Top 40 Songs 0f 2008: #10-1
Presenting the conclusion to the end of the year singles countdown for 2008 here at Country Music Central. This was a hard list to put together, narrowed down from over 70 songs that were considered. I hope you guys enjoyed it and if your favorite did not make the list, as long as it will still be charting in 2009 it may make the cut next year. Stay tuned for the best albums of the year and more before the year is up.
#10: “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins
Officially released on Christmas Day 2007, Trace Adkin’s highly praised #1 hit from 2008 became a real career maker for one of country music’s most cherished underdogs. Taking on a three part story about how growing up so fast isn’t as wonderful as it might seem, Trace managed to inspire both young and old to cherish every minute of their lives a little more. The best thing is that every words rings true from Trace’s heart, as it was with his first greatest hits project in “Then They Do”. He’s experienced this and he knows how tragic it can be to want your whole life to go a little faster. This and an unrivaled relation to his audience earned him his biggest hit to date and brought him up to a new level of superstar status that earned him not only a lot of respect among his peers and critics, but created a whole new group of devoted, hard core fans that put him right up there with Toby Keith as one of the most celebrated roughnecks in the business.
#9: “This Is Me You’re Talking To” by Trisha Yearwood
Trisha has always been one of the genre’s biggest voices and most under-rated gifts in the ears of the radio executives. This year this continued as her comeback was cut short by the loss of one of her most intense singles in years. “This Is Me You’re Talking To” is narrated by Trisha as a girl speaking to the man who she loves and who still loves her, despite what separated them in the past. She addresses how well she knows him and how much he can trust her as she struggles with running into the man who she once loved and is being forced to face these emotions again. There is so much that goes on in this song that the storyline itself is worth critical acclamation. Somehow both characters manage to show off their conflicts concerning their love for each other through the eyes of Trisha’s single character. This song may not have hit it big with radio, but when one takes into consideration the power this song generates and the voice that brings it out, even the most devoted anti-country activist would concede that Trisha Yearwood is country music at its finest.
#8: “Johnny And June” by Heidi Newfield
As the former lead singer to the band Trick Pony many had little expectations for Heidi with the odds stacked against her. However, she managed to pull off a very difficult task by leaving the trio and managing to score a successful solo career lift off with her debut hit dedicated to the undying love between country music’s favorite power couple, Johnny and June Carter Cash. Of course anything that name drops these two singers is going to be held under the radar quite closely as name dropping songs tend to overuse the concept a little to much. That was not the case with Heidi’s song. This was not just another poorly conceived shout out to a singer she enjoyed, this was a definition and an understanding of the couple that helped make country music what it is today and shape it into not only an entity all its own, but one of the most popular genres in the world. Heidi’s song simply has her explaining to her lover that she wants to have a love like the famous couple and in the process uses several lines and names from their songs to reveal how a love like that can lead to some of the most beautiful things the world will ever see.
#7: “Another Try” by Josh Turner (featuring Trisha Yearwood)
Josh and Trisha singing together…that’s the reason why this song it in the top ten. The reason why it’s this deep into the top ten is because it is very much one of the best performed songs offered in the past 12 months. Taking advantage of his low tone and Trisha’s masterful harmonizing quality, Josh sings a simple yet effective song of heartache and personal suffering as he posses as a man who has lost his love due to his own actions, or lack there of, and is tortured by his lack of someone to care about and to care for him. The chorus sums everything up as he explains “the reasons I’m alone I know by heart, but I don’t want to spend forever in the dark. I swear next time I’ll hang on for dear life if love ever gives me another try“. For someone happily married with a son and a successful career, Josh made an impressive showing by taking the heartache and pain felt by his character and making it his own. What’s also interesting is that Trisha’s addition in the background could act as his ex who could be saying the same thing, creating a duality that adds so much to a song that already seems to have covered everything it needed to to become nothing short of a classic.
#6: “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” by James Otto
James has earned his spot as the most successful Muzic Mafia member today. His new album was a smash and his first single from the project scored him the most played hit of 2008 and a #1. However it wasn’t just the song that got him here. By providing a catchy hook, a nice and memorable beat, and some of the most impressive vocal abilities from a new male vocalist in years, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” became the little song that could by starting off as what seemed to be another poor attempt at a washed up wanna-be’s career, but became a fan favorite across the nation. James’ performance is almost one of a kind and the feeling and energy he puts into every word is something that only comes with a lot of experience and a personality that is calm, cool, collected, relaxed and not afraid to take chances, a personality that won him a lot of respect and made this song one of the year’s most facinating. James combined his soulful vocal performance with the concept of a man begging his girlfriend to skip work and to stay home with him for a day of love and in the process provided country radio with a rare gem that took the genre by storm.
#5: “She Never Cried In Front Of Me” by Toby Keith
Who could have guessed that Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson could team together to create such a personal piece? Toby has such a knack for this business that it’s almost impossible to determine whether he’s better as a roughneck hillbilly or a ballad man, but this song definatly favored the later. Toby suited up for his most emotionally charged single in years as he took the character of a man at his ex’s wedding and realizes when she cries that he never really made her happy in the first place and was to naive to realize his wrongdoings with her. As this happens the character is personally tortured by his regrets and his own inability to find a love like that, a love that could have been found in his ex. This ballad put Toby in a rare position of vulnerability and self-torture listeners don’t get to hear much, and it’s a side of him that is ironically one of his best. Toby got right into the midst of the action and took the reins in order to fully reveal what the man in the song is feeling as well as explain the significance a single tear can have, in one way or another, when you’re in a relationship.
#4: “In Color” by Jamey Johnson
Jamey pulled a rabbit out of a hat for a trick I didn’t believe was possible. He took a traditional country sound and a traditional country performance, pitched it to country radio and actually won them over. You don’t hear songs like “In Color” anymore, they just don’t happen, but this year it actually did. Johnson is a hard core traditionalist with a lot of respect for his values and the people who gave them to him. This song was a dedication to one of those men, his grandfather, as Jamey posed as a little boy being taught about the black and white pictures his grandfather had. As he is told the stories his grandfather addresses each scenario by explaining how it was much better in color than just on a still photo, but it doesn’t hurt to take those pictures and look back once in a while to see some of the best and some of the worst times in your life. In the end Jamey’s comeback hit became a haunting and memorable musical experience that could give any listener chills.
#3: “What I Cannot Change” by LeAnn Rimes
The third best song of the year comes from one of the best albums of 2007, LeAnn Rimes Family. “What I Cannot Change” wasn’t huge at the charts, but it didn’t need to be. Nominated for a Grammy, a Grammy I’m routing for it to win, and charged with the best performance of the LeAnn’s career, this powerful ballad explored the world today and how one person can’t change it, no matter how badly they want to or how hard they try. However it never hurts to give it a shot. LeAnn simply explains that if you can’t change it you’ll learn to live with it, but still change whatever you can because there is a lot of it needed in this world. With this comes a very sincere, personal and extremely powerful performance filled with torture, pain, sorrow and depression that all come together in the end for possibly the best performed song of the past decade. LeAnn took a message that is often overplayed and overused and turned it into a ballad that is a must hear for all ears and is one of the best of the best of 2008.
#2: “Waitin’ On A Woman” by Brad Paisley
Brad takes the #2 spot with record matching #1 single “Waitin’ On A Woman”, a #1 that matched him with Rodney Crowell for most consecutive #1’s from a single country album. With that in mind this became the most notable offering from a male artist over the course of the year. Brad, famous for his guitar playing and sense of humor, put everything he had into this song and every aspect of both his talent and his personality was applied to take the story of a newlywed waiting for his new wife to a whole new level. Brad took a step back from his sarcastic and wise-cracking writing style that often dominates his more comedic work and applied his talent for humor to a new concept, the difficulty of a man waiting on a woman to be ready for him and to catch up with him. While for a guy things are easy, Brad realized how women take their time, yet men are more than willing to wait for them. Impressively enough he applied this concept without managing to damage the fine line between insult and respect, especially when dealing with such a touchy subject as women.
Packed with great guitar work, respectable and effective writing and a storytelling performance that shows off just how truly country and respectable Brad can be, this ballad became one of the year’s most critically successful hits and one of the better offerings from Brad throughout the course of his career. For the first time, Brad grabbed the audience by the horns and pulled them in well enough where the message stuck and the effect was long lasting without turning the concept into a complete farce or tugging at the delicate heartstrings with a tear-jerking message. Instead, the two combined to make not only a powerful story, but a story mixed with enough humor where its powerful ending was not so much bring tears as it did goosebumps.
*#1: “Just A Dream” by Carrie Underwood*
You can argue all you want against whether Carrie deserves her fame and fortune or not because she came into the genre unconventionally, but if there is one thing that she has proven in 2008 it’s that she belongs in music. In doing so she gave the country music world what I believe to be the best song of the year, “Just A Dream”, a powerful and charged ballad about a woman forced to face the loss of her husband who lost his life fighting at war in the Armed Forces. Carrie has proven time and time again that she has the voice, she has the knowledge, and she has the feel that can sell records and make a whole lot of hits. However, never before had she pulled all this off as she did with “Just A Dream”. The song took full advantage of the amazing vocal range that Carrie has to her credit and a powerful storyline that could have easily been overplayed and throws them into a mixing pot, becoming a nice big chocolate cake for country radio, and everyone wanted a slice. This ballad has become by far Carrie’s best single to date, and considering her album material it stands as her best song to date.
It may be going a little to far, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carrie taking the reins from Reba or Shania as she progresses in her career. It’s women like that that have thus far only been able to take songs like this one and turn them into classics and perfected works of art. Carrie’s powerful tribute to the wives and girlfriends of fallen soldiers took aim and fired on the hearts of millions from all over the music world and managed to score a bulls eye. Filled with intensity, sincerity, pure and unrated emotion, and a story that would break even the most solid heart, “Just A Dream” is just a magnificent and unforgettable musical experience that is a must hear for every respectable music fan.