September is upon us, which means that young adults have excitedly headed off to college while parents have sent their babies off to join the world. What are some of your favorite songs about children leaving home to spread their wings, whether it’s for college or another adventure away from home, and/or parents who have to let them go? Brad Paisley & Pat Green, “College” Alan Jackson, “You Can Always Come Home” Garth Brooks, “Send ‘Em on Down the Road” Suzy Bogguss, “Letting Go” Dixie Chicks, “Wide Open Spaces”
The list comes to a close with ten classic records from some of the era’s most commercially and critically successful stars. It’s easy to be cynical about country radio these days, but unlike most of the songs on the lists we compile now, 1993’s best singles got a lot of airplay. All but one of our top ten entries reached the top five of the singles chart. If we could get a success rate today that was anywhere near that, it might be safe to turn on the radio again! Enjoy the end to this list, and us writers will enjoy that rare downtime that comes between finishing the publication of one of these lists and starting another one! #10 “Nothin’ But the Wheel” Patty Loveless Written by John Scott Sherrill Peak: #20 #3 – BF | #7 – KJC | #24 – SG Loveless’ brokenhearted narrator takes to the Read More
How strong a year for country music was 1993? Well, if our Best Albums list revealed how many great artists were overlooked, our Best Singles list reveals why there is so little room at the inn. Out of the forty singles ranked among our best, all but five reached the top twenty of the Billboard country singles chart. Ten of them made it all the way to #1, and another nine of them stopped at #2. Country radio in 1993 was good. Our list kicks off today with the first ten entries of the top forty. We’ll reveal ten more every day until we get to the top of the list on Tuesday. Under each entry, you’ll see each single’s peak position on the Billboard chart and the individual ranking for each writer who included it on their own top forty list. #40 “On the Road” Lee Roy Parnell Written Read More
The combined efforts of nine women and three men form the upper echelon of our Best Albums list from 1993. This embarrassment of riches showcases just how much great music there was to choose from that year, especially given how many of the genre’s biggest and most acclaimed stars – Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Pam Tillis, just to name a few – were between albums that year. It was also a strong and diverse enough year that despite some overall consensus among the lists of all of the writers, each one of us has a different album at #1 on our personal lists. Enjoy the second half of our list, and look for the Singles list to kick off next weekend. #10 Uncle Tupelo Anodyne #1 – JK | #3 – SG In jumping to a major label, Uncle Tupelo was supposed to give Read More
How could you ever tell them apart? Thank goodness we have the diversity and variety of male voices in country music to keep things fresh. With deep gratitude to country music programmers for knowing what we really want. Thanks to your leadership, the genre is so much richer with talent today than it was in 1993.
Once again, technical difficulties derailed yesterday’s Daily Top Five. So we’re doubling down today. Ever notice how the Vocal Event categories at country award shows honor harmony vocals as much as they do real, full-fledged duets? The spiritual godfather of all of this is “You and I”, the not quite duet by Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, “You and I.” But the modern trend goes back to the award-sweeping “It’s Your Love”, the not quite duet by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. So for today’s Daily Double Top Fives, we’re asking you to make the distinction that the award shows don’t. What are your favorite five duets, which feature two artists actually trading off lines, and what are your favorite five “all-star” harmony vocals? Here are mine: Top Five Duets Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “The Last Thing on My Mind” Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Read More
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
Our annual list concludes with a look at our ten favorite albums of 2011.
Check out Part One to see #11-#20, and look for our countdown of the year’s best singles tomorrow.
Top Twenty Albums of 2011, Part One: #10-#1
Lady & Gentlemen
On the surface, Lady & Gentleman is a concept album, flying in the face of a genre whose gender bias sometimes feels like the elephant in the room. But as with the best concept albums, it’s not the concept that carries it. With her most thoughtful, vocally mature performances to date, Rimes herself is the heartbeat of the set, deftly navigating the songs with a blend of reverence and fearlessness.
And she has plenty of room to shine: rather than trying to rebirth a collection of classics, Rimes and her team tastefully reinvigorate the songs with production risks (“Swingin’”), lyrical twists (“Good Hearted Women”) and the occasional overhaul (“When I Call Your Name”). The result is an album that stands neither as a tribute nor as a statement, but as a unique body of work that earns its merits all on its own. – Tara Seetharam