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Country Universe’s Best Singles of 2013, Part Two: #20-#1

December 31, 2013 Kevin John Coyne 13

If this year’s singles list leaves you with a familiar feeling, it’s not your imagination. For the first time in Country Universe history, an artist has topped the year end list for two years in a row, and there are plenty of repeat appearances from CU favorites. But there are some fresh faces too, including some promising new singer-songwriters and inspired collaborations from artists we already liked an awful lot by themselves.

As always, share your thoughts and personal favorites in the comments!

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell's "Hanging Up My Heart" is popular on XPN2: Singer-Songwriter Radio.

#20
“Hangin’ Up My Heart”
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

Individual rankings: #3 – Leeann; #20 – Kevin

What a way for Emmylou and Rodney to kick off their much anticipated duet project! The bouncy tune shows the power duo in fine form both in voice and spunk and signals what will turn out to be one of the finest albums of the year. – Leeann Ward

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Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, "Angry All the Time"

August 10, 2012 Ben Foster 11

2001 | #1

I will append a “-” onto the grade as a means of acknowledging the fact that the Bruce Robison original is overall superior. That said, Tim McGraw’s hit recording of “Angry All the Time” is an excellent record in its own right.

I’m sure there are relatively few artists who would have listened to Bruce Robison’s noncharting self-written 1998 single “Angry All the Time” and thought, ‘Hey, that sounds like a hit!’ But “Angry All the Time” was a classic instance of McGraw finding a hit in the most unlikely of places, and thus giving mass exposure to what was already an achingly beautiful, yet underrated composition.

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Single Review: Kix Brooks featuring Joe Walsh, “New to This Town”

April 5, 2012 Dan Milliken 2

I’ve always liked Kix as a singer, so I was happy to see that this single exists. He’s got one of those modest-but-charming Everyman voices, the kind that makes every song feel like a conversation with your ol’ pal.

He also sounds positively thrilled to flex it for us again, which is just infectious. Listen to how he relishes every note of “New to This Town,” like he doesn’t want waste a moment of this reintroduction. Love that! I love that.

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Veterans Day Six Pack

November 11, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 6

If history had played out the way Woodrow Wilson planned, we’d be celebrating the 92nd Armistice Day today. When first proclaimed a national holiday, Wilson declared the following:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

If the Great War had been the last war, we wouldn’t be celebrating what is now known as Veterans Day. We also wouldn’t have an incredible legacy of songs about soldiers in the annals of country music.

Here are five classics that celebrate those who have served our country and the ones who love them, along with one tale that has a returned soldier that’s not being loved quite enough.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 9

May 17, 2011 Leeann Ward 24

Today’s category is…

A Song That Makes You Want to Dance.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “Cotton Eye Joe” – Rednex

Just as I don’t sing, I also don’t do much dancing. A song that makes me want to dance, however, should also double as my guilty pleasure choice. Chalk it up to association with childhood memories.

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iPod Check: Hidden Treasures

June 16, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 37

This edition of iPod Check is all about those great songs that you love which aren’t that well known. Put your iPod or favorite playlist on shuffle, then list the first ten songs that come up which weren’t singles or widely heard album cuts.

Bonus points for a little blurb with each song!

My list is after the jump.

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Conclusion: #20-#1

December 24, 2009 Dan Milliken 61

#20
“Not Ready to Make Nice”
Dixie Chicks
2006
Peak: #36

It’s easy to label this as a transitory response of a song, whose quality is stamped by context and time, but to do so is to undermine its carefully crafted layers of universal emotion. Anger is only the outer coating of the song – beneath it lies a tender-to-the-touch complex of feelings: pain and disgust, confusion and resolve, stubbornness and defeat. “Not Ready to Make Nice” may always recall a certain unfortunate episode in country music history, but its theme – that there’s a price to pay for standing up for what you believe – is timeless. – Tara Seetharam

#19
“Probably Wouldn’t Be this Way”
LeAnn Rimes
2005
Peak: #3

A striking portrait of grief that alternates between phases of desolation, disillusionment and gratitude. Rimes’ interpretation of the lyrics is chillingly precise. – TS

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