Daily Top Five: First Favorites

kenny-rogers-gamblerToday, we kick off a new feature: Daily Top Five.  Every day, one of our writers will post their top five picks for a given category, and invite readers to share their own lists in the comments.   This idea was ripped off from inspired by the film Top Five.

Since this is the first entry, today’s topic is First Favorites – your top five songs that got you into country music.

For me:

  1. John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
  2. Reba McEntire, “For My Broken Heart”
  3. Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
  4. Pam Tillis, “Maybe it Was Memphis”
  5. Dwight Yoakam, “It Only Hurts When I Cry”

What’s your top five?

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Single Review: George Strait, “Let it Go”

George Strait Let it Go

“Let it Go”
George Strait

Written by Keith Gattis, Bubba Strait, and George Strait

George Strait is country music’s Frank Sinatra.

What he does looks effortless and spawns countless imitators, but none of them can actually replicate what makes him special.

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Single Review: Thomas Rhett, “Crash and Burn”

Thomas Rhett Crash and Burn

“Crash and Burn”
Thomas Rhett

Written by Jesse Frasure and Chris Stapleton

Thomas Rhett’s new single has backup vocals blatantly ripped off from the Sam Cooke classic,  “Chain Gang.”

I repeat:  Thomas Rhett’s new single has backup vocals blatantly ripped off from the Sam Cooke classic,  “Chain Gang.”

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Single Review: Sunny Sweeney with Will Hoge, “My Bed”

Sunny Sweeney Will Hoge My Bed

“My Bed”
Sunny Sweeney with Will Hoge

Written By Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, and Sunny Sweeney

Both Sunny Sweeney and Will Hoge have flirted briefly with mainstream success: Sweeney cracked the top 10 at radio with “From a Table Away,” while Eli Young Band scored a major hit with their cover of Hoge’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” A slow-burning ballad that chronicles the dissolution of a relationship between actual adults, “My Bed” is, unfortunately, too far out-of-step with the culture at country radio for the pair of singer-songwriters to make any new inroads there. But it’s a measured, mature single that deserves a wider audience.

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Single Review: Robert Earl Keen, “Hot Corn, Cold Corn”

Robert earl Keen Happy Prisoner

“Hot Corn, Cold Corn”
Robert Earl Keen

Written By Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

Robert Earl Keen has spent the past three decades as one of the most venerated singer-songwriters in country music, particularly within the Texas Country community. His latest album, Happy Prisoner, is a departure from Keen not because of his decision to dabble in Bluegrass music— his material has always skewed in a folk-leaning, acoustic direction— but because it’s an entire album of cover songs, and he’s known for his sharply-observed originals. Fortunately, there’s no faulting Keen’s taste in material, and the album’s first single is a cover of “Hot Corn, Cold Corn,” a Flatt & Scruggs tune that has become a Bluegrass standard.

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Single Review: David Fanning, “Doin’ Country Right”

David Fanning Doin' Country Right

“Doin’ Country Right”
David Fanning

Written by Heather Morgan, Josh Osborne, and Jimmy Robbins

Seems safe to bet that the irony of this single’s title is lost on everyone involved in inflicting it upon a genre that keeps finding ever-more horrifying ways to embarrass itself.

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Single Review: Joe Nichols, “Hard to Be Cool”

Joe Nichols Hard to Be Cool

“Hard to Be Cool”
Joe Nichols

Written by Rob Hatch and Jason Sellers

I’m always rooting for Joe Nichols. He’s got a smooth twang, two qualities that usually don’t go together.  He’s made some solid music over the years, too.

What gets him in trouble is his strange tendency toward songs that walk the line between clever and corny. He seems to be drawn to songs that come up with an interesting concept, but never get around to building a compelling song around it.

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Single Review: Terri Clark, “I Cheated on You”

Terri Clark Some Songs

“I Cheated on You”
Terri Clark

Written by Brent Anderson, Brandy Clark, and Forrest Whitehead

“I Cheated on You” is likely to be the best country single of 2015 that barely gets heard south of the Canadian border.

Terri Clark’s latest single is perfectly structured, has an edge that can come only with maturity, and tells such an obvious country cheating tale that it’s amazing that it’s never been told this way before.

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Single Review: Blake Shelton, “Sangria”

Blake Shelton Sangria

“Sangria”
Blake Shelton

Written by J.T. Harding, Josh Osborne, and Trevor Rosen

This is Shelton’s best single an a good long while.

It’s smooth and seductive, without sounding overly coy or even the least bit tacky. The Sangria angle is used well both literally and figuratively, and the lyrics are creative enough that they don’t run the concept into the ground.

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Single Review: Jason Aldean, “Tonight Looks Good on You”

Jason Aldean Tonight Looks Good On You

“Tonight Looks Good on You”
Jason Aldean

Written by Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, and Ashley Gorley

Great artists start trends, and when everybody else is catching up to what they started, they’ve already moved on to something fresh.

Jason Aldean is not a great artist.

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