The Worst Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #20-#11

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The Worst Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #20-#11

The Lost Trailers, “Holler Back”

If your response to hearing “Holler Back” is to brag that you’ve got a holler back in the woods, I suggest that you and your music stay there.

Trailer Choir, “Rockin’ the Beer Gut”

I appreciate the sincerity, but it can’t overcome the fact that he’s rockin’ the Autotune and singin’ the most ridiculous lyric of the year.

Bucky Covington, “A Different World”

Bucky and I are roughly the same age, and I know for a fact that we grew up with seat belts, video games, and remote controls.  What’s next, Taylor Swift singing about growing up without the internet?

Toby Keith featuring Krystal, “Mockingbird”

As endearing as it is that Toby Keith wanted to help his daughter on to country radio, I have to ask the question: Why is one of country music’s greatest all-time vocalists aping James Taylor’s far less capable vocal stylings? Did we really need to hear Toby Keith sing, “Yes indeed-o?”

Billy Ray Cyrus featuring Miley Cyrus, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”

Then again, trying to help your daughter is a heck of a lot more sympathetic than riding on her coattails. I’d give this a pass if it was the original recording, but slapping Miley on to the track when the solo version is struggling at radio is just sad.

Blake Shelton, “The Baby”

Or as he sings it, “The Bay-ay-bee.”

Neal McCoy, “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On”

Of all of the nineties stars to make a one-off comeback, did it have to be the man who brought us “The Shake?”

Gretchen Wilson, “All Jacked Up”

In which Wilson sees both her front tooth and her pickup truck damaged, and pundits are left debating which one best symbolizes what she’s done to her career.

Brad Paisley, “Ticks”

A warning to all the ladies: If a stranger starts talking to you like this at a bar, please don’t follow him into the woods. It won’t end well.

Trace Adkins, “Swing”

The strikes are called after you swing, not before them. Stupid songwriters.


  1. I thought the same thing too when I heard Bucky’s song, he didnt live without any of those things. I used to like Blake Shelton, but he got boring and I liked him even less when I started reading his Twitter tweets.
    I hope to see plenty of Trace and Brad in the top 10!

  2. I’m not sure that Bucky’s age is a valid reason to dislike “A Different World”. So what if he’s too young to have personally experienced some of the things the lyrics describe? Since when should singers be limited to singing about what they’ve personally experienced? Hopefully every cheating and drinking song that’s ever been recorded wasn’t a true-life experience for the artist.

    As long as the singer can convincingly interpret the lyrics — and perhaps that is the real issue here — his or her age shouldn’t matter. Tanya Tucker was too young to have experienced most of the topics her early hits dealt with, but that her age was never an impediment to her effectiveness as an interpreter of the lyrics.

  3. Bucky’s “A Different World” gets on my nerves. He seems to pick bad things to be nostalgic for. Are we really nostalgic for seats without belts? TVs without remotes? Paint with lead? Why not be nostalgic about things from the past that are actually worth missing? Or at least discuss good characteristics of those things (“Hey remember when we got our first color TV?) rather than play up the obviously inferior qualities.

    Maybe the song isn’t supposed to be nostalgic? Maybe its supposed to be a history lesson or sorts? Maybe I am missing something.

  4. “Ticks” doesn’t belong on this list at all.

    Neither does does “A Different World” which is mediocre but not terrible. If I recall Kevin’s earlier review correctly, he took umbrage at a singer as young as Covington dealing with the subject matter

    “All Jacked Up” is borderline, but the rest of the songs in this grouping are bad

  5. Ooh, the spookiness continues. I totally agree with all of these (especially the Toby Keith atrocity) except for “The Baby”. I really do like it for some reason. But yes, Cory, his tweets are pretty obnoxious. Thanks for mentioning those great Tanya Tucker southern gothic numbers from the 70s, Razor. Loved the write up for the Billy Ray Cyrus entry. Can’t wait for the Top 10!

  6. I’m going to chime in and agree with the Covington song’s inclusion. It’s pandering, lowest common denominator stuff, but my biggest gripe with ‘A Different World’ isn’t so much that he’s not old enough to remember those things, but that he even wanted to reminisce fondly about lead paint, the lack of bottled water, or whatever else. And that opening line just killed the song for me anyway, “We were born to mothers who smoked and drank” … like, ‘Hey let’s get all the women to start smoking and drinking while they’re pregnant again. Our generation is better for it.’

    It’s hard not to despise him as a singer, and it’s fairly obvious he (and dozens more just like him) are more concerned with getting airplay and selling albums, getting his name known, than he is concerned with making worthwhile music. And now he’s releasing a Nickelback cover!

  7. “A Different World” isn’t a great song by any means, but I don’t think it’s saying that we should go back to lead paint, cars without seatbelts and encouraging pregnant women to smoke and drink. Rather, I think it’s a commentary on the current day and age, when we’re bombarded, on almost a daily basis, about things that are going to kill us, ranging from cell phones to drinking out of plastic bottles. The song is attempting to contrast this ridiculous alarmism by referring to some of the unsafe practices that were commonplace in the past, which we somehow managed to survive.

  8. Razor X — I agree the song isn’t saying we should go back to those days. It’s saying those days were different, and Bucky seems to approve of those days, but I don’t think he’s saying those days were better.

    But that doesn’t mean he isn’t nostalgic for those days, and I still find it odd that someone would be nostalgic for the particular things he mentions. So maybe you are right, the song isn’t about nostalgia, but about excessive alarmism. I do think there is a lot of ridiculous alarmism today, so you are onto something I thing.

    But I still think the examples Bucky picks would be a bit questionable. Its only half true that we “somehow managed to survive” those unsafe practices: sure, society lives on, but many, many people have died or were injured from these things. There is a lot of needless alarmism, but smoking, driving w/o seatbelts, using lead based paints all seem like legitimate safety risks.

    I think you raise a really good point but still somehow Bucky’s examples just don’t quite work for me. And if he is trying to contrast the ridiculous alarmism we see today with days gone by, it might help his case a bit to identify some overblown scares, as you do (e.g., cell phone caner). I think you make the point better than Bucky did.

  9. I don’t think its so bad that Bucky’s song places him in a generation he is too young for. Sure, it may be a bit unbelievable, but its not that detrimental to the song. Lots of country songs are in some way not entirely believable. Its not that fatal to Bucky’s song, for me.

    Maybe a difference between Bucky and Tanya is that some of Tanya’s older male fans may have derived some secret pleasure from her singing about “age inappropriate” matter. That early material may appeal to the dirty old man lurking in many listeners!

  10. He’s not singing about a generation other than his own. He’s making himself a member of a generation other than his own. It requires far too much suspension of disbelief for my tastes.

  11. “The song is attempting to contrast this ridiculous alarmism by referring to some of the unsafe practices that were commonplace in the past, which we somehow managed to survive.”

    I mean, we managed to survive them. I have to wonder how those who died from lead-based paint and the like would feel about the song from beyond the grave.

  12. He’s not singing about a generation other than his own. He’s making himself a member of a generation other than his own. It requires far too much suspension of disbelief for my tastes.

    You can’t determine how old he is by listening to him sing this song on the radio. Are you saying that this song wouldn’t have appeared on your list if Bucky were 10 years older?

  13. I have to wonder how those who died from lead-based paint and the like would feel about the song from beyond the grave.

    I’d imagine that they’re focused on things other than Bucky,if they’re focused on anything at all.

  14. I cannot disagree with any of the songs on this list… I did NOT like “Ticks” and I’m glad that BRC got a mention on this list.. I too am tired of him riding on Miley’s coatails.. -_-

    I expect to see Taylor and the Flatt Boys in the top 10.

  15. wow, this is the strangest comment list I have seen about “A Different World” Bucky is from a very small town that is about 10 years slower than the rest of the world. He said in one interview that he remembered only three channels when he was younger and many other things in the song. While cars may have had seat belts in them, the laws weren’t mandatory until 1985 for New York and five or more years later for most other states. Bucky would have been a kid during the 1980’s riding around without seat belts and they certainly did not have cable tv if the metro cities had it. My question is since when is any artist held to be so accountable for the lyrics? Although song begins in the third person, Carrie’s “Wasted” was about a drunk. – Carrie is not an alcoholic to my knowledge. Reba is from Oklahoma and not from Georgia and certainly didn’t kill anybody as stated in the lyrics to “The Nights the Lights Went out in “Georgia”-
    I personally like the song “A Different World” and agree he was the definitely on the tail end that generation but he was in it. But regardless, I think your list is fun and my comment is directed more toward the commenters than the original post. It is a fun list and I am sure everyone agrees with some and disagrees with others but the comments have definitely taken on a life of their own. Life is certainly too short to be so serious about everything and definitely over-analytical….just relax, enjoy the music. Hey, I wasn’t wild about “Ticks” the first time I heard it but it grew on me.

  16. Jenna says, “Life is certainly too short to be so serious about everything and definitely over-analytical…just relax, enjoy the music.”

    I would say life is to short not to be analytical; as for enjoying the music, it is the analysis of the music that I enjoy most. As for being “too serious;” music is important and ought to be taken seriously. Music can influence how people think and behave. That’s serious stuff. That’s not to say music is not fun. Again, I find that treating music seriously makes music much more fun and rewarding for me.

    I recognize and respect that others would differ on these points.

  17. Toby chose that song to sing with his daughter because he and she had performed that song for family and friends at holidays and gatherings since she was a little girl.

  18. I wouldn’t have enjoyed “A Different World” if I’d heard Haggard singing it on the radio, let alone if I’d heard Covington’s recording without knowing his back story.

    But all of my judgments have been made knowing Covington’s back story. I heard him for the first time on Idol, which launched his career, so like it was with Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler, I wasn’t hearing him for the first time.

  19. To be fair to Cyrus, I don’t think that single was released as anything but the duet version. Yes, he recorded it on his own record but it was released and promoted by the label as the duet, not the solo version.

    I have to agree with Razor about the argument that he’s too young to have lived through those days. Yes, he’s the younger end of it, but he is roughly the same age as me too and my mother was someone who smoked when pregnant with her kids and I turned out ‘ok’ so I have to agree with

  20. I don’t think the problem lies entirely with Bucky’s age or generation, but rather, that he’s being preachy in the song, as if it was his generation. Tanya Tucker may have been singing songs that were too old for her age, but she wasn’t preachy about days gone by in them. I think the lyrics are irresponsible in a way, but I really hate his phrasing throughout the song. I don’t know why he has to draw out the words like “life.” Yuck. I honestly wouldn’t like this song if George Strait had sung it though.

  21. I have to say that I’m really liking the snarkiness on this list.

    I like “Ticks”, “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” and “Mockingbird.” I’m not going to try to defend it though, because I’m well aware that I probably shouldn’t like them.

  22. these lists are all about personal like or dislike of the artists. I find it humorous that the reason “A different World” is on this list is the writer of the article doesn’t have the ability to suspend disbelief of the singer’s actually having lived the things he sings about. In that case, most country songs are not worthy of listening to, because many of them are written by those who do not sing them and often those who sing what they write did not in any way live the life in their song. For instance, Reba’s “Fancy.” You heard the song when you were younger, it’s a classic, it’s Reba, sure she never grew up and was thrown out to become a prostitute but hey, it’s Reba.

    For the record I never cared for “A different world” but that’s just my own personal taste, not because I think it’s a bad song. It’s actually much better than a lot of the tripe on the radio now, or even tripe on the radio 20-30 years ago. Once again, that’s my opinion, just like all these “worst singles” are based on pre-conceived taste in music of the blogger and those that write in.

  23. Just wanted to add..I try to keep away from these kinds of sites and blogs anymore. I enjoy music from all parts of traditional and pop-country, and the self-important “It’s terrible because it’s not to my taste or my idea of what a country song is or what it should be about, and I’m the final arbiter of what country music or even music is. This person can’t sing/can’t write/can’t do anything I approve of, so they should never even attempt to be a musical artist even tho it’s someething they love and are successful at. Why don’t they just go die, and let other people that I approve of but can’t become successful because everyone else doesn’t like them as much become the popular act/singer/artist of the day. Wah, wah wah country music is terrible and all the modern country artists are horrible and I’m going to tear them down all I can because I don’t like em. Just like all gossip blogs, you people are forever dredging up everything negative about what you are supposed to love and trying to tear down anyone that doesnt fit your exact little world and niche of music. I swear when I come here I begin to hate everything about the music industry, what happened to all of you that you turn on anything new by anyone you’ve decided you disapprove of and your mindset is “What do I hate about this? What can I say to belittle this person and their music and their efforts? Why is this not what I think should be played on the radio?” pahhhh grow up all of you and get a little joy in your life and a little enjoyment of music back. Your going to turn into sour old men and women with years of hatred of the music you supposedly love in your memory, and bitterness and guile in your minds toward people that are only out there doing what they love to do. Where’s the country music spirit in that?

  24. I am shocked to see “The Baby” on the list! “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” is another one of my favorites, but I can see how it made the list.. haha

  25. Hi all! Just wanted to say that I’m 25 and can relate to the bucky song even though I was born in 1984. We only had one channel on tv untill I was 13 and no remote. As a matter of fact one of our tv’s had a dial on it. Also, untill it became law in va we never drove with seatbelts, the old houses here in the Shenandoah valley were full of lead paint and yes we did dink from a garden hose in the summer! Where I grew up is not a progressive place and that’s why I love it! Its also why I love the song. To me its a song about looking back and being thankful you didn’t grow up in the internet, cell phone, 300 channel, don’t visit your neightbors world that we live in today. So ney sayers bucky can totally relate to this song and I can find you thousands more younger than him who like myself look back on that time as the best time of our lives! Thanks Jennifer Hanson for writing such a great song!

  26. Knightwalker – thius aion’t s’posed to be a fanclub site, whether for Taylor Wsift, Carrier Underwood, Buck Owens or anyone else

    Look up the meaning of the word “critical” – it is not defined as unthinking adoration.

    I do not agree with Kevin on everything (my top ten of the crappiest songs of the decade would include “Not Ready To Make Nice” and “Goodbye Earl” whereas I’m sure Kevin thinks they are both great songs) … BUT his articles are generally thoughtful and always interesting and the blogscene would be much poorer for his absence

    So Nightwalker, if fawning commentary is what you wnat, go read the fansites

  27. This list is now turning into, “Let’s place songs by popular artists here.” LAME!!!! “Ticks,” “A Different World,” “Mockinbired,” “Ready, Set, Don’t Go,” “The Baby,” along with numerous others from the previous lists wouldn’t even be on the top 250 of the worst songs of the decade.

    And the “snarkiness” on this list is neither good nor clever. It takes a special kind of writer to be able to be endearing, funny, and snarky all at once (see Roger Ebert reviews). Snarky without cleverness, or humor, is just being mean for mean’s sake.

    Kevin doesn’t show the ability to be clever in his writing.

  28. Brian says : This list is now turning into, “Let’s place songs by popular artists here.”
    Uh…considering most singles are released by popular artists, I’m not quite sure how this is a valid criticism.

    I agree with Paul’s sentiment here, of course. Couldn’t have said it better.

  29. Here is my opinion, Bucky Covington is a country music artist, out making money and having fun while living out his dream of having a career in music and J.R. Journey is here writing about it. Same with the other “critics” here. Big difference!

  30. LeeAnn- How many songs would you estimate are released to country radio every year? Let’s take what is probably a low guess and say 200. Now put that out over 10 years- that gives you 2000 songs released to radio over the past decade.

    Is “The Dollar,” by Jamey Johnson really one of the 50 worst songs out of ~1800 songs? Artists like him, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley are just on the list because they are fairly popular so it’s just picking on a target that people like.

    That isn’t actually making a list of the 50 worst songs of a decade. It’s just poking at artists people like. There is a difference between the two.

    I assume a guy like Chad Brock won’t make the list even though his songs, “Yes!,” and “The Visit,” were complete utter garbage. But he probably won’t show up on the list because he’s not popular enough to be a target.

    The first part of this list gave some promise that we were going to truly attack awful songs other than the Miranda mention. The list is delving now away from that.

    Fine if people want to read it, but to try and pretend it’s anything other than attacking artists who are popular is silly.

  31. Here is my opinion, Bucky Covington is a country music artist, out making money and having fun while living out his dream of having a career in music and J.R. Journey is here writing about it. Same with the other “critics” here. Big difference!

    Actually, that is a fact, not an opinion. And no one is disputing what you say. So what is your point?

  32. That isn’t actually making a list of the 50 worst songs of a decade. It’s just poking at artists people like. There is a difference between the two.

    It’s entirely possible for a popular artist to produce some of the worst songs; the two are not mutually exclusive. True, there may be worse songs out there that haven’t had an opportunity to be heard. That they haven’t been heard is not a bad thing.

  33. Subject matter aside, I enjoy “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” and “Ticks” – “Ticks,” in particular, has a great arrangement and melody.

    I absolutely love BRC’s “Ready, Set, Don’t Go.” I wasn’t aware that he swapped his own version with the duet on country radio, so I can’t speak for the commercial intentions behind the song. But I find it beautiful, heartfelt and actually incredibly genuine.

    Brian – there are plenty of writers out there who unfairly nitpick popular artists. Kevin, I can assure you, is not one of them.

  34. Razor- My only point is- if you were truly doing a Top 50 worst songs of the decade list I would be willing to bet anything from some of the people on this list don’t even come close. I can’t be the only person who remembers the doldrums of 2000-2003.

    Country music is down right now, but it is up from where it was around that time period.

  35. Quite a few of the popular artists on this list – Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, even Rascal Flatts – have songs that are among my favorites of the decade as well. We’re just not up to that list yet!

  36. wow i forgot about most of these songs! “A Different World”, “Mockingbird”, “All Jacked Up”, “Beer Goggles”, and “Swing.” I pretty much agree with this list! haha and I too love the write up for “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” there’s absolutely no way this song wouldve done as good as it did on radio without the inclusion of Miley.

  37. Oh and is Miley’s “The Climb” eligible for this list? If so it should def be in the top 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or, heck, maybe even be number 1!

  38. By the way, I’d say that about half of this specific part of the list targets less popular artists, including Bucky Covington. If you look at his stats, his highest charting song didn’t even go into the top five and his one album wasn’t even certified gold. I’d also point out that Trailer Choir, Gretchen Wilson, Neal McCoy and Billy Ray Cyrus aren’t exactly the popular artists of today and The Lost Trailers aren’t exactly household names either.

  39. Razor- Just personal opinion. I don’t think country music is that terrible right now. There is some junk, but there always is.

    Leann- No offense, but I don’t really expect you to be an objective voice of dissent here.

  40. About Brian’s point that this list is just picking on popular songs: In some sense, I suspect it is true that there were many singles out there that died before hitting the top 60 that could well have made the list.

    But surely a list of “Bad singles that were actually hits” is more enjoyable reading than a list of “Bad singles that you probably never heard.”

    There are a few songs on the list that I enjoy as guilty pleasures, and part of the fun of these lists is disagreeing with certain entries and agreeing with others. That would be hard to do if most of the songs were obscure.

  41. I disagree on “Tick” being in to 20-11 category, I would have put it in the 10-1 category, people have said “it’s goofy, but that’s Brad” true but that dosent make the song any better. His novelty songs got old after the release of “Celebrity” I had alot of hope for Brad Paisley, yet I havent the slightest urge to buy his past 3 albums

  42. Re. “Mockingbird”–yes, that may not have been one of J.T.’s better vocal performances (done, incidentally, with his then-missus Carly Simon. Conversely, though, when it comes to songwriting, James Taylor would eat Mr. Keith for breakfast.

  43. I love the song “A Different World” by Bucky Covington and although he may not be old enough to have experienced all of those things, he sings the song with such genuine feeling that I enjoy it. I think he does a fine job and I am also enjoying his new song Gotta Be Somebody.

  44. Thanks a lot. Now I have the “Swingbatterbatter” hook stuck in my head again for the first time since the song fell off the charts and was largely forgotten. The Detroit country station that I was listening to at the time played their edited version of this song in which sportscasters were heard talking every time Trace paused to take a breath. Overall, WYCD was a good station, but they did let their creativity run away at times. Needless to say, any song that they edited they grossly overplayed.

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