Released in 1998, Wide Open Spaces established the Dixie Chicks as superstars right out of the gate. It produced five top ten hits, including three #1 singles, and sold more than twelve million copies in the United States alone. It remains their biggest selling album to date. But is it among their best?
So let’s talk about hooks and melodies for a minute.
Own the Night
Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” is a once in a career kind of hit. That drunk-dialer ballad became a such a huge cross-genre smash hit that is was virtually inescapable no matter which radio format you tuned into. The Grammy-winning hit pushed Lady Antebellum to instant add status on country radio, which is where they stayed even as their single releases gradually slid downhill in quality.
The downward slide continues on the trio’s third album Own the Night – an uninspired effort that savors strongly of an act coasting along on their superstar status, while resting on their laurels artistically. One could present the easy-out criticism that the album is not country, and indeed it makes little effort to sonically resemble country, but the real issue is not simply that these are pop songs. The issue is that, pop or country, they’re just flat-out not good songs.