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 Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [January 2009]

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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. While I did wish to go back even further in time with our past pulse, I unfortunately ran into time constraints. Therefore, we will look at a more recent time in country music history. This week I will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from January 3rd, 2009.

  1. Rascal Flatts – “Here” 0
  2. Montgomery Gentry – “Roll With Me” +3
  3. Sugarland – “Already Gone” +3
  4. Zac Brown Band – “Chicken Fried” 0 (At least it launched their career and showed they had better songs. Oh wait, hello “Beautiful Drug”…)
  5. Brad Paisley & Keith Urban – “Start A Band” +3
  6. Alan Jackson – “Country Boy” -1 (I hate giving Alan a negative score but fair is fair)
  7. Billy Currington – “Don’t” -2 (For country. As a whole, I actually somewhat like this)
  8. Dierks Bentley – “Feel That Fire” 0
  9. Jamey Johnson – “In Color” +5 [Best Song]
  10. Blake Shelton – “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” +3 (One of the last songs I would grade as a positive for Blake)
  11. Toby Keith – “God Love Her” +3 
  12. Keith Urban – “Sweet Thing” -3 [Worst Song]
  13. Kenny Chesney & Mac McAnally – “Down The Road” +4
  14. Brooks & Dunn – “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” +2 (Was I the only one who liked this?)
  15. Lady Antebellum – “Lookin’ For A Good Time” -2
  16. George Strait – “River Of Love” +2 (See Brooks & Dunn)
  17. Randy Houser – “Anything Goes” +4 (Now he’s talking about kicking up dust in the mud or some shit like that)
  18. Pat Green – “Let Me” 0
  19. Taylor Swift – “White Horse” +3 (Prepare the pitchforks folks. I’m ready.)
  20. Darius Rucker – “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” +3
  21. Lee Ann Womack – “Last Call” +3
  22. Jake Owen – “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” +1 (Docking points for not being overtly country, although I do like this)
  23. Jack Ingram – “That’s A Man” 0 (Too cliché)
  24. Miranda Lambert – “More Like Her” +2
  25. Josh Turner – “Everything Is Fine” +3
  26. Martina McBride – “Ride” 0
  27. Rodney Atkins – “It’s America” 0
  28. Jimmy Wayne – “I Will” -1
  29. Gary Allan – “She’s So California” 0
  30. Eli Young Band – “Always The Love Songs” +1

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +39

Not a bad chart at all. In fact, quite a lot of good stuff here. Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Josh Turner, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, and George Strait were all still on the radio and we actually have a +5 song with “In Color.” Perhaps I’m being a bit generous with that top score but I truly do think it deserves it. Even the worst song here (“Sweet Thing”) would still only be one of the worst on the modern-day charts instead of the lowest we could go. All in all, a solid top thirty.

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 [January 2009]

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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 January 31, 2009.

Note: In the wake of the news of Joey Feek’s death, I switched my original plan of doing a chart from 1986, and instead picked the chart which carries their first hit, “Cheater, Cheater.” Rest in peace Joey, and thank you for reminding us all of what strength truly is.

  1. Alan Jackson – “Country Boy” -1 (probably the only one of his songs that I’d give this designation to)
  2. Brad Paisley & Keith Urban – “Start A Band” +1
  3. Blake Shelton – “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” +1 (Probably the last song of his that I would give this distinction to)
  4. Billy Currington – “Don’t” 0 (I actually really like this song, but it isn’t country)
  5. Dierks Bentley – “Feel That Fire” 0
  6. Toby Keith – “God Love Her” +1
  7. Kenny Chesney & Mac McAnally – “Down The Road” +1
  8. Keith Urban – “Sweet Thing” -1 (Guilty pleasure division, but I can acknowledge that this is a lightweight, fluffy pop song)
  9. Brooks & Dunn & Reba McEntire – “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” +1
  10. Sugarland – “Already Gone” +1
  11. Rascal Flatts – “Here” 0
  12. George Strait – “River Of Love” +1
  13. Taylor Swift – “White Horse” +1
  14. Darius Rucker – “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” +1
  15. Pat Green – “Let Me” +1
  16. Lee Ann Womack – “Last Call” +1
  17. Jake Owen – “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” +1
  18. Rodney Atkins – “It’s America” 0
  19. Jack Ingram – “That’s A Man” +1
  20. Miranda Lambert – “More Like Her” +1
  21. Martina McBride – “Ride” 0
  22. Josh Turner – “Everything Is Fine” +1 [Best Song]
  23. Jimmy Wayne – “I Will” 0
  24. Tim McGraw – “Nothin’ To Die For” +1
  25. Jason Aldean – “She’s Country” -1 [Worst Song]
  26. Eli Young Band – “Always The Love Songs” +1
  27. Gary Allan – “She’s So California” 0
  28. Lost Trailers – “How ‘Bout You Don’t” +1
  29. Trace Adkins – “Marry For Money” +1 (It’s so corny that it’s kind of good….)
  30. Joey + Rory – “Cheater, Cheater” +1

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +17

Wow! Our best score yet of doing this! 2009 is a year that brings some nostalgia for me, so there may or may not be a bit of bias playing into here. Anyway, plenty of good songs from the likes of George Strait, Miranda Lambert and heck even Taylor Swift had a pretty good song out during this time. My favorite one here is probably Josh Turner’s “Everything Is Fine,” mainly because I really like the message of enjoying the little things in life and taking moments to enjoy what you have. Plus, Lee Ann Womack was also on the charts during this time too! And of course, Joey + Rory had their highest charting single during this time with “Cheater, Cheater,” a song which is also one of the best ones on here.

And really there isn’t a lot of bad songs here either. Unfortunately, Alan Jackson had probably the worst song of his entire career during this time with “Country Boy,” and trust me it really pained me to give him the -1. But even at Alan’s worst, he’s still better than a lot of other people out there. Case in point, Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country,” the tune which started the nosedive of Jason’s career. It was an overproduced rock mess that had embarrassing lyrics. Far and away the worst thing offered here.

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!


 

[Editor’s Note from Josh] I felt this was the appropriate place to let everyone know that Zack informed us this past week that due to some unforeseen personal issues that he is stepping away from writing at Country Perspective indefinitely. Derek and myself thank him for all of the work he has done in the short time he’s wrote for Country Perspective and that he has an open invitation to come back and write anytime. We wish him the absolute best! Zack most definitely appreciates all of the love you have given him too with his reviews and bringing this feature back to life. We hope he is able to come back and write again soon.

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!

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

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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