“XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)”
Written by Matraca Berg and Alice Randall
#1 (2 weeks)
September 10 – September 17, 1994
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
September 9, 1994
Three legendary women pool their talents to create one massive hit.
The Road to No. 1
After “The Song Remembers When” went No. 1, MCA pulled only one more single from the album of the same name. “Better Your Heart Than Mine” peaked outside the top twenty. Yearwood’s only album release in 1994 was her Christmas set, The Sweetest Gift. But she still managed to earn a No. 1 hit, thanks to an ill-fated network pilot needing someone to sing its theme song.
The No. 1
“XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)” is the first nineties No. 1 from one of the decade’s most essential songwriters, Matraca Berg. She co-wrote it with author Alice Randall, who made it a personal – and successful – goal to be the first black woman to write a No. 1 country hit. The song was originally intended for Wynonna, but Trisha Yearwood stepped in when Wynonna fell ill when the time came to record it.
The song captures the role of women in transition, as they are now expected to be breadwinners but are also still responsible for all of the domestic duties. Capturing the story of a woman trying to make it “in her Daddy’s world,” she’s gone from ribbons and bows to mowing the yard, fixing the sink, and relying on God, good wine, Aretha Franklin, and Patsy Cline to get her through the day.
Yearwood sings the fire out of it, as should be expected. In retrospect, at least in terms of this feature, “XXX’s and OOO’s” is the most important mile-marker for women in the genre since “Don’t Tell Me What to Do” in 1991. There is a perspective shift here, with the real life experiences of modern women taking center stage for the first time, with their male partners present but relegated to the background.
There’s been a lot of chatter in the comments about how 1994 marked a steep decline in quality, and when you’re looking at the male acts still dominating the radio, that’s indisputably true.
“XXX’s and OOO’s” signals that the women are ready to take it from here, and for the remainder of the decade, women will dominate the genre creatively and commercially in a way they never had before and haven’t done since. Yearwood and Berg are two of the most essential contributors to this golden age of women in country music, and this classic record strongly showcases both of their formidable talents.
Meanwhile, Alice Randall moved on to an award-winning literary career, highlighted by her stellar The Wind Done Gone retelling of Gone With the Wind from the perspective of Scarlett’s half-sister Cynara, an enslaved woman with a very different take on the events of the original book.
The Road From No. 1
Yearwood would include this stopgap single on her 1995 studio album, Thinkin’ About You. We’ll see that album’s title track in early 1995.
“XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)” gets an A.
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