My Kind of Country

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

Razor X’s Top 10 singles of 2014

law way im livinIt seems that every year it becomes more and more difficult to compile a list of the year’s ten best singles. I don’t listen to country radio very much (OK – at all) anymore, so when one of my favorite artists releases a new album, I’m not always aware of which tracks have become singles. In fact, many veterans on independent labels no longer bother releasing product to radio. That being said, there were some worthwhile single releases this year and the following were my favorites:

10. All Alright — Zac Brown Band

The Zac Brown Band had been one of the few consistent bright spots at country radio in recent years. This tune has a great melody and a strong vocal performance, and I would have rated it higher had it not been for the over-the-top guitar solo that mars an otherwise very good record.

9. Like A Cowboy — Randy Houser

In another era, Randy Houser might have been a superstar. He’s one of the genre’s best vocalists but like many of his contemporaries he has struggled to consistently select strong material. This pop/rock-with-steel-guitar power ballad is not a timeless classic, but it’s one of the relatively few songs that didn’t either bore or annoy me. Yes, the bar has been lowered that much. That’s not to suggest that I didn’t enjoy this song, just an admission that it probably wouldn’t have made my Top 10 list in a stronger year.

8. Lay Low — Josh Turner

Turner is another artist whose talent often far exceeds the quality of the songs he sings. The lyrics don’t have a whole lot of depth but Turner’s vocal performance is enough to make this an enjoyable listen.

Sunny-Sweeney-Bad-Girl-Phase7. Bad Girl Phase — Sunny Sweeney

After a three-year hiatus, Sunny Sweeney returned this year, feeling feisty and letting everyone know that she’s not just the girl next door in this unfortunately non-charting effort.

6. PrizeFighter – Trisha Yearwood ft. Kelly Clarkson

Trisha Yearwood is another one of my long-time favorites who made a comeback this year. While not the strongest entry in her discography, “PrizeFighter” is a good, though not great, record.

A Million Ways To Die Single Cover5. A Million Ways To Die — Alan Jackson

Radio totally ignored this song from the film A Million Ways To Die In The West. This retro-sounding effort totally different from anything Jackson has ever done and is reminsicent of something Johnny Cash would have enjoyed sinking his teeth into. A fun listen if you don’t take it too seriously.

4. Who I Am With You — Chris Young

His latest album found Chris Young moving in a more pop direction. While I prefer his more traditional efforts, he is such a strong vocalist, it’s difficult not to like his music. On this track, he often sounds like a young Randy Travis, though the song itself is a far cry from Randy’s brand of country.

3. That’s What Dreamers Do — Travis Tritt

This is a very nicely crafted ballad, from a film about the life of Walt Disney. Tritts’ voice sounds a little more worn than it did back when he was a staple on country radio, but this song holds its own with the best of his 90s ballads.

dolly bluesmoke2. Blue Smoke — Dolly Parton

This bluegrass-flavored single and the album from which it came marks Dolly Parton’s strongest effort since her bluegrass albums for Sugar Hill. At nearly 69 years of age, Dolly sound fresh and energetic and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

1. The Way I’m Livin’— Lee Ann Womack

A lot of big names returned from long hiatuses this year, but Lee Ann Womack’s was the one I was most excited about. This non-charting record is an example of what country music used to be all about. It’s the first release of the post-major label phase of her career. I hope that her association with Sugar Hill is a long one and that she’ll begin releasing music more frequently than she has in the past. Country music needs more Lee Ann Womacks.

9 responses to “Razor X’s Top 10 singles of 2014

  1. luckyoldsun December 13, 2014 at 1:07 am

    I’m not familiar with Randy Houser, but I clicked on that song. “Like A Cowboy”??
    It could have been called “Like Ronnie Dunn.”!
    Well, there are worse singers to imitate. (lol)

  2. luckyoldsun December 13, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I can’t figure out why a great singer like Travis Tritt puts out sappy pablum like that–“A dream can be like thunder from the clouds. It echoes through the canyon like a cliché…”
    Hey Travis–Put Some Drive in Your Country! Go back to sounding like Delbert and T.G.B.–not Vince Gill and Collin Raye!

  3. Ken December 13, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    What nonsense! Perhaps you haven’t noticed that the MAJORITY of Travis Tritt’s hits were BALLADS. Matter of fact to date he’s had five number one hits – ALL BALLADS! One of his least successful singles was the dreadful “Put Some Drive In Your Country” which peaked at an anemic #28. Why should he emulate Delbert McClinton who has never even had one solo country hit? (I have no idea who T.G.B. is) Meanwhile many of the Vince Gill/Collin Raye style ballads that Tritt has released have become huge hits! Good thing that you’re not Tritt’s A&R guy or personal manager – he would never have had a #1 hit.

    • Razor X December 13, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      TGB = T. Graham Brown.

      • Ken December 14, 2014 at 11:32 am

        That’s not an acronym I’ve ever seen used for T. Graham Brown. He was often referred to by industry folks as “T” but never T.G.B.

        • luckyoldsun December 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm

          OK, I figured if I just said “T,” fewer people would figure it out.
          Anyway, I think T. Graham Brown–who had his heyday a decade before Tritt–is the mainstream artist whom Travis is most similar to, vocally. And “T” may have had all sorts of personal problems and sometimes he looks like a heart attack waiting to happen, but that guy has put out some KILLER records since he was dropped from the mainstream. It don’t get any better than “Water Into Wine”!

  4. luckyoldsun December 13, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Travis Tritt had a bunch of big hits, including several that went No. 1 or No. 2–that played up his bluesy or rocking sides: “Help Me Hold On,” “Country Club,”, “Here’s a Quarter,” “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man,” “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’,” “This One’s Gonna Hurt You,” “TROUBLE,” “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,”–and some great non-hits, like “Bible Belt.”
    I think you can figure out who “T.G.B.” is–the greatest mainstream country-blues singer of this generation–(along with Travis Tritt)!

    • Ken December 14, 2014 at 11:44 am

      To be clear Travis Tritt’s 5 number one hits were all mainstream country BALLADS – Help Me Hold On, Anymore, Can I Trust You With My Heart, Foolish Pride And Best Of Intentions. “Country Club,” “Here’s A Quarter,” “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man,” “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin'” “This One’s Gonna Hurt You,” & Modern Day Bonnie & Clyde” are all mainstream country arrangements -hardly “bluesy” or “rockin'” by any reasonable definition. Tritt’s voice has a bluesy edge to it but the musical arrangement was not. Whenever Tritt traveled to the fringes of country music he had far less chart success.

  5. luckyoldsun December 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Maybe I should have used the word “soul” instead of “blues.”
    Travis Tritt persona has been as part of the outlaw movement–a self-proclaimed–and accepted–successor to Waylon, Hank Jr. et al.
    Yes, his biggest chart single successes have come on smoother, lighter fare–but that’s hardly the be-all end-all of career success. I’ll bet you he would drop a few of those #1 singles in favor of “Put Some Drive In Your Country,” “Here’s a Quarter,” “TROUBLE,” “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde” and “Bible Belt” if he had to pare down a concert set list.
    For some reason–I don’t know why–Travis has been essentially unable to get his new music released for the past decade-plus, while, artists who had much less chart success but now offer a rootsier, less polished sound–Marty Stuart, Guy Clark, and yes, Delbert, have no trouble getting their new music out regularly.
    Travis can manage his own career–and he’s probably not going to score a hit single no matter what he puts out–but I think he’s be better off putting out something that plays to his outlaw–soul strength, rather than a cliché-addled, sappy song like “Dreamers.”

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