Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Faith Hill, “Breathe”


Faith Hill

Written by Stephanie Bentley and Holly Lamar


#1 (6 weeks)

December 25, 1999 – January 29, 2000

Radio & Records

#1 (6 weeks)

December 17, 1999 – January 21, 2000

Faith Hill’s signature hit is the final No. 1 single of the nineties.

The Road to No. 1

After three No. 1 hits, Faith produced the top fifteen “Love Ain’t Like That” and the top five “The Secret of Life.” The title track and lead single from Faith’s fourth studio album followed, and it is the final No. 1 single of the decade.

The No. 1

“Breathe” takes its cues from Shania Twain’s countrification of the arena rock anthem and applies the same approach to an eighties hair band ballad, and it works.

Hill is positively bewitching on this track, giving a sultry performance that fully utilizes her lower register.  She already sang this same melody on her earlier No. 1 hit, “It Matters to Me,” and comparing the two shows how much her style had developed and changed over the years.

I love the way that the steel guitar is embedded throughout “Breathe,” giving it a warmth that serves the intimate lyric well.

I know this is in the same category of “Amazed” and “You’re Still the One” and “I Hope You Dance”: big country hits that were inescapable before they crossed over and even harder to get away from them after they crossed over.  Hell, “Breathe” was the No.1 pop hit of 2000.

But I’ll continue to go to bat for all of them, just like I will for “9 to 5” and “Seven Year Ache” and “Islands in the Stream” when we cover the eighties.  This is as good as pop country gets, and it’s every bit as important to making country a thriving and relevant musical genre as traditional country, bluegrass, and country rock are.

“Breathe” is a classic, and it ends the decade on a high note.

The Road From No. 1

Hill will be back when we get to the 2000s, starting with the second single from Breathe, which will also spend multiple weeks at No. 1.

“Breathe” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: The Chicks, “Cowboy Take Me Away”


  1. Thanks for all your hard work on this feature Kevin! I’ve enjoyed re-living all of these classics from my youth with you. I’m looking forward to the feature continuing with the 80’s after your well-earned break. I didn’t start listening to country music until the early 90’s, so a lot of the 80’s songs will be new to me. I’m looking forward to discovering some “new” music.

  2. All pop country is not created equal.

    The reasons “Breathe” soars are why Lonestar’s “Amazed” falls so hideously flat for me. And it has everything to do with the artists’ charisma and sincerity.

    Country has always lived out on the edges of the genre, even as it historically wrestles with protecting its traditions and core. I agree with Kevin that growth for the genre happens with performance like this.

    Faith Hill had purposefully been building to this moment for some time. She seemingly gleefully seized the opportunity with confidence and grandiose grace. She recorded a classic.

    Meanwhile, Lonestar felt like they accidentally captured lightening in a bottle with their power pop country ballad. They would botch their chance at creative relevance and even career continuity and longevity.

    This pop country classic perfectly sets the table for the upcoming 80’s feature, a decade often maligned for its pop-country insincerity and sounds. We will get to see how the music of acts like Gary Morris and Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandrell and Anne Murray have aged.

    I couldn’t be more excited.

    Thank you for the effort and excellence that went into this 90’s future. It was a wonderful walk down memory lane.

    Take a break before diving into the Urban Cowboy era, Kevin, but not too long!

  3. I love this song. It’s what got me into Faith Hill as a singer, and I will always enjoy it for that. It’s a well-written, amazing classic.

    I have loved the feature, and discovered a few new to me acts as well as rediscovering some old favourites.

    My only other question right now is – there are people who don’t like “Seven Year
    Ache”? I mean, I know not everyone likes every song, but it’s a classic in my eyes too.

    • Joanne,

      Agreed. I love “Seven Year Ache” and think it’s one of the coolest sounding songs. I even think the Synth work was awesome and the steel guitar solo gets me every time. I never tire of hearing it.


      Thank you for all your hard work on this feature. I have a 300 song playlist influenced completely by this list and it’s just one great song after another. Thank you!!

      • Tyler, you said it all, I completely agree. I think it’s a great story song as well, of a complicated relationship. I love Rosanne’s original and I also love Trisha’s cover.

        This feature has been so great.

  4. I’ll echo what’s already been said. I’ve really enjoyed this feature. I looked for them daily and read these 90s reviews as soon as they went up. I’m more familiar with the Billboard charts, but not R&R so much and it was neat to see how many songs missed the #1 spot in Billboard. I’m not sure, but weren’t the old Cashbox charts still active in the early 80s? Some weeks could have 3 different #1 titles if so.

    Thank you again for all the work, thought, and time you out into this feature. I’m looking forward to reading more.

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