It’s gotten to the point that I can’t listen to more than two country singles in a row without wanting to hurt somebody. So here’s the daily top five. What are some songs that are your palate cleansers, that you can always go back to when you need to wipe out the aftertaste of some really bad music? Here’s my list: Alison Krauss & Union Station, “The Lucky One” Rosanne Cash with Johnny Cash, “September When it Comes” Kathy Mattea, “Where’ve You Been” Jason Isbell, “Elephant” Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill, “How Great Thou Art”
Alison Krauss & Union Station
Some cover songs pale in comparison to previous incarnations. Other attempts may come across as competent but disposable. But every now and then, a cover song comes along that just might rival or even replace the original in my listening rotation. What are your top five cover songs that you like better than the original? Here’s my list: 1. Dixie Chicks, “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac) 2. Linda Ronstadt, “Blue Bayou” (Roy Orbison) 3. Alison Krauss & Union Station, “When You Say Nothing At All” (Keith Whitley) 4. Jo Dee Messina, “Lesson in Leavin’” (Dottie West) 5. Pam Tillis, “When You Walk in the Room” (Jackie DeShannon)
Eight years ago, we posted our second edition of Hall Worthy, a list of significant country music figures who we felt were most deserving of being in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Since then, a lot has changed. First and foremost, more than half of the list is now in the Hall of Fame (or, at least, headed there later this year.) An additional entry, Wanda Jackson, is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
A bigger change came in 2009, when new categories were introduced to ensure that two artist inductees would be represented from different eras: The Modern Era (20-44 years of national prominence), and the Veterans Era (45+ years of national prominence.) There are also three more categories that rotate, meaning one from each category gets in every third year: Non-Performer, Songwriter, and Recording and/or Touring Musician.
Finally, since that list was published, our readership has grown tremendously and is incredibly well-versed on country music, past and present. So in this new and now annual edition of Hall Worthy, we are going to run down the list of the most successful artists that are eligible but have yet to make it into the Hall of Fame, in the order of “Hall Worthiness.”
The Modern Era:
Scoring his first hit in 1990 with “Here in the Real World”, Alan Jackson is the most successful country artist that isn’t currently in the Hall of Fame. His storied career has included 25 #1 hits and 49 visits to the top ten. He’s won a slew of awards over the years, including many for his songwriting. He is the most traditionalist of all of the nineties superstars, but has managed to stay relevant regardless of how pop the genre went over the past quarter century, selling more than forty million albums in the U.S. alone. He should be the next inductee for the Modern Era.
11:33 Ben: I had a blast. Big thanks to Dan for doing a bang-up job leading the live blog, and thanks to everyone who partipated in the comments. See y’all at ACM season!
11:32 Tara: Thanks for hanging out, y’all! Tonight’s show kind of grew on me, with its surprising focus on the music (how quaint). And lest we forget: when Adele wins, we all win.
11:27 Dan: And we close the show with a spirited “Carry that Weight” with Paul McCartney, The Boss, Dave Grohl, and a bunch of guitar dudes I’m ashamed to say I don’t recognize. Slow night, but some really nice moments!
Whenever we get new music from Alison Krauss & Union Station, there are two things we can generally count on: stellar musicianship, and pure, naturally beautiful vocals. Still, one variable is whether or not the music builds on the group’s tried-and-true musical formula of modern-bluegrass-meets-adult-pop, and moves it forward such that the approach does come across as merely business-as-usual. Last year’s set Paper Airplane contained the usual goods, but suffered to some extent from what one might call the plodding midsection syndrome – a cluster of competent but not particularly memorable tracks bookended by moments of brilliance.
The countdown continues to continue. Scroll down to the bottom to hear samples of each song and to share your comments!
Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Three: #20-#11
Joey + Rory
Individual Rankings: #6 – Sam; #15 – Leeann; #17 – Ben
Joey Feek is not a woman to be trifled with. Blow off a day with her to go fishing with your buddies, and be prepared for a holdout that would make the recent NBA lockout look like a bathroom break. Along with a steel guitar-centric, pure country sound, the song’s humor doesn’t wear thin after repeated listenings. (Are you paying attention, Brad “Camouflage” Paisley?) – Sam Gazdziak
Of course, it’s not just the Americana acts that can’t get radio play these days. Even top-selling albums by Scotty McCreery and Alison Krauss & Union Station weren’t embraced.
Country Universe editors and contributors each submitted a list of their ten favorite albums of 2011. 31 different albums were included on our lists, and over the next two days, we’ll share with you our collective top twenty.
Top Twenty Albums of 2011, Part One: #20-#11
Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail
His tenure with the Punch Brothers and his winning of the first annual “Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass” in 2010 both earned Noam Pikelny the clout to release Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, his second solo album and first since 2004. Joined by an all-star roster of fellow pickers, Pikelny’s mostly instrumental set is a showcase both for its lead artist’s extraordinary technical skills and for the banjo’s wide-ranging potential. – Jonathan Keefe
Cover songs can be a hot topic at just about any given time. We recently got to hear a somewhat underwhelming OneRepublic cover by Faith Hill, which Kevin recently reviewed. Other recent attempts include Sara Evans’ pop-country reworking of Rod Stewart’s “My Heart Can’t Tell You No,” as well as last year’s polarizing Beyoncé cover by Reba McEntire.
Since cover songs are so much fun to talk about, I thought I’d weigh in on a few well-known cover songs from the past few years – the good ones, as well as a few that we would rather forget. My criteria is simple: A good cover song should bring something new to the table, and the song should be treated in a way that is well-suited to the artist as well as the genre. This list focuses specifically on country covers of non-country songs.
I’ve had the Adele album for a good bit now, and “Someone Like You” is my favorite track on it. I’d already heard how the song shot to #1 in the U.K. after she performed it on the Brit Awards.
I checked out that performance, and thought it was good. Not great, but good.