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Trace Adkins, “All I Ask For Anymore”

July 13, 2009 Dan Milliken 1

I was wary about reviewing this after hearing the gist, as I’ve become pretty sick of songs that remark on how awesome and fulfilling everyday life is. It’s not the theme itself that bothers me; it’s that most songs just gush about it, as though they have to really hype up the idea for you to buy in. It usually ends up sounding more defensive than celebratory, like an insecure person trying to brag – “What? All my friends just got raises? Well, I’ve got all I need, and it’s alright by me! I’m living in paradise! Yeah! So screw you guys!”

Not the case with “All I Ask For Anymore.” There is an understated, unassuming quality to this lyric that just makes it sound real, even as the verses cover a lot of well-trod ground. I suppose the key difference lies in the approach – he’s not straining to prove how great life with his wife and kids is; he’s just reflecting on how it’s changed him and leaving us to make our own judgments. Music for adults – nice.

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Album Sales Update: July 2009

July 11, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 10

It’s time for an album sales update, our first since May 23. Brad Paisley is off to a strong start with American Saturday Night, selling 130k in its first week. That’s about 70k less than his previous two studio albums – Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear – opened with, but not a terrible drop-off, considering the state of the music market.

Meanwhile, the new studio albums by Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban are slowing down considerably, now being outpaced on a weekly basis by 2008 releases by Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.

Among younger acts with a new album in 2009, the most impressive sales are coming from Jason Aldean, while 2008 releases from Kellie Pickler, Billy Currington, and Randy Houser are showing new signs of life.

Biggest disappointments? It’s hard not to look in the direction of Martina McBride, who has barely cleared the 100k mark on her new studio set. Lee Ann Womack’s 2008 set just made it over that mark, too. Then again, one only needs to have sold 455 copies to make the chart this week, with the anchor position going to Wynonna with that total. Her covers album Sing – Chapter 1 has sold 41k to date.

Here are the latest totals for albums released over the past three years that are still charting:


  • Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 842,000
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 452,000
  • Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 384,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II – 281,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 219,000
  • Martina McBride, Shine – 104,000
  • John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 103,000
  • Eric Church, Carolina – 94,000
  • Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 88,000
  • Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 81,000
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Steve Holy, “Baby, Don’t Go”

July 10, 2009 Leeann Ward 3

As heard in Steve Holy’s last real hit, “Brand New Girlfriend”, Holy demonstrates his penchant for hook-y melodies that still border on obnoxiousness. His latest, “Baby, Don’t Go” only manages to up the ante.

Supported by a fast paced, driving production, Holy pleads for his woman not to leave him. His pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears as his performance gets more frenzied and the reasons for staying feel more ridiculous: “Clouds are overhead,/A storm is moving in,/What a bad time to be on the road./It’s a poor idea with the fuel prices high and your gas tank is really low/So baby don’t go, baby don’t go.”

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Toby Keith, “American Ride”

July 10, 2009 Dan Milliken 111

The intro could pass for a Hamster Dance rendering of Reba’s “Strange.” The verses rattle off about tidal waves at the Mexican border and impressionable kids on “the YouTube.” And the chorus – the chorus is like that song from Team America (you know the one – “America, [Shucks] Yeah!”) cross-bred with the soundtrack of one of those overcooked Super Bowl car commercials where you don’t know it’s a car commercial at first, but then the car comes out and climbs over a mountain or something and you’re like, “oh, all that for a friggin’ car commercial!”

Yeah. But seriously, what else can you say about a song like this? There was a time when the sheer audacity would surprise me, but coming from late-00’s Toby, it just seems like one more cog in a big wheel of Ridiculous. And maybe that’s kind of on purpose?

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Keith Urban, “Only You Can Love Me This Way”

July 9, 2009 Tara Seetharam 24

It’s been a long time since radio’s heard Keith Urban pour his heart into a ballad, and for all the splashy fun that came with his past few singles, it’s nice to hear him simply emote again. “Only You Can Love Me This Way” is a refreshingly stripped-down track that doesn’t consist of much beyond a simple melody, gentle guitar, and Urban’s tender vocals – raw with emotion and remarkably skillful in delivery.

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Zac Brown Band, “Toes”

July 9, 2009 Leeann Ward 2

At this point, it’s admittedly not original to compare The Zac Brown Band’s island flavored “Toes” to Kenny Chesney’s multiple attempts at tackling such sounds and themes. Likewise, it has not been original for awhile to compare Chesney to the iconic Jimmy Buffett who has clearly been one of Chesney’s musical influences over the past decade. Still, it seems just about impossible to avoid making such obvious comparisons.

So, where does “Toes” rank on the Chesney-Buffett continuum? Zac Brown and his crew have assembled a song worthy of the Buffett catalog, therefore, surpassing any beach themed song that Chesney has offered us thus far. While they freely give us “a** in the sand”, Chesney can only muster “a big ol’ pile of shift work” at this point.

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2009's Remaining Release Schedule Comes into Focus

July 8, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 41

Thus far, 2009’s releases have done little to fire up the charts, with most of this year’s strongest-selling albums being holdovers from 2008. While Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban have sold strongly, the chart remains dominated by last year’s releases from Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Jamey Johnson.

So what’s left for 2009? Here’s what we know so far:

New Releases

  • Carrie Underwood will release her third studio album on November 3, with a lead single going to radio this fall. Her previous set, Carnival Ride, is nearing sales of 3 million, and produced four #1 singles and a #2 single, all five of which were certified gold in their own right.
  • George Strait will release Twang on August 11. It’s the follow-up to his 33rd platinum album Troubadour, a set which produced his 43rd #1 single and earned him the first Grammy of his career, along with a pair of CMA trophies (Single and Album)
  • Miranda Lambert is readying Revolution for September 29. Lead single “Dead Flowers” is struggling at radio, but that’s never slowed her down at retail anyway.
  • Reba McEntire’s Valory debut Keep on Lovin’ You arrives August 18. Lead single “Strange” is approaching the top ten.
  • Willie Nelson releases another standards collection called American Classic on August 25.
  • Brooks & Dunn’s new studio album streets on September 8, preceded by lead single “Indian Summer.” The duo’s previous set, Cowboy Town, was their first to fall short of gold certification.
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Rascal Flatts, “Summer Nights”

July 8, 2009 Tara Seetharam 14

Let’s have the lyrics speak for themselves:

Now fellas, you better watch your step
Don’t let them teeny French bikinis
Make you lose your breath
Back to the ladies
Y’all keep doing y’all’s thing
‘Cause everything about you
Makes me wanna scream

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Brad Paisley, “Welcome to the Future”

July 7, 2009 Tara Seetharam 9

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Paisley said about his newest single: “It’s really rare that you feel musically that something you do is more important than just entertainment. And I feel like this song is maybe more important than just entertainment.”

This statement will be met with many a raised eyebrow, and understandably so, as it comes from the artist who previously breathed musical life into ticks, alcohol and MySpace. But interestingly, it’s the same intuitive, sharply clever perspective behind Paisley’s novelty songs that allows him to so tastefully tackle the socially-conscious “Welcome to the Future” – a solid, moving track that is both musically and, as Paisley said, thematically relevant.

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Sugarland, “Joey”

July 7, 2009 Dan Milliken 16

Thought: being Jennifer Nettles allows you to get away with a lot of things that would wreck lesser singers. Her co-write “Joey” is certainly one of the more interesting songs getting shipped to country radio this year, with its drunk-driving scenario and unique “what if” narrative, but it’s also a bit of a mess, with verses that promise much and a chorus that delivers practically nothing – lyrically, emotionally, even melodically. Coming from a less soulful voice box, you know the thing would never float.

Lucky for Sugarland, Nettles’ surging performance manages to keep the track chugging along for longer than it probably deserves to, offering some interesting moments amid all the more underwhelming ones. With her in tow, plus a nice arrangement reminiscent of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”, even the song’s hiccups manage to sound like something worth hearing.

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