As we enter the top half of the list, signature hits by some of the era’s biggest stars rub elbows with a pair of breakthrough singles and an overlooked release by a future superstar. You’ll also find out, in case you’ve been wondering for the past 22 years, just what Dwight Yoakam sneers at the end of one of his classic records.
Written by Casey Kelly and Bob Regan
#13 – LW | #22 – JK | #28 – KJC | #30 – BF
Cheating songs that successfully make us feel compassion for the other woman are a rarity, but “Soon” manages to make us root for the woman who finds herself in a losing cycle, one that she finally finds the strength to stop. Tanya Tucker’s sympathetic performance and the song’s soothing melody invite us to feel compassion for the woman in a scenario that is usually black and white. – Leeann Ward
There are so many new concepts going on in country music reissues. Two disc deluxe editions of classic albums. Box sets of an entire artist’s catalog, with the CD’s in miniature LP replica sleeves. Digital issues of concert recordings. (Wolfgang’s Vault is a thing. Check it out.) Two albums on one CD, or carefully curated collections of singles. Bear Family box sets that give you everything. Even 180 gram vinyl records are coming out at a rapid clip.
So I’m wondering what your wish list is. What reissues would you rush out to buy or download on day one?
Here’s my top five list:
- Dolly Parton, The Complete RCA Albums Collection: 1968-1986
- Willie Nelson, Deluxe Editions of Nineties Classics: Across the Borderline, Spirit, Teatro
- Shania Twain, The Complete International Remix Collection: 1995-2006
- Kay T. Oslin, Clean Your Own Tables: The Early Years
- Trisha Yearwood, Rarities and Unreleased Tracks: 1992-2012
We’ve all heard of the Sophomore Slump. It’s the phenomenon where an artist’s second album isn’t as good as their first album.
This presumably happens because they’ve had more time to choose or write songs for their first album than they do after their careers have taken off and/or because there was so much hype surrounding their first album that their second album had no chance of living up to anyone’s expectations.
Many artists, however, are able to avoid that slump and their second album ends up turning out to be better or at least as good as their first album.
What are some of your favorite sophomore successes?
Here’s my list:
- Miranda Lambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- Martina McBride, The Way that I am
- Tracy Lawrence, Alibis
- Shania Twain, The Woman in Me
- Sara Watkins, Sun Midnight Sun
UPDATE: Check out the impeccably researched work of Deb B, also known as Windmills, over at MJ’s Big Blog:
Country Radio & The Anti-Female Female Myth: A Data-Based Look
Via Terri Clark’s Twitter, this gem from radio consultant Keith Hill:
This One’s Not For The Girls: Finally, Hill cautions against playing too many females. And playing them back to back, he says, is a no-no. “If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” he asserts. “The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75%, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19%. Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
Tossed salad imagery aside, in what other professional setting would such blatant gender discrimination be openly advocated? The breathtaking condescension toward female listeners in country music is nothing new, but it’s been more than twenty years since any such case could be supported by sales numbers.
From longtime reader Six String Richie.
What are your favorite pre-fame releases? You can pick singles and/or albums. Whatever works for you.
Here’s my Top Five:
- Patty Loveless, “I Did”
- Shania Twain, “Dance With the One That Brought You”
- Kenny Chesney, “Whatever it Takes”
- Carlene Carter, “Never Together but Close Sometimes”
- Martina McBride, “Cheap Whiskey”
Today’s Daily Top Five asks you to pick the five albums you would use to make a case for country music to the unconverted listener.
Here are the five albums I would lend/rip/share in a .zip to someone willing to give country music a chance:
- Dixie Chicks, Home
- Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
- Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
- Alan Jackson, A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love)
- Shania Twain, The Woman in Me
What are your Top Five Country Convert Albums?
This is the strongest album Reba McEntire has released in more than twenty years.
Listening to Love Somebody is hearing a legend of the genre rediscover her own voice. She’s always been an excellent singer, but after making her name as both a heartbreak queen and the common folk’s Everywoman, she had tremendous difficulty navigating the post-Shania Twain landscape of female empowerment anthems.
As we’re prepping our 1993 lists, there have been many debut albums in consideration. That year brought the first studio sets from big stars like Tracy Byrd, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and Clay Walker. Also, sentimental favorites of attentive listeners, like Brother Phelps. Shawn Camp, Bobbie Cryner, Lisa Stewart, and Lari White also released their first discs.
Debut albums aren’t always great. Sometimes the artistic voice just isn’t there yet. But some new artists knock it out of the park the first time out.
Today we ask: What are your Top Five Debut Albums?
Here’s my list:
- Kim Richey, Kim Richey
- Clint Black, Killin’ Time
- Randy Travis, Storms of Life
- Bobbie Cryner, Bobbie Cryner
- Emmylou Harris, Pieces of the Sky
The fiftieth annual Academy of Country Music Awards air tonight, and Country Universe has you covered! Here’s a rundown of all of the major categories, along with some commentary from our writers about who should win, who will, and what the nominations as a whole say about the current state of country music.
Share your thoughts about this year’s show in the comments, and check back for a list of winners when it’s all said and done.
Update: Join the CU crew on Twitter (@CountryUniverse) during the show to share your thoughts as things unfold!
Entertainer of the Year
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks – Jonathan
- Luke Bryan – Sam
- Florida-Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Florida Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert – Jonathan, Ben, Sam, Kevin
BF: I think Lambert is due, but I could get on board with a win for Brooks, whose comeback tour certainly warrants recognition. Those are about the only two possible victories I could swallow.
SG: This is fan-voted, so it really comes down to who can most mobilize their fan base. I give Miranda the nod, simply because she and her husband can both rally the troops. As to who deserves it, it’s hard to deny the impact that Luke Bryan has had on country music, love him or loathe him. He also seems like a fair entertainer, whether it’s shimmying around the stage or falling off them.
This week brought tax season to an end, and depending on how it went for you last year, you’ll be collecting a refund check or writing one out to the IRS instead.
Seems as good a time as any to share our five favorite songs about money!
Here ‘s my top five:
- Merle Haggard, “If We Make it Through December”
- John Anderson, “Money in the Bank”
- Todd Snider, “Broke”
- Shania Twain, “Ka-Ching!”
- Alabama, “40 Hour Week (For a Livin’)”