Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Exile, “Woke Up in Love”

“Woke Up in Love”


Written by J.P. Pennington


#1 (1 week)

March 3, 1984

Exile first found success as a pop band.  Starting off in high school in their home state of Kentucky, they paid their dues for many years before finding massive success with the No. 1 pop hit “Kiss You All Over” in 1978.  A handful of lesser pop hits followed, and as their top 40 fortunes faded, they revamped their lineup and resurfaced as a country band, finding instant success with their self-titled genre debut.

“Woke Up in Love” is a pleasant enough listen.  You can hear how they’re trying to fit in to the contemporary country landscape by borrowing heavily from the Oak Ridge Boys sound, but because their voices aren’t as distinctive, they end up sounding like a cover band.  

This is the first of many No. 1 singles for Exile, so perhaps they’ll show some more personality once they’ve settled in to being a country act.  This effort is too bland and generic to leave a lasting impression.

“Woke Up in Love” gets a C

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. This song continues to be played regularly on my local classic country radio station. While I don’t dislike it, I would much rather be hearing “Kiss You All Over.”

    • A few posts back I was going to reference Exile wondering why a middle of the road band like it could string a run of number one hits together while Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers could not.

      And here we are having to consider the reasons for Exile’s appeal now. I wasn’t expecting them quite yet.

      Naturally, I have no answer to my own question.

      A band like Exile seemed inevitable given the success Alabama was having. What a country music band could sound like had changed. The window of opportunity seemed to be closing on harmony based outfits like the Gatlins, Oaks, and Statler Brothers.

      Personally, I always enjoyed Exile’s radio hits without ever being terribly invested in them as an act or as country personalities. They seemed like the ultimate placeholders.

      Hardly a rousing endorsement.

      I will have time to think about Exile’s music because it might surprise some listeners just how many of their singles will reach number one this decade.

      • They had a decent run on Arista, too. Tim DuBois even co-produced them.

        The second half of the decade is going to be very interesting because it isn’t anywhere near as traditional as it’s usually described, and a lot of the chart toppers are bland and unmemorable.

  2. If we played to script, this whole feature should have been a rush to get to 1986 when suddenly everything was suddenly right again with country music again.

    What we have learned, based upon the songs topping the charts in the first half of the decade,is that there was actually nothing wrong with country music. It has proven to be rich and varied in sound and style with a wonderful balance between established legends and younger artists bringing new influences to the genre.

    I am super excited to be reminded of what was happening on the charts in the late eighties beyond the debut music of Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earl, and Lyle Lovett.

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