The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141


“Last Call”
Lee Ann Womack
Peak: #14

Womack’s second-best Aughts song about late-night temptations is still better than a lot of people’s first-best songs about anything. Even in avoiding her drunken ex’s advances, she sounds positively heartbroken, suggesting she’d gladly make the other decision if she didn’t know better. – Dan Milliken

159 Shania Up

“She’s Not Just a Pretty Face”
Shania Twain
Peak: #9

Her motivation for her music has always been escapism, but I love the personal touch she slips into this one. Her late mother is the one who she’s referring to when she sings “at night, she pumps gasoline.” – Kevin Coyne

158 Big Rich Horse

“Wild West Show”
Big & Rich
Peak: #21

Big & Rich’s loud “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” overshadowed this quieter song that showcases Big Kenny’s and John Rich’s supreme harmonies, their biggest asset. – Leeann Ward

157 Trace X

“Muddy Water”
Trace Adkins
Peak: #22

A gospel-infused, fervent plea for forgiveness, fueled by the power of Adkins’ rumbling vocals. – Tara Seetharam

156 Trisha Real

“Real Live Woman”
Trisha Yearwood
Peak: #16

We didn’t get any new music from Bobbie Cryner this decade, but at least we got a couple of songs, this one being the best. It’s an understated anthem to be sure, but who wouldn’t want to hold in his arms a woman with such hard-earned self-confidence? – KC

155 Dierks Modern

“Settle for a Slowdown”
Dierks Bentley
Peak: #1

The haunting opening strains of this song are captivating enough, but the ultimate strength of “Settle for a Slowdown” lies in the palpable desperation of the man who knows his relationship is over, but doesn’t want it to end: “I know there’s nothin’ stopping you now, but I’d settle for a slowdown.” – LW

154 Louvin

“How’s the World Treating You?”
Alison Krauss & James Taylor
Peak: Did not chart

Some songs simply get more interesting when you turn them into male/female duets, where the same sentiment is expressed on both sides of a romantic divide. This is one of those songs. – DM


“Trying to Stop Your Leaving”
Dierks Bentley
Peak: #5

Poor Dierks Bentley isn’t having much luck with the ladies. Much like in “Settle for a Slowdown”, the narrator of “Trying to Stop Her Leavin’“ knows his relationship is over, but is still holding onto a shred of hope. It seems that the odds are against him and she’s leaving no matter how hard he tries to stop her. The song, with its pulsating undercurrent, successfully creates the atmosphere of urgency. – LW

154 Darryl Forgotten

“Family Tree”
Darryl Worley
Peak: #26

“Family Tree” seems to depict a chaotic household that’s still happy to add yet another limb to their family tree. Worley’s manic performance suggests joy and, perhaps, a hint of resignation as well. – LW

153 Joe Nichols Memory

Joe Nichols
Peak: #1

“Here’s to the past; they can kiss my glass.” If that’s not a classic drinkin’ song, I will kiss your glass. – DM

150 Heidi Newfield

“Johnny & June”
Heidi Newfield
Peak: #11

Many a country song tries to get by on the sheer strength of the names it drops, but Newfield bypasses exploitation with “Johnny and June.” Instead, she creates a metaphor of a song that is so vigorous and so impassioned that you can’t help but feel at least a smidgen of the Cashs’ fiery love. – TS

173 Sugarland Twice

“Down in Mississippi (Up to No Good)”
Peak: #17

In which a bored housewife and her two best friends head down to the Delta for some gambling, or possibly some sleeping around expressed in gambling metaphors. Not totally sure which, but apparently all you can see during it is asses and elbows. – DM

148 Cowboy Troy

“I Play Chicken with the Train”
Cowboy Troy with Big & Rich
Peak: #48

Scoff if you must. But this decade has been marked by countless attempts to sneak outside musical styles into the mainstream country tent, and it’s a trend worth documenting at its best and worst. Troy’s “hick-hop” probably gave us some of both, but it’s certainly easy to admire this deliriously catchy, danceable debut single, even if only for camp value. – DM

147 Jo Dee Delicious

“My Give a Damn’s Busted”
Jo Dee Messina
Peak: #1

In this playfully sassy number, Messina just don’t give a damn. – TS

146 Josh Turner Your

“Me And God”
Josh Turner with Ralph Stanley
Peak: #16

Not only is “Me And God” more traditional than what radio tends to play; Josh Turner stood firm against pressure to remove Ralph Stanley from the radio version. The song is a simple and joyful depiction of an intimate relationship with God. Instead of the fire and brimstone image in “Long Black Train”, “Me and God” defines Him as a beloved companion and friend. – LW

145 Alan Under

“It Must Be Love”
Alan Jackson
Peak: #1

It’s a shame that it’s hard to imagine a song like this climbing today’s charts. Jackson’s cover of Don William’s 1979 hit is a simplistic, delightfully charming take on the joy of being in love. – TS

144 Darryl Worley

“If Something Should Happen”
Darryl Worley
Peak: #9

A man makes preparations for his best friend to look after his family, should something go wrong. Good dad. – KC

143 Patty Home

“Lovin’ All Night”
Patty Loveless
Peak: #18

It’s not easy to greatly outshine a Rodney Crowell original, but Emmylou Harris does it with Crowell’s “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” and Patty Loveless does it with “Lovin’ All Night.” Loveless adds an addictive energy to this flirtatious song, which resulted in a radio comeback of sorts for her. – LW

142 Todd Snider Devil

“Looking for a Job”
Todd Snider
Peak: Did not chart

Snider plays an ex-con fed up with his new boss’ crap, producing one of country’s sharpest work anthems in years. – DM

141 Kenny Road

“Who You’d Be Today”
Kenny Chesney
Peak: #2

A painfully sad song about a loved one who died too young. I still can’t watch the video without getting chills and tearing up. – KC


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  1. quoting robert de niro at the shrink’s place:
    “who do i have to f… for some bacon?” i’d like to leave that very question with someone at music row and just replace bacon with bobbie cryner. if all the kings horses are not enough to bring her back – how about if i threw in my old cherokee on top?

  2. Love duets. “How’s the World Treating you” (2003) was the first music video I ever watched on my computer. (I’m sure the capability for viewing them had been there a long time before I got around to discovering it.)

    Jo Dee’s sassy song was from a very good album “Delicious Surprise”.

  3. good list so far.

    My favs are “Call Me Crazy,” “My Give A Damn’s Busted,” “She’s Not Just A Pretty Face,” “Real Live Woman,” “Johnny & June,” “Down In Mississippi,” and “who You’d Be Today.”

    I hope to see “Where Are you Now” later on the list (within the top 100) because that is my favorite Yearwood song and single.

    I think #1 most likely will be one of the Chicks’ songs (esp. from Home), if not, then I have no idea.

  4. I like the Womack, Yearwood, Twain, Nichols and Bentley entries but could have done without Heidi Newfield and Cowboy Troy. I need to give “Down In Mississippi” another listen because I don’t remember it very well. I did like it when it was released though. And “Who You’d Be Today” is one of only a few Chesney songs that I like.

  5. Glad to see Trisha’s song make the list. Maybe I need to turn in my man card, but the message really resonated with me. And, yes, Bobbie Cryner is awesome.

  6. Im happy to see Real Live Woman make the list, and I said it in my top 25 list but the woman described in this song I find so much more attractive than any Honky Tonk Badonkadonk or Whiskey Girl….The self confidence in Real Live Woman is every man’s dream to have in a woman.

  7. I understand variety…and giving credit to unique musical ventures, but Cowboy Troy trumping a Yearwood single? On Country Universe that is! That’s a news headline in it’s self! Haha

  8. “Last Call” is to me what “In Color” is to Kevin. I respect it and recognize why others enjoy it, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I much, much prefer “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”.

  9. I would have picked “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” over “Chicken”; also, I hope to see “Never Mind Me” on here. And that is the extent of my MusikMafia rumblings for the day.

    I’m surprised Lee Ann’s this low on the list; good to see the Bentley songs here; and I hope that “Who You’d Be Today” is the extent of Chesney’s presence on here, as it’s the only song of his from the decade I liked. (And yes, I know that a certain 2007 single will be on the list, based on its original rating.)

  10. Alan Jackson has had a very good run. He’s not the most exciting to watch in concert, but he always puts out great tunes!

  11. Why haven’t I seen this list before? Thanks a whole bunch for making this list! I’ve been searching for good modern country music apart from the ones I’ve heard already. Found lots of great artists here. Thanks for the list :)

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