My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Chris’s End of 2008 List: Top 30 Singles

This is my 2008 top-30 singles post! First, about my singles list, I attempted to avoid songs that could still impact the charts more, songs like Miranda Lambert’s “More Like Her” or Little Big Town’s “Good Lord Willing”. I made some exceptions as you’ll soon see, but I tried to keep it to songs that peaked on the charts in 2008. Anyway, here are my top 30 singles of 2008! If you read my albums post, I’m warning you, this post is even longer…

That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy

30. “She Never Cried In Front Of Me” – Toby Keith

– It’s not very country sounding, but Toby gives a great performance to a very good sad song. It’s probably my favorite song from him.

Long Trip Alone

29. “Trying To Stop Your Leaving” – Dierks Bentley

– Dierks is doing what he does best, it has energy, but still has meaning and great singing. A very solid single from a great album.

Fearless

28. “Love Story” – Taylor Swift

– Yeah, I did it, Swift’s on my list! I actually love this song, it’s creative and different from other artists, but I’m young so I may be biased. I also love the sound, especially the fiddle near the end that I find myself whistling. 

Carnival Ride

27. “Just A Dream” – Carrie Underwood

– One of my favorite songs from her, it’s a little scream-ish, but she gets the message and the story is deliciously heartbreaking. Definitely a keeper, especially for the haunting second verse.

Alex Woodard

26. “Reno” – Alex Woodard (Feat. Sara Watkins)

– It never charted, but I love Sara Watkins this much! Woodard is good, but Watkins elevates this song because of her great voice. If her voice is this good, I can’t wait for her solo album in the spring.

5th Gear

25. “Letter To Me” – Brad Paisley

– This song is sincere and not sexist, unlike my least favorite Brad Paisley single ever (*coughI’mstillaguycough*), it’s very clever and he has a great performance. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song with the same premise, and that’s rare today.

What Am I Waiting For

24. “Johnny And June” – Heidi Newfield

– I don’t know too much about the namesakes of this song, but even I knew almost all of the many references to their greatness in their song, and instead of coming off as pandering, she makes it sentimental and epic. It isn’t enough to make me buy her album, but it’s very close.

Living Hard

23. “Learning How To Bend” – Gary Allan

– Yet again, it’s nowhere near country, but the emotion and performance just makes it so much better. He pulls off this song that not many male vocalists can pull off. I love the sound too, it just sounds cool…

Love On The Inside

22. “All I Want To Do” – Sugarland

– I apologize; I’m one of very few who like this song. During the summer, before the album came out, I listened to the music video a ton, and it attached itself to my occipital lobe and it never let go. I actually went backpacking for 2 weeks at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and I was whistling it. Then other people started whistling it without ever hearing it, and I learned of its brain-washing capabilities. It’s also great to sing along to.

Lady Antebellum

21. “Lookin’ For A Good Time” – Lady Antebellum

– I heard this song on one of the few times I didn’t use my ipod in the car, and I couldn’t figure out who was singing. I listened attentively until the end of the song, and when I heard it was Lady Antebellum, I thought “Huh? I thought only the guy sung! I like her voice!” The catchy chorus and great voices caught me, and I haven’t looked back. The rest of their album isn’t quite as good, but this song shows their potential to be unlike everyone on radio.

Time Well Wasted

20. “Waitin’ On A Woman” – Brad Paisley

– My dad, the Brad Paisley fanatic, has told me for 3 years now that this is his favorite song ever. Imagine his joy when I told him it was being released as a single! This song walks his line between funny and sexist perfectly, unlike the aforementioned abomination…
The song is clever, cute and well written, and it is one of my favorite Paisley songs by far. It’s also funny how after hearing this song, I see in other people how true it can be (not always!).

Golden Road

19. “You Look Good In My Shirt” – Keith Urban

– This is why I like Urban’s guitar work more than Paisley’s, the lick in this song is just pure entertainment! His fun vocal performance doesn’t hurt, of course. I’ve never been in this situation myself, but Urban’s simple lyrics and images convey the message crystal clear to me.

Reba Duets

18. “Every Other Weekend” – Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney

– I haven’t heard the Skip Ewing version, but since this is the one that actually charted well, I’ll talk about this version. I was surprised by this song because I liked Chesney’s performance! Weird, right? Without Reba, this song would be nothing, she just sounds great. It’s such a different concept for a song; you don’t hear many about divorce (there is another one closer to the top on this list!), but this song captures the conflict in the divorced couple. The line “I can’t tell her I love her/ Because there’s too many questions and ears in the car.”
The saddest part? The listeners know both parties feel the same, and if they would just say “I love you” every other weekend, everything would be better, but they won’t. It’s heartbreaking to listen to, which makes it even better.

Everything Is Fine

17. “Another Try” – Josh Turner (Feat. Trisha Yearwood)

– Wow. This song is the only reason I bought Turner’s album, and this song is the only one I still listen to regularly, mostly because of Yearwood. She is so good at duets, and she brings the necessary emotion to the vocals, turning this from a simple ballad to a gorgeous track. For some reason, I also love the bell in the production, but I guess that’s really me. If Yearwood made a duets album, it would probably be amazing, with material like this.

Emiy West

16. “Rocks In Your Shoes” – Emily West

– This song has everything; a great vocalist, catchy melody and production, a good message, and it’s coherent! It’s a very rare combination, and West pulls it off with some great lines like “They did a drive-by bang-bang, big hole in my heart!” that convey the message with creativity and they just sound cool. Her debut album better get released soon, or I may have to hurt someone.

A Place To Land

15. “Fine Line” – Little Big Town

– This single should have done well; it’s still a mystery to me why it never took off. Karen Fairchild does the lead vocals expertly, pleading while not sounding whiny and annoying. As always, they have great harmonies, with different members providing the background vocals at different times.

The Life Of A Song

14. “Cheater Cheater” – Joey + Rory

– They are one of my favorite new country acts this year, with this funny and entertaining song. The only problem is that some people get caught up on the “ho” reference, and miss out on an amazing new duo, so hopefully their future singles will change that perception. I love the acoustic sound of this song, it’s almost bluegrass, in my opinion.

Like A Woman Single

13. “Like A Woman” – Jamie O’Neal

– As I said in my review of this song, I really like this song, it’s just not what Jamie needs right now. It’s still on the charts, but I’m not expecting it to take off any time soon, so I put it on this list. She gives her best vocal performance in this song, and it captures the emotions of a wife wanting to rekindle the flame perfectly. You can just feel the need in her voice, and it works, it just isn’t the right time for this single.

Sounds So Good

12. “Takin’ Off This Pain” – Ashton Shepherd

– I didn’t like this song at first, I thought her accent was annoying, but it grew on me when I got it for free off itunes. At the beginning, I didn’t notice the lyrics, and now I love how she’s showing the husband that did her wrong how she can have fun all on her own with “A cold beer in my right hand/ In my left I got my wedding band.” Very cool.

It has a perfect mix of classic and contemporary country, it just feels right.

That Lonesome Song

11. “In Color” – Jamey Johnson

– This is another free itunes single, and it’s a great one. Like many songs on this list, it’s creative and unique, which sets it apart. How does one think of a concept for this song? It could only be from a real life experience, but I would love to hear the story of how this song came about, I bet it’s a great story.

I’m not crazy about his voice some of the time, but the chorus and the strength of the writing make it unforgettable, with lines like: “A picture’s worth a thousand words/ But you can’t see what those shades of gray keep covered, you should have seen it in color.” The fact that this song made the top 10 gives me hope for country radio, who ignored some of my absolute favorites on this list.

Sleepless Nights

10. “Crazy Arms” – Patty Loveless

– She records this classic as if it’s brand new, and makes it sound great, pure traditional country. I had never heard of Patty before this album came out, but now I hear how great she is, and this song proves it to me. Singles like this make me want to get albums more and more each time I hear them, I wish I had more money!

Here’s a quote from Patty herself:
“Al Perkins is such a great steel guitar player. At the very end of the song, I held my breath, because I didn’t know if he was going to make it. But he grabbed it. The flow that he gave to “Crazy Arms” is brilliant.” Amen.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

9. “Gunpowder & Lead” – Miranda Lambert

– This song was my favorite from when I first heard the album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and for good reason. This rocker song shows the fury of an abused woman, but maybe I’ve just been watching too much Law & Order: SVU. She says she’s getting her gun, and since it’s Miranda, it’s impossible to not believe her; you know she will shoot him to free herself. It’s also one of the edgier songs to do well on radio this year, with all the more sterile songs. One problem though, the gunshot at the end is annoying because I would prefer the song to be left ambiguous to whether or not she fired, but it’s a small quip about a great song.

 Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love

8. “They Call It Falling For A Reason” – Trisha Yearwood

– What got me about this song is that it is contemporary country done right. The production is modern, but still country, smooth, but still exciting. I shouldn’t have to say it, but Yearwood gives a great performance, without screaming, just singing strongly. The lyrics shine as well, with great images that convey the feeling of falling in love. Overall, a very solid song.

The Early Years

7. “Low” – Sara Evans

– This song was the last thing I was expecting from Sara Evans, an actual country song? I love her, but this song is something special that radio ignored. It’s mostly acoustic, and very catchy and modern at the same time, which is quite a feat. It’s also got a great spiritual message that hits home. It’s one of those songs that you listen to on a bad day, and you instantly feel better!

Radio ignored it, but if her next album is this good, who cares!

Sounds So Good

6. “Sounds So Good” – Ashton Shepherd

– I heard this song on the way to Best Buy to buy another CD, and as soon as I heard the great melody in the production, I had to buy Ashton’s CD. It is one of the best sounding songs I’ve heard in a long time, and that’s saying something. This song convinced me to like Ashton Shepherd, and without this song, I would have missed out, so I’m very grateful. The song may be too simple, but it works, and it “sounds so good”! (Sorry, I had to do it.)

Family

5. “What I Cannot Change” – LeAnn Rimes

– Whew, this song’s a doozy. LeAnn sings of what she can’t change, but shows a strong conviction to changing what she can. It’s optimistic, but still realistic on its view of real life, which makes it so much stronger.

The production is also interesting, but just sparse enough to let LeAnn shine.

Besides the message, the song has LeAnn giving the vocal performance of a lifetime, with the perfect singing of an angel. Radio ignoring this song is a crime that should be punishable by death. Or by being forced to listen to Taylor Swift in person for hours on end.

Thankful

4. “ ’73 ” – Jennifer Hanson

– This song was released, and had a music video, but never charted, which is terrible. This song recounts how the divorce of Jennifer’s parents has affected her life and it asks the biggest question: “Sometimes I wonder, how all our lives would be/ If they had stayed in love like they were in ’73.” The production is simple, and the understated vocal performance suits the song perfectly.

However, the lyrics are where this song really shines. The song describes a series of photographs from points in Jennifer’s life, similar to “In Color” but with many more pictures. She sees her half brother, two different Christmas trees, and her graduation; the one time her family seemed ok again. How would it have been different if they were still together? Ultimately, it’s impossible to know and the song reflects that with no clear conclusion.

Want to know the best part? The music video of this song shows the real pictures described in the song, and it’s well worth the watch.

Love On The Inside

3. “Already Gone” – Sugarland

– This waltz-timed country song blew me away from the start. I’ve heard it criticized by its “weak” chorus, but I think the chorus is just simple, not weak. It tells how she was “already gone” and ready to start her new life (lives). Jennifer sings well of course, and Kristian gets a turn with the mike, although it would have been better if he had been singing background throughout the song so his entrance wasn’t so jarring, but it still works well.

The production is great, but I’m a sucker for piano, as shown by the next two singles. It’s also catchy, but in a very good way. It’s a great story song, and one of my all-time favorites.

 Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love

2. “This Is Me You’re Talking To” – Trisha Yearwood

– Sadly, whatever I write won’t capture this song, but I can try. The song illustrates the meeting of Yearwood and her past lover, who has moved on. The narrator hopes for another chance, but doesn’t get one. Yearwood, sings beautifully, one of the best performances I have ever heard. Beyond that, the song does the best job, so go listen to it, I’m done here.

Call Me Crazy

1. “Last Call” – Lee Ann Womack

– I read the review of this song online when it was first released, and I didn’t care. I thought “Lee Ann Womack? Who really cares.” Then I listened to it. Then, I listened to it again. And again. And then I bought it off itunes, and listened to it about 50 more times over the next few months (with the current lastfm count at around 60). Why did I listen to it so much?

Well let me tell you. First, the production, the shimmering intro is breathtaking whenever I hear it start, and the production is just delightful and satisfying. The piano tinkles behind the traditional country instruments, but it all combines to a haunting ballad.

Then the lyrics: This song is the flip side of her last hit, “I May Hate Myself In The Morning”. This time she uses her head and finally says no to the loser. The lines are so harsh, and you can just feel the bitterness. I also love the evolving chorus, from “country song” to “cheatin’ song” to “the same old song”, she elaborates on what she thinks he’s doing, with the almost gone Johnny Walker Red.

Then the performance: Without Lee Ann, this song would be nothing. Her amazing voice pulls off the disdain dripping from her voice, and she cuts down the guy whose message she hasn’t even heard yet. She knows she won’t get played again; she’s done, and you know it.

It may not be sweeping like Yearwood’s and Rimes’ respective songs, but this song is traditional country given new life, and I like it.

7 responses to “Chris’s End of 2008 List: Top 30 Singles

  1. Leeann Ward December 26, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Oh yeah, I agree with you on the Turner song. People don’t like the strings or bell, but it’s subtle enough to me that I don’t even notice it. I’m definitely not one for too many strings either, which is why I pretty much stay from Glen Campbell music.:)

  2. Steve from Boston December 26, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Great job Chris,

    I am so glad that Patty won you over with Crazy Arms…and all the good things you’ve been hearing about her? They’re all true!

    And I see you’ve done your homework, I love that quote from Patty’s cut by cut commentary about Al Perkins unbelievably great work on steel guitar…His steel guitar is almost like another character that inhabits the song..Brilliant!

    And if you are new to Patty Loveless, here’s a fun fact for you. Patty and Loretta Lynn (and Crystal Gayle) are distant cousins! Talent sure does run in that family!

  3. Chris D. December 26, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks Leeann! I just think the bell sounds awesome. I guess I’m a bell person?

    Yeah Steve, I saw that quote on the sidebar on the music video on youtube, and I had to include it here. Now that I’ve listened to the album more, I probably would move “Crazy Arms” up a few and add “Why Baby Why” to the entire list. I guess that’s what I get for waiting so long to get the album!

    I think I knew that they were cousins, I think I heard it on a radio station a few years back. Cool fact though!

  4. Steve from Boston December 27, 2008 at 12:21 am

    And Patty’s Dad was also a coal miner’s daughter, like cousin Loretta’s.

    Patty’s father died of black lung disease, and when you listen to her version of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” (from Mountain Soul) you will hear the pain and conviction in her voice. She does indeed, sing from experience.

    And in case you missed it in the liner notes, Patty also sings harmony vocals on Kathy’s “Blue Diamond Mines” along with Marty Stuart! Talk about a talented trio!

  5. Leeann Ward December 27, 2008 at 10:35 am

    To me, Patty’s version of “Harlan” outshines all other versions.

    Chris, I guess I like bells too.:)

  6. Chris D. December 27, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Patty’s version of “Harlan” is even better than Kathy Mattea’s version? I’ll have to check it out!

    Steve, now that you mention it, I remember hearing about Patty being on “Blue Diamond Mines”. When I first heard it, I didn’t care about Patty, so I forgot! Thanks for reminding me!

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