Posts Tagged ‘LeAnn Rimes’
Saturday, December 27th, 2008
Here are my favorite singles of 2008. As Dan has done, I lifted the entries that I had already written from our collective list for this article.
#20: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Please Read The Letter”
The album from which this song comes seems like an unlikely collaboration. It, however, somehow works as one of the best albums of the decade and any song from it would make my top twenty singles list this year.
#19: Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer”
Hank Williams III is known for relishing a rebel persona and this attitude is often reflected in his music. More often than not, his songs contain observations wrapped in harsh lyrics that cause me to wince, but his production and voice, which are both more comparable to Hank Sr. than Hank III’s father, still draws me to his music, nonetheless. This song, however, is simply pure ear candy. There’s nothing in it that makes me feel like I have to turn it down in mixed company as is the case with so many other Hank III songs. It’s nice sometimes.
#18: Jason Michael Carroll, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead”
I’m not much of a Jason Michael Carroll fan, but there’s just something about this song that is infectious. The rapid and frenzied production matches its premise, “I can sleep when I’m dead.”
#17: Gary Allan, “Learning How To Bend”
As Dan has pointed out, these aren’t words that most men would say without feeling extremely awkward. The intriguing thing about Gary Allan is that he can get away with it without anyone unfairly questioning his masculinity. He sings this song with fine vocal execution and hits those falsetto notes with incredible ease.
#16: Carrie Underwood, “Just A Dream”
While I could live with a more understated melody that sounded less like it was written by Diane Warren, I can’t help recognize that Underwood’s performance is just right for this intense song. I can only imagine that it aptly captures both the hazy confusion and blunt pain that accompanies the sudden loss of a significant other. I know it’s how I would feel.
Category Best of 2008
Tags: Alison Krauss, Allison Moorer, Ashton Shepherd, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Elizabeth Cook, Emily West, Gary Allan, Hank Williams III, James Otto, Jason Michael Carroll, Joey + Rory, Josh Turner, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, Marcel, Miranda Lambert, Reckless Kelly, Robert Plant, Steve Earle, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson
Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Let’s do this, y’all. You’ll recognize some of these write-ups from our collective list, but others weren’t posted there or were cut down for that list. This is my “Director’s Cut” version, you might say – or maybe the “UNRATED!!” version, depending on your taste in films.
In any case, here are my favorite 20 things designated as country music singles in 2008 (that I picked up on, anyhoo):
Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning”
Cook mines an abstract Velvet Underground song and halfway convinces you it was always meant to be a quiet country reflection. The production and vocal are a bit too buoyant to fully convey the song’s weariness, but they do flesh out its gentle message of hope, and that’s not too bad, either.
Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer”
Silly and shallow it may be, but III’s turbo-campy lament of hard times + booze was also this year’s sweetest piece of hillbilly ear candy. I think it sounds like the fastest, most frivolous thing Johnny Cash never recorded, but maybe that’s just me.
James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”
What’s this? A contemporary country single with a traditional structure that skips on big choruses? A distinctive voice at the helm? Oh? It was the most played song of the year? Huh. So country music fans want to hear unique-sounding singers singing some semblance of actual country music on the radio? How perplexing.
In all seriousness, this smash really is a fine example of feel-good radio fluff that still manages to sound human. It’s impossible to evaluate honestly without the requisite (and very valid) comparison to Josh Turner’s “Your Man,” but honestly, I think Otto out-sexed his predecessor by a good margin. Turner gave a fine performance with his standard sweetness, but Otto opted for randy, slightly jagged cooing that ultimately sounds much more convincing coming from a man in this particular situation.
Joey + Rory, “Cheater, Cheater”
My soft spot for frivolity shows itself again. This tell-off ditty has a cute bite, and its malicious irrationality is delivered with a knowing wink that has been regrettably absent in many recent, like-minded harangues (cough cough, “Picture to Burn”). Still, it’s the frenetic bluegrass production and the couple’s palpable chemistry that ultimately sell the thing.
Josh Turner featuring Trisha Yearwood, “Another Try”
I’m always game for more regret on country radio, particularly when you’ve got two of the best singers in the biz on the job. The only thing holding it back for me is the melody, which is a bit too “Peabo Bryson goes country” for my taste.
Sugarland, Little Big Town & Jake Owen, “Life in a Northern Town”
There is a certain kind of song whose impact simply defies logical explanation, which seems to tap something so primal in the human spirit that you don’t even want to try explaining it for fear you might belittle it somehow. You couldn’t ask for a better example of that phenomenon than this cover of Dream Academy’s surreal ode to singer-songwriter Nick Drake, which resolves into a chorus of tribal “hey ma ma ma ma”s that somehow manage to say more (to me) than most actual words ever do.
It’s much more “Lion King soundtrack” than “country,” of course, but the union of all of these unique individual voices evokes the sort of grand communal warmth that you can normally only find in church or around a campfire. Personal favorite moment: Jake Owen’s solo, which he sings with such silky ease that it makes you pissed he hasn’t found better material for himself yet.
Category 2008 Rewind
Tags: Alison Krauss, Ashley Monroe, Ashton Shepherd, Del McCoury Band, Elizabeth Cook, Emily West, Gary Allan, Hank Williams III, Hayes Carll, James Otto, Jamey Johnson, Joey + Rory, Josh Turner, Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Reckless Kelly, Ricky Skaggs, Robert Plant, Sugarland, The Raconteurs, Trisha Yearwood
Friday, December 19th, 2008
Our top ten singles of the year represent the very best of what country music is and what country music can be. With a combination of rising stars and veteran artists, it’s clear that the genre has worthy guardians waiting in the wings, even as the current keepers of the flame show no signs of fading away.
Ashton Shepherd, “Takin’ Off This Pain”
I cheated a bit by throwing this one into the mix, since it was technically released last fall. But as it wasn’t on the site’s 2007 singles countdown and didn’t even peak until this past May, I’m going to take this opportunity to opine, quite simply, that this single paints the best kind of picture of everything contemporary country in the 2000’s can be. It’s not pure traditionalism, as some have suggested – there’s a lot more modern drive than old-school shuffle at work here – but few major-label artists this decade have updated the spirit of classic country more loyally or convincingly than Shepherd has with this debut. Even if you take away the whopping voice, you’ve got clear, focused storytelling with palpable personality and an unusually clever hook. Loretta Lynn is smiling to herself somewhere. – DM
James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”
James Otto has one of the most soulful voices in country music, comparable to Travis Tritt. In “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” he uses his vocal range to irresistible affect. While it’s often compared to Gary Allan’s “Nothin’ On But The Radio” and Josh Turner’s “Your Man”, this is a song that could have easily been delivered by Conway Twitty, as it’s in the grand tradition of steamy tracks like “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” and “I’d Love to Lay You Down.” - LW
Brad Paisley, “Waitin’ on a Woman”
Donn Sampson and Wynn Varble penned this moving piece, one centered around the (mostly correct) notion that the fairer sex exercises greater, ahem, patience than their male counterparts. A newlywed husband on a shopping trip with his young bride meets an elderly man at the local mall. Soon, he’s listening to the advice of the sage, one who sees the waiting as one of life’s sweet, simple pleasures. The corresponding video clip, featuring iconic television actor Andy Griffith, added gravitas to an already-compelling lyric that ponders mortality and the everlasting love in a healthy marriage. – BB
Sunday, November 9th, 2008
For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page.
- Luke Bryan
- Easton Corbin
- Jerrod Neimann
- Chris Young
- Zac Brown Band
Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible. This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination. With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race.
- Randy Houser
- Jamey Johnson
- Jake Owen
- Darius Rucker
- Zac Brown Band
Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation.
- Jason Aldean
- Rodney Atkins
- Lady Antebellum
- James Otto
- Kellie Pickler
The industry favorites Lady Antebellum became the fourth band in history to win this award, following Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks and Sawyer Brown.
- Jason Aldean
- Rodney Atkins
- Little Big Town
- Kellie Pickler
- Taylor Swift
In the year since winning the Horizon Award, Swift has solidified her position as the genre’s most successful rising star. While her debut album hasn’t reached the sales heights of the first discs by previous winners Carire Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, Swift is still one of the genre’s only significant sellers.
- Miranda Lambert
- Little Big Town
- Josh Turner
- Carrie Underwood
I had a sneaking suspicion that Josh Turner was going to take this home, but as I’ve said before, Carrie’s got the best pipes since Trisha Yearwood. That she’ was acknowledged for that at such an early stage of her career is pretty amazing. Somehow I think the thrill of winning Horizon was short-lived, as winning Female Vocalist the same night left that memory in the dust.
- Dierks Bentley
- Big & Rich
- Miranda Lambert
- Julie Roberts
Four of these five were nominees again the following year, and all in categories besides just Horizon, though Lambert got another shot at that as well. I think Big & Rich and Sugarland are making the most interesting music, and they’re moving more units than Bentley, though he’s no slouch himself. The CMA showed good judgment this year.
Category CMA Awards
Tags: Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Big & Rich, Billy Dean, Blake Shelton, Boxcar Willie, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Bryan White, Buddy Jewel, Caroline Dawn Johnson, Carrie Underwod, Chely Wright, Clint Black, Dan Seals, Darryl Worley, David Ball, David Frizell, Deana Carter, Deborah Allen, Desert Rose Band, Dierks Bentley, Dixie Chicks, Doug Stone, Dwight Yoakam, Earl Thomas Conley, Eddy Raven, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Gary Allan, George Strait, Gretchen Wilson, Highway 101, Holly Dunn, James Otto, Jamie O’Neal, Jason Aldean, Jessica Andrews, Jo Dee Messina, Joe Nichols, John Anderson, John Berry, John Michael Montgomery, John Schneider, Josh Turner, Julie Roberts, K.T. Oslin, Kathy Mattea, Keith Urban, Keith Whitley, Kellie Pickler, Kenny Chesney, Kentucky Headhunters, Lady Antebellum, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Lee Greenwood, Lee Roy Parnell, Little Big Town, Lorrie Morgan, Mark Chesnutt, Martina McBride, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mel McDaniel, Michael Martin Murphey, Michael Peterson, Miranda Lambert, Montgomery Gentry, Nickel Creek, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Phil Vassar, Randy Travis, Rascal Flatts, Ray Charles, Reba McEntire, Restless Heart, Ricky Skaggs, Ricky Van Shelton, Rodney Atkins, Rosanne Cash, Sammy Kershaw, Sara Evans, Sawyer Brown, Shania Twain, SHeDaisy, Shelly West, Shenandoah, Sugarland, Suzy Boggus, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, T. Graham Brown, T.G. Sheppard, Taylor Swift, Terri Clark, Terri Gibbs, The Forrester Sisters, The Judds, The O’Kanes, The Whites, The Wilkinsons, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Tracy Lawrence, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Vern Gosdin, Wade Hayes
Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Dave Berg, Alan Jackson
Last night at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Dave Berg was named Songwriter of the Year and Alan Jackson took Songwriter-Artist of the Year at the 46th annual ASCAP Country Awards.
Jackson earned a songwriter prize from the performing rights organization for the sixth time, having claimed Songwriter of the Year in 1993, 1994 and 1997, and then shifting to the Songwriter-Artist category for wins in 2002 and 2003. Berg received his first Songwriter of the Year honor for writing “Don’t Make Me” (recorded by Blake Shelton), “It’s Good to Be Us” (Bucky Covington), “Moments” (Emerson Drive), “These Are My People” (Rodney Atkins) and “What Kinda Gone” (Chris Cagle).
The most-performed country songs of the past year were also recognized, and “Good Directions,” Billy Currington’s #1 hit from 2007, was named Song of the Year. The award was presented to ASCAP writer Rachel Thibodeau (Thibodeau and co-writer Luke Bryan, a BMI songwriter, performed the song at the ceremony). Other performers included the SteelDrivers and Dierks Bentley with the Grascals.
ASCAP also paid tribute to Reba McEntire, recipient of this year’s ASCAP Golden Note Award for her outstanding career achievements. McEntire was enjoying her 25th year as an ASCAP member, and Brooks & Dunn, Kelly Clarkson and LeAnn Rimes sang some of her biggest hits in honor of the music legend. Clarkson, notably, was greeted with a standing ovation from a mostly placid crowd following her soulful performance of McEntire’s “Why Haven’t I Heard From You.”
Friday, August 8th, 2008
Simply put, this is the finest single of LeAnn Rimes' career, which already stretches longer than a decade and has included such gems as “Blue” and “Probably Wouldn't Be This Way.”
Rimes co-wrote this spin on the Serenity Prayer, and while it's confessional in nature, the sentiment of the song is still universally applicable. While she sows seeds of self-doubt in the verses, she swears during each chorus that she will learn to let go, forgive and love what she cannot change, and change whatever she can.
that was nowhere to be found in her younger days now gives the song its emotional wallop, as she uses all of the shades of her voice to communicate the complicated mess of emotions that she is feeling. In a just world, this would be a career record. Maybe it will be. But regardless of how it eventually ranks among her hits at radio and retail, this is her artistic peak to date.
Written by Darrell Brown & LeAnn Rimes
Listen: What I Cannot Change
Buy: What I Cannot Change
Thursday, May 29th, 2008
100 Greatest Women
Lee Ann Womack
When she released her debut album in 1997, she was widely hailed as the great hope for traditional country music, a much-needed counterpoint to the pop crossover sounds that were beginning to dominate the genre. With time, Womack would prove that she wasn’t so easy to pigeonhole.
She grew up in Texas, the daughter of a country radio disc jockey. Her dad turned her on to the sounds of classic country music and she was smitten. When the time came for college, she attended South Plains Junior College in Texas, since it was the only school she could find that offered a major in country music. She took the next logical step and moved to Nashville after that, attending Belmont University for a brief time.
While at the school, she interned at MCA Records. She was a dedicated follower of George Strait, and it was his label where she wanted to record. By the early nineties, she had settled down in Nashville with a husband and young child, while building up her songwriting catalog and putting on showcases. Tree Publishing caught a showcase, heard her demo and signed her. She scored some cuts on albums by Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs, but her stint as a staff writer was short-lived. Decca, an imprint of MCA, signed her to her own recording contract, and she started work on her debut album.
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
100 Greatest Women
When she burst on to the scene in 1996, she was praised as the second coming of Patsy Cline. Within two years, she was dominating the pop charts. Over the course of her twelve-year career, Rimes has been successfully straddling the fence between pop and country, leaving a mark in both genres as she builds on her already impressive catalog of hits.
All that, and she’s still in her twenties. Rimes was just thirteen when her recording of “Blue” became a nationwide phenomenon. The song had originally been written with Cline in mind, but she died before that was possible. “Blue” was recorded by a handful of artists in the three decades between Bill Mack writing it and Rimes releasing it. The combination of her classic country voice and the novelty of her age proved irresistible to record buyers, and her debut album Blue went spent more than half a year at #1, selling six million copies along the way.
Monday, February 18th, 2008
LeAnn Rimes, the youngest veteran in recent country music history, takes a stab at writing herself a girl power anthem and acquits herself nicely. Rimes is simply a better singer now that she’s singing her own material, and she sounds fully confident and in control, hitting some good notes without showboating. I could do without the girl group doo-wopping in the background, but other than that, good stuff.
Written by Darrell Brown, Blair Daly & LeAnn Rimes
Listen: Good Friend and a Glass of Wine
Buy: Good Friend and a Glass of Wine
Monday, December 24th, 2007
Let it Go
Tim McGraw’s previous album, Live Like You Were Dying, topped my first year-end album list back in 2004. Let it Go strays from the musical formula that Dying perfected, with more challenging vocals attempted and off-beat material that ranges from introspective (“I’m Workin’”) to just plain dark (“Between the River and Me.”) It’s a sharp, confident album, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, it’s an interesting and entertaining listen.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
This unexpected collaboration between Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bluegrass icon Alison Krauss finds common ground in the rockabilly roots that both artists share. T. Bone Burnett spearheaded this project, but don’t expect O Brother revisited. The sound here is fully contemporary, even when drawing on influences from generations gone by. The album closes with a beautiful reprise of “Your Long Journey”, which was recorded by Emmylou Harris in the mid-eighties.
Williams has never been known for happy, up-tempo songs in the first place, but West is her most sorrowful work to date, as she explores the emotions resulting from the death of her mother and the end of a long-term relationship. Some of the best tracks, like “Everything Has Changed” and “Are You Alright?”, aren’t clear about which grief they deal with. There’s no questioning the source of the anger in “Come On”, however, where she rips her ex-lover to shreds over his shortcomings.
The comparisons to Porter Wagoner’s Wagonmaster and Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series were immediate, with Wagoner’s weary voice and sparse accompaniment reminiscent of the iconic “Hurt”, Cash’s final hit. It’s fair to compare Wagonmaster to the later American albums, when Cash was falling ill. Wagoner revisits some of his classics and records some new songs in the same style. While the album lacks the vitality of the first two American albums, or Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, it’s a fine swan song for one of the genre’s greatest talents.
Shelton channels the negative energy produced by his recent divorce into a solid honky-tonk album, with some of the smartest break-up material I’ve ever heard sung in this particular style. Most notable is “She Don’t Love Me”, which finds Shelton running into his old flame and her new lover, and he “can tell by the way he shook my hand, he never heard of me before. “