Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Kenny Rogers, “Crazy”


Kenny Rogers

Written by Richard Marx and Kenny Rogers


#1 (1 week)

March 30, 1985

David Foster’s production fails Kenny Rogers here.

Foster’s talent is pushing vocalists beyond their normal limits.  This has made for some career-best vocal performances from Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You”), Olivia Newton-John (“Twist of Fate”), Peter Cetera (“The Glory of Love”), and Celine Dion (“The Power of Love.”)  

But Kenny Rogers isn’t a powerhouse vocalist.  He’s a stylist who excels at telling stories and delivering choruses that an arena can sing along with.  “Crazy” undermines his gifts through its arrangement, despite Rogers himself being a co-writer and co-producer of the track.  

The song itself is fine, though its sentiment is overly familiar and its title invites unfavorable comparisons to the Patsy Cline standard.  An understated approach could have been quite powerful.  With Rogers, less really is more.  That’s never been more apparent than it is on the chorus, as Rogers struggles to effectively emote while going for the high notes.  

Still, the collaboration was commercially successful, so we have two more No. 1 hits from Rogers on the way with Foster as producer.  Thankfully, both of them are a step or two above this one.

“Crazy” gets a C


Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I’m a HUGE Kenny Rogers fan but must admit this isn’t one of my favorites by him.

    It isn’t a bad song but there’s just nothing all that special about it. And you expect a KR song to always be special.

  2. To be fair, this is more of an Adult Contemporary ballad than anything else; and it is an indication that K.R. has always straddled that line between country, pop, and rock for a good amount of his career. And in all good honesty, he has always considered what he is doing to be a business, strictly a business–though one where he more often than not does make at least good records.

  3. Kenny maximizes his abilities as a singer here even as he steps out of his vocal wheelhouse. His ability to confidently and competently straddle genres is perhaps the best example of the decade’s defining characteristic, one this feature has helped reveal and, more importantly, celebrate.

    Other artists like Crystal Gayle, Earl Thomas Conley and Gary Morris similarly incorporated contemporary influences outside of country into their music while still making strong country records.

    ’80s country pitched an inclusive tent.

    Yet, we are inching ever closer to the moment when country music was allegedly saved by the new traditionalists.

    The wonderfully wide stylistic range and diversity of stellar number one hits up until now has given the lie to the premise that the genre was ailing, much less in need of any saving.

    I am expecting it to become painfully clear that a conscious industry marketing shift towards a younger demographic aligned well with a new narrative Nashville wanted to tell and sell.

    I know as a young country music fan at the time, I certainly swallowed that pitch hook, line, and sinker.

    There was no bigger proselytizer for new country then me. All the young artists felt like my own personal discoveries.

    Everything was new.

    I completely embraced the excitement of the new wave of artists; Nashville hooked me because the talent level of the emergent young stars was admittedly off the charts, and they were compelling personalities.

    They were also mine.

    That boom of new voices, and their potential, however, should not have silenced the steady stream of excellent music the ’80s had produced to date.

    Timing is everything and Nashville nailed it.

    Unfortunately, this meant the clock would run out for so many of this decade’s wonderful older stars who had fans who felt they were every bit as much their own artists as I did about the new traditionalists.

    Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”

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