The consensus builds with the next set of ten singles. While there is still some lesser known singles and artists in the mix, more than half of these entries come from top-selling albums. Of course, radio still didn’t play all of those, either, but record buyers heard them anyway.
Emily West, “Rocks in Your Shoes”
A burst of country-poptimism that manages to sound both sunny and smart. Eat your heart out, “Red Umbrella.” – DM
Sugarland, “Already Gone”
Perhaps leaving takes place in two stages. The heart and mind go first, then the body catches up with them later on. “Already Gone” explores this concept thoroughly, with keen attention to detail. “Pictures, dishes and socks. It’s our whole life down to one box.” Months after my first listen, I still find myself playing that final verse over and over again. – KJC
Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney or Skip Ewing, “Every Other Weekend”
Two divorced parents contemplate the unfulfilling aftermath of their split and the lingering feelings they have for one another in intimate detail (“First thing in the morning / I turn the T.V. on to make the quiet go away”). Neither Chesney nor co-writer Skip Ewing was able to match McEntire’s combination of technical and interpretive skill, but you don’t get this kind of song everyday. – DM
In this era of rampant piracy and economic recession, things aren’t looking good for the music industry. We don’t post too often about the business side of the music business here, as we tend to keep the focus on the music. But the reality is that these numbers matter. If Little Big Town’s second Equity album had performed as well as the first, the label might still be in business.
It’s not all doom and gloom, as many artists go on to make their best music once they leave major labels. But this Christmas, you can guarantee that some artists and record executives will be bracing for the New Year, while others are embracing it.
Here’s a look at some totals for albums released in 2008, ranked by total sales (rounded to the nearest thousand):
- Taylor Swift, Fearless – 1,519,000
- Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,179,000
- George Strait, Troubadour – 693,000
- Alan Jackson, Good Time – 628,000
- Toby Keith, 35 Biggest Hits – 530,000
- Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun – 479,000
- Faith Hill, Joy to the World – 341,000
- Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum – 337,000
- James Otto, Sunset Man – 332,000
- Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1 – 330,000
- Darius Rucker, Learn to Live – 284,000
- Julianne Hough, Julianne Hough – 260,000
- Toby Keith, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy – 224,000
- Jewel, Perfectly Clear – 203,000
- Dierks Bentley, Greatest Hits: Every Mile a Memory – 195,000
- Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – 183,000
- Heidi Newfield, What Am I Waiting For – 162,000
- Jessica Simpson, Do You Know – 153,000
- Brad Paisley, Play – 137,000
- Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler – 129,000
- Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All – 127,000
- Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 – 127,000
- Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be – 119,000
- Zac Brown Band, Foundation – 118,000
- Randy Travis, Around the Bend – 89,000
- Ashton Shepherd, Sounds So Good – 84,000
- Jimmy Wayne, Do You Believe Me Now – 81,000
- Trace Adkins, X – 72,000
- Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything – 65,000
- Blake Shelton, Startin’ Fires – 60,000
- Hank III, Damn Right Rebel Proud – 47,000
- Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy – 45,000
- Joey + Rory, Life of a Song – 44,000
- Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights – 38,000
- Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits – 34,000
- Craig Morgan, That’s Why – 31,000
- Randy Owen, One on One – 22,000
- Randy Houser, Anything Goes – 17,000
Tomorrow marks the release of Randy Houser’s debut disc, Anything Goes, a contemporary country album in a traditional vein. Houser has gained fame through his performance on The Late Show with David Letterman and his songwriting skills on Trace Adkin’s “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” and the title track to his first album is firmly entrenched in the top 20 of the country singles chart. The newcomer called Country Universe recently to discuss his first foray into the spotlight and his thoughts on the music that inspired his chosen path.
“Anything Goes” is a rarity on country radio, a story of solitary drinking followed by a one-night stand. What first attracted you to the song?
Definitely, for country fans and country listeners, I think the song breaks down what our format is about. It’s a theme that country music was built on, going through tough emotions. A lot of people have lived through this or something like this. It may not be to that extreme, but it still hurts. And we all find our redemption in different places. It talks about doing something you normally wouldn’t do and how you mask your true feelings instead of facing your real problems. It’s something that hadn’t been addressed in a song in a while. It’s just a guy telling the truth, and the listeners wanna know what you went through.
Clearly, it wasn’t enough for Randy Houser to produce one of the year’s finest debut singles; he also had to make one of its finest music videos. Excepting the bikini model who’s supposed to be his ex, most everything about this piece feels completely natural, like it was meticulously structured to complement the progression of the song (what a concept).
It’s the sort of work that makes a strong case for the music video as an art form, rather than a shallow marketing device. There’s something creative afoot at most every turn in this clip: witness the rhythmic montage in the build to the first chorus, or the way Houser fantasizes about singing alone onstage to his girl, as if to acknowledge that his whole world – even down to the songs he sings – is built on co-dependence. Someone clearly sat down and thought about this one, and it shows.
Of course, there’s always a risk of overdoing things when going the dramatic route, and there are indeed some points where Houser and his video succumb to minor histrionics. But on the whole, I haven’t felt so deeply immersed in the emotional groove of a music video in quite some time – and when it comes to this sort of raw passion, you take what you can get.
Directed by Vincenzo Giammanco
Watch: Anything Goes
Well, this is just awesome. He sounds like a young Ronnie Dunn, it’s a classic drinkin’ ’cause my woman left me song, and the hook is so obvious that it’s amazing it hasn’t already been a country hit. “Anything goes,” he justifies, “when everything’s gone.” He wouldn’t be drinking the night away and waking up in a stranger’s bed if his only reason for living hadn’t already walked out on him.
There’s nothing like the thrill of discovery of a new artist that already sounds like a seasoned pro. This is worthy of immediate attention from all fans of traditional country music.
Written by Brice Long & John Wayne Wiggins
Listen: Anything Goes