Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Rhett Akins, “Don’t Get Me Started”

“Don’t Get Me Started

Rhett Akins

Written by Rhett Akins, Sam Hogin, and Mark D. Sanders


#1 (1 week)

August 3, 1996

A future superstar songwriter scores his only No. 1 hit as an artist.

The Road to No. 1

Rhett Akins took the standard route to nineties country stardom, playing in a local band while still in school, and then working the theme park circuit while pursuing a record deal.  He was signed by Decca Records, an imprint of MCA at the time, and released his debut album, A Thousand Memories. It included his signature song, “That Ain’t My Truck,” which went top five.  It also included the top forty hits “What They’re Talking About” and “I Brake For Brunettes,” as well as the top twenty hit “She Said Yes.”  Akins then scored his final hit as an artist with the lead single from his second album, Somebody New, and it went all the way to No. 1.

The No. 1

So carefully and scientifically constructed that you can hear the blueprint while you’re listening it.

“Don’t Get Me Started” follows the hat act formula to the letter.  It’s a young, clean cut guy singing about the feelings of his first true love.  It takes an overused saying and builds an entire song around it.  And it’s produced in that style designed to lull radio listeners into complacency, so they don’t feel motivated enough to change the station before the next commercial break.

None of this is meant to be a damning criticism of Rhett Akins.  He’s a solid songwriter and he performs the song with enough enthusiasm to keep it from being a total letdown.  He just happened to come along when the Music Row machine was at its most derivative and risk-averse.  His songwriting career has made him a multi-millionaire, I’m sure, but his recording career got the short end of the stick.

The success of this single inadvertently proves why this approach to new artists was failing.  Yes, he enjoyed a number one single. But the song wasn’t compelling enough or distinctive enough to spur record buyers to purchase his album or to keep radio programmers engaged.  There was nothing about “Don’t Get Me Started” that would encourage anyone to actively want to hear more from him, and ultimately, they didn’t.

The Road From No. 1

“Love You Back” was released as the second single, and it became his fifth and final top forty hit.  The final two singles from Somebody New and all three singles from his third and final MCA album, What LIvin’s All About, all underperformed. A series of singles from independent labels also failed to make a dent at radio, but once Akins fully turned his attention to songwriting, he became one of the most successful writers in Nashville.  “I Brake For Brunettes” was an early prototype for bro country, and he found his groove writing songs in that vein for almost every male radio act getting major airplay in recent years.  His son, Thomas Rhett, has emerged as one of the biggest stars in the genre, with multiple ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Top Male Vocalist.

“Don’t Get Me Started” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. This song is study in 90’s songwriting styles and sounds, minus any of the soul, personality, and sincerity that enlivened the many classics of the era. If you dissected a country song hoping to understand everything that made it special, and then applied your discoveries to a new composition, you end up with this; a well-intentioned, heartless, mess of nothingness. If it were easy, everyone would write engaging country songs.

    I didn’t think I knew this song when I saw the posting, but when I played the video I was reminded of why I forgot it.

  2. It’s funny what songs end up standing the test of time despite not being number one hits. I’m stunned that “That Ain’t My Truck” wasn’t his lone number one. It sure is a better song than this one, though.

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