Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 2: #30-#21

The list continues today with the next ten entries, a collection of hits, could’ve been hits and should’ve been hits. Adventurous radio programmers, take note.


Little Big Town, “Fine Line”

There’s a fine line between imitation and tribute, and Little Big Town lands on the proper side of the balance.  Karen Fairchild steps forward on this flashback to ’70s SoCal country-rock, and her biting, expressive performance matches perfectly with an admonishment of a distant lover. Very fine, indeed.  – BB


Willie Nelson, “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore”

This ridiculous but fun single just sounds like a Willie Nelson song. While it’s a 2008 single, it sounds as though it could have been recorded at the height of Nelson’s career. Moreover, Willie’s voice sounds as strong as ever here.  – LW


The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs & Ashley Monroe, “Old Enough”

A thrilling, organic collaboration that sounds cooler and more convincing with each listen. It probably hasn’t gotten enough exposure to be remembered several years down the line, but it’s one of 2008’s most compelling arguments for the uncanning of country music.  – DM


Eddy Arnold, “To Life”

A glorious swan song from an incomparable talent.    When it charted shortly after his death, Arnold became the only artist in history to hit the country singles chart in seven different decades. – KJC


Joey + Rory, “Cheater Cheater”

This tell-off ditty has a cute bite, and its malicious irrationality is delivered with a knowing wink that has been regrettably absent in many recent, like-minded harangues (cough cough, “Picture to Burn”). Still, it’s the frenetic bluegrass production and the couple’s palpable chemistry that ultimately sell the thing.  – DM


Crystal Shawanda, “You Can Let Go”

The prevalence of three-act story songs makes the plot line here predictable, but newcomer Shawanda’s tender, understated vocal performance is anything but ordinary.    The results are fully genuine and sincere. – KJC


Dierks Bentley, “Trying to Stop Your Leaving”

Dierks Bentley has one of the most interesting voices in country music right now. His ragged voice wraps around this melodically interesting song in a way that magnetically draws its listener in. – LW


Gary Allan, “Learning How to Bend”

As music goes, very few men could pull off lines like, “I’m still learning how to trust / It’s so hard to open up” without sounding like total wusses, mostly because most men couldn’t sell that kind of couples-counseling line with any psychological conviction. Allan, of course, is not most men. He understands the need to play against the vulnerability of the song in order to convey his character’s established pride, and his vocal burns with the memory of unspoken hurt even as he pledges emotional and spiritual surrender.  – DM


Ashton Shepherd, “Sounds So Good”

Ashton Shepherd is one of the most notable newcomers of 2008. Her definitive country voice sings this unshakably catchy song with a freshness that should have been embraced by country radio. – LW


Marcel, “I Love This Song”

Marcel is one of those quirky singers who knows how to write and sing some wonderfully mindless songs. This one is no exception. He “loves this song” and there’s no doubt about it! – LW


  1. I’m glad to see “Cheater, Cheater” and “Fine Line” in the top 30 (though I personally would’ve ranked them just a tad higher).

    Kinda surprised with Dierks’ song being included. I thought it was just a so-so song from him. I don’t know why I never really got hooked onto it, maybe it was because when I saw him live back in April this song didn’t sound too great. I don’t know but if I was making the list that song probably wouldn’t be on it.

    But that aside, this is a great list! I’m enjoying reading it!

  2. This is a lot of fun..

    Of course we aren’t going to agree with all the rankings, but it is clear that a lot of thought and care was put into the compiling of this list, and the unconventional creativity is refreshing. And the little synopsis (pl?) for each song are excellent!

    Great job folks, now put Patty’s Why Baby Why at or near the top, and it’ll be a near perfect list!

  3. There are a couple of seriously bad songs in this latest installment. Marcel? Seriously, Leeann? And while I think Crystal Shawanda deserves more love than she’s gotten, that single is pretty cringe-worthy.

  4. I have to agree with Matt on Marcel. Who the heck is he anyway. Of course that’s a retorical question and I do know him, but I don’t particularly think he’s all that great. Also, Sounds So Good seems too low but hey, that’s why we have these lists. It’s fun going through them and seeing what different opinions people have here. It’s one of the best qualities of this place. People come, disagree, agree, but they remain respectful for one another.

    Looking forward to the rest.

  5. I don’t know about his status these days, but I noticed that even his first album has been discontinued by the manufacturer according to Amazon.

  6. Yeah, I have to say that I’m not feeling you guys (and girl) at all on the Marcel. I’d normally hold my tongue, but since the blurb was provided by Leeann – who’s part of the Bradley Walker club – I just have to make it clear that that is not the official position of the party.

  7. Hey, you don’t have to hold your tongue. I’m fully aware that he’s not for everyone…obviously…considering his lack of popular status. I think there’s room enough in this world for me to enjoy both Marcel and Bradley Walker. I hope so anyway, because that’s the way it is.:)

  8. Perhaps I should actually bother to listen to this Marcel song, see what all the commotion is about.

    Glad to see Dierks Bentley and Ashton Shepherd on the list for their contributions.

  9. Nice list. The highlights out of them would be “Fine Line”, “You Can Let Go” and “Sounds So Good”.

    To me, Little Big Town has much more artistic capability than what they are making Lady A out to be; Lady A is good but Little Big Town IMHO will be then country Fleetwood Mac without the drugs and disputes hopefully ;)

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