Josh’s Jukebox Journal — Country Hits: 2006

Once upon a time there was a popular feature on this blog called The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music and it’s sister feature The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music. It was an enjoyable feature for both you and I, before I decided to take a hiatus from blogging. My own enjoyment of the feature had waned, but I’ve wanted to return to a feature like this ever since.

Kyle over at Kyle’s Korner Blog took over the torch for The Current Pulse and is doing a fantastic job with it, so please go check it out if you haven’t done so. But I was wanting to do a Past Pulse. Unfortunately as I’ve discovered, Billboard has become greedy and decided to lock past charts behind a paywall. Quite an asinine decision in my view. So with this stupid decision by Billboard, I obviously can’t do The Past Pulse. But that sent me down the idea rabbit hole and I got to thinking how I could re-adapt the Past Pulse into something new. Combined with another feature idea I had been tinkering with, I’ve come up with Josh’s Jukebox Journal.

Josh’s Jukebox Journal is a brand new feature on the blog that will be similar to The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music, but with a twist. Rather than rely on past charts from Billboard instead I will look at playlists. This could be from any genre, from any year, past or present, various artists or just one artist. I will run through the playlist giving a thumbs up (let it play), shrug (essentially playlist filler) or a thumbs down (skip it). The best song will get two thumbs up and the worst will get two thumbs down. At the end I will give a grade for the quality of the playlist. These playlists can come from any of the streaming services (preferably Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube).

This feature won’t have a set day or time of when it releases. It will essentially be when I want to do one. And of course I want to hear playlist ideas for future versions of Josh’s Jukebox Journal in the comments! Today I will take a look at the Apple Music playlist Country Hits: 2006…

    • Rodney Atkins – “If You’re Going Through Hell” 👎
    • Rascal Flatts – “What Hurts the Most”🤷
    • Josh Turner – “Your Man” 👍
    • Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take the Wheel” 👍
    • Jennifer Nettles & Bon Jovi – “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”🤷
    • Brad Paisley – “When I Get Where I’m Going (feat. Dolly Parton)” 👍
    • Jason Aldean – “Why”🤷
    • Kenny Chesney – “Summertime”🤷
    • Phil Vassar – “Last Day of My Life” 👍
    • LeAnn Rimes – “Something’s Gotta Give”🤷
    • George Strait – “She Let Herself Go”🤷
    • Jack Ingram – “Wherever You Are” 👍
    • The Wreckers – “Leave the Pieces” 👍
    • Kenny Chesney – “Living In Fast Forward” 👍
    • Brad Paisley – “The World” 👍
    • Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats” 👍
    • Trace Adkins – “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” 👎👎
    • Rascal Flatts – “My Wish (10th Anniversary)” 👎
    • Blake Shelton – “Nobody But Me” 👍
    • Dierks Bentley – “Settle for a Slowdown” 👍👍
    • Steve Holy – “Brand New Girlfriend” 👍
    • Josh Turner – “Would You Go With Me” 👍
    • Little Big Town – “Bring It On Home” 👍
    • Sugarland – “Want To” 👍
    • Toby Keith – “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” 👎

Thumbs up: 15
Shrugs: 6
Thumbs down: 4

Grade: 7/10

This is a pretty solid playlist (until you see a lot of the songs missing I list below that I would have added and then you’re going to get angry like me). I was actually a little surprised, but then as I listened to it more not so much because I remember every single one of these songs vividly. I was 14/15 years old when these songs were popular and this was when my brother and I would watch the CMT music video countdown show every week. So I definitely got some nostalgia running through this playlist. And I can’t get over how much mandolin was allowed on country radio back then!

So many great songs to choose from for the best. Josh Turner was absolutely on fire during this time. I really enjoyed Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley’s material at that time too. Underwood of course just released her debut album and it’s arguably still her best record. Paisley helped Dolly get another hit and that’s always great. But I had to go with Dierks Bentley’s “Settle For a Slowdown” from the excellent Modern Day Drifter album. The ominous and dark atmosphere created by the guitars and the descriptive lyricism that so perfectly lays out the longing heartbreak taking place in the song made me choose it as best.

Not a lot of bad songs to choose from on this playlist, which is nice of course. I enjoyed all of Rodney Atkins biggest hits at first, including the one above, but thank country radio and grocery stores for overplaying them to the point I cringe when I hear them. I don’t mind Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish,” but for some bizarre reason they put a flat and bad 10th anniversary version on this playlist. Long-time readers know how I feel about post-9/11 Toby Keith. But picking Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” as the worst was a slam dunk choice. This song was everywhere, well rather the remix version, which I’m surprised isn’t what was chosen for this playlist. It’s an annoying novelty song that will only age worse with time. (That I’ll also admit that teenager me loved at the time)

Songs I Would Have Added to the Playlist

  • Billy Currington – “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” (Currington was so good during this time and his omission is bad)
  • Dierks Bentley – “Every Mile a Memory”
  • Brooks & Dunn – “Believe”
  • Little Big Town – “Boondocks” (A cult classic!)
  • George Strait – “Give It Away” (How in the hell was this not on the playlist, yet the sleepy Strait hit was chosen?!?)
  • Emerson Drive – “A Good Man”
  • Eric Church – “How ‘Bout You” (Not a single Church song on the playlist is criminal!)
  • Kenny Rogers – “I Can’t Unlove You” (Rest in peace Mr. Rogers. Also people forget this was a top 20 song for him in 2006 and definitely worthy of this playlist)
  • Gary Allan – “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” (Why was this not on the playlist either?!)
  • Alan Jackson – “Like Red on a Rose” (I’m just getting more angry at what was not on this playlist)
  • Jack Ingram – “Love You”
  • Van Zant – “Nobody Gonna Tell Me What to Do”
  • Eric Church – “Two Pink Lines” (Incredible song!)
  • Keith Urban – “Once in a Lifetime”
  • George Strait – “The Seashores of Old Mexico”
  • Joe Nichols – “Size Matters (Someday)”
  • Tim McGraw – “When the Stars Go Blue” (Not a single McGraw song on the playlist, especially not this one?! Come on)
  • Billy Currington – “Why, Why, Why”
  • Jake Owen – “Yee Haw”
  • Kenny Chesney – “You Save Me” (Take the two songs he has on the playlist and replace them with just this one, his best hit of the year)

Be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts on the playlist and what you would have added to the playlist too below!

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

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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 December 24th, 2005.

  1. Dierks Bentley – “Come A Little Closer” +2
  2. Kenny Chesney – “Who You’d Be Today” +3
  3. Joe Nichols – “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” -1 (sorry, this is way too corny for me)
  4. Garth Brooks – “Good Ride Cowboy” +3 (I don’t think Chris LeDoux would want to see the current pulse of mainstream country music…)
  5. Billy Currington – “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” 0 (more boring than anything else)
  6. Toby Keith – “Big Blue Note” -2
  7. George Strait – “She Let Herself Go” +3
  8. Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take The Wheel” +2
  9.  Faith Hill – “Like We Never Loved At All” +2
  10. Trace Adkins – “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” -4 [Worst Song]
  11. Little Big Town – “Boondocks” +3
  12. Keith Urban – “Better Life” +2
  13. Chris Cagle – “Miss Me Baby” +3
  14. Gary Allan – “Best I Ever Had” +4
  15. Tim McGraw – “My Old Friend” +4
  16. Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton – “When I Get Where I’m Going” +5 [Best Song]
  17. Sugarland – “Just Might (Make Me Believe) +3
  18. Josh Turner – “Your Man” 0
  19. Montgomery Gentry – “She Don’t Tell Me To” 0
  20. Keith Urban – “Tonight I Wanna Cry” +3
  21. Brooks & Dunn – “Believe” +4
  22. Gretchen Wilson – “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today” +3
  23. Big & Rich – “Comin’ To Your City” -3 (props for the Buffalo reference, but that’s it)
  24. Sara Evans – “Cheatin'”+3
  25. Miranda  Lambert – “Kerosene” +3
  26. Martina McBride – “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” +2 (Wasn’t sure what to grade this one. I think the original Lynn Anderson version is overall better but Martina does good vocally here).
  27. Jamey Johnson – “The Dollar” +4
  28. Blake Shelton – “Nobody But Me” +3
  29. Terri Clark – “She Didn’t Have Time” +3
  30. Van Zant – “Nobody Gona Tell Me What To Do” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +58

Pretty good chart this week! Sure, there’s a couple awful songs here but overall, there’s some pretty good stuff here. The middle of the chart in particular features some truly excellent songs. Of course, that’s only my take on it. What do you guys think?

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!

A Trip Back In Time: What Was Country Music Like in 2005? (Part One)

At the beginning of my Ray Scott review, I mentioned the first time I came across him was on a Totally Country album. It was Totally Country Volume 5 to be exact and it was released in February 2006, so it was music that popular in 2005. There was actually one more Totally Country album released after volume five, which I also own. I owned four at one point too, but I lost it along the way. Anyway the reason I wanted to go back and look at this greatest hits type CD from nine years ago is to see how different country music sounded then compared to now. Let’s take a trip back in time and see what it was like in 2005-2006 country music.

The album begins with Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene,” her first hit single and the song that launched her career. It was later certified platinum. While this song does have a traditional country sound, this would be the base for pretty much the majority of Lambert’s hit songs. A song about a woman who found her man cheating or doing something wrong, with veiled threats from the woman or in this case a blatant threat. I really don’t like the violent undertones in these type of songs, as they’ve pretty much become cliché with Lambert. Nonetheless I would take this song over some of her more recent material.

The second song on the album is Gretchen Wilson’s “Homewrecker.” Once again it’s another female country song about cheating and veiled threats. While Wilson is pretty traditional with her music, this song in particular annoyed me because it was overplayed so much on radio. Yes at one point I was annoyed by a song by a female being played too much on the radio. Things have definitely changed in nine years on country radio. Wilson has disappeared from country radio, although she’s still signed with Big Machine and Scott Borchetta.

Up next is a fresh-faced Dierks Bentley’s third ever single, “How Am I Doin’.” This song reached #4 on the country chart and it was his third top 20 hit. Bentley was still a newcomer at this time, but he was well on his way with this great start to his career. Today he’s one of the biggest stars in country music and most of the time is making great country music. Even his most annoying hit, “Drunk on a Plane,” isn’t as bad as the worst songs in the genre today. If only the G6 line was removed from the song, I would’ve maybe liked it. Anyway “How Am I Doin'” is an upbeat heartbreak song and it’s the type of song I would love to have back on country radio. But alas there are no tailgates.

This is followed by a song I’m sure most country fans are familiar with, Big & Rich’s “Comin’ To Your City.” This was another song that was killed by being overplayed on the radio. But disregarding that this song isn’t that bad. It’s a fun song that isn’t offensive to the ears lyrically or thematically. As I said in my recent Big & Rich review, I have no problem with the duo. Sara Evan’s “Suds in the Bucket” is up next, a pop country song I don’t mind. This was one of the handful of songs that reached #1 for Evans. This came during her peak years of her career, from the early 2000s to the mid 2000s. Just like Gretchen Wilson and other female country artists, she has been swept aside by country radio. I hate you bro country.

Now the next artists on this album you may have forgotten about. It’s Van Zant and their biggest hit, “Help Somebody.” Do you remember these guys? To refresh your memory, the duo is made up of brothers Donnie and Johnny Van Zant. Their brother is the late Ronnie Van Zant, the former lead singer in Lynyrd Skynyrd. The duo started out in southern rock, just like Lynyrd Skynyrd, but shifted to country music in the mid-2000s. They signed with a major label, Columbia Records, and they put themselves on the map with their first single, “Help Somebody.” It would be the biggest and only top ten hit for the duo. This was followed up with “Nobody Gonna Tell Me What To Do,” which peaked at #16 on the country chart. After this the group slowly faded out from mainstream country music and I completely forgot about them until I came across this CD. They’re still active today, but haven’t released an album since 2007.

 

I’m sorry I have to bring up this song now, but if I have to hear it again you’re going to have to hear it again also. Cowboy Troy’s “I Play Chicken With The Train” was one of the first hick-hop songs to rear its head in the mainstream country scene. That’s because of his association with the MuzikMafia, headed up of course by Big & Rich. The duo sings the chorus of this song and this is not one of their better moments in their career. Now I know Big & Rich weren’t being serious when they introduced hick-hop into their songs and it was meant to be a joke. Unfortunately there were people who heard this and thought this should be turned into a serious thing. Now hick-hop is common in country music. Thanks a lot John and Kenny! You should have known Nashville loves these type of horrible ideas. I’m not placing whole blame on the duo, but they certainly shoulder some of it and it’s a reason why some people can’t listen to their music. Listen if you dare:

 

Montgomery Gentry’s “You Do Your Thing” is next. This was back when the group still actually made decent country music with southern rock influence. In fact this duo was quite popular during this time and received regular airplay throughout the 2000s. This song is about minding your own business and doing what you want. A simple, but good message. Fast forward to today and you can tell this group is a shell of its former self. They released a song called “Titty’s Beer” a few years ago and that was when I lost all respect for them. I’m not going to link that monstrosity of a song because I don’t hate my readers.

The next two songs on this album are Craig Morgan’s “Redneck Yacht Club” and Keith Anderson’s “XXL.” These are the two songs that made me buy this album. Yes, I know what you’re saying to yourself. “What the hell, Josh?” In my defense I was a teenager and the lyrics for these songs appeal to teenagers. I’m sure you’re not proud of your music tastes when you were younger too. That’s one of the good parts of growing up. You grow out of immature lyrics and terrible songs, moving onto the grown up music. Both “Redneck Yacht Club” and “XXL” were the forerunners and templates for bro country today. Novelty sounding songs with checklist lyrics that appeal to the lowest form of thought. These were big hits for both artists and neither are relevant today. I call that a win. Someday we’ll be able to say the same of bro country artists today.

 

This is part one of the article. Check back next Thursday for part two!