Today, we kick off a new retrospective feature at Country Universe, one that has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while now: a look back at every #1 country single from the nineties.
Why the nineties?
A few reasons.
First, one of the best historical country books is The Billboard Book of Number One Country Singles, written by Tom Roland. It goes through every No. 1 single from 1968 to the end of 1989, ending with Ronnie Milsap’s “A Woman in Love.” It has yet to be revised, so where it ends is a great place to begin.
Second, the charts changed around this time. With Billboard moving to an airplay-only chart based on monitored spins, the country charts entered a new era of accuracy just as a wave of new acts were ready to replace the old guard.
Third, and most importantly, it’s the nineties, man. My favorite decade of country music. This is as good a way as any to look back on the biggest hits of the era.
How it works:
The Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart will determine the chronology of the series, with each No. 1 hit covered in the order that they topped the chart. However, songs that topped the Radio & Records chart will also be covered as we go along. Because the Billboard charts couldn’t be as easily influenced with the methodology change, record labels turned their attention to Radio & Records, where they could exert more influence over the final results.
Because of this, Radio & Records charts in the nineties looked like the Billboard ones in the eighties, with more songs going No. 1 and most of them staying there for just one week. Inclusion of these No. 1 hits will allow for more songs and artists to be covered.
Each entry will have the normal components of our single reviews – artist, songwriter, and grade – along with chart information for the No. 1 single. A look at each artist’s career before and after the No. 1 will also be included.
Hopefully we’ll get the same enthusiasm in the comments as we see with our Sirius 1000 list. This is an endeavor that will move a bit faster with individual posts, but should still take a very long time to complete…at which point, we’ll probably just keep going with Every No. 1 Single of the 2000s.
Let’s get started!
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
Next: Highway 101, “Who’s Lonely Now”
Ooh, I just know I’m gonna love this feature! (It’s 90’s country, duh) I’m so looking forward to these. One thing I truly miss about the charts during the 90’s is how much faster they moved back then, compared to the snail’s pace they move in now. I also miss being able to listen to an entire country countdown show and enjoying nearly every song. Now I’m off to check out Highway 101’s number one…
Great idea ! I have Tom Roland’s book and always hoped it would be updated, but that never happened. While I do not regard the 1990s as the best period of country music, it was the last period of sustained quality country music. I liked most of what I heard during the 1990s – after that it became hit or miss with progressively more misses after about 2005
For me, 2004 was when things quickly took a nosedive, as far as the quality of mainstream country was concerned. I’d say 2000-2002 were the last years in which I liked the majority of what was on the radio.
I am excited about this series!! As is obvious, nineties country music is also my favorite era!
I stopped consistently enjoying what was on the radio around 2005 . I specifically remember listening to a countdown while I was in my second year of grad school and saying to my husband that I jus realized that I hardly liked anything on that week’s countdown, which was a surprising and disappointing realization for me, since listening to country countdowns each week was an enjoyable routine for me since my first one in 1993!
Well… you guys certainly don’t take on any ambitious projects, do you? As a fan of 90s country, thank you for continually finding new and interesting ways to cover that music. It has kept me coming back to the site (almost daily) for over 10 years now!
Although I followed a few country artists in the 70’s and 80’s, I didn’t start following country music on a regular basis ’til about 1992 when I bought Suzy B’s 3rd album, Aces. If wiki is correct, Suzy never had a #1 song. Drive South made it to #2. Still, i’m looking forward to seeing what songs did reach the top of the charts.
I’m really excited by the response to this feature. Thanks for the positive feedback!
Woo hoo. This is awesome. 90s Country is amazing and Jaimie is exactly right! The charts were significantly faster back then compared to their “snail pace” today. Back then Bob Kingsley would count down the 40 biggest hits of the week then do a seven hour special every New Years weekend featuring the top 100 songs of the entire year. Most of the 90s this list was almost all top ten songs even at #100 because there was that much new hit music coming out each year! Today you don’t get as many as 100 different songs in the entire top 40 in the course of just one year! Crazy how much more music there was in the 90s plus really high quality music!