A stretch of the list that has caused enough saltiness on my part to put Morton’s out of business. – KJC
Mark Chesnutt, “It’s a Little Too Late”
#1 | 1996
JK: So, I fully co-sign Kevin’s list below– and, of those, “Brother Jukebox” or “I’ll Think of Somethin’” would be my pick to replace this one– but I will say this is the only one of Chesnutt’s hits that I’ve heard get any recurrent play since about 2010. So Wrong (This Song)
ZK: Another fun ’90s cut that doesn’t belong anywhere near the top half, even though I’d have a few Chesnutt songs here. They really thought this was his best song and that “Too Cold at Home” only barely belonged here? Not All That Wrong, Really – Just (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: The most notable thing about this single? That a pre-stardom Lee Ann Womack appears in the video. This is their highest-ranking Chesnutt single, and only “Too Cold at Home,” their lowest-ranking, warranted inclusion. Okay, fine. “Bubba Shot the Jukebox,” too. Here’s an incomplete list of some of the Chesnutt songs that should’ve been on here instead: “Brother Jukebox,” “Old Flames Have New Names,” “I’ll Think of Something,” “It Sure is Monday,” “Almost Goodbye,” “I Just Wanted You to Know,” “Trouble,” “It Wouldn’t Hurt to Have Wings,” “Wrong Place, Wrong Time,” “Thank God For Believers,” “It’s Not Over,” “The Lord Loves the Drinkin’ Man,” “Hard Secret to Keep,”…So Wrong (This Song)
Willie Nelson, “Georgia On My Mind”
#1 | 1978
ZK: I suppose it wouldn’t have technically counted – I say, not knowing what the hell the criteria was for this list – but I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Ray Charles version here. Hell, I would have preferred it. But I like how lonesome Nelson’s version is too, though. Fantastic song. Too Low
KJC: A beautiful rendition of a song best immortalized by Ray Charles, as Zack notes above. Too High
JK: I’d have included both Nelson’s and Charles’ versions of this song on a list like this. I’d have Charles’ ranked hereabouts and Willie’s back just a bit. Too High
Jason Aldean, “Amarillo Sky”
#4 | 2006
KJC: Back when this was released, it was an encouraging sign of promise that not only wasn’t realized, but was completely squandered. I mean, artistically, at least. Dude did end up Entertainer of the Decade. Too High
JK: Probably his best single, and one I’d describe as competent rather than legitimately good, and I’d have it listed back in the first 100 entries or so on principle. Too High
ZK: Back when he wasn’t just the worst, and back when he actually emoted well instead of doing that weird, oddly moody thing he does now that’s not nearly as dark or convincing as he thinks it is. If we have to have a few of his cuts, this and “The Truth” belong. That’s good enough. Too High
Shania Twain, “You’re Still the One”
#1 | 1998
JK: Her official crossover to the pop market, though one certainly doesn’t move the number of copies The Woman In Me had already sold before this hit without having already courted that demo. It has to be here on impact, but I’d have it ranked well below “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” and “No One Needs to Know,” both of which we’ve already covered. Too High
ZK: Well, it aged like milk. Still, it’s a rare moment in Twain’s discography that emphasized her underrated vocals. Put it several hundred spots lower and call it a day, I guess. Too High
KJC: For many years, No Fences was the top-selling country album of all time. All four of its singles are on this list, and three of them are higher than this, with one topping the list overall.
Come On Over not only supplanted No Fences as the top-selling country album of all time, but it is also the top-selling album ever by a female artist of any genre, both domestically and worldwide.
Twelve singles pulled from it in total. Eleven sent to domestic country radio. Eight of them top were top ten hits. Three went to #1.
Yet the highest representation of this landmark album is “You’re Still the One.” Let me first dispense with the idea that historical significance is the only reason I’d rank this higher. As an actual record, it is flawless, the ultimate proof of concept for “Mutt” Lange’s approach of making records with a pop structure and country instrumentation. If this album had sold less than The Woman in Me, I’d still be clamoring for this particular record to be much higher.
But I can’t think of any example – not even “Jolene” – that better demonstrates this list’s dismissal of female artists than the biggest country album of all time being only represented with three tracks, with the highest being #317. Two of the most impactful hits from the album – “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “From This Moment On” – aren’t on the list at all, nor is “Love Gets Me Every Time,” which spent five weeks at #1.
The pop crossover argument doesn’t fly with me. More than half of the top twenty on this list were crossover hits, and there’s a top five entry by another female crossover star that is only that high because of a massive pop cover cementing its legacy. Notably, of course, most of those crossover hits toward the top are by male artists.
This ranking is a flat-out insult, and representative of the casual dismissal of legendary female artists that Sirius has demonstrated along the way, with C-list bro country acts getting more entries than the most significant female artists of all time.
So, yeah. Too Low
Rodney Atkins, “Watching You”
#1 | 2006
ZK: Poor Rodney Atkins. He’s like the Nickelback of country music – his material isn’t as bad as you remember, but nightmares from radio overplay of yesterday say otherwise. It’s twee in a way where I wouldn’t probably have it on my own list, but cute enough to not get me that bothered about it. Still, we can probably stick with “If You’re Going Through Hell” and leave it at that. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: The sheer earnestness of this song, combined with the chicken nuggets reference and the contrast between swearing and praying, has always endeared it to me. I prefer it over the rest of the singles from that one big album that he had. But I’d still say it’s way Too High.
JK: I definitely appreciate the comparison, but I’d still argue Nickelback was that bad, though. But I fully agree that “If You’re Going Through Hell” is plenty for Atkins’ representation. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Keith Whitley, “Don’t Close Your Eyes”
#1 | 1988
KJC: Whitley is under-represented on the list, and this should be a bit higher. But the real travesty for me remains “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” being in the 700s. But, yeah. Too Low
JK: Probably my favorite vocal performance from Whitley, ranked shamefully Too Low.
ZK: Three singles from a short-lived career and it still doesn’t feel like enough. Couldn’t they have gotten the placements right, at least? Too Low
Waylon Jennings, “I’ve Always Been Crazy”
#1 | 1978
JK: It’s not necessarily his best single by any stretch, but it’s one of my favorite Jennings hits. That said, I’d drop it back a good 200 or 300 spots. Too High
ZK: Always loved that hook. Not an essential Jennings cut and a little by-the-numbers for the era, but I like it. I’d easily replace it with “Dreaming My Dreams with You,” though, and bump that one several slots higher. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: I love the Carlene Carter cover of this Jennings song that is mid-level Waylon. Too High
Kenny Chesney, “Save it For a Rainy Day”
#4 | 2015
ZK: Even on a rainy day, I’m probably going with Gary Allan’s “Songs About Rain.” So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: This list’s rainy day fund has way too much Chesney in it. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Just completely forgettable, and he has like seventy more entries on this list than he should. I’m so tired of seeing his name pop up, especially since we already covered the only songs of his worth a damn ages ago. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Johnny Cash, “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”
#1 | 1959
KJC: An excellent story song that is worthy of inclusion, but a bit Too High
JK: One of his songs that, for whatever reason, rarely gets talked about as being among his best. I’ve always dug it, and its inclusion at all is a pleasant surprise. Still, I think this is a bit Too High.
ZK: Mama tried to raise him better, which leaves only Bill to blame for being a nincompoop. I love this seemingly underrated Cash tune. About Right
Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton, “We’ve Got Tonight”
#1 | 1983
JK: Look, I’ll go to bat for “Strut” and “Morning Train (9 to 5)” as much as any other 80s kid ought to, but Sheena Easton having an entry on this list when Suzy Bogguss and Lari White and so many others don’t? And ranked ahead of Rogers’ own “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town?” I cannot with you today, Sirius XM. Too High
ZK: Campy as hell, but earnest as hell, too. Overblown, sugary goodness of a cover from my least favorite time period in country music (next to the early ’60s) that I wouldn’t have ever thought to put here, but might now have in the lower tier if I was making my own list. How did they make this work?!? Too High
KJC: Hey, a Bob Seger cover with a British reality show winner that made better music with Prince than with Kenny Rogers. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)