The Best Singles of 1994, Part 3: #20 – #11

Our Best of 1994 Singles List continues with Part Three, which includes the ten songs that just missed the top ten! This section includes several #1 singles and signature hits, but kicks off with one of those should’ve been hits by a should’ve been star.
Joy Lynn White Wild Love

“Wild Love”
Joy Lynn White

Written by Dennis Linde

JK #9 | SG #18 | KJC #39

A brash, fiery vocalist with an instantly recognizable timbre and sense of phrasing, White revels in the forthright sexuality of “Wild Love” and has the pipes to match the track’s blistering arrangement. White may never have cracked the top 40 at radio, but the influence of her vocal style is all over Natalie Maines’ singing, and “Wild Love” foretold the hard rock turn the genre would take a decade or so later. – Jonathan Keefe

Trisha Yearwood XXX's and OOOs

“XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)”
Trisha Yearwood

Written by Matraca Berg and Alice Randall

BF #10 | KJC #21 | JK #28 | LW #35

A smart, forward-looking Matraca Berg composition examining the changing roles of women in society. Yearwood’s performances radiates optimism and enthusiasm, as do the lively melody and infectious fiddling – proof that lyrical insight and intelligence don’t have to come at the expense of great hooks. – Ben Foster

Vince Gill Tryin' to Get Over You

“Tryin’ to Get Over You”
Vince Gill

Written by Vince Gill

LW #1 | BF #24

One of the many wonderful things about nineties country music, including 1994, is that country radio still sunk its teeth into bona fide country weepers. While not the iconic classic of “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, Vince Gill’s similarly themed song stood at the top of the charts for a solid 4 weeks. With downbeat piano, steel aplenty and Gill’s mournful tenor, “Trying to Get Over You” captures the emotions of a man who is resigned to the idea that dying will be the only way that he’ll ever get over his former wife. – Leeann Ward

Brooks & Dunn That Ain't No Way to Go

“That Ain’t No Way to Go”
Brooks & Dunn

Written by Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Ronnie Dunn

LW #6 | KJC #26 | JK #27 | BF #36

Ronnie Dunn’s plaintive cries of anguish over how callously his relationship has ended is both vulnerable and powerful. Dunn’s powerhouse vocals capture the despair and disbelief of a man whose life has unexpectedly fallen apart at the hands of a woman who literally wrote “goodbye” with lipstick on their mirror. – LW

Travis Tritt Foolish Pride

“Foolish Pride”
Travis Tritt

Written by Travis Tritt

LW #8 | BF #14 | JK #32 | KJC #32

Through Travis Tritt’s omniscient narration, “Foolish Pride” depicts two sides of the aftermath of an argument gone completely out of hand. While both people realize that they’re letting a good thing slip away, they’re at an immoveable impasse due to their pride. Not only does it seem that their pride is keeping them from apologizing, Tritt makes us feel like their competition of wills will never be resolved, as he wryly concludes, “Chalk another love lost up to foolish pride.” – LW

Mary Chapin Carpenter Shut up and Kiss Me

“Shut Up and Kiss Me”
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Written by Mary Chapin Carpenter

BF #12 | JK #12 | SG #12 | KJC #27

Something that Carpenter lost sight of over the course of her career is that, at her best, she’s equally adept at feisty, frivolous singles like “Shut Up & Kiss Me” as more cerebral, folk-leaning songs. And “Shut Up & Kiss Me” is perfect example of how a purely fun single can still be written and performed with real wit, intelligence, and skill. – JK
Kathy Mattea Walking away a Winner

“Walking Away a Winner”
Kathy Mattea

Written by Bob DiPiero and Tom Shapiro

BF #7 | KJC #9 | JK #20

This Top 10 hit marked a move toward a more pop-flavored sound for Kathy Mattea, but here the pop elements enhance the spirit of the song instead of detracting from it. The driving arrangement and fiery guitar work only fuel Mattea’s forceful yet optimistic performance, adding up to one of one of country music’s most empowering break-up anthems. – BF

Collin Raye Little Rock

“Little Rock”
Collin Raye

Written by Tom Douglas

KJC #5 | BF #9 | LW #12

Collin Raye had already been an established hit-maker by the time he released “Little Rock”, but it was the single that put him on the map as a serious artist who was willing to tackle topical material.  This passionate tale of a recovering alcoholic who is trying to reconcile with his estranged wife is powerful enough just on paper, but add Raye’s finest vocal performance up until that point and you have one of the year’s finest records. – Kevin John CoyneDavid Ball Thinkin' Problem

“Thinkin’ Problem”
David Ball

Written by David Ball, Allen Shamblin, and Stuart Ziff

SG #4 | JK #9 | LW #22

“Yes I ad-MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT…..” With that startling introduction, Ball unleashed one of the year’s most distinctive songs upon an unsuspecting public. “Thinkin’ Problem” was as pure a dose of unfiltered honky-tonk that country music had experienced in years, and it was a glorious sound that even cracked the Billboard Top 40 Charts. Though he was born in South Carolina, Ball provided a much-needed dose of Texas country to the national scene. – Sam Gazdziak

Patty Loveless How Can I Help You Say Goodbye

“How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”
Patty Loveless

Written by Burton Banks Collins and Karen Taylor-Good

LW #3 | BF #17 | JK #26 | KJC #28

It’s like one of your favorite sentimental movies. No matter how many times you watch it, no matter how many times you’ve seen the emotional ending coming, it still packs that emotional punch that hits you squarely in the gut. And so it is with Patty Loveless’ sweet, but strong, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye.” Framed in three acts, Loveless narrates the story of a mother who always took her daughter’s painful moments seriously. Without ever being dismissive, she comforts and assures her that life’s pains will ease and asks how she can help nurture the healing process along, even in her final moments. Punch! – LW

The Complete List:


  1. My favorites in this batch are the singles from Gill, Mattea, Raye and B&D. I definitely have more than 10 that I really liked from 94, so I’m eager to see which ones made the Top 10. Sadly, I have more interest in this list than one titled Top 40 Singles of 2014.

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