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 [October 2004]

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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 October 30th, 2004 (I asked last week if there were any charts you wanted to see, so this week is dedicated to reader and commenter Scotty J. Thanks for reading Scotty!)

  1. George Strait – “I Hate Everything” +4 (Yep, I’ve been there…)
  2. Sara Evans – “Suds In The Bucket” +3
  3. Phil Vassar – “In A Real Love” +2
  4. Brooks & Dunn – “That’s What It’s All About” +2 (Was sad to find out this wasn’t about the hokey-pokey…)
  5. Toby Keith – “Stays In Mexico” -2 (what the hell?)
  6. Gary Allan – “Nothing On But The Radio” 0
  7. Keith Urban – “Days Go By” +2
  8. Lonestar – “Mr. Mom” -2
  9. Kenny Chesney – “The Woman With You” +3
  10. Joe Nichols – “If Nobody Believed In You” +4 [Best Song] (Remember when Joe actually cared about the music?)
  11. Rascal Flatts – “Feels Like Today” +1
  12. Gretchen Wilson – “Here For The Party” -2
  13. Dierks Bentley – “How Am I Doin'” +3 (a little arrogant in its delivery but eh, it works for me)
  14. Tim McGraw – “Back When” +3
  15. Trace Adkins – “Rough & Ready” -1 (Holding back from any more demerits since I feel like this is intended to be viewed as stupid. I don’t really know about the grade for this…)
  16. Blake Shelton – “Some Beach” +3
  17. Shania Twain & Mark Currington – “Party For Two” -3 [Worst Song] (Doesn’t matter who she does this song with. It still isn’t good)
  18. Darryl Worley – “Awful, Beautiful Life” +3
  19. SheDaisy – “Come Home Soon” +3 (A little boring but still pretty good)
  20. Lee Ann Rimes – “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense” +2 (By no means a LAR fan, but this isn’t bad)
  21. Alan Jackson – “Too Much Of A Good Thing” +1 (Just average really)
  22. Montgomery Gentry – “You Do Your Thing” -1 (I actually really like the darker atmosphere of this one. The lyrics and melody not so much.)
  23. Reba McEntire – “Het Gets That From Me” +3
  24. Jimmy Buffett & Martina McBride – “Trip Around The Sun” +2
  25. Brad Paisley – “Mud On The Tires” +2 (Back before bro-country made songs like this damn near insufferable)
  26. Travis Tritt & John Mellencamp – “What Say You” +2
  27. Big & Rich – “Holy Water” +4
  28. Josh Gracin – “Nothin’ To Lose” +2
  29. Alan Jackson – “Monday Morning Church” +4
  30. Pat Green – “Don’t Break My Heart Again” +2 (I’d probably like this more if his voice didn’t annoy me somewhat)

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +49

Again, another good chart this week. I have to tell you, I had a tough time awarding the best song this week. Joe, Big & Rich, and Alan all were extremely close. I was familiar with a lot of the songs on this chart so it was even a trip down memory lane for me!

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 Hodgepodge: Community Chat and Q&A

I’m embarrassed to say, but I have no muse or ideas for a Hodgepodge this week. I look at mainstream country, radio in particular, and it’s the same old rehashed mess that’s been around for a while. Americana continues to be home to great albums worth checking out. Nothing has really popped up in the past week to comment on.

The news of Zac Brown’s presence at a Palm Beach drug bust was swept under the rug rather quickly. Perhaps more fallout or news may surface in the near future, but for now it looks like Zac got nothing more than 15 minutes in the shameful spotlight. The star-struck police tried to keep him out of it, and Zac responded via social media admitting he was there, but only for a short time before the raid occurred.

All in all, this has just been kind of a dud week. There’s a couple local Red Dirt music events on the horizon in town that I hope I can attend and comment on in the future, and I’m planning my next historical snapshot piece. So I hope that in the coming weeks I can bring some good posts for you all to read and enjoy. But for this week, I’ll leave it open for discussion and entertain any questions you may want to ask.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Sundy Best will release a live album tomorrow called It’s So Good Live. The 24 song project was recorded live at concert in Louisville.
  • Martina McBride‘s Reckless will be released on April 29.
  • Lonestar will also release a new album on April 29 called Never Enders.
  • Zac Brown Band‘s “Castaway” will go for radio adds on April 25.
  • Chris Stapleton‘s next single “Parachute,” officially goes for adds on May 2.
  • The Honeycutters will be releasing a new album on May 20 titled On The Ropes.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Golden Ring” Tammy Wynette and George Jones. When it comes to duets in country music, Tammy Wynette and George Jones are a marquee pairing, not to mention that they’re both great vocalists. This 1976 duet may be their most famous duet, and also hit number one on the charts.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


PJ Harvey’s The Hope Six Demolition Project. English rocker PJ Harvey gets quite political with her ninth studio album. While the lyrics may be off-putting to those who either don’t agree with her message or don’t care for politics in music in general, Harvey’s excellent folk rock music style is still ever-present on this album. Overall, PJ Harvey is an underrated musician, and I’d suggest listening to any of her music.

Tweet of the Week

Perhaps they’ll be a day when the good ol’ boys club of country radio is broken for another all female top 5.

An iTunes Review for a Bad EP

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This past week, I made the unfortunate discover of Elizabeth Lyons’ song “Luke Bryan.” Yes, she sings a song about her love for Luke Bryan. It actually exists. In fact, she has an entire EP full of songs for immature teenage girls with titles like “Girls Like Shoes, Bags, & Boys.” It’s like a clone of RaeLynn. I’m all for more women on the country charts, but we need Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves, not Elizabeth Lyons or RaeLynn.

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 [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!