The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-81

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-81

100 Alison Krauss Lonely

Alison Krauss & Union Station
Peak: #36

A shimmering moment of infatuation chased with unease. Krauss is entangled in thoughts of her beloved but at a distance, and temptation lurks for both of them. – Dan Milliken

99 Shania Come On Over

I’m Holdin’ On to Love (To Save My Life)
Shania Twain
Peak: #4

A terribly catchy slice of country-pop that, true to Twain, doesn’t sacrifice authenticity for appeal – Twain simply embodies the snappy energy that pulses through the song. – Tara Seetharam

Dwight Population hi res

“The Back of Your Hand”
Dwight Yoakam
Peak: #52

All allegory and metaphor, with the stark choice between together and alone wrapped up in a pretty verbal package: “Pick a number from one to two.” – Kevin Coyne

97 Amy Dalley

“I Would Cry”
Amy Dalley
Peak: #29

Dalley can’t be bothered with the emotional histrionics. Her response to being cheated on is resigned and matter-of-fact: “You made a choice and now there’s no way to ever make it right.” – KC

199 Brad Time

“When I Get Where I’m Going”
Brad Paisley with Dolly Parton
Peak: #1

Paisley delivers a stirring look at the splendor in life after death, but it’s Parton who takes the song to new heights with her exquisite soprano and gorgeous harmonies. – TS

95 Trace Chrome

“I’m Tryin'”
Trace Adkins
Peak: #6

It’s been a long time since country music has truly been the voice of the working man. Just like the working class has become invisible on the national stage, so too have they disappeared from country radio in anything but caricature form. But this Adkins single is a glowing exception, akin to what Merle Haggard might sing if he was starting out in today’s world of child support payments and dead-end jobs. Adkins is good, but “I’m Tryin'” hints at his potential greatness too often untapped. – KC

94 Travis Tritt Down

“Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde”
Travis Tritt
Peak: #8

Here is another fun story song, though the prominent Dobro throughout is even more captivating than the outlaw story itself. – Leeann Ward

93 Patty Mountain II

Patty Loveless
Peak: Did not chart

Patty Loveless restores the original lyrics to Harlan Howard’s “Busted”, which reflects the hardships of a downtrodden coalminer. Behind a lively performance is a serious topic for these times. – LW

92 Toby Honkytonk

“As Good As I Once Was”
Toby Keith
Peak: #1

An aging tough guy that still has a good fight and a good night’s loving to offer. This is Keith at his self-deprecating best. – KC

91 Trace Songs Me

Trace Adkins
Peak: #16

This is a gorgeous, heartfelt tribute to the fallen veterans. Adkins gives the song the reverence to which it is entitled. – LW

90 Carrie Stand By

“I’ll Stand By You”
Carrie Underwood
Peak: #41

It’s certainly innovative to scrub The Pretenders’ 90s anthem of all its rock coating and reveal it as a bare-bones, folky country ballad. But innovation alone does not a masterful cover make: it’s Underwood’s raw, understated yet urgent vocal performance that makes this rendition as compelling as – if not more so than – the original. – TS

89 Diamond Rio Completely

“Beautiful Mess”
Diamond Rio
Peak: #1

“Beautiful Mess” perfectly encapsulates the euphoric “mess” of a new relationship. – LW

189 Carrie Ride

“Just A Dream”
Carrie Underwood
Peak: #1

Grief’s great cruelty is that it allows you a moment to forget your loss. Then the pain comes flooding back in. Underwood alternates between denying reality and bargaining with it, but is still left alone and forsaken. No wonder she sings the fire out of it. – KC

175 Pam Rhinestoned

“The Hard Way”
Pam Tillis
Peak: Did not chart

The fact that this sublime, understated song didn’t even have a chance on radio in the latter half of the 2000s doesn’t make “The Hard Way” any less worthy of  positive attention. – LW

86 George Stait Somewhere

“You’ll Be There”
George Stait
Peak: #4

The best line of 2005 that was heard on country radio: “You don’t take nothing with you here and you can’t take nothing back. I ain’t never seen a hearse with a luggage rack.” – KC

85 Dierks Long Trip

“Every Mile a Memory”
Dierks Bentley
Peak: #1

You can’t outrun an unresolved past, even when you’ve got a fast tour bus and a band of brothers to get trashed with and stuff. – DM

84 Gary Allan See

“Nothing On But the Radio”
Gary Allan
Peak: #1

Allan is charmingly seductive on this number, suggesting a romantic evening that involves just what the song’s title spells out. – TS

83 Nickel Creek

“When You Come Back Down”
Nickel Creek
Peak: #48

“When You Come Back Down” is a gorgeous pledge  of unconditional love: “When you’re soarin’ through the air/I’ll be your solid ground/Take every chance you dare/I’ll still be there/When you come back down.” – LW

82 Rodney Fate's Right

Rodney Crowell
Peak: #60

The phenomenal thing about Rodney Crowell’s work in the last decade is his ability to  say something meaningful with the support of strong melodies that actually help us remember what he has to say. “Earthbound” is bouncy and positive, but still slips in a few thoughtful tidbits to make the song more substantive at its core. – LW

81 Taylor Swift

“Our Song”
Taylor Swift
Peak: #1

It’s hard to believe this bright, cleverly-written song was the brainchild of a fifteen year-old. Swift blends the kind of ingenuity you’d expect from a seasoned songwriter with all the radiance you’d expect from a puppy-love-drunk teenager. – TS

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  1. The Dwight single has always been a favorite, and should have been a hit. I appreciate the time you all have taken to compile this list… a lot of work and thought has gone in to it…

  2. I love pam tillis’ “The Hard Way.” The Rhinestoned album is in my top five for the decade and is one of the few albums I own that I take out for a listen at least once a month!

  3. One thing I love about this site is that a quality song like Patty’s “Busted”, ignored by country radio, can still be rightfully considered one of the best 100 songs of the decade. Well done!

  4. I like “When I Get Where I’m Going”, or as it’s known in my house “When I Reach the Place I’m Going” by the Judds.

    Surprising to see “As Good As I Once Was” so low. But maybe I shouldn’t be. In any event, it’s the best turn of phrase in the 00’s and probably really one of the 10 best songs.

    So we’re up to 80 now. I haven’t seen Cyndi Thomson’s very fine “What I Really Meant To Say”, have I?

  5. Another mixed bag for me but I suppose that is to be expected considering there were four contributors to this list. My tastes align closely with some (“Restless”, “You’ll Be There”, “When I Get Where I’m Going”, “Nothing On But the Radio” and especially “I’m Trying”) and sometimes we’re not even on the same page (“As Good As I Once Was”, “Our Song”). That keeps it interesting and makes it fun for me as a reader of the list. And now I’m going to seek out the Pam Tillis nugget.

  6. I love “Just A Dream,” “When I Get Where I’m Going,” and “Every Mile A Memory.” Great list!!
    I’m hoping to see “I Love This Bar” on the list!!

  7. …trace adkins is probably the tallest outstanding guy in country music that still seems to get overlooked most of the time by virtually everybody. everything is great about him: personality, voice, appearance but most of all his songs, when he really gives ’em his best shot – like the two up there. fine choices, cu.

  8. Restless, When I Get Where I’m Going, I’ll Stand By You, and Just A Dream are my favorites of this list. This is turning out to be a great list.

  9. “Our Song” wasn’t on the top 100 list I submitted, but I probably would’ve put it in my top 200. It’s completely ridiculous, and it’s cute.

  10. Dan,

    I agree. I may have had it on my top 200, but would have never put it above songs such as “Real Live Woman” “Portland Oregon” “Last Call” but then again im probally biased with my personal favorites!

  11. “Our Song” is my second favorite Taylor Swift song and “When I Get Where I’m Going” is my fave Brad Paisley song — the Dolly harmony vocals really make it =)

  12. I am certainly happy to see Swift on this list twice so far, with “Fifteen” and now “Our Song”. I thought she might be neglected from this list due to the general aura she has here, but I’m glad that her prominent place in…at least the end of the decade…was not forgotten in your list.

    I am hoping to see her once more sometime for her debut single “Tim McGraw”, which I think was her best song ever written.

  13. Carson – I think there must be room up there too for “Teardrops on . . .”. For my money, that’s her best song.

  14. I think Swift’s best song so far is “Fifteen.” Excellent songwriting and vocals in my opinion. I love “Our Song,” but I don’t think it was influentuial or creative enough to be on a list like this.

    Top-tier songs here are “I’ll Stand By You” and “Just A Dream;”indeed two of the best songs of the last decade, sung by one of the best vocalists of the decade. “Nothin On But The Radio,” “Arllington,” “When I Get Where I’m Going” and “Every Mile A Memory” are great choices as well.
    Although I love lots of these choices, I think some of these songs do show the weakness of songs in Nashvile right now.

  15. I agree, “Teardrops” was one of Taylor’s most memorable singles, even considering that almost all of them have reached number one, this song definitely really launched her, as well. And it’s heartbreakingly beautiful and started the whole trend that’s now prominent in many new female country artists.

    And K, I definitely think almost all of the parts have pointed out many holes in music nowadays. Even songs that aren’t on the list. I see “As Good As I Once Was” and think of all the number ones Toby had in the past few years, and sometimes wonder: “Why aren’t any of the songs on the radio NOW like that?”

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