The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [January 2009]


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.

Eric Paslay Proves He’s The Real Deal: A Live Concert Review

Eric Paslay

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see Eric Paslay perform at a nearby local fair and since I enjoyed his debut album for the most part, I decided to attend. The opening act for Paslay was The Lost Trailers, who had a couple of minor hits on radio in the last ten years. Some of you might recognize their song, “Holler Back.” This was actually my very first concert I’ve attended, which is probably shocking to hear. But I live in an area where there isn’t a lot of concerts that are conveniently close nor a lot of the artists I would pay money to see perform come by often. It was an experience where I learned a few things about country music and is something that’ll definitely affect my reviews from here on out. Here are some of the things I learned:

1. The Lost Trailers Fell Off Radio For A Reason – Before the show began music played over the loud-speaker as we waited for The Lost Trailers to take the stage. It was classic country music playing from artists like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. If you follow me on Twitter, I pointed out how some people were confused by this music. Well these same people didn’t look confused when The Lost Trailers took the stage for their first song. What was the song? Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here.” Talk about complete opposites. My ears wanted to murder me for having to listen to this crap. Overall The Lost Trailers mostly performed bro country hits from radio, a Garth Brooks song, some classic country and only three of their own songs. Maybe losing their lead singer Jason Wyatt earlier this year has shaken this band up and caused for them to sound worse. I don’t know, but all I know is they sounded absolutely horrible. The instrumentation and production were so loud I could barely hear them singing. One of the lead singers kept bouncing around the stage and yelling for people to get their hands up. Is this a country band or a karaoke band? My brother, who likes bro country, even thought they sounded bad. The crowd, who seemed to also like bro country judging from the conversations I overheard before the show, seemed to like bro country too and even they barely made any noise. Speaking of bro country…

2. Bro country Sucks Even Worse Live – This seems like a no-brainer to you. But you cannot imagine the feeling of listening to such horrible music like bro country until you hear it live. It got so bad at one point during The Lost Trailers’ performance that I almost got up and left. Luckily they got slightly less annoying as their performance progressed. Two of their better performances were Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” and their closing song, “Holler Back.” I should also note they didn’t just butcher bro country even worse. They managed to make Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” sound even worse than Florida Georgia Line’s version of the song. It was that bad. Bro country on the radio is bad. Wannabe bro country is really bad. At least Luke Bryan has a good voice when he sings garbage songs. I never want to hear The Lost Trailers perform another song again.

3. Eric Paslay Is The Real Deal – Now I want to talk about the positive experience I had at the concert. As bad as The Lost Trailers were, that’s how great Eric Paslay performed. The night and day difference between both ends of the spectrum in country music was clearly evident. Not only was the music better from Paslay, but the crowd was a lot louder and more into his performance. And Paslay nor his band needed to tell the crowd to get up because the crowd was into his performance from the very first song. Paslay performed all of the songs from his debut album. The best song from the album, “She Don’t Love You,” sounded just as great live as it sounds on the album. Before the song he also talked about making the album sound like real life and you can tell how much thought goes behind his music.


4. Paslay Makes Bad Songs Sound Not So Bad – Paslay also performed songs he wrote for other artists too. Among those songs are Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” Lady Antebellum’s “Friday Night” (he does his own version too on the album) and Rascal Flatts’ “Rewind.” I hate all of these songs, yet Paslay and his band were so great that I couldn’t loathe them. Does that make them great songs? No. But Paslay and his band prove how talented they are by making bad songs sound not so bad. Plus these songs are what helped Paslay land his record deal and he isn’t the first artist to take this route to getting a record deal. Remember Jamey Johnson helped write “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” If you notice that other than “Friday Night” and “Song About A Girl” (which isn’t that bad), the rest of his album is true country songs with some substance. Paslay also performed Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” U2’s “With or Without You” and another song he wrote that has yet to be released “Amarillo Rain.” He sounded great on all of these songs. Kudos to his band too who did great and really seem to enjoy their jobs. They showed a lot of passion and heart, which shined through in the music. This kind of performance cemented my respect for Paslay and his band.

Eric Paslay 2

If you ever get a chance to see Eric Paslay perform live it’s worth your money. He’s one of the few in mainstream country music who actually understands the genre and crafts genuinely good music. I would definitely recommend checking out his debut album too. Paslay is one to watch in the coming years because the sky is the limit for him if he chooses to continue to make quality country music.