Top 10 Country Songs of the ’90s
Jelly sandals, JNCO jeans, Doc Martens, slap bracelets and scrunchies — those are just a few memorable trends of the 1990s. And while a lot of those fashion choices are best laid to rest, there are some country music hits from the decade that we never want to let go.
Plenty of ’90s country tunes will continue to be music to our ears for decades to come. Below, The Boot counts down our Top 10 Country Songs of the ’90s.
‘Chattahoochee’ was written by Jackson and Jim McBride in an attempt to craft an up-tempo song. It worked. Inspired by the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama / Georgia border, this coming-of-age hit about growing up in a small town will get anyone’s toes a-tappin’. After all, growing up is universal — and the theme struck a chord among country fans. ‘Chattahoochee’ deservedly won Single of the Year and Song of the Year at the CMAs.
The King of Country’s 1996 song ‘Blue Clear Sky’ was inspired by the popular movie ‘Forrest Gump.’ Not only was the film a hit, but Strait propelled the song to No. 1 for four straight weeks. It was written by Bob DiPiero, Mark D. Sanders and the late John Jarrard, three of Nashville’s most popular songwriters. The album of the same name was certified three times platinum.
‘Is There Life Out There’ hails from McBride’s 16th album ‘For My Broken Heart.’ The record was dedicated to her road band after a devastating plane crash took the lives of eight of her friends. The 1992 single ‘Is There Life Out There’ reached No. 1, and the video, which focused heavily on dialogue, won Video of the Year at the 1992 ACM Awards.
For 69 weeks, Rimes’ ‘How Do I Live’ stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And although it peaked at No. 2, it is still listed at No. 4 on Billboard’s All-Time Top 100 — the only single in the Top 10 that did not hit No. 1. Rimes was only 14 years old when this song hit radio, yet her powerhouse vocals set her apart from the pack, making ‘How Do I Live’ a standout song of the ’90s.
One of McBride’s most daring songs, ‘Independence Day’ was the third single from ‘The Way That I Am.’ Due to its graphic depiction of domestic abuse and the character’s choice to burn down her house (with her husband / abuser inside), both visualized in the music video, the song received a mixed response at radio. But despite the controversy, the hit won two CMA Awards and a Grammy for Best Country Song. In 2014, Rolling Stone ranked the song in their list of the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.
This classic tune is as touching now as it was at its 1995 release. Gill wrote and recorded ‘Go Rest High on That Mountain’ as a poignant, heartfelt farewell song. He penned the first verse after friend and fellow artist Keith Whitley passed away but didn’t finish it up until his brother died four years later. It’s a hit that has helped many people as they grieve a lost loved one, healing hearts note by note; Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless provide background vocals. This gem received numerous accolades, including two Grammy Awards (Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song) and a CMA Award (Song of the Year), and was named BMI’s Most-Performed Song in 1997.
‘This Kiss’ was an anthem in the ’90s, and every girl knew the words to Hill’s up-tempo tune, including “centrifugal motion” and “perpetual bliss.” It was a 1998 crossover smash and became the beautiful singer’s first-ever international hit — and what’s not to love about this song? It celebrates love, and with a love story like the one Hill and hunky husband Tim McGraw have, ‘This Kiss’ means all the more.
If Brooks had a signature song, it would undoubtedly be ‘The Dance,’ the 10th (and final) track from his eponymous debut album. The chorus ends with the key lyrics “I could have missed the pain / But I’d have had to miss the dance.” Brooks has said that the song has a double meaning — marking the end of a passionate relationship, or dying for something you believe in. The hit’s music video was awarded Video of the Year at the 1990 ACM Awards.
Yearwood’s ‘She’s in Love With the Boy,’ a love song about small-town teenage couple Katie and Tommy, is so sweet it can make a listener’s teeth hurt. It was released in 1991 as the lead single from her debut record and hit No. 1 — probably due to all the teenage girls blaring it from their stereos, all in the name of forbidden love. The tune jump-started Yearwood’s successful career in a major way, and this infectious country song is one of the best of the ’90s.
Co-written by Twain, ‘You’re Still the One’ was nominated for four Grammy Awards and won two (Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Experience) in 1999, beat out in the other two categories by Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ It was Twain’s first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and one of her most successful singles to date. You can’t think about country songs of the ’90s without thinking about this song. It’s “still the one” we love today.