Pam Tillis

Daily Top Five (by Five): Fan Favorites

May 9, 2015 // 23 Comments

We haven’t done a Daily Top Five for a few days, so the original post is going to be lengthier than usual. Loyal fans of an artist usually love album cuts and rarities as much as they do the singles, if not more.   Today we ask, what are your five favorite lesser-known tracks by your five favorite artists? You don’t have to to pick five artists in the comments, of course.  But for the artists you pick, try to avoid singles! I’m cheating and using my iPod play counts to help me out here. Here are my five favorite fan favorites from five of my favorite artists: Trisha Yearwood Dreaming Fields Woman Walk the Line Standing Out in a Crowd Little Hercules Harmless Heart

Daily Top Five: First Favorites

April 11, 2015 // 29 Comments

Today, we kick off a new feature: Daily Top Five.  Every day, one of our writers will post their top five picks for a given category, and invite readers to share their own lists in the comments.   This idea was ripped off from inspired by the film Top Five. Since this is the first entry, today’s topic is First Favorites – your top five songs that got you into country music. For me: John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night” Reba McEntire, “For My Broken Heart” Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler” Pam Tillis, “Maybe it Was Memphis” Dwight Yoakam, “It Only Hurts When I Cry” What’s your top five?

The Twenty Best Albums of 1994

December 26, 2014 // 5 Comments

As 2014 comes to a close, the Country Universe staff has been collectively impressed by the number of quality albums that were released this year.  How many of those albums, however, will we still be listening to in twenty years? We have that benefit of hindsight for the year 1994, and we’ve compiled our twenty favorite studio sets from that year.  At their time of release, some of our favorites were comeback albums from veteran artists, some were from current artists reaching new artistic and commercial peaks, and some were debut sets from artists that went on to become mainstays on country radio or in the Americana music scene that was just coming together twenty years ago. What they all have in common is that each and every one of them still sounds great today, and they collectively show the wide breadth that the country music landscape was transforming into Read More

Best Singles of 1994, Part 4: #10-#1

December 16, 2014 // 20 Comments

The countdown concludes with a wide range of classics, including breakthrough hits, signature songs, and exciting later career gems from long-established icons of the genre. #10 “(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All” Alan Jackson Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride LW #10 | BF #5 | JK #38 What makes a better country song than a stark naked light bulb, one lonely pillow on a double bed, a mournful fiddle and steel guitar? Jackson’s “(Who Says) You Can’t Have It All” is one of the finest exhibits to present as the answer to that question. – Leeann Ward

The Best Singles of 1994, Part 1: #40-#31

November 28, 2014 // 7 Comments

Our Best of 1994 Singles List kicks off today with the bottom quarter of our top forty. The list was compiled by weighing each individual writer’s choices, with preference given to songs that appeared on multiple lists. Each writer’s individual ranking is listed under the songwriter credits. Bonus retro fun: Check out those cassette singles covers! #40 “Livin’ on Love” Alan Jackson Written by Alan Jackson SG #14 | JK #23 | BF #37 Country music has, historically, given voice to those disenfranchised by poverty, validating and finding the value in the struggles of economic hardship. What elevates the appropriately bare-bones narrative of “Livin’ on Love” is the warmth and real sense of empathy in Jackson’s performance. – Jonathan Keefe

CU10 Flashback: Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain and Gender in Country Music

July 23, 2014 // 8 Comments

In 2008, I was finishing up my degree in journalism and trying to understand what it meant to be a professional writer. I wanted to write about music, but the divide between fan and critic felt, at times, insurmountable. That fall, I stumbled onto Country Universe through this post, and it changed my perspective. As both a writer and leader, Kevin was thoughtful, rational and personally invested in the country music genre. He showed a deep respect for the genre’s history, but wrote about new artists with tolerance and curiosity. Best of all, he held readers and writers alike to the highest standards of decency. It’s for that reason that this post shines. Kevin’s ability to take a stand while cultivating constructive dialogue is unmatched. He cut through the divisive hype around Carrie Underwood –an artist who is as special to me now as she was back then—and underlined the Read More

Country Universe’s Best Albums of 2013, Part One: #40-#21

December 30, 2013 // 10 Comments

For the second year, Country Universe is publishing a 40-deep list of the year’s best albums. Part One includes releases from talented newcomers, genre legends, and quite a few entries from the outskirts of country music. As usual, that’s where most of the cool stuff can be found.

Country Universe will close out our year with the conclusion of this list tomorrow. As always, share your thoughts and opinions in the comments!

Dan Grimm Ventucky

#40
Ventucky

Dan Grimm

Individual rankings: #12 – Jonathan

The EP format doesn’t leave much margin for error, but with a knack for unconventional imagery and a style that blends vintage SoCal rock with authentic honky-tonk, Dan Grimm ensures that every track on his freewheeling, endlessly likable Ventucky is a standout. – Jonathan Keefe

Recommended Tracks: “Skeletor,” “300 Beers”

Country Universe’s Best Singles of 2013, Part One: #40-#21

December 30, 2013 // 13 Comments

For the second year in a row, our seven writers – Kevin Coyne, Leeann Ward, Dan Milliken, Tara Seetharam, Ben Foster, Jonathan Keefe, and Sam Gazdziak – individually listed our twenty favorite albums and singles of the year. It’s a diverse crop of singles, some of which dominated country radio, while others were primarily heard in the Americana, bluegrass, and alternative country worlds. Today, we present the first half of our singles list, with the conclusion to follow tomorrow. Share your favorites in the comments!

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#40
“Someone Somewhere Tonight”
Kellie Pickler

Individual rankings: #16 – Ben; #19 – Tara

A sweeping power ballad anchored by an intimate chorus and Pickler’s pleading sincerity. – Tara Seetharam

Getting to Know Brandy Clark

October 20, 2013 // 4 Comments

Brandy ClarkAs a general rule, you can scan the credits of any new country album and assume that if Brandy Clark is a writer on one of the songs, it’s the best song on the album. As Clark readies the release of 12 Stories, her debut album as an artist, it’s a great time for fans of that remarkable set to get caught up on Clark’s work to date.

Believe the hype. Clark really is as good as everyone is saying she is. Possibly even better, as these twenty tracks suggest. Scroll down to the bottom, and you can listen to snippets from all of them as you read along.

CU Archives: Linda Ronstadt

August 25, 2013 // 16 Comments

linda-ronstadtWe at Country Universe were very saddened to hear of Linda Ronstadt’s recent announcement that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight months ago, and that the disease has resulted in the total loss of her ability to sing.

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