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Pop Goes Country – A Cover Song Report Card

November 15, 2011 Ben Foster 40

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.

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Someone Like You

September 1, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 25

I didn’t expect much.

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.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 10

May 18, 2011 Dan Milliken 22

Today’s category is…

A Relaxing Song.

Here are the staff picks:

Dan Milliken: “Can’t Go Back Now” – The Weepies

This husband-wife duo’s sound is mega-soothing, the perfect match for a song which gently nudges the listener to persevere through reality’s burdens and chores. When I need relaxation, it’s usually because I’ve stopped feeling like I can. This one helps me realign.

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400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #75-#51

August 20, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 42

As might be expected, the subject matters are getting more intense as we edge closer to the top. But there’s still room for some carefree moments here, thanks to the Dixie Chicks and Jo Dee Messina.

400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #75-#51

When You Say Nothing at All
Alison Krauss & Union Station
1995 | Peak: #3


This Keith Whitley classic was recorded as part of a tribute album to the late country star. It became a hit all over again, perhaps because Krauss performed it in a near-whisper. The quiet arrangement matches the sentiment beautifully. – Kevin Coyne

Tracy Lawrence
1993 | Peak: #1


Lawrence dishes on his ex’s cheating ways to her new potential lover. How did she get that way? He reveals that he’s the one who taught her everything she knows from the cheater’s playbook. Moreover, he seems regretful of her corruption. – Leeann Ward

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400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #250-#226

July 23, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 22

A lot of songs from both ends of the charts here, including a husband-and-wife duet that spent six weeks at #1.

400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #250-#226

I Meant Every Word He Said
Ricky Van Shelton
1990 | Peak: #2


At least the third song on this list about a guy mulling over romantic gestures he wishes he’d made to his former love, and the most traditional among those songs. You could easily imagine this one being a minor classic by a 60’s or 70’s legend, so close is its replication of that style. – Dan Milliken

I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying
Toby Keith with Sting
1997 | Peak: #2


My hard-and-fast rule for Toby Keith: The sadder he is, the happier the listening experience tends to be. He’s all kinds of sad in this snapshot of post-divorce melancholia, reflecting on everything from unfair custody protocol to the greater motions of the universe. Even a gratuitous Sting cameo can’t detract from the single’s gloomy grandeur. – DM

You Ain’t Much Fun
Toby Keith
1995 | Peak: #2


Toby Keith is also funny, though. What’s a man to do? Sobering up ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be from is perspective. Ever since he’s done so, his wife has been taking advantage of his increased functionality by giving him honey-do lists that he wasn’t ably tackling pre-sobriety. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. – Leeann Ward

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 8: #60-#41

December 22, 2009 Dan Milliken 21

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 8: #60-#41

“Long Trip Alone”
Dierks Bentley
Peak: #10

In a perfect world, this would be this decade’s wedding standard. – Kevin Coyne

“Your Man”
Josh Turner
Peak: #1

Lush baritone against an effortlessly charismatic, enticing invitation to let Turner be “your man.” How can you resist? – Tara Seetharam

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 7: #80-#61

December 21, 2009 Dan Milliken 17

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 7: #80-#61


“When Somebody Loves You”
Alan Jackson
Peak: #5

A treasure of a love song. Contrasted stunningly with modest accompaniment and vocals, the song’s message is that of love’s sublime ability to transform one’s life and bring light to dark. – Tara Seetharam

“Separate Ways”
Rick Trevino
Peak: #59

“Separate Ways” is an instructive narrative of a couple who did everything together, but “the last thing they did together was go their separate ways.” Fortunately, the song’s narrator learns from his parents’ divorce and wisely applies its valuable lesson to his own relationship. – Leeann Ward

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-81

December 19, 2009 Dan Milliken 18

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-81

100 Alison Krauss Lonely

Alison Krauss & Union Station
Peak: #36

A shimmering moment of infatuation. Krauss is entangled in thoughts of her beloved, torn between the exhilaration of liking someone so intensely and the ache of not actually having the person. – Dan Milliken

99 Shania Come On Over

I’m Holdin’ On to Love (To Save My Life)
Shania Twain
Peak: #4

A terribly catchy slice of country-pop that, true to Twain, doesn’t sacrifice authenticity for appeal – Twain simply embodies the snappy energy that pulses through the song. – Tara Seetharam

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The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 9: #20-#11

December 9, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 32

The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 9

20 Nickel

Nickel Creek, This Side

With Alison Krauss still in the producer’s chair, This Side begins to drift away from the more pure bluegrass feel of Nickel Creek’s debut album. Containing deliciously funky grooves and even tighter musicianship among the trio, Nickel Creek further proves their inimitable creativity and talent on their sophomore project that ultimately secures their popularity among progressive bluegrass fans and perhaps a few unsuspecting traditionalists along the way as well. – Leeann Ward

Recommended Tracks: “Spit on A Stranger”, “I Should’ve Known Better”, “This Side”, “Sabra Girl”

19 Leeann

Lee Ann Womack, There’s More Where That Came From

It wasn’t quite the radical return to traditional country music that the album cover and subsequent marketing implied, but There’s More Where That Came From had more going for it than twin fiddles and steel, anyway: the strongest collection of songs that Womack had ever assembled. For those who went beyond the album’s one hit and two subsequent singles, the treasures were bountiful, including a cover of “Just Someone I Used to Know” hidden at the end of the disc. – Kevin Coyne

Recommended Tracks: “One’s a Couple”, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”, “The Last Time”, “Stubborn (Psalm 151)”

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