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. #20 “Soon” Tanya Tucker Written by Casey Kelly and Bob Regan Peak: #2 #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 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
Today, we kick off our Best of 1993 feature with the first part of our album retrospective. Included in this list are the debut albums of two underrated singer-songwriters, confident projects from the genre’s leading ladies, and highlights from legends of both the mainstream and alternative country landscapes. When our writers wax rhapsodic about the glory days of the nineties, one reason why is that albums as great as this aren’t even among the top ten albums of the year. Look for the conclusion of the albums list tomorrow and the singles list next weekend! #20 Lari White Lead Me Not #9 – JK | #19 – KJC Rather than establishing a clear identity for Lari White as an artist, Lead Me Not made for an eclectic debut, as White and producer Rodney Crowell explored styles ranging from traditional country and jazzy torch ballads to torrid Southern gospel and even Read More
This week in 1792, Kentucky became the fifteenth state to join the union. It’s also the state that two Country Universe writers – Jonathan Keefe and myself – call home. Kentucky is well known as the home of bluegrass music, but our state’s rich musical heritage spans multiple genres. A wide variety of music legends hail from the bluegrass state, while its unique natural beauty and varied culture has served as inspiration for many a songwriter. Jonathan and I have put our heads together for a Country Universe Top Five that covers two topics in one. I’ve chosen my top five favorite artists from Kentucky, while he has chosen his top five favorite songs about Kentucky. Since there are plenty of eligible inclusions for both topics, this leaves plenty of room for reader discussion, so be sure to share your own choices in the comments. Ben’s Top Five Artists from Kentucky: 1. Read More
We’ve been beefing up our activity on Twitter of late– for those of you not following us yet, you’ll never in a million years believe that our name is @CountryUniverse— and have been enjoying the opportunity to engage with our readers– and, on occasion, with the artists we’ve written about– using that platform. So, for this Daily Top Five, we’ve listed some of our most essential, “Must Follow” Twitter accounts! Country Music News, Culture, & Humor: 1). Windmills Country (@WindmillsMusic) You want opinions that are driven by real data and thoughtful, incisive analysis? No one does it better. 2). Grady Smith (@gradywsmith) The in-house country music columnist for The Guardian has truly stepped up in a post-Chris Neal, post-Chet Flippo world. 3). Americana Music Association (@AmericanaFest) Essential coverage of the artists we love who reside on the fringes of the country universe. 4). Jessica Northey (@JessicaNorthey) No one works harder 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.
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 ORIGINAL POST: 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 Read More
Kristian Bush of Sugarland released his debut solo album this year, and the buzz on it has been good. Good enough, in fact, to inspire its own Daily Top Five! What are your favorite solo singles by artists famous for being in a duo or group? For my list, I stuck to singles from their first solo projects, but feel free to break that rule! Radney Foster, “Nobody Wins” (Foster & Lloyd) Wynonna, “She is His Only Need” (The Judds) Larry Stewart, “Alright Already” (Restless Heart) Ronnie Dunn, “Bleed Red” (Brooks & Dunn) Heidi Newfield, “What am I Waiting For?” (Trick Pony)
Kimmie Rhodes Cowgirl Boudoir Though she’s recorded steadily since the late 80s, Texas singer-songwriter Kimmie Rhodes hasn’t enjoyed either the commercial or critical cachet of many of the other alt-country and Americana acts. Both Wynonna and Trisha Yearwood have recorded her songs, but she hasn’t been a steady go-to songwriter like, say, Gretchen Peters or Kim Richey. That’s largely the result of how unassuming Rhodes’ work routinely is: Her songs are never less than well-constructed and are always observed in plainspoken but effective lines, while her singing hinges on her gentle, wispy voice.
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