Craig Morgan

CU10: What a Turkey! The Worst Singles of the Last Ten Years

November 27, 2014 // 14 Comments

Country Universe has reviewed more than a thousand singles during its ten year run.  Some of them have been real turkeys.  Here are some of the worst, with highlights and links to the original reviews. “Party Like Cowboyz” Big & Rich Reviewed on December 12, 2012 “Yes, from the opening cry of ‘Come on, cowboys and cowgirls, it’s time to par-tay!’ to the stupid ‘Z’ slapped onto the end of the title, this is just bad, bad, bad.” – Ben Foster

Single Review: Little Big Town, "Pontoon"

April 29, 2012 // 12 Comments

This new Little Big Town single sounds cool. Surprise? Nah – they always sounded cool with Wayne Kirkpatrick producing, and new helmsman Jay Joyce brings the same quirky groove-sense he brought to Eric Church’s Chief. It’s a good sonic match.

Album Review: Joe Nichols, It’s All Good

November 21, 2011 // 2 Comments

Joe Nichols
It’s All Good

It’s impossible to review an album titled It’s All Good without indulging in a few witty remarks. Such a title tends to beg the question of whether or not the album really is “all good.” The vocals are all good, to be sure. Joe Nichols has already proven himself to be one of mainstream country music’s best male vocalists, and on his newest effort, his performances do not disappoint. The production, likewise, is consistently solid. Producers Mark Wright and Buddy Cannon back Nichols with arrangements that sound easily accessible and radio-friendly, while laced with traditional country trimmings of fiddle and steel, and it certainly is enjoyable to hear country music that is sonically recognizable as such.

Classic Country Singles: Randy Travis, “Three Wooden Crosses”

April 17, 2011 // 8 Comments

Three Wooden Crosses
Randy Travis
2002

Written by Doug Johnson and Kim Williams

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, the antiseptic depictions of faith that have dominated contemporary Christian music began to seep in to country music.

This perception created records both good (“Jesus, Take the Wheel”) and bad (“The Little Girl”), but most of them were bland, adding going to church on Sunday or praying as just one of the token traits of southern life, no more or less significant than the fried chicken or football game that followed the morning services.

Single Review: Chris Young, “Tomorrow”

March 30, 2011 // 18 Comments

How to put it? I would listen to this man sing about IBS. I would listen to him sing a long-form denunciation of my inherent value as a human being – possibly my mother’s and little sister’s, too. Chris Young’s baritone is like the aural incarnation of warm fuzzies, and most everything it touches/fuzzes goes down easy – even those lame, creaky-hinged Music Row assembly songs scattered across Young’s first two albums.

So, granted: This single was probably going to sound all sexy-cool no matter what. Happily, though, we can all enjoy with a little less cognitive dissonance this time, because “Tomorrow” makes a serious play at substance. Young is finally a radio star now, and he’s using his powers to inject some actual psychological complication back into the format.

Nashville Scene: 11th Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll

January 27, 2011 // 14 Comments

The 11th Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll has just been published by Nashville Scene. It covers the 2010 year of country music. The participants of the poll consists of country music critics who spend their time listening to and analyzing stacks of music throughout the year in order to knowledgeably write about it for the purpose of either promoting excellent music or warning against the not so good stuff. Kevin, Dan and Tara are among these prestigious critics.

Each year, invited critics submit their ballots with their favorite music and artists in the appropriate categories. The poll includes the best albums, singles, male and female artists, reissues, live acts, duos and groups, songwriters, new acts, and the over all artists of the year. While the results include the usual suspects, they are mixed with some surprises or names that aren’t commonly associated with mainstream country.

Some of my favorite results include Raul Malo tied at #8 with Gary Allan for top males and Elizabeth Cook at #2 for top females, not to mention Sunny Sweeney’s “From A Table Away” landing at the #3 spot for singles. The most amusing result, however, is Jamey Johnson and Taylor Swift in the top two spots for songwriters.

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 5: #120-#101

December 18, 2009 // 44 Comments

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 5: #120-#101

120 Keith Urban Be Here

#120
“Tonight I Wanna Cry”
Keith Urban
2005
Peak: #2

A chillingly frank portrait of loneliness, awkward reference to “All By Myself” notwithstanding. Few mainstream vocalists today could pull off something this intense. – Dan Milliken

119 Loretta Van Lear Rose

#119
“Portland, Oregon”
Loretta Lynn with Jack White
2004
Peak: Did not chart

If you can take a healthy dose of dirty rock ‘n’ roll in your country, this is one of the coolest-sounding records of the decade, a classic one-night-stand duet. That it’s a very cross-generational pairing singing it would be creepy if not for the goofy smiles shining through Lynn’s and White’s performances. – DM

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121

December 16, 2009 // 27 Comments

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121

140 Bon Jovi Nice Day

#140
“Who Says You Can’t Go Home”
Bon Jovi featuring Jennifer Nettles
2005
Peak: #1

Packed as country music has been lately with rocked-up little singalongs, perhaps it was only natural that one of the leading bands in rocked-up little singalongs should cross over for a bit to show everybody how it’s done. It was newcomer Nettles, though, who stole this show, driving Bon Jovi’s ditty home with an infectiously joyful performance. – Dan Milliken

139 Johnny Cash V

#139
“God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
Johnny Cash
2006
Peak: Did not chart

The arrangement is cool enough, but it’s Cash’s stoic, slicing vocal performance that makes his version of this song so memorable. – Tara Seetharam

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