Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: LeAnn Rimes, “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”

“One Way Ticket (Because I Can)

LeAnn Rimes

Written by Keith Hinton and Judy Rodman

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

December 28, 1996 – January 4, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

December 13, 1996

A young superstar scores her only No. 1 country hit to date.

The Road to No. 1

Born in Mississippi and raised in Garland, Texas, LeAnn Rimes was a prodigious young talent, singing in public from the age of five.  She performed throughout the south and was a contestant on Star Search, while also releasing two EPs and a full-length album as an independent artist, all before the age of twelve.  Dallas radio DJ Bill Mack was an enthusiastic supporter, and co-wrote the song that would become her breakthrough hit: “Blue.” Serving as her debut single for Curb Records and as the title cut of her first major label album, “Blue” was an explosive hit out of the gate, pushing her album to No. 1 and helping her win two Grammy Awards in 1997.

Radio was slow to come on board, with “Blue” barely making the top ten and second single “Hurt Me” going top thirty.  But the sales were undeniable, and with her third single, she finally got a No. 1 airplay hit to go with her chart-topping album success.

The No. 1

“One Way Ticket (Because I Can)” is far from the best LeAnn Rimes single.  Her output from 2005 on has been especially excellent.

But it’s a very good single nonetheless, demonstrating that she could credibly sing contemporary material that expresses experiences more consistent with young adulthood than the early teenage years she was actually living at the time.

It’s co-written by eighties country star Judy Rodman, who coincidentally also had only one No. 1 single.

It’s a bit strange that this is the only time we’re seeing LeAnn Rimes during this feature, given she was one of the genre’s top sellers from 1996 through the end of the decade.

But when it came to female artists, radio didn’t always follow the lead of what its listeners were demonstrating they loved with their hard-earned dollars.  And the second half of the nineties is still as good as it ever got for women on the radio.

The Road From No. 1

Rimes remained a major presence on the country charts throughout the nineties and the following decade, regularly scoring top ten hits and her albums selling platinum or better.  She also had some massive pop crossover hits, including with her version of a 1997 Trisha Yearwood No.1 country hit, and her wildly popular international hit, “Can’t Fight the Moonlight.”

Rimes recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of her Blue album, and she remains an active recording artist, with her more recent work garnering the strongest critical notices of her career.  She’s currently prepping the release of her seventeenth full-length studio album, God’s Work, which is scheduled for September 2022.

“One Way Ticket (Because I Can)” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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10 Comments

  1. I thought there was a typo until I checked LeAnn’s Wikipedia page. Doesn’t seem possible that this was her only song to get to #1.

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  2. While her sales were big, it isn’t a surprise to me she didn’t have another country #1 in the 90s. Her biggest hits were as much or more pop than country. What singles of hers after this were deserving of #1 at country radio?

    • She had great singles from Her This Woman, Family and Spitfire albums, not to mention her Ladies and Gentlemen covers album (produced by none other than Vince Gill!).

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      • None of those projects were released in the 90s, which is what I was asking about. In the review Kevin mentioned her sales in the 90s and how they didn’t necessarily get reflected at radio. My point was her sales were fueled as much or more by pop listeners, and thus it makes sense she didn’t have #1s at country radio.

        • Her first two albums didn’t include any crossover hits. If country radio reflected what its audience was buying, “Blue” would’ve been a No. 1 hit for multiple weeks.

          That’s the big difference between how radio treated the male superstars of the early nineties and the female superstars later in the decade. Go back to the early days of this feature, and even the gold/platinum level male artists were scoring strings of No. 1 hits. Once women dominated retail, they didn’t get proportional radio support like their male counterparts did.

          Not that this was new. When Olivia Newton-John and Emmylou Harris were topping the country albums charts for weeks on end, they didn’t similarly dominate at radio, either.

          • I of course agree males have always been given priority in country music. That’s no secret. My only point was to say I don’t see where LeAnn Rimes had all these great country singles going to radio in the 90s that weren’t being played. Her country music in the 90s was mediocre outside of a few songs. It was in the 00s that her music got good, and I would agree it’s a shame country music didn’t make more room for those singles.

  3. I also can’t believe this was actually LeAnn Rimes’ only number one! Especially when considering how huge she was during this time in the 90’s. I always remember her and Shania being two of the biggest stars in the mid 90’s.

    I was definitely on the LeAnn Rimes train when “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)” was the current single of hers on the radio. Actually, the first time I heard it, I didn’t even know it was the same early teen singer that did “Blue,” because it was so different sonically from that debut single, and plus, she sounded different herself on this track. Then one day in late ’96 when I was about to record it on to a tape, I heard the DJ mention she was only fourteen and then her name. While I enjoyed “Blue,” it was actually this song that made me like her even more, and I remember just listening to it over and over on that tape. I also ended up recording it on to another tape in the Spring of 1997, and I caught its music video on GAC around the same time. I remember then thinking she looked older than fourteen, and I loved her outfits in the video. :)

    To this day, “One Way Ticket” is one of my personal favorite LeAnn Rimes songs that always brightens my mood whenever I hear it! The production is so energetic and uplifting along with the lyrics, and hearing early teen LeAnn singing always takes me back to great times in my life when I was younger, myself. Like Kevin, I also think it’s quite impressive that she started with the classic country sounding “Blue,” and then turned around and had a big hit with this much more contemporary 90’s sounding upbeat song. I’ve always loved her slightly more mature, yet still very youthful sounding vocals on this one, and I love the enthusiasm in her performance. And I especially love it when she really belts out some the last lines like “Gonna sail the ocean. Gonna spread my wings. Gonna climb my mountain. Gonna do EVERYTHIIIIING!” Again, it’s just so uplifting and makes you feel so good! And like many other 90’s country classics, I’m a sucker for the key change in this one too. Oh, and I’ve always loved Bruce Bouton’s steel playing on this one, as well! Just a great feel good song, all around.

    The video is still one of my all time favorites, as well. Again, seeing fourteen year old LeAnn Rimes here having so much fun always puts a smile on my face and makes me think of great times from my own life. And yes, I STILL love her outfits in this video! :) Especially the one she wearing at 0:43. So cute! I love the green tops she’s wearing in various shots, as well. Also love the different shots of San Francisco in the background, some of which remind me of Full House. Overall, this is another video that reminds me of great times when I’d watch GAC on the couch endlessly throughout 1997. :)

    Having LeAnn Rimes on the radio during this time was pretty neat for me, and it was especially cool knowing that there was a new country star that was not much older than myself (I was eleven when “Blue” and this song were first released). On the night I first heard “Blue” in the car with my parents, I remember being shocked when my dad told me that she was only thirteen. If it weren’t for him telling me, I never would’ve guessed I was hearing a girl who was only a few years older than me. Even when we saw its video in the bowling alley one day, I thought she looked older than thirteen. Given how iconic that song still is, I’m still surprised it wasn’t a number one.

    I also love many of the singles she came out with after this, including: “The Light In Your Eyes,” “Unchained Melody,” “On The Side Of Angels,” “Commitment,” “Nothin’ New Under The Moon,” “These Arms Of Mine,” “Big Deal,” and “I Need You.” I personally wouldn’t have minded if any of those had been number ones. My step dad especially enjoyed her version of “Unchained Melody,” since that’s always been one of my parents’ all time favorite songs.

    I never even knew “Hurt Me” was a single until after I got the Blue album in the early 00’s. That’s actually one of my favorite cuts from it! I also really love “Fade To Blue.” Her duet with Eddy Arnold on his classic “Cattle Call” is a lot of fun, too.

  4. While working at Tower Records in Toronto, a gentleman came in the store looking for an album by Leon Grimes. He was outraged that I didn’t know the artist and became huffy and impatient as I asked him some clarifying questions about this intriguing sounding Leon Grimes with the hope of being able to help him find what he was looking for; Tower had four floors of music after all! It became clear soon enough that he was not looking for music by an obscure male artist from another generation named Leon Grimes but, rather contemporary superstar female singer Leanne Rimes. To this day, I still laugh at his confusion and his stupidity. A true jackass!

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