December 28, 2008
Gone are the days where this would just be called the Country Universe’s Top Singles of 2008. The collective tastes of our writers makes for more distinguished lists, but thankfully, there’s still a place for my personal favorites. Here are the twenty singles of 2008 that I enjoyed the most.
#20: Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney, “Every Other Weekend”
A welcome return to domestic themes, which have often provided McEntire with her best work. This plays out the like the epilogue to “Somebody Should Leave.”
#19: Sara Evans, “Low”
Triumph in the face of adversity, as the surrounding negative energy is rejected in favor of a positive and determined move toward the future. Plus, it’s a little bluegrassy, which just sounds cool.
#18: Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt”
Even Conway Twitty wasn’t so good at slipping in mature themes so skillfully. There are children across the country bopping along to this one without a clue about how she ended up wearing that shirt.
#17: Josh Turner featuring Trisha Yearwood, “Another Try”
Turner’s unsure vocal reveals emotion for a moment, then pulls back, then reveals a little bit of it again. He’s hoping for one more chance, but it doesn’t sound like he’s convinced himself that he’ll truly “hang on for dear life” next time.
#16: Tim McGraw, “Let it Go”
Letting go of the past doesn’t mean that you forget your mistakes. Rather, you resolve to learn from them without letting them dictate your future.
#15: Sarah Buxton, “Space”
With a vocal reminiscent of Rebecca Lynn Howard’s “Forgive”, Buxton allows her fleeing lover his self-inflicted wound, but makes sure to turn the knife as he goes.
#14: Jewel, “Stronger Woman”
Intelligent female writing returns to country radio, if only for a flickering moment.
#13: Donna Fargo, “We Can Do Better in America”
A beautiful bookend to “You Can’t Be a Beacon (If Your Light Don’t Shine)”, with her challenge to Americans the same as that classic hit’s challenge to Christians: live by a higher standard, and others will follow.
#12: Keith Anderson, “I Still Miss You”
You can’t hide from a memory, especially when that person is never coming back and they took part of your identity with them.
#11: Brad Paisley, “Waitin’ on a Woman”
A beautiful love story that turns a sexist stereotype on its head, as waiting on a woman is transformed from an annoyance to an honor and a privilege.
#10: Randy Houser, “Anything Goes”
The Ghost of Ronnie Dunn Past is gloriously resurrected, giving country music something to look forward to in the future.
#9: Eddy Arnold, “To Life”
The musical equivalent of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech at Yankee Stadium.
#8: Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
Moody, somber, quietly bitter. Womack at her best.
#7: Crystal Shawanda, “You Can Let Go”
A parent must let go for the child to even know they’re ready to go it alone. But in the end, it is the child who must let go, and pretend that they’re ready. The choke in Shawanda’s vocal during the final verse reveals the lie.
#6: Del McCoury Band, “Moneyland”
If the news media captured the truth as vividly as Del McCoury does here, the entire country would take to the streets.
#5: LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”
Her finest moment.
#4: Carrie Underwood, “Just a Dream”
The suffocating pain of a nightmare reality, where you will yourself to wake up from a hard truth your mind cannot accept.
#3: Sugarland, “Already Gone”
Where life’s journey is our feet madly dashing to keep up with our fast-moving heart.
#2: Randy Travis, “Dig Two Graves”
Two decades after releasing the perfect wedding song, Travis returns with the perfect anniversary song. Forever and ever? Amen.
#1: Trisha Yearwood, “This is Me You’re Talking To”
Category: Best of 2008
Tags: Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Crystal Shawanda, Del McCoury Band, Donna Fargo, Eddy Arnold, Jewel, Josh Turner, Keith Anderson, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Randy Houser, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, Sarah Buxton, Sugarland, Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood
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