Career highlights from Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley, and Shania Twain populate this part of the list.
Blake Shelton featuring Gwen Sebastian, “My Eyes”
#4 | 2014
JK: The lyrical hook aims for clever, but its syntax is just too tortured, and Shelton’s delivery is sleazy. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Decent verses fall apart at the forced chorus. Conway Twitty might be one of Shelton’s biggest influences, but he simply doesn’t have the same ability to make a blatant come on still sound classy. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Tammy Wynette, “He Loves Me All the Way”
#1 | 1970
KJC: I think that “Stand By Your Man” is a beautiful commitment to the vows of marriage, and that most of Wynette’s material is stronger in spirit than she’s usually given credit for. But if your man is staying out all night and he doesn’t work nights, you need to ask some pointed follow up questions. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: So, as I mentioned when we went through the NPR list of the greatest albums by women, I get why Wynette is great. I just don’t love all that much of her actual material. This single is a prime example. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Montgomery Gentry, “If You Ever Stop Loving Me”
#1 | 2004
JK: Montgomery Gentry’s best singles are all about charisma and force of personality: They fully commit to their material, and this is one of their better-written hits. About Right
KJC: This is up there with “Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm” among their greatest singles. What a fantastic hook. I’d have it in the top 500. Too Low
Garth Brooks, “She’s Every Woman”
#1 | 1995
KJC: I think this album is terrible and that the lead single demonstrates why. Brooks picks every metaphor under the sun that he can think of and throws it in, and rather than illuminating what’s so great about this particular woman, it ends up more like a high school poetry brainstorming session. He’s done better Billy Joel imitations than this. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: A great example of how country music’s characterization of women as complex– or, hell, as human adults— when men sing about them has degraded. About Right
Luke Bryan, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”
#3 | 2012
JK: Bryan has a decent but unremarkable voice; this single isn’t full-on bro-country sleaze, but it’s just kind of there. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I remember seeing the “Country Man” video early on and thinking that this guy has more charisma and charm than anybody who’s come along in a long time. He’d have been better off covering “For the Good Times” than putting out this generic rewrite. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Mark Chesnutt, “Too Cold at Home”
#3 | 1990
KJC: Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Lawrence, and Doug Stone all launched their careers with stone cold country classics within months of each other. All three ended up consistently successful, but I’d argue that only Chesnutt fully delivered on the promise of his first record. For my money, this is one of the best country records of the early nineties. Too Low
JK: Chesnutt is, like Suzy Bogguss (who does not have a single entry on this list, and my God), a superior vocalist I didn’t necessarily appreciate during their era but have grown to love. Chesnutt’s performance here is a controlled burn. About Right
Jessi Colter, “I’m Not Lisa”
#1 | 1975
JK: Heresy to some, I’m sure, but I’ve always hated this song. I’ll listen to The Ting Ting’s “That’s Not My Name” on loop for an hour before listening to this one once, voluntarily. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Boring, whiny, and forgettable. It’s also a classic, for some reason, so it probably belongs on the list. Maybe at #999 or something? Too High
Shania Twain, “No One Needs to Know”
#1 | 1996
KJC: I was one of the few souls who purchased the first Shania Twain album on its release date, and I was excited to hear this song when it was on one of those New Country magazine sampler CDs before her second album released. I remember thinking it was very fresh and clever, an assessment that still rings true today. It’s not one of her most important singles, but it’s one of her best. About Right
JK: It isn’t her best single because it happens to be the most overtly country. It’s her best single because it has the strongest melody, most genuinely clever turns of phrase, and Twain’s most ingratiating vocal performance. Too Low
Kip Moore, “Beer Money”
#7 | 2012
JK: I was late to the Kip Moore party, largely due to singles like this one. I’d replace this with “I’m to Blame.” So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: I love this song. I was team Kip Moore on the strength of “Mary Was the Marrying Kind,” which didn’t even make the final album. This is one of those rare working class anthems from the past decade that sounds like it’s being sung by somebody who is actually working class. About Right
Brad Paisley, “Waitin’ On a Woman”
#1 | 2008
KJC: Brad Paisley is really, really bad at writing about women. His attempt to praise and celebrate always come off condescending, creepy, or a combination of the two. He didn’t write this one, but his choice to record it and his beautiful delivery of it make me look more charitably at his own efforts. His heart is in the right place, if this record is any indication. One of his best. Too Low
JK: Paisley pulls off a minor miracle on this single, taking a tired gender stereotype and subverting it with both wit and pathos. About Right
Re. “She’s Every Woman”: I must confess that, while there are some things about G.B.’s song catalog that I like, this kind of goes on the bland side. And for every big-time fan he has, he arguably has as many detractors who, because of his bringing 80s arena rock spectacle to the country genre, have referred to him as “Garth Vader”.
Re. “No One Needs To Know”: Just for arcane matters, this song was also featured on the soundtrack of the 19966 disaster film TWISTER; and as such, some of its success can be attributed to that movie (because it was a big box office hit that summer).
Somehow I didn’t get into Mark Chesnutt’s music when he was big in the 90’s. I believe it was after hearing “When You Love Her like Crazy” that I decided to look into his earlier music. The Crazy song is now my 2nd most frequently played Chesnutt song in my i-tunes library. #1 is “Too Cold at Home”.
Good to see JK’s comment on my favorite female vocalist: “Chesnutt is, like Suzy Bogguss (who does not have a single entry on this list, and my God), a superior vocalist I didn’t necessarily appreciate during their era but have grown to love.”
i agree with JK about Suzy Bogguss
I agree with Jonathan about ‘I’m Not Lisa’. I never understood the appeal of that song.
‘Waitin’ On A Woman’ is one of the few Brad Paisley songs I still like. It’s a good song but I probably still like it because it reminds me of Andy Griffith from the video.
I liked a lot of Mark Chestnut’s songs but I somehow don’t remember ‘Too Cold At Home’. I’ll have to look it up and listen to it. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Suzy Bogguss.
“She’s Every Woman” was such a stupid rip-off off Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman to Me”. Billy Joel gets on my nerves sometimes, and Garth does too when goes full Billy.
“No one Needs to Know” was like 7 singles into that album? And it was completely country. A very good song.
Mark Chesnutt suffered from the artist overload of the 90’s. This was a great song on a classic album. In a different era, we’d be talking about him with much more respect.
Suzy Bogguss (who does not have a single entry on this list, and my God)
WHAT??? … this list.
I see all y’all’s point about “Waitin’ On a Woman” and I agree, but I still don’t like it. But then again, I don’t like any of Paisley’s serious songs.