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

Rascal Flatts

Wait a minute I thought we already did the current pulse of mainstream country music? Indeed we did. This is different. Reader Scotty J made the excellent suggestion to take a look back at the country airplay chart of year’s past to compare the differences to the current chart. Here’s how it would work:

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 February 26, 2005.

  1. Rascal Flatts – “Bless The Broken Road” +1
  2. Keith Urban – “You’re My Better Half” +1
  3. Brad Paisley – “Mud On The Tires” +1
  4. Josh Gracin – “Nothin’ To Lose” +1
  5. Alan Jackson – “Monday Morning Church” +1
  6. LeeAnn Rimes – “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense” 0
  7. Craig Morgan – “That’s What I Love About Sunday” 0
  8. Sugarland – “Baby Girl” +1
  9. Reba McEntire – “He Gets That From Me” +1
  10. Billy Dean – “Let Them Be Little” +1
  11. Blake Shelton – “Some Beach” +1
  12. Montgomery Gentry – “Gone” +1
  13. Brooks & Dunn – “It’s Getting Better All The Time” +1
  14. Kenny Chesney – “Anything But Mine” 0
  15. Lee Ann Womack – “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” +1
  16. Jo Dee Messina – “My Give A Damn’s Busted” +1
  17. Andy Griggs – “If Heaven” 0
  18. Toby Keith – “Honky Tonk U” -1
  19. Joe Nichols – “What’s A Guy Gotta Do” +1
  20. Jamie O’Neal – “Trying To Find Atlantis” +1
  21. Gretchen Wilson – “What I Think About Cheatin'” +1
  22. Martina McBride – “God’s Will” +1
  23. Trace Adkins – “Songs About Me” +1
  24. Blaine Larsen – “How Do You Get That Lonely” +1
  25. Tim McGraw – “Drugs or Jesus” +1
  26. Terri Clark – “The World Needs A Drink” +1
  27. Jeff Bates – “Long Slow Kisses” +1
  28. Phil Vassar – “I’ll Take That As A Yes (The Hot Tub Song)” 0
  29. Miranda Lambert – “Me and Charlie Talking” 0
  30. Lonestar – “Class Reunion (That Used To Be Us)” 0

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +21

What a night and day difference! As you can see country music was waaaaaaaaaay better 10 years ago compared to now. A 25 point difference to be exact. Listening to these songs was like a trip down memory lane. The songs I had forgotten about I immediately remembered once they started playing. Rascal Flatts was at the top of the charts and the song didn’t stink! Isn’t that amazing? Alan Jackson was in the top five, where he belonged. I forgot how much I loved “Monday Morning Church” and it was definitely one of my favorites from 2005.

There were a total of nine female country artists on the chart in 2005! For comparison to the current chart, it only has five female country artists and three of them are paired with a male artist. Needless to say female country artists had much more airtime in 2005. There are also nine artists currently charting in the top 60 Country Airplay chart that were also charting in the top 30 in 2005. Toby Keith has the only negative song on the chart in “Honky Tonk U.” So Keith was the worst artist on radio in 2005. Today he’s only like the 10th worst artist on the radio.

I did not remember Billy Dean, Jamie O’Neal, Blaine Larsen and Jeff Bates at all on radio. But then I remembered them after hearing their songs. Larsen’s “How Do You Get That Lonely” really stood out to me. You would never hear such a sad and depressing song like this on radio today. I wonder what happened to him? This was a great song and his voice was great too. I didn’t remember Terri Clark’s “The World Needs A Drink,” but now I want to listen to it more. It’s just a fun country song.

So what do you think of this chart? Do you want this to be a weekly feature on the site? Be sure to let me know in the comments! 

Review – Mickey Guyton’s “Better Than You Left Me”

If you read my Jason Aldean Old Boots, New Dirt album review, you could tell I was pretty frustrated towards the end of it. You see after a month or so of reviewing mediocre albums from mainstream country music, this tends to make you a little cranky. July and August brought so much great country music from a variety of artists and ever since September has started the good country music has been few and far between, with the big exceptions being Keeley Valentino and Lee Ann Womack of course. It’s been a pattern lately that female country artists have been making better music than male artists (we got the great male artists earlier in the year with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Eady, Matt Woods and others). That pattern continues with today’s review of Mickey Guyton’s new single “Better Than You Left Me.”

Who exactly is Mickey Guyton? Well she’s actually with a mainstream country label. You wouldn’t know this though because they never push her on radio or anywhere really. She’s the only solo female country artist at Capitol Records Nashville (sister label EMI Nashville has Kelleigh Bannen). She’s surrounded by big names like Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum, so it’s no big surprise. But based off her new single, I would put her as one of the best on the label right beside Bentley and Jon Pardi (the rest I don’t care for). After listening to so much bad music from mainstream country, it was a breath of fresh air to hear Guyton (thank you Windmills Country for bringing Guyton to my attention).

“Better Than You Left Me” starts off with the sound of a mandolin and guitar. The song is about a woman who’s ex left her and as time has passed she has grown into a better person since ending the relationship, much to the surprise of the ex. Even though she was heartbroken when the relationship ended, she realizes she is better off without him now. Despite attempts by the ex to win her heart back, she isn’t falling for his tactics. The songwriting is pretty good for this song, painting a picture of the situation in the listeners’ heads and showing the emotion of the woman in the situation. Guyton co-wrote the song with Nathan Chapman, Jennifer Hanson and Jenn Schott (props to Windmills Country for this information too).

You’ll notice right away that Guyton has a dynamic and powerful voice. On her website she says she grew up listening to and credits Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston and LeeAnn Rimes as her influences. She was also into gospel music and started singing gospel in church at the age of five. This makes a lot of sense after hearing her new single because I certainly heard Parton influencing her voice with the way she carries her high notes. With the exception of Carrie Underwood, I would say Guyton has the most powerful voice in mainstream country music. You could pretty much throw any song at Guyton and I think she would have no problem singing it.

My only complaint with Guyton is why she hasn’t been pushed for radio or an album sooner. Mainstream country music is desperate for more great female country artists, especially with the departure of Taylor Swift to pop. This single is getting a push on radio soon and I hope that she gets a fair chance to capture listeners’ attentions. Guyton deserves to be on radio with her great talents. “Better Than You Left Me” comes with a high recommendation from this reviewer and I’m intrigued to hear her new album when it’s released.

Grade: 9/10

For a limited time you can get Guyton’s “Better Than You Left Me” for free via her website. You can find that by clicking here.