward the top of my favorite list as soon as I heard them. But without further ado, here are my favorite songs released over the past month:

  1. Be My Baby” – Whitney Rose (feat. Raul Malo): This song has it all. A beautiful production and two dynamic voices coming together to give a new twist on a classic song. I was a little hesitant to include a cover as my top song, but Whitney Rose and Raul Malo simply blow this track out of the water. It’s too damn good to ignore on this list.  
  2. “Someday Soon” – Lindi Ortega: This was my number one song until Rose’s album came out. The writing of how Ortega will pick herself up out of a bad relationship is great storytelling, and her vocal delivery is perfect match to it. The way the song builds over the 3 and a half minutes is a testament to Cobb’s production on this blues-inspired track.
  3. “Day One” – Pat Green: Pat Green’s Home was a rather average album overall, but “Day One” was one of the few songs that stood out as a great country song. (“While I Was Away” had been out as a single prior to the album release, so I’m not counting it here). The vocal delivery and production aren’t much to write home about, but they’re both clean and set a nice tone for the song. However, it’s the writing that helps “Day One” stand out. Green tells a story of how he plans to get over the break-up, but those plans will only work if he can make it through the painful first day without his love.
  4. “Let It Out” – Jonathan Tyler: This song was the definite standout on Holy Smokes. Tyler’s vocals are excellent on this track and songwriting on the topic is top-notch.  As Josh said in his review,The steel guitars throughout the song really help create a desperado state of mind in the listener, which fits perfectly with the theme of the song. Everything in this song simply works together well to make a great song.
  5. “Heartbreaker of the Year” – Whitney Rose: I love the simple production of this song. The guitar and bass line combined with the snaps are enough to catch your ear, but they also allow Rose’s haunting voice to shine and carry this track. “Heartbreaker of the Year” is a captivating song all around, and a highlight from the album of the same name.
  6. “Ashes” – Lindi Ortega: The opening song on Ortega’s Faded Gloryville is simply a great song. The poignant lyrics of not wanting to be forgotten by a love sting you and Ortega’s voice adds a whole new layer to that poignancy. The song builds and falls to a gentle conclusion perfectly. “Ashes” takes you on a journey and Ortega leads that journey wonderfully.
  7. “Go Down Slow” – The Statesboro Revue A heavy country song about a blue collar worker who’s long days and weeks leave him feeling burnt out. Singer Stewart Mann sings of his desire to feel anything but numb, and pleads for the booze to go down slow in order to feel the pain. It’s a powerful vocal performance aided by great country instrumentation.
  8. “Shut Up And Fish” – Maddie & Tae: What’s not to love about this song? Witty lyrics that don’t sound immature, excellent sassy vocals that compliment said lyrics, and a beautifully up tempo country production to boot. Start Here may be the best mainstream country album this year, and “Shut Up And Fish” is a great example of Maddie & Tae bringing fun into mainstream country music without losing any class or originality.
  9. “Undone” – The Statesboro Revue: The Statesboro Revue’s new album, Jukehouse Revival is an excellent Americana album with great country sounds. This blue-collar song about letting a load off after long work days is a great anthem to those who selflessly work to the bone because it’s necessary. The banjo plucks that lead the production are fantastic.
  10. “Everything Was Cool in 2002” – Jonathan Tyler: This psychedelic rock track isn’t necessarily country, I know. This closer on Tyler’s excellent Americana album is an awesome song though. Tyler creates a dreamy, airy atmosphere in a song where he reminisces of a past love. But the best part of this song is the awesome musical solos closing out the song and the album. The production quickly builds from the low-tempo to the up-tempo solo, but it fits and sounds excellent.

Honorable Mentions

  • “Half Moon” and “I Ain’t The Girl” by Lindi Ortega
  • “May the Good Times Never End” by Pat Green (feat. Delbert McClinton and Lee Roy Parnell)
  • “Smoke Break” by Carrie Underwood
  • “Complicated” by Kip Moore
  • “There’s a Tear in My Beer” by Whitney Rose
  • “After The Storm Blows Through” by Maddie & Tae

Album Review – Pat Green’s ‘Home’

Pat Green started his career as an independent artist self-releasing his first three albums. Then in 2001, Green signed with Universal Records in Nashville, which began a string of five straight top 10 albums for Green released under Universal and BNA. After 2009’s What I’m For, Green decided to move back to Texas and continue his country career through the Texas/independent scene. It’s been six years since an album of original material, but Pat Green has released his first album since leaving Nashville in Home.

The album kicks off the title track, a song about settling down back home after some time away chasing dreams. The song paints the picture of youthful naivety that life is “nothing but money and pretty girls.” However, the lyrics suggest that this song could be Green’s homecoming to Texas after nearly a decade in the Nashville side of country music. You can hear a faint fiddle mixed with a nice mid-tempo production that does a good job getting the listener excited. “Break It Back Down” explores the busy, instant gratification life of the modern-day. Green lists a range of trends in today’s world referencing Twitter, random YouTube stars, tabloids, reality TV, and the misguided notion that money is all you need to be happy. The jump is made in the chorus how he wishes for him and his baby to break it back down to just the two of them and shut the world out. While I get the sentiment Pat Green pushes for, the content varying from the verses to the chorus is too different. It’s a song that could have been better with some lyrics devoted as to how the busy world actually affects their relationship.

Pat Green is joined by Lyle Lovett to sing a pandering Texas song called “Girls from Texas.” The pair list off simile after simile of how the girls are around the nation. Take the opening stanza: “Girls from Georgia are sweeter than peaches, the ones from California are made for bathing suits and beaches. Minnesota gals sure fill out the sweater, but the girls from Texas are just a little bit better.” And that’s the song in a nutshell, simply with other states involved. When it comes to the Texas country scene, these “Texas pride” songs are just as cliché as a back road party in Nashville. “Bet Yo Mama” is more rock influenced with a heavy guitar riff carries the song throughout. Lyrically, the song deals with Pat Green telling this girl of his affection how hot the rest of her family is. Mom, sister, grandma, and aunts all get thrown in to build his theory of how good looks run in the family. I find this song to be annoying and just a bit creepy.

Pat Green strips it down with a sentimental ballad in “Right Now.” He knows that he’s not the best man in the relationship. He knows she expects more from him, and he wants to be that man she expects to see. The song acts as his declaration to change his ways for the better of the relationship. It’s a touching song made better with vocal harmonies by Sheryl Crow. While I would have liked to hear a duet between the two, Crow’s harmonies add a nice layer to the song. This is followed by Green’s current single “While I Was Away.” This song explores the relationship between a traveling musician father and his child. The chorus and the song are tied together through the heartbreaking line “the hardest part of working hard ain’t the bills I got to pay. It’s you growing up while I was away.” This poignant ballad shows the power of a country song.

The collaborations continue as Pat Green is joined by Delbert Mcclintion and Lee Roy Parnell for “May the Good Times Never End.” This upbeat, old-time rock and roll influenced song features a great harmonica and quick drum beats led by simple guitars and a keyboards. The song is simply about people enjoying life while reminiscing on the good times back in the day. Mom and Dad look happy in an old photograph, and they’re still joyous today; you can still sing along with all your favorite songs from 20 years ago. This is a fun, rocking country song. “Life Good as It Can Be” deals with the stressful monotony life can bring and changing perspective. Instead of moaning about a dead-end job, enjoy the pleasures the paycheck can bring you. The song calls for looking at the good life offers and focusing the lens on the light side. The song is accompanied by pleasant, mid-tempo production that aids in the uplifting message of the lyrics.

Pat Green sings of love in “No One Here But Us.” Green finally had his time with the girl he’s longed for. The couple took the opportunity to have their fun between the sheets, and he wants the relationship to continue. Perhaps the best part of the whole song is steel guitar in the mix of the acoustic guitars and violins. “No One Here But Us” features some excellent country instrumentation. Home picks back up with “I’ll Take This House.” This anthemic song is an ode to family and the life they’ve built. Green is more than happy with the children and work put into making the house a home. He has pride in the house and the family that lives inside.

On “I Go Back to You,” Green explores memories and the one he always turns to first. It’s the first love and the memories of that love forever stamped in his brain. To me, the song is just sort of there. It’s well-written and sung by Green, but it’s not exactly original to country music, and the instrumentation doesn’t offer anything different from what you’d expect in a song like this. However, on “Day One,” Green presents an excellent, well-written break up song. Green sings of getting over the relationship and how slowly but surely the pieces will be mended back together, but if, and only if, he can survive the first day of heartache. The song touches on the strength of getting over a tough break up while not ignoring the pain that comes from it.

The last song of the album is another collaboration, this time with Marc Broussard. “Good Night in New Orleans” is a song where the duo simply details a night out among Bourbon Street and many of New Orleans’ offerings. The song features a nice mix of country and Cajun music to fit the mood and title of the song. While it’s not the best song, it works well as an album closer. But really, I could do without it.

Overall, Home is a nice offering from Pat Green. There were a few songs that I could do without, but for the most part, the writing and the content make for enjoyable country music. Pat Green really strives in the ballad area on this album with songs like “Day One”, “While I Was Away” and “Right Now.” To me, if you drop this album down to 11 songs instead of 13, then it’s a better album. It seemed to me like there were a few filler songs on Home. But overall, Home is a good album and the kind of album you’d expect out of Texas country.

Grade 6.5/10

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [April 1993]

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? 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 April 3, 1993. This is the first time the past pulse has went back to the 90s, so the chance of our best score yet is highly possible.

  1. Clint Black – “When My Ship Comes In” +1
  2. Garth Brooks – “Learning To Live Again” +1
  3. George Strait – “Heartland” +1
  4. Mark Chesnutt – “Ol’ Country” +1
  5. Pam Tillis – “Let That Pony Run” +1
  6. Brooks & Dunn – “Hard Workin’ Man” +1
  7. Reba McEntire & Vince Gill – “The Heart Won’t Lie” +1
  8. Tanya Tucker – “It’s A Little Too Late” +1
  9. Radney Foster – “Nobody Wins” +1
  10. Billy Ray Cyrus – “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” +1
  11. Sammy Kershaw – “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” +1
  12. Tracy Lawrence – “Alibis” +1
  13. Restless Heart – “Mending Fences” +1
  14. Alan Jackson – “Tonight I Climbed The Wall” +1
  15. Hal Ketchum – “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” +1
  16. Mark Collie – “Born To Love You” +1
  17. Aaron Tippin – “My Blue Angel” +1
  18. Alabama – “Once Upon A Lifetime” +1
  19. Kathy Mattea – “Standing Knee Deep In A River (Dying of Thirst)” +1
  20. Trisha Yearwood – “You Say You Will” +1
  21. Lorrie Morgan – “What Part of No” +1
  22. Little Texas – “I’d Rather Miss You” +1
  23. Mary Chapin Carpenter – “Passionate Kisses” +1
  24. Doug Stone – “Made For Loving You” +1
  25. Lee Roy Parnell – “Tender Moment” +1
  26. Dwight Yoakam – “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” +1
  27. Neal McCoy – “Now I Pray For Rain” +1
  28. Gibson/Miller Band – “High Rollin'” +1
  29. John Michael Montgomery – “I Love The Way You Love Me” +1
  30. Dolly Parton – “Romeo” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +30

Perfect score! I knew we would find a chart with a +30 score. It was close on a couple of songs, but each song was good enough to merit a +1 from me. The songs that came close to getting a 0 were Hal Ketchum’s “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and Mark Collie’s “Born To Love You.” None of the songs came I considered giving a -1. Last week we looked at March 2004 and I considered a +15 pretty good. But this point in time in country music was truly great. It’s really hard to choose my favorites from all of these. There’s a lot of variety too, with several female artists on it. Garth Brooks wasn’t starting to put out corny songs yet either. Can radio go back to these kinds of songs please?

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?