Kevin J. Coyne’s Top Singles of 2008

Gone are the days where this would just be called the Country Universe’s Top Singles of 2008.   The collective tastes of our writers makes for more distinguished lists, but thankfully, there’s still a place for my personal favorites.   Here are the twenty singles of 2008 that I enjoyed the most.

#20: Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney, “Every Other Weekend”

A welcome return to domestic themes, which have often provided McEntire with her best work.   This plays out the like the epilogue to “Somebody Should Leave.”

sara-evans#19: Sara Evans, “Low”

Triumph in the face of adversity, as the surrounding negative energy is rejected in favor of a positive and determined move toward the future.  Plus, it’s a little bluegrassy, which just sounds cool.

#18: Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt”

Even Conway Twitty wasn’t so good at slipping in mature themes so skillfully.    There are children across the country bopping along to this one without a clue about how she ended up wearing that shirt.

#17: Josh Turner featuring Trisha Yearwood, “Another Try”

Turner’s unsure vocal reveals emotion for a moment, then pulls back, then reveals a little bit of it again.   He’s hoping for one more chance, but it doesn’t sound like he’s convinced himself that he’ll truly “hang on for dear life” next time.

#16: Tim McGraw, “Let it Go”

Letting go of the past doesn’t mean that you forget your mistakes.    Rather, you resolve to learn from them without letting them dictate your future.

#15: Sarah Buxton, “Space”

With a vocal reminiscent of Rebecca Lynn Howard’s “Forgive”, Buxton allows her fleeing lover his self-inflicted wound, but makes sure to turn the knife as he goes.

jewel-stronger-woman#14: Jewel, “Stronger Woman”

Intelligent female writing returns to country radio, if only for a flickering moment.

#13: Donna Fargo, “We Can Do Better in America”

A beautiful bookend to “You Can’t Be a Beacon (If Your Light Don’t Shine)”, with her challenge to Americans the same as that classic hit’s challenge to Christians: live by a higher standard, and others will follow.

#12: Keith Anderson, “I Still Miss You”

You can’t hide from a memory, especially when that person is never coming back and they took part of your identity with them.

#11: Brad Paisley, “Waitin’ on a Woman”

A beautiful love story that turns a sexist stereotype on its head, as waiting on a woman is transformed from an annoyance to an honor and a privilege.

#10: Randy Houser, “Anything Goes”

The Ghost of Ronnie Dunn Past is gloriously resurrected, giving country music something to look forward to in the future.

eddy-arnold#9: Eddy Arnold, “To Life”

The musical equivalent of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech at Yankee Stadium.

#8: Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”

Moody, somber, quietly bitter.   Womack at her best.

#7: Crystal Shawanda, “You Can Let Go”

A parent must let go for the child to even know they’re ready to go it alone.   But in the end, it is the child who must let go, and pretend that they’re ready.   The choke in Shawanda’s vocal during the final verse reveals the lie.

#6: Del McCoury Band, “Moneyland”

If the news media captured the truth as vividly as Del McCoury does here, the entire country would take to the streets.

#5: LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”

Her finest moment.

carrie-underwood-just-a-dream#4: Carrie Underwood, “Just a Dream”

The suffocating pain of a nightmare reality, where you will yourself to wake up from a hard truth your mind cannot accept.

#3: Sugarland, “Already Gone”

Where life’s journey is our feet madly dashing to keep up with our fast-moving heart.

#2: Randy Travis, “Dig Two Graves”

Two decades after releasing the perfect wedding song, Travis returns with the perfect anniversary song.  Forever and ever? Amen.

#1: Trisha Yearwood, “This is Me You’re Talking To”



  1. I love how you resurrected your original review for the Yearwood song.:)

    Great point about the Urban song.

    I actually like the McGraw song too.

  2. I think Josh Turner’s finest contribution to 2008 is all by his lonesome with “Everything is Fine”.

    Love Space Kevin but just get a little angry because it seems I can’t own a legal copy of this song.

  3. Great list. Thanks for including #7. Hard for this daddy not to relate to that one.

    Your list was especially fair to females, with 11 of the 20 selections by (or partly by) women. Is it indicative of strong year overall for country females in 2008, or a down year for the males? Just askin.’

  4. Great list …

    Love how you made the connection between ‘Every Other Weekend’ and ‘Somebody Should Leave’ – I had never thought about it, but EOW could easily be Act 2 of ‘Somebody Should Leave’.

  5. Jim O,

    You can buy Sarah Buxton’s “Space” quite legally, at Amazon’s MP3 store. It’s my new store of choice. Better quality downloads, and usually cheaper, too! (Leeann and Dan sold me on it!)

  6. Great list!! I totally agree with this one! It has all the songs I would include in my top 20 list (if I did one).

    Oh and I know you weren’t telling me, but thanks for saying where you can download “Space” legally! I’m on my way there now!!

  7. I don’t like to be the one to be nit-picky (and I even went and listened to the song to be sure), Leeann, but the line you’re talking about is ‘you need the kids, and they need me’. Just wanted to clarify.

  8. Oh, thanks for the clarification. Your way, the right one, actually makes sense while the way I wrote it really takes the poignancy and point right out of the line, doesn’t it? It’s the “You need the kids” part that gets me anyway.

  9. Some really great choices Kevin…I am especially delighted that you included Sara Evan’s “Low”.

    Not my absolute favorite from Sara, but it’s a good one, and deserves to be on many more lists.

  10. Great list! I agree with most of the songs on here, and am also pleased to see “Low”! Although it’s not one of Sara’s best songs, it’s still a great piece of music.

  11. Its so nice to see Sara Evans on the top 20 list espessially with “Low” one of the highlight singles of her career – I love the bluegrass instrumental to it. And her vocals perform such a happy and positive mood over the song, Thanks for adding it on there!


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