We’re entering the home stretch of the list as we look at the bottom ten entries of the top 200.
Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
#1 | 2010
JK: I mean, it was a massive hit, but if I’m including one of Clarkson’s country duets on this list, it’s “Don’t Rush” with Vince Gill. So Wrong (This Song)
ZK: Sadly, if we need hits by Aldean to tell the full country music story, something this overwrought and sterile works for simply existing and not being as offensive as his other material. I just can’t with the placement, though. Too High
KJC: This bombastic duet was an enormous hit, and for the life of me, I still can’t understand why. Even Kelly Clarkson can’t do anything with the non-existent melody, let alone her far less capable partner. They both alternate between talking and screaming, with barely any plain ol’ singing anywhere on the track. It has to be on here for significance and impact, but it’s way Too High
Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle, “You and I”
#1 | 1982
KJC: I’ve never understood why Gayle’s harmony vocal here was billed as a full-fledged duet. They sound great together, at least, and it’s about as pleasurable as you can expect from the Urban Cowboy era, even if it plays out like a Kenny Rogers b-side. Too High
JK: This one definitely set the precedent for the aughts’ trend of tagging a harmony vocal as a duet. Definitely a reasonable inclusion, but there’s no way this is one of the genre’s top 200 records. Too High
ZK: I’m not mad that Crystal Gayle is billed as a feature artist here, but “duets that aren’t really duets” is one of my biggest musical pet peeves. I’d slot it in here as a wildcard pick and call it a day. Too High
Carrie Underwood, “All American Girl”
#1 | 2007
JK: Underwood’s early career is defined by aggressively middlebrow radio fodder. Here, she oversings a list of clichés that shouldn’t be included here at all, let alone ranked this high. Utterly inessential. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: It’s a single I really should dislike, but I blame childhood nostalgia on finding this one a little bit charming. Always enjoyed the fiddle work here. With that said, the only argument I’d make for a single of hers being this high is for “Blown Away.” Too High
KJC: Carrie Underwood has so many great hits under her belt. This one is charming, and I love the fiddle on it. But it has no business being her highest-ranking solo entry. Too High
Kenny Rogers, “Daytime Friends”
#1 | 1977
ZK: I’m left trying to follow what my colleagues said, so I’ll add to Kevin’s statement by saying he was a fantastic emotive interpreter who could sell those stories and characters. And then I’ll add to both by saying this shouldn’t be ranked ahead of his classics that we’ve already seen here. Too High
KJC: It worked fine at the time as the follow-up to his massive breakthrough hit, “Lucille,” and it further demonstrates how well he does compact story songs that make the listener empathize with characters that could easily be portrayed as villainous. But again, Too High
JK: I cannot fathom having this ranked ahead of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” It’s fine, but nothing in the top 200 of this list should be merely fine. Too High
John Michael Montgomery, “I Love the Way You Love Me”
#1 | 1993
KJC: So now we deal with the trilogy of JMM wedding songs, all falling between #100 and #200. I’ll throw the marker down now. All three belong on the list. Only one warrants being this high. And this one isn’t it. Too High
JK: The only thing I ever liked about this record is the idea that it was inspired by the late Lari White, whose “Lead Me Not” should have been included on this list. Include this one on impact, but drop it back several hundred spots. At least All-4-One didn’t cover it, I guess? Too High
ZK: Of the many “hat acts,” I’ve always liked Montgomery just fine as a performer; I just wish his material measured up to that talent. This overwrought, cheesy ballad was huge – because of course it was – but only the true heavy-hitters are allowed this high. Too High
Hunter Hayes, “Wanted”
#1 | 2012
JK: Unlike my colleagues and the Grammy voting base, I have never bought into the idea that Hayes was a notable talent. There are countless artists not here at all who I’d have in his place. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: Hunter Hayes made boyfriend country music before it was cool, y’all. At least he had legitimate talent; you just wouldn’t know it from his recorded material. A sad case of what never was. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: In my desire to remake this list from my own POV, I’ll reiterate again that there’s a place for mid-level artists on it. I’d rather see more artists represented with only one song than have a list with several artists who have 10+ entries. This is the correct selection for Hunter Hayes. Too High
Freddy Fender, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”
#1 | 1975
ZK: I’m happy to see more Freddy Fender here, and I like this about as much as “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” but this song doesn’t belong ahead of that one. About Right
KJC: A good placement for his second biggest hit, but it should be below, not above “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” About Right
JK: What Kevin said: Ranked correctly in the grand scheme of things, but not within the context of Fender’s entries. About Right
Luke Bryan, “Rain is a Good Thing”
#1 | 2010
KJC: I really don’t know how to process sixteen Luke Bryan entries overall, let alone there still being two more after this. I guess this is a fine representation of his earlier work, but his work simply isn’t important enough to be represented to such a dramatic extent. Too High
JK: This is often cited as the example of how Bryan’s work went off a cliff when he embraced bro-country. But… it’s really not all that good on its own merits. It’s a decent song, performed competently. That’s not good enough. Too High
ZK: And more Luke Bryan music isn’t one. I guess I’ll take the “aw-shucks,” Gomer Pyle appeal of this to his other 2010s material. Too High
Waylon Jennings, “I’m a Ramblin’ Man”
#1 | 1974
JK: A single that works perhaps as a better statement of artistic identity than as a standalone single, but even then, it’s still awfully great. About Right
ZK: Of the numerous times the theme has been milked to death, there’s an argument to be made that Jennings made the best version, if only because he’s playing coy and having a bit of fun with the idea. About Right
KJC: His entire ethos distilled into one song. About Right
Barbara Mandrell with George Jones, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”
#1 | 1981
ZK: This is one of those singles critics like to view with rose-colored glasses as something of a “protest song” for country music, especially given its release timing. Which, fine, whatever. But this coming from Barbara Mandrell? Nuh-uh. Too High
KJC: Barbara Mandrell has always been “Exhibit A” for my view that the argument over what’s “country” is driven more by xenophobia than musical purity. By this point in her career, Mandrell was part-R&B chanteuse, part-variety show host. But she was still considered “in the family” enough to release this ridiculous record, and even get George Jones on the track to give it some extra credibility. Too High
JK: Mandrell’s obviously a major talent and the consummate professional entertainer, but her catalogue has aged so poorly that it’s hard to hear this record as anything but pure kitsch. It’s not unreasonable to have it on the list, but there’s no way I’d have it ranked here. Too High
Previous: #210-#201 | Next: #190-#181
What happened ?
This group of songs is much weaker than the previous ten songs. IMHO none of these songs belong in this rarefied atmosphere although most are definite top 1000 material
Re. “Wasted Days And Wasted Nights”: I think Freddy originally recorded this back in 1959 and almost got it released nationally…until he was busted for having marijuana on him, which was a felony at the time. He came back to it in this recording, which was not only a (needless to say) big country hit, but also got up to #8 on the Hot 100 as well.
Re. “All American Girl”: It almost seems like Carrie was shooting for her own “She’s In Love With The Boy” here, for something that could appeal to a wide swath of middle America. But given that she was only two years removed from American Idol, she really couldn’t do anything to upset country music’s apple cart. Not that she really has, anyway.
Re. “I’m A Ramblin’ Man”: If they hadn’t done so beforehand, this is arguably the song that got people to notice A Man Called Hoss.
All-Amercan Girl is too high, but its her best single slightly ahead of Blown Away, which loses points fro the bad performance of the first part of th chorus. None of the other sonds deserve to be this high. msny not even close.
Agree with JK that the late Lari White’s “Lead Me Not” should have been included on this list. She had a great voice. Got to see her 5 times at the Bluebird Cafe.
Okay, gonna be real. I cannot believe any redblooded man likes I Love the Way You Love Me. Seriously, guys? You want a bowl of sugar to put on top of that syrup? This is the crap women like and forever call for on the all request hour, and why we’re stuck with the bro movement. JMM’s typical schlock move of holding a word for 2 bars and thinking it’s emotionally deep. Everything that’s wrong with country music, wrapped up in one song.
I like most of these songs but don’t think any of them belong in the top 200 of this list.
Daytime Friends – Kenny is my all time favorite male country singer and I love the song. But no way does it belong this high or ahead of so many of his classic songs.
I Was Country… – a great song and my favorite of Mandrell’s. However, the song is not live even though it appears on a Live album. Mandrell cut her singing in a studio. She and Jones were on a flight together and she asked him to record his part and he agreed. The ‘audience’ was from old recordings and added to the track later.
You And I – love the song and it was a monster hit (#1 country and #7 pop) but I can think of many other Gayle songs I’d rather see on the list. I’ll Get Over You, Ready For The Times To Get Better, Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For, and Cry just to name a few.
Wasted Days And Wasted Nights – my Dad loved Fender and we had several of his albums when I was growing up. This song was a definite favorite of mine. It’s infectious and so much fun.
And sorry Steve, but this guy does like I Love The Way You Love Me. It doesn’t belong this high for sure, but it’s a great song IMHO.
Both Freddy Fender and Narvel Felts can be acquired tastes. If I recall correctly none of Felts’ recordings are on this list (although there are several that should be here) and some of Freddy’s best work was as part of the Texas Tornados (Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez & Augie Meyers), a Tejano/Country supergroup.
I don’t post too often, but I just gotta give you folks kudos for making it this far on this schizophrenic list. I honestly like most of these songs, sans the Aldean/Clarkson and Underwood tracks. But, what made the people put these ten songs in these particular spots is just…there’s no logic. It’s like they just threw darts at numbers to match songs, and that really doesn’t get any better as you move into the top 100.
So, at any rate…kudos to your patience on getting through this list. It’s almost like a curiousity read every week or two for me, and you deserve a ton of credit for tackling it all. (And if you need a good psychiatrist after it’s all over…let me know.)
…the fact that “rain is a good thing” and “all american girl” made it onto this list – sporting “top” and “of all time” in its title – always makes me kinda believe that artificial intelligence might not be such a bad thing after all.
I never liked Carrie Underwood’s “All American Girl,” and I never could say specifically why, until now. It just struck me that it’s more or less a self-published romance novel put to music.
Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted” is the 195th greatest country song ever? What? My can’t evens can’t even.
At least one of Waylon’s best was ranked ahead of them…
I mostly agree with caj here in that while I personally like or love most of these songs, none of these really belong in the top 200, imo.
Yeah, I’m a female who really enjoys “I Love The Way You Love Me,” (and a lot of other 90’s country love ballads) but I don’t like EVERY love song in the genre. For example, I’m not a fan of the current boyfriend country trend, and there have also been many poorly written love songs in the past several years along with the bro-country sludge. Back to JMM, of course part of my liking for this song goes all the way back to when my step dad got that album for me, as I mentioned in another thread. Also, I actually prefer it to his two major monster hit ballads, simply because I like the early 90’s neo-traditional flavored production over the more pop leaning sound of those other two songs.
“You And I” is one of my all time favorite records from the Urban Cowboy period. This is the kind of pop country I don’t mind at all. Absolutely love the melody and their harmonies, though I did also eventually find myself wishing that Crystal had more singing parts to make it a full fledged duet. One of our stations was actually still playing a lot of this early 80’s pop country well into 1991, so of course the nostalgia factor is there for me, as well.
“I Was Country” will always have a special place with me, because it’s one of my mom’s favorites (along with “You And I”), and she is a Barbara Mandrell fan overall. Personally, I can also kind of relate to it since liking country music was definitely not considered cool when I was going to school in the 90’s and early 00’s. And now since Bro-Country has sort of made country music “cool”, I see a lot of younger people listening that stuff, proudly claiming to be “country” fans now.
“Daytime Friends” is one of those songs I didn’t really discover until for some reason, it became a popular recurrent during the late 90’s/early 00’s on one of our stations. Come to think of it, that was actually quite fitting as the genre was moving back in a more pop direction at the time similar to the Urban Cowboy period, and even Kenny Rogers himself was making a successful comeback, as well. It’s another solid song in his catalogue, but yeah I wouldn’t have it this high.
I actually kinda liked Hunter Hayes in the beginning, as I first found him to be similar to Bryan White, and his music was refreshing compared to the country checklist songs and early bro-country hits at the time (“If You Told Me To” from his first album sounds EXACTLY like something Bryan would’ve cut in his heyday). Unfortunately as time went on, his music (and his vocals) proved to have more in common with Rascal Flatts than anyone else. “Wanted” still holds up well enough today, but It’s certainly not a top 200 record.
I’ve always been pretty “meh” on Carrie’s “All American Girl,” but now I’d kinda like to see her get back to this kind of pop country, which is a lot more country sounding than a lot of her more recent stuff.
The Aldean and Bryan songs are actually not so bad this time out, but still no way do they belong in the top 200. I especially have to agree with the panel on “Don’t You Want To Stay.” I still think it’s a shame that “Don’t Rush” wasn’t a big hit.