“Who’s Lonely Now”
Written by Kix Brooks and Don Cook
#1 (2 weeks)
December 30, 1989 – January 6, 1990
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
December 15, 1989
The first #1 single of the nineties – on the Billboard chart, at least – came from the reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year.
“Who’s Lonely Now” was the lead single from Highway 101’s third studio album, Paint the Town. Co-written by Don Cook and a pre-Brooks & Dunn Kix Brooks, it was band’s fourth and final chart topper.
The Road to No. 1
Highway 101 released one single that failed to chart, but beginning with their #4 hit “The Bed You Made For Me” in 1987, they scored ten consecutive top ten hits. Three of these went to #1 consecutively: “Somewhere Tonight” (1987), “Cry, Cry, Cry” (1988), and “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes” (1988).
The No. 1
“Who’s Lonely Now” has a mid-tempo groove that simmers instead of burns, in contrast to many of band’s earlier hits. The lyric is cutting in its joyful revenge, leading up to the killer line: “You know I’d like to help, but I’m seeing someone else.”
It’s a shame the energy is so low overall. Perhaps the writing was already on the wall for the band, as Carlson’s vocal borders on disengaged. Highway 101 was one of the most important new acts of the late eighties, but even though this song was a hit, it is retrospective evidence that they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the blockbuster acts of the nineties. This will be a very common observation as we go through 1990 and 1991.
The Road from No. 1
Highway 101 would score one more top ten hit, “Walkin’, Talkin’, Cryin’, Barely Beatin’ Broken Heart” (No. 4, 1990), a hit co-written by Hall of Famer Roger Miller. After two more singles that went top fifteen, lead singer Paulette Carlson departed the band for a solo career. They would have one top fifteen hit (“Bing Bang Boom,” No. 14, 1991) with new singer Nikki Nelson, who earned the coveted stop after Trisha Yearwood turned down the opportunity.
“Who’s Lonely Now” gets a B.