100 Greatest Country Songs of the 1990s – Part 5
We’ve made it to the top 20 songs of the ’90s. These are the greatest songs that made for possibly the greatest decade in country music. Please share all your thoughts in the comments.
100 Greatest Country Songs of the ’90s – 20 to 1
20) Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson was already having tons of success with his first three albums when he released the single Chattahoochee from his third album A Lot About Livin’ (And A Little ‘Bout Love). The song became a smash summer hit as well as becoming a signature song for Jackson. The song tells the story about growing up and hanging out with friends during the summer. The video featured Jackson slalom water skiing in his trademark ripped jeans. The sound and style of Chattahoochee influenced songs that followed in the ’90s.
19) Some Girls Do – Sawyer Brown
In the early 1990s, Sawyer Brown entered a new level of success in country music. Their second single off their hit album The Dirt Road was the SB signature song Some Girls Do. The song was written by lead singer Mark Miller. The tune is about how some girls turn the other when it comes to the hard working, good timing, fun loving, good old boys, but there is no reason to worry because when it comes to loving country boys – some girls do. It’s a classic song and usually the closer for every Sawyer Brown show. The guys are still releasing music and touring. If you haven’t seen them live yet you need to do it asap. They’re great.
18) Don’t Take The Girl – Tim McGraw
If Tim McGraw‘s first hit single Indian Outlaw gained him enough notoriety to get noticed, his second hit single and first #1 Don’t Take the Girl made him a legitimate country star. Don’t Take the Girl had fans singing along for most of the ’90s and still today. While the song that made Jimmy Johnson and Tommy Thompson a little more famous in the country world, it really took Tim McGraw’s career to a new level of success and propelled him to the superstar he is today.
17) Any Man of Mine – Shania Twain
In the mid-’90s there was no one better at crafting an infectiously fun melody than Shania Twain. Any Man of Mine came out in ’95 and became Shania’s first American #1 hit. The song even had crossover success, reaching #31 on the pop charts. Everybody and that means everybody was singing the tune. Kids, adults, women, and men were all singing all to perhaps the catchiest song of the ’90s.
16) A Broken Wing – Martina McBride
If you watch American Idol or any singing competition, you’re sure to hear a cover of Martina McBride’s classic hit A Broken Wing. The song is a favorite of females of all ages. The song is about a female character escaping a difficult and abusive relationship. Martina nailed the vocals as she always does and very few compare to the original version despite the number of times it’s been covered.
15) Next To You, Next To Me – Shenandoah
With a distinctive lead vocalist and an upbeat melody, country band Shenandoah had their biggest hit in 1990. Next To You, Next To Me was a fun song to sing along to throughout the decade and remains a favorite today. It’s a simple song, but sometimes those are the most memorable.
14) Five Minutes – Lorrie Morgan
Lorrie Morgan is sassy, sexy, and one of country’s greatest female performers. To kick off the ’90s she released her best song Five Minutes. The song is about a woman, sick of man that isn’t giving enough in a relationship, leaving. She gives the guy five minutes to try and figure out his deal before she hits the road. The song became an anthem for women.
13) Brand New Man – Brooks & Dunn
As solo acts, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn couldn’t get their careers started. In 1991, they teamed up and released their first single Brand New Man. The result was a new breed of country music. The song was rocking, in your face, boot stomping country music that made you take notice. With Ronnie’s soaring vocals and Kix’s contagious enthusiasm, Brooks & Dunn dominated the ’90s and changed things in country music.
12) Heads Carolina, Tails California – Jo Dee Messina
If you listened to country radio in 1996 you couldn’t go 10 minutes without hearing Jo Dee Messina’s debut hit single Head Carolina, Tails California. The song was a #2 smash hit that year and it made Jo Dee a star. The catchy melody spun the tale of two lovers looking for something to do. The answer? Flip a coin. It was a fun song and one of the best songs in a decade that saw many fun songs.
11) The Dance – Garth Brooks
Over the summer of 1990, a slow, simple song from newcomer Garth Brooks was released. The Dance was an unusual choice as a single to kick off the summer. Normally it’s the hard rocking, up tempo songs that are released in an effort to become summer anthems. But The Dance was special. The simple lyric about life and taking chances became a signature song for the mega-star Brooks as fans everywhere connected with the performance. Garth lobbied his label to release the song when they wanted to move on to the next album. Brooks convinced them and he says it’s the song that really jump started his career.
10) You’re Still The One – Shania Twain
Shania Twain’s now 20+ million selling album Come On Over started out selling records relatively slow. That was until the album’s third single was released in 1998. You’re Still The One was a song about her then husband, producer Mutt Lange. The song became an anthem for all those in love. Fans loved the song and loved Shania. The song became a smash hit on the country and pop charts and took Shania to a new level of mega-star success. To date, it’s her biggest hit and still receives big play on multiple radio formats.
9) Check Yes or No – George Strait
In 1995, George Strait was preparing to release a collection of every hit he had up to that point. Strait Out Of The Box was a huge collection of great country songs and is one of Geroge’s best selling albums. To promote the album, Strait needed a new song to hit the charts. The single he choose was the smash hit Check Yes Or No. The song told the cute story of two young lovers falling in love forever with it all beginning with a passing of a note in grade school class. The note was sent from the little girl to the little boy and the question became the timeless chorus of the song. Check Yes Or No is still a favorite of many fans today and George is still racking up #1 hits and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
8) Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
In the second half of 1998, the Dixie Chicks released the title track from their breakout album Wide Open Spaces. The single became an anthem for girls all over the country. The song was about a young girl looking to get away and head out into the wide open spaces life had to offer. The song turned the Chicks into stars and helped the album sell over 12 million copies. The chicks gained some misguided criticism for a comment in 2003, but their legend survives today. They’re ultra-talented musicians and still producing some of the best country music today. Wide Open Spaces is a classic country song and I’m sure a few Dads still use it to remind their girls to check the oil.
7) Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter
It was an unlikely hit, but in the second half of 1996, Deana Carter saw her debut single Strawberry Wine go all the way to #1 on the country charts. The song was a waltz and had a slow, but melodic feel to it. Carter’s vocals fit perfectly as she sang about a young girl’s first experience with love on her grandparent’s farm one summer. Women and girls connected with the familiar story and the song would go on to win Song of the Year at the CMAs.
6) Amazed – Lonestar
After two successful albums, Lonestar parted ways with bass player John Rich (Big & Rich) and set out to release their third album. The result was Lonely Grill and in the summer of 1999 the second single from the album would take the band into surperstardom. Amazed was the song. Fans loved the song. It had a slightly more pop and adult contemporary sound that what Lonestar had previously released. The song spent 8 weeks at #1 on the country charts and reached #1 on the pop charts as well. The song was everywhere that summer and Lonestar would often have to play it twice at their concerts.
5) Should’ve Been a Cowboy – Toby Keith
The most-played song on country radio in the ’90s was Toby Keith‘s debut single Shouldn’t Been A Cowboy. The song turned Keith into a new country star. The song was about a guy looking back and wondering what his life would have been like if he had followed the path of his cowboy heroes. At the time of the songs release – 1993 – many adult men from the baby boomer generation had grown up with classic western movies and TV shows. The song was their anthem and still is today as they reflect on their lives. It wasn’t a bad debut single for Keith even though he was told earlier by a Nashville executive that the song was no good.
4) I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why) – Alabama
In 1992, after being named artist of the decade, Alabama still had plenty of great music left. They released the single I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why) and the song became one of their biggest hits. The catchy chorus caught on immediately with listeners of all ages. In a decade that saw the expansion of computers and the Internet, it seemed like everybody was in a hurry to get something done. Alabama provided a catchy theme song for all of the busy listeners in country music. It’s a great song. The opening chorus with lead singer Randy Owen belting out the vocals is amazing.
3) Don’t Rock The Jukebox – Alan Jackson
For one of the biggest artists of the ’90s, Alan Jackson released his signature hit in 1991 with Don’t Rock The Jukebox. The story of the Don’t Rock The Jukebox was simple and told best by the man himself in the video – Don’t Rock The Jukebox. Jackson and his band were at a small town lounge. Jackson went over by the jukebox to talk to a band mate. One of the legs was broken and when Jackson leaned up against it his bass player said…
2) My Maria – Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn were one of the biggest acts in the ’90s. Their fans loved everything they put out, but in 1996 the duo released what has become their most well-known and most requested song. The cover version of the song My Maria became a sensation in the ’90s. The song was everywhere. People were even naming their kids Maria. Ronnie’s soaring vocals during the chorus and the music arrangement clicked with listeners. Fans requested B&D to sing the tune for their going away special in 2010. It’s one of the greatest country songs ever and definitely a top song of the ’90s.
1) Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
In 1991, the biggest star in country music history, Garth Brooks, released his biggest hit song. Friends In Low Places set Garth’s career on a whirlwind ride to levels of success unseen in country music. The song is a story about a guy letting an ex-girlfriend know that he doesn’t need her anymore and that he has the best friends a guy can ask for. The song has become a barroom anthem and is likely the most played song at country karaoke bars all over the US. For added effect, Garth added a third verse to the song. He sang it almost exclusively in his live shows and often had the fans sing the entire verse. It was a powerful idea and a reason Garth was the biggest country star of the 1990s.