Gone are the days where this would just be called the Country Universe’s Top Singles of 2008. The collective tastes of our writers makes for more distinguished lists, but thankfully, there’s still a place for my personal favorites. Here are the twenty singles of 2008 that I enjoyed the most. #20: Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney, “Every Other Weekend” A welcome return to domestic themes, which have often provided McEntire with her best work. This plays out the like the epilogue to “Somebody Should Leave.” #19: Sara Evans, “Low” Triumph in the face of adversity, as the surrounding negative energy is rejected in favor of a positive and determined move toward the future. Plus, it’s a little bluegrassy, which just sounds cool. #18: Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt” Even Conway Twitty wasn’t so good at slipping in mature themes so skillfully. There are children across the country Read More
Brenda Lee and the singing cowboy, Gene Autry, are among the seven artists selected as Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipients this year. They will be honored during a special ceremony on Feb. 7, with additional recognition at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards show on Feb. 8. Dean Martin and The Four Tops are also among those awarded for their artistry and overall contributions to the music industry. Country music has been represented by Willie Nelson (2000), Eddy Arnold (2005) and Merle Haggard (2006) in recent years.
The list continues today with the next ten entries, a collection of hits, could’ve been hits and should’ve been hits. Adventurous radio programmers, take note. #30 Little Big Town, “Fine Line” There’s a fine line between imitation and tribute, and Little Big Town lands on the proper side of the balance. Karen Fairchild steps forward on this flashback to ’70s SoCal country-rock, and her biting, expressive performance matches perfectly with an admonishment of a distant lover. Very fine, indeed. – BB #29 Willie Nelson, “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” This ridiculous but fun single just sounds like a Willie Nelson song. While it’s a 2008 single, it sounds as though it could have been recorded at the height of Nelson’s career. Moreover, Willie’s voice sounds as strong as ever here. – LW #28 The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs & Ashley Monroe, “Old Enough” A thrilling, organic collaboration that sounds Read More
Marty Robbins Legendary Performances Tammy Wynette Legendary Performances In coordination with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Shout Factory! has begun a new series of country music DVDs that collect archived performances of the genre’s legends, coupled with rare interview footage and Hall of Fame inductions. The promise of this series cannot be overstated, both for fans of the artists profiled and the need for country music’s legacy to be preserved. Both of the debut entries in the series follow the same format. Fifteen performance clips from old television shows are arranged chronologically, and provide the bulk of each set’s content. The defining singles of both artists are included, and in watching the clips, viewers can get a sense of how each artist developed, along with a fascinating window into how country music itself was presented on television over the course of four decades. For a variety of Read More
The CMA Awards should be the evening every year where country music is shown in the best possible light. However, it’s been many years now since the CMA fully took advantage of the opportunities that prime-time slot presents. Here are ten ways the show can get back on track, and maybe even be better than ever. 1. Expand the Ballot Limiting the second ballot to only twenty entries per category was a disaster, resulting in some truly lackluster nominees. Take a page from the Grammy playbook and put all eligible submissions on the second ballot, regardless of vote total. Have the CMA voters choose five entries from a wider swath of nominees, and create a more level playing field for all of the labels, major and indie. 2. Limit the Number of Entries per Artist The CMA can go one step further and improve the Grammy model by eliminating the first ballot entirely, Read More
For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page. 2010 Dierks Bentley Brad Paisley Blake Shelton George Strait Keith Urban Bentley and Shelton have never won, but they’re up against Strait, who has won five times, and Paisley and Urban, who’ve won three times each. With the balance of commercial and critical success not significantly different across the category, this race could bring the night’s biggest surprise. But whatever happens, kudos to Paisley for earning his tenth nomination, and Strait for earning his twenty-fifth! 2009 Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Darius Rucker George Strait Keith Urban Just like in the Entertainer category, 80% of this race for the past three years had been Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and Keith Urban. This year, Darius Rucker took the fifth slot that was occupied by Alan Jackson in 2008 and Josh Turner in 2007. Brad Paisley went Read More
Make the World Go Away Eddy Arnold 1965 Written by Hank Cochran When Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley honored the memory of Eddy Arnold at the 2008 ACM Awards, they did so by performing his classic hit, “Make the World Go Away.” Arnold is the most successful singles artist in country music history, but even among his deep catalog of timeless hits, “Make the World Go Away” was his signature tune. What's amazing is that Arnold wasn't even the first artist to have a hit with the song. Hank Cochran had already established himself as one of Nashville's top songwriters by the time he wrote “Make the World Go Away.” It was only fitting that he would offer his stellar new song to an A-list artist, which in 1963, meant Ray Price, not Eddy Arnold. Price took the song to No. 2 on the country charts in 1963, and it Read More
A heartbreakingly beautiful toast to life, given by a man humbled by the blessings he’s been given over the years. “Life,” he sings, “you served your finest wine. I drank it down to find my glass was always full.” Listening to this, I couldn’t help but remember watching an old clip of Eddy Arnold being given the ACM Pioneer Award. He accepted with his voice cracking, and said that “I don’t want accolades. I just want to sing.” That is the man singing this song, always the country gentleman. Arnold recorded “To Life” three years ago, and RCA has chosen to release it as a single in the wake of his death. So perfect is the sentiment of the record, so truly sincere is the performance, that sending this record out is a most fitting tribute to the man and his music. Written by Ken Leray and Dan Tyler Grade: Read More