The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 18

Today’s category is…

A Song You Love By an Artist You Don’t.

Here are the staff picks:

Dan Milliken: “Ticks” – Brad Paisley

He was one of the first country artists I got into, but I’ve developed a sourness for Paisley over the years. With each successive album, his songwriting voice has tended to sound a little more self-impressed and a little less self-aware. “Ticks” is a nice exception to my ears, though. For once, Paisley seems to get that he’s playing the machismo creep, so a listener can take perverse pleasure in listening to him be creepy rather than balk at the fact that they’re expected to sympathize with him. It helps that it’s one of his cooler-sounding singles, too.

Tara Seetharam: “I Never Told You” – Colbie Caillat

This song is a perfect match for the typically annoying (and off key) vulnerable quality to her voice. And we all know I’m a sucker for a well-executed, wistful love song.

Kevin Coyne: “My Life” – Billy Joel

Maybe it’s because the Garth Brooks songs that annoy me the most are the ones where he tries to sing like Joel, or maybe it’s just that too many of his hits made the family mix tapes that made car rides a living hell.  Either way, the man’s music has not worn well on my ears over the years. I love “My Life,’ though. It’s a philosophy I can really get behind, and it has that perfect balance of emotional detachment and simmering contempt.

Leeann Ward: “What Hurts the Most” – Rascal Flatts

There are exactly five songs that I enjoy by Rascal Flatts. Yes, “God Bless the Broken Road” is one of them, but “What Hurts the Most”, in all its sappy glory, is my favorite of them.


  1. “Busy Man” by Billy Ray Cyrus. I dislike about 75% of what BRC has recorded, but this song almost redeems him (it would actually redeem him except for his role in unleashing Miley Cyrus upon an unsuspecting world)

  2. “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” by Big & Rich

    I’m cool with Big Kenny, but any time I think about John Rich all I see is a small-minded, homophobic bigot. To be sure, he’s not the only one out there, but he was the first artist to come to mind whom I dislike.

  3. “Prayin’ For Daylight” – Rascal Flatts

    IMO, their first single is still their best. That’s probably not a good sign.

  4. I’m sure I’ll think of more after a while, but the one that comes to mind right now is Kenny Chesney’s new single “You and Tequila.”

    I don’t hate Kenny, but I just haven’t liked enough of his songs to call myself a fan. He tends to slip into a safe and repetitive pattern without really demonstrating any forward artistic vision. With his previous hit “Live a Little,” I just thought he sounded like he wasn’t even trying anymore.

    But “You and Tequila” came as a pleasant surprise. Great performance of an awesome Matraca Berg song with beautiful background vocals from Grace Potter. More of this, please, Kenny.

  5. My younger brother, god love him, has introduced me to the widest array of popular music artists in the past year, I can’t really enjoy this artist as much, but the song I am mentioning is one of my favorite songs because it is lyrically strong and the artists deliver a strong performance…. perhaps it also helps that Rihanna is featured on the song:

    “Love The Way You Lie,” Eminem & Rihanna

  6. Kudos to Dan for nailing Paisley’s songwriting curve.

    I cannot explain its magnetic appeal to me, but I enjoy Usher’s “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again”. I can’t even name another of his songs except for “You Got It Bad”, and I never liked that one either.

  7. I guess my pick in this area would be “It’s A Little Too Late” by Toby Keith. In his most popular stuff, the man’s my-country-right-or-wrong hyper-patriotism is stomach-turning and overbearing to the nth degree. This one is much different; he seemed to be aiming for a vibe somewhere between Dwight Yoakam and George Harrison, if that makes any logical sense. It’s an incredibly good piece (IMHO).

  8. @Ben Foster – You may know (or may not care), but “You and Tequila” was first recorded by Deana Carter on her I’m Just a Girl album. It seems that only her die hard fans even bought that release, but I’d recommend it. There’s a clear voice to the songs, of a woman trying to retain the whimsy of youth while acknowledging that she is, in fact, maturing.

    @Erik North – post-9/11 Toby Keith has often been a chore; I quit buying altogether sometime after 2006. His Mercury recordings were hit-or-miss in that too many of them were just generic country songs, but the good stuff was typically really strong. His Dreamworks-era material has way too much bombastic jingoism, but if you can sift through it I do think there were several terrific album cuts that are worth a listen.

    “Don’t Leave (I Think I Love You)” from Shock’n Y’all was a fun song he co-wrote with Ronnie Dunn (I’d love to hear Dunn record it), “Gimme 8 Seconds” from Pull My Chain could have, and maybe should have, been a Chris LeDoux song and “Heart to Heart (Stelen’s Song)” from How Do You Like Me Now?! is a sincerely sweet song about observing a young boy’s relationship with his mother and may be the finest song in Keith’s discography.

  9. “The Truth” – Jason Aldean

    I dislike Jason. I detest his rocking arrangements that wouldn’t have been out of place on an 80s rock record. However, on this song, he strips that away and gives us a nice, vulnerable vocal performance.

    I’ve liked a couple others by Jason, but this was the first that I ever got behind.

  10. By no means do I consider myself a Taylor Swift fan, but I just recently listened to a song of hers called “Long Live” and really liked what I heard. It’s the closing track on her current album, and I think it’s one of the best songs she’s recorded so far, especially as far as lyrics go.

  11. @ Travis McClain:

    I’ll take your word for it re. TK. It’s a bit unfortunate, though, that he does release a lot of generic stuff to country radio for the sake of a hit, and, since 9/11, has propped himself up to an extreme form of patriotism that ignores that very term’s many shadings. I feel that “It’s A Little Too Late” is virtually the only thing of his that really compares to what all the really great songwriters, country and otherwise, of the last 40 years have done, because its world-weary nature and story of a love gone hopelessly awry is something most of us can understand, and even relate to on a personal level.

  12. I have to agree with “Love the Way You Lie”. I’m not a fan of Eminem, but I really enjoyed “Love the Way You Lie”. Rihanna certainly helped as well.

    Another notable song is “Like Red on a Rose” by Alan Jackson. My country music tastes lie on the more recent spectrum of things, and Alan is just too old-fashioned for my taste in music. But for some reason, this song just really worked for me.

  13. Until he released “Tennessee River Run,” I hated everything by Daryl Worley, especially “Have You Forgotten.” he’s had a couple other singles since then I’ve enjoyed, but TRR and “Crazy Beautiful Life” (more because Odie Blackmon wrote it) are my two loves of Daryl’s singles.

  14. Until he released “Tennessee River Run,” I hated everything by Daryl Worley, especially “Have You Forgotten.” he’s had a couple other singles since then I’ve enjoyed, but TRR and “Crazy Beautiful Life” (more because Odie Blackmon wrote it) are my two loves of Daryl’s singles.

    As for Billy Ray Cyrus, other than for “Some Gave All”, I have no use for his “stuff”.

  15. “There Goes My Life” Kenny Chesney- It’s still the only song I adore by him, despite previously owning his first Greatest Hits album & “When The Sun Goes Down.”
    I don’t know why, but I can hardly stand his voice or songs anymore, when he used to be at least tolerable.

    “I Hope You Dance”- Leann Womack- The first country song (and album) I owned, and thought I loved at the time. Now I can’t stand to hear her voice.

    “Fearless”- Taylor Swift- Perfect example of why this girl would be a perfect addition to the pop world- not country.

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