Two bands who’ve recently changed their names appear in this set of ten. One of them should have dropped their song, too.
Thomas Rhett, “Crash and Burn”
#2 | 2015
KJC: I hope whoever holds the copyright of Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang” sues for royalties. What a travesty. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: In which the Tricksy False Hobbit goes from being a pale imitation of better artists to outright ripping them off. His entire career is defined by this shameless desire to be something he is utterly incapable of being. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: His first song was an innuendo for masturbation, his second one was about having beer with the Lord almighty, and he had another single quite literally titled “Get Me Some Of That.” Really, is anyone surprised this dude ripped off Sam Cooke? In another world, Country California would still be around to write fake news articles about this guy, who, in that other, better world, would maybe have had one hit before dashing off into obscurity. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
The Chicks, “Wide Open Spaces”
#1 | 1998
JK: One of the finest examples of pop-country ever recorded, and the single that cemented their status as legends on the make. It sounds no less vibrant or vital today, and this ranking is shamefully Too Low.
ZK: I can happily sing along with that chorus any day. A perfect marriage of vocal energy and smart lyricism. Too Low
KJC: Their signature song from their country radio heyday, “Wide Open Spaces” remains the quintessential anthem for restless youth ready to make their big mistakes. Too Low
Brad Paisley with Alabama, “Old Alabama”
#1 | 2011
ZK: I’m young enough to where, yes, this was actually an entry point into Alabama’s discography for me. Granted, I ended up mostly agreeing with Jonathan’s take on this band as a whole after my deep dive, so it’s one nostalgia trip I’m happy to axe. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: I love that the boys of Alabama got to enjoy one more #1 hit. But I’ll take old Alabama over “Old Alabama” any day. (Side note: I hate how the video perpetuates the band’s mean-spirited attempt to wipe their fourth member from the record books.) So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Country music has a seemingly limitless capacity to disappear all the way up its own ass with self-aware nostalgia trips like this. At least it isn’t “Forever Country.” So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Kid Rock with Sheryl Crow, “Picture”
#21 | 2002
KJC: Ah, that weird moment in the early 2000s when mediocre adult rock records crossed over to country radio. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Crow originally pitched her brilliant single, “If It Makes You Happy,” to her label as a proper country record, and she routinely performs it as such live. I’d have that one ranked about here and would happily never think of Kid Rock again. So Wrong (This Song)
ZK: You know, for as bad as this is, I’m now reminded that my local radio station still plays “All Summer Long” all year long. Like, really? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Trisha Yearwood, “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)”
#1 | 1994
JK: The middle eight of this one– “Well, she’s got her God / And she’s got good wine / Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline”– distills Yearwood’s brand of feminism into three perfect lines. She has better singles that are missing from this list, but on an absolute sense, this is placed About Right.
ZK: I echo Kevin’s sentiment, but I’m also not mad to see this here. If anything, it’s still About Right.
KJC: A killer fiddle hook and a clever lyric make this one of Yearwood’s most accessible hits, but “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “The Song Remembers When” are the missing entries that belong this high on the list. Too High
Gary Stewart, “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)”
#1 | 1975
ZK: I suppose I’m surprised they included Stewart at all, who, in my opinion, doesn’t receive nearly enough attention otherwise. Really, good on Mike and the Moonpies for releasing a tribute album to him this year. This is a top 100 record, at least; I’d venture to even say a top 50 one. OK, even higher. Too Low
KJC: The mournful wail in his vocal makes this record palpably sad. This is seventies honky tonk at its very best. Too Low
JK: I’d have this in my top 20, and I’m not just going to be pleased that they remembered it at all. Stewart deserves better. Stewart always deserved better. Too Low
Lady A, “Bartender”
#4 | 2014
KJC: Going from Gary Stewart’s barroom scene to this one gave me musical whiplash. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Remember a month ago when the only thing left to say about these three was that they’re the single most boring act in popular music? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: I mean, Lady A always did fall ass backwards in their attempts to be cool and relevant. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Waylon Jennings, “Rainy Day Woman”
#2 | 1974
JK: Maybe it’s just because it’s one of my most favorite Waylon singles, but I’ll say I would have been surprised if this song hadn’t been included. As is, this is Too Low.
ZK: OK, fine. Scratch what I said in the last edition of this series: This list can still surprise us in a good way. About Right
KJC: Yes! One of Waylon’s earliest classics and one that is too easily overlooked. About Right
Shania Twain, “(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here!”
#1 | 1995
ZK: If the titles weren’t enough of a dead giveaway, Twain’s music happened to be, as Kevin said, strong with a feminist bent to the writing, full of charisma and energy, and all around fun without subduing the underlying message. About Right
KJC: Twain was singing right over the heads of the men drooling over her belly button, and empowering her female audience to accept nothing less from the best from men. That consistent point of view is what made her a megastar, and this record was a big part of establishing it. About Right
JK: As with many of Twain’s singles, I like the POV and the consistent artistic persona a whole lot more than I actually like listening to it. I’ve always found her vocal on this one to be particularly tinny. Too High
Darius Rucker, “Come Back Song”
#1 | 2010
KJC: I’ll take him over just about any male vocalist who has gotten heavy country airplay since. This is one of his best singles. Too High
JK: Rucker has a great voice and a good depth of genre knowledge; he has the most forgettable output of any act of his generation of country stars. I honestly don’t know what I’d even pick to represent him on a list like this, but it probably wouldn’t have been this single. So Wrong (This Song?)
ZK: I’d want Rucker represented somewhere here, though I can’t say I find many of his singles memorable. I guess this is one of his more decent ones. Too High
Previous: #500-#491 | Next: #480-#471
The Gary Stewart song is too low – actually Stewart has three songs that belong in the top 200 – this song along with “Out of Hand” and “Drinkin’ Thing”
I agree that “Old Alabama” doesn’t belong (for me it is a near miss) but I think “Wide IOpen spaces” is about right.
Kid Rock also recorded “Picture” with Allison Moorer – I like that version better, although it doesn’t belong on this list either
I’d also go to bat for “Quits” and “Ten Years Of This,” myself!
Also, thanks for that disappointing reminder of Allison Moorer collaborating with Kid Rock …
Re. “Wide Open Spaces”: The one that broke it open for the Chicks (whose original name, by the way, was derived from the song “Dixie Chicken” by the L.A.-based cult roots-rock band Little Feat). It says a lot about country music as an industry that they would throw these three under the bus for an out-of-context comment only five years down the road–and what it says is stuff that I can’t repeat on this forum.
Re. “XXX’s and OOO’s”: It’s not one of my favorites of Trisha’s, but I have heard far worse from others. It sounded like she was still in “She’s In Love With The Boy” territory.
Re. “Rainy Day Woman”–One of the great singles from A Man Called Hoss.
Re. “Picture”: One can certainly make the argument that this song could have been good, either with Sheryl or Allison, who are very good singers. But Kid Rock is like fingernails on a blackboard, an absolute disaster as a “singer”, especially when it comes to country.
Re. “Crash And Burn”: If anyone can find a way to raise Sam Cooke from the dead to come after Thomas Rhett, you shall have my full support.
Zackary – I’d push for “Flat Natural Born Good Timin’ Man” as well. There has never really been anyone else quite like Gary Stewart
The Kid Rock and Thomas Rhett abominations also above “Angels Flying Too Close To The Ground” as well as “Wide Open Spaces”. “Wide Open Spaces” would likely make Top 100 for me considering the quality and that it really pushed the Chicks into the spotlight. The Kid Rock song didn’t even do well on the charts. #21? Seems strange.
Wow…so Kid Rock has not only one, but TWO songs on this list..SMH. This is better one of the two, and I like Sheryl Crow, but it just doesn’t belong here.
Agree with the comments the Chicks and “Wide Open Spaces,” especially Erik’s comments. Ahh…this song takes me back to the Summer of 1998, and still sounds just as fresh today.
Ditto on Kevin’s comments about preferring some actual old Alabama over “Old Alabama.”
I like the Trisha Yearwood song, but it seems that this and “She’s In Love With The Boy” were her most overplayed hits on the radio. I know they’re two of her most popular songs, but I just think there’s much stronger material in her discography to better represent her.
I enjoy the Shania song as well, but “No One Needs To Know” is my most favorite single off of The Woman In Me.
I’ve often found most of Darius Rucker’s singles from his country career to be bland and boring and not worthy of his vocals. I still remember him saying that when he was looking for songs for his first country album, he wanted to make a traditional country record with shuffles and waltzes and a lot of fiddle and steel. But then the label told him it would never get on the radio…I guess if there was one song of his I wouldn’t mind seeing here, it would be his first single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” Always liked that one.
Yuck on the Thomas Rhett and Lady A songs.
I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s comments on these songs, and replaying some I haven’t heard for a while. You guys continue to do great work.
I guess I’m in the minority on “Picture”. Maybe it’s nostalgia – it was released my senior year of high school and hearing it always takes me back to being 18-years old – but I always liked the song, and I enjoy both Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow’s performances on it. Also, even though it only went #21 on the country chart, it is still Kid Rock’s highest charting song on the Hot 100, going to #4.
A Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks) clasic thats a little too low
“Bartender” is too high, although I do like it.
I was just never impressed with Gary Stewart. Doesnt Belong.
I’m with J.R. I like “Picture” pretty well.
Darius Rucker as a country singer always sounds so sleepy, but I do like a song called “Might Get Lucky”, which wasn’t a single, but it’s the liveliest I can remember him ever sounding as a country artist.
I wonder if the Dixie Chickens will find themselves in the same position that Lady Antebellum did. “The Chicks” was the name of a New Zealand pop group in the late 1960s-early 1970s. That group’s lead singer was was a strong vocalist who still is performing
Interestingly enough, the following showed up on my newsfeed this morning
Nice to know of at least one instance where the America group showed some class
Tami Neilson actually tweeted about her fellow NZ act on the day of the name change announcement; was actually going to share the articles about The Chicks’ having done their due diligence, but looks like you already found it, Paul!
The Chicks actually walk the walk, which can’t be said about most mainstream country acts these days.
Then again, they also make memorable music and are exceptionally talented, which also can’t be said about most mainstream country acts these days.
Glad they’re no longer saddled with the name that they’ve loathed for years anyway.
So weird that there are still people out there who are bitter toward The Chicks after all these years and after all that has happened since that wildly overblown incident.
Thomas Rhett is just horrible. I mean, that’s all I can say, and there are a hundred different ways I could say it. If it wasn’t for his dad he’d be working the cash register at a gas station in Valdosta. As if the senior Akins hadn’t crapped on country music enough with all those songs he’s written with Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip…
There have been good songs here and there that mention other song titles in their lyrics. “Old Alabama” is not one of them.
Gary Stewart absolutely belongs on this list, with this song; with that said, though, I wish the title track of that album Out of Hand had been as big of a hit as this song. Zackary, I was also a big fan of “Ten Years of This”!
I actually liked “Picture” quite a lot back in the day; I thought Kid Rock actually had a pretty good voice but just used it on really subpar songs, of which I really didn’t think this was one. I can get why folks wouldn’t, though.
Jamie, I remember that bid about Darius Rucker wanting to record that kind of music as well. I think about it practically every single time I hear a Darius Rucker solo song and dearly wish he had been able to do that.