Johnny Rodriguez, Red Steagall, and Aaron Tippin make their sole appearances on the list during this section.
Florida Georgia Line, “Dirt”
#1 | 2014
JK: The fact that this is what passes for quality and depth for them doesn’t mean it passes for quality or depth, and it’s been maddening to see how often this overly literal list-song has been praised as the latter. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I keep thinking that they’re going to be revealed as some long, brilliant con by the Lonely Island or something. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
George Strait, “One Night at a Time”
#1 | 1997
KJC: This was #1 for several weeks, but it’s one of the less memorable hits from his pretty solid nineties run. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: When I’ve said that I prefer his 2000s output to what came before, it’s largely because of singles like this, which is completely interchangeable with about 20 other Strait #1s of the 90s. It’s fine. He did better than fine in the 80s and aughts. So Wrong (This Song)
Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away”
#2 | 2012
JK: I still think the song itself is underwritten, but Underwood really does try to fill in the narrative gaps with her performance. She has better album tracks than this, but this is easily one of her best singles, if not her best. Too Low
KJC: One of her greatest singles, and it should outrank most of her catalog on this list. Too Low
Red Steagall, “Lone Star Beer and Bob Wills Music”
#11 | 1976
KJC: This was his biggest chart hit, which is amazing to think about, given his legendary status. It’s a charming tribute to Bob Wills. About Right
JK: Another surprise inclusion that calls into question why the rest of the list is so baffling. Wills, of course, deserves the tribute, though I wouldn’t have it higher than several songs we’ve already seen here. Too High
Zac Brown Band, “Goodbye in Her Eyes”
#5 | 2012
JK: Not their best single by any stretch, but a reminder of how much they– and mainstream country overall– have lost to their frontman’s unchecked ego in the years since. Too High
KJC: A solid ballad by a decent band. If you’re going to include it, put it lower. Too High
Aaron Tippin, “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly”
#2 | 2001
KJC: I’m happy that he’s at least included on this list, but this paint by numbers patriotism isn’t Tippin at his best. His working class, honest living anthems (“You’ve Got to Stand For Something,” “I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way,” “I Got it Honest”) are sorely missed here. So Wrong (This Song)
JK: I agree with Kevin’s picks for the underrated Tippin, straight down the line, and I’d have the first two of those ranked much higher than this. So Wrong (This Song)
Alan Jackson, “Drive (For Daddy Gene)”
#1 | 2002
JK: An infuriating placement. This is Jackson’s best single of the last two decades, and I’d have it, at minimum, in the top 200. Entirely Too Low
KJC: Alan Jackson is the greatest male country act of the last thirty years, and this is one of his three or four best singles. Too Low
Garth Brooks, “Two of a Kind, Workin’ On a Full House”
#1 | 1991
KJC: It’s hard to argue against the inclusion of any No Fences hit, given that album’s significance. This is the weakest of the four singles, though. The other three are all classics. Too High
JK: Manages not to run its central metaphor into the ground, which is quite the achievement. Fun Garth is my favorite Garth. About Right
Taylor Swift, “Love Story”
#1 | 2008
JK: A strong melody and hook wasted on a point-missing narrative; she’s been far better than this in the years since, so I’m still going to go to bat for “Sparks Fly.”. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: She leans way too heavily into the fairytale nonsense here. It’s like she drifted off during English class and never found out the ending to Romeo and Juliet. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Johnny Rodriguez, “Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through)
#9 | 1972
KJC: An undersung artist from a golden era of country music. Good catch, Sirius XM. About Right
JK: Agreed! Why they didn’t make more choices like this… Too High
Aaron Tippin deserves more than one song in the list. This song is probably about right.
Two of a Kind…” is about right.
“Love Story” is such a guilty pleasure. Cheesy fluff, but I will say Taylor Swift does sing the hell out of the bridge. Huge guilty pleasure, but there is no denying how massive the song was, which is probably one of the songs biggest strengths in making it this high.
I also thought “Dirt” was quite overrated. As I put it elsewhere, that’s not a song George Strait would even bother to put on hold on his worst day, and the way people fawn over songs like that and Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here” are all the commentary anyone should need on how far the bar has fallen with mainstream “country” music.
I remember “One Night At A Time,” because it was one of only three GS singles to spend five weeks at No. 1. I remember wondering how it was going to far after the last single, “King of the Mountain,” flamed out just inside of the top 20. I remember thinking, “well, 15 years isn’t a bad run.” Little did I know that some of his best singles & albums were ahead of him. Not a bad song, but y’all are right — he has done better.
I also agree about AJ’s “Drive (For Daddy Gene).” Not only was that probably his best single, I would probably go on record as saying that Drive was his best album, and that song is one of the big reasons for that to me.
“Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through)” is a fine song, but couldn’t they have spared some of those Jason Aldean songs on this list for more Johnny Rodriguez? “Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico,” “That’s The Way Love Goes”? I actually think his version of the latter is better than Merle’s.
It is beyond ridiculous that these are the only entries for Johnny Rodriguez, Red Steagall, and Aaron Tippin. I could name a dozen worthy Rodriquez songs including “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)” and “Just Get Up And Close The Door”. Red Steagall’s sound was a bit too western swing for the time but “Party Dolls and Wine” and “3 Chord Country Song” are far better than most of the songs on this list. I agree with Kevin that Tippin’s “You’ve Got to Stand For Something,” “I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way” and “I Got it Honest” belong here somewhere.
my “Best of Johnny Rodriguez: 20th Century Masters” cd doesn’t even include the “Pass Me By” song. My favorites include “We’re Over” and “Your Love Put a Song in My Heart”.
Not a big fan of AJ. I like “Gone Country”, “Where Were You”, “”Little Man”, “Here in the Real World” , “Five O’Clock Somewhere” and a few others.
Re. Taylor Swift: “Love Story” is one of the better things she has done in her career, though I don’t know that it quite rises to the level of “Back To December” or “Begin Again”, which, if not mature or adult enough, still show how good her songwriting can be in an acoustic folk/country/rock format. But she still has some of the most irritating vocal mannerisms of any female singer around; and for her to measure up to the greats that came before her, she really has to develop that part of herself, and fast (IMHO)
“One Night at a Time” is a great song. It’s deceptively and sly: they’re hooking up, playing the field (“I’m not yours, and you’re not mine”), but he sure wishes they weren’t. But, of course, you could have an entirely separate list of George Strait.
The only Johnny Rodriguez song? Then this ought to be higher.
Sad that this is the only Aaron Tippin song on the list. I’ve always liked “Where The Stars And Stripes… but he has other worthy songs like “You’ve Got To Stand For Something,” “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” “My Blue Angel,” “That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You,” “For You I Will,” “I’m Leaving,” etc.
Put me down as another who enjoys George’s “One Night At A Time.” Love how smooth and elegant it is. In fact, it’s so smooth that it took me the longest time to realize it’s actually a cheating song. Guess I should’ve known all along since the first line he sings is “I’m not yours, and baby you’re not mine…”, lol.
“Two Of A Kind, Working On A Full House” will always hold a special place because it’s one I’ve enjoyed since I was little. It’s still a really fun song today, imo. This is also one of the rare examples in which I find the singer’s exaggerated twang actually adds charm to the song, which is something that most of today’s male singers can’t pull off, imo.
Also, count me in as another who enjoys “Love Story.” I’ll gladly take any of Taylor’s country material over anything from the bro/metro-bro country era any day. I also love “Sparks Fly,” “Mine,” “Back To December,” “Begin Again,” “Red,” and many album cuts never released to radio. Not sure how she would be received on radio, but I’m still hoping she’ll return to country one day.
I have no revolutionary opinions on this, but count me as another who believes “Drive” should be much, much higher. Like, Top 200 higher.
Additionally, I’m fine with “Stars and Stripes” being here, but I always thought of “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with the Radio” as Tippin’s signature hit, and “You’ve Got to Stand for Something” as Aaron Tippin’s best song. I’m rather surprised neither song is here in place of, or in addition to “Stars and Stripes”.
Finally, “Dirt” sucks. Again…nothing revolutionary in terms of opinion here.
Regarding Brooks, I would definitely swap out “Two of a Kind…” (well, actually “To Make You Feel My Love” or “She’s Every Woman” from earlier in the list) to make room for “We Shall Be Free”.