I used to hate country music. And I can’t believe it. I was missing out!
Every day from 3rd grade to 10th grade, I was subjected to this cursed genre by my bus driver in Batesville, Indiana. His name was Gary. Listening to B-105 Country, our local Cincinnati station, interrupting the peaceful quiet of a before-school morning, was torture to me. I remember being in 5th grade and vowing to myself never to listen to country music on my own free will and promising myself to love the Black Eyed Peas forever.
I only kept one of those vows, and I still listen to Don’t Phunk With My Heart monthly. Somehow, as the years go by, I find myself fighting nostalgia for the country songs I couldn’t stand.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but here I go: I love country songs from the entire 2000’s decade. Every single song. I love them all. I know them all. These are the songs that soundtracked the most formative years of my life. I didn’t know it then, but these songs shaped me as much as the music I was willingly listening to. These are some of my favorites:
This One’s For The Girls
This one was truly for the girls! Martina McBride, man. During one point, she says “We’re all the same inside, from 1 to 99” which excludes women over 100, but maybe I’m missing the point here. Feminist anthem. McBride’s classic “Independence Day”, which doubles as a literal female independence anthem and a July 4th tribute, is also amazing.
Despite the title, this song isn’t about stalking, thank God. The chorus of "Watching You" is sung from the perspective of a son watching his father curse, pray, and really just learn how to be a good man. It's cheesy, to be fair, but with a name like Rodney, you've got to be a little bit cheesy. As far as cute songs, go, "Watching You" will make you smile. Or maybe not, but it makes me smile. This One Was Not For The Girls. The video features the sometimes disturbing, but always unfortunate trope of the artist singing his song in a corn field, but as we all know, nothing can be truly perfect.
I’m not a redneck woman, but when I listen to this trailer park classic, I feel as if I could be, only if for a moment. The most transcendent music transports the listener to another time, another place, and Redneck Woman does this. Gretchen Wilson won a (deserved) Grammy for this, which elevates this song to legendary status. This was the first of Wilson’s two hits, so one has to wonder if she is still living that redneck woman life. Where in her trailer is the Grammy? This song gets extra WTF points for including a pro-Wal-Mart verse juxtaposed against an anti-Victoria's Secret message. Gretchen Wilson is truly the people's queen.
How Do You Like Me Now
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other songs about throwing success in the face of a former enemy/friend/frienemy, but if there are any other’s Toby Keith did it best here. A lot of the Toby Keith songs I heard on Bus #9 were novelty singles like “Ain’t As Good As I Once Was”, “I Wanna Talk About Me”, and “I Love This Bar”, but “How Do You Like Me Now?” stands as my favorite because it has a bad attitude.
Gonna Getcha Good!
Shania’s unique, pre-Swift, blend of sticky sweet pop music and country was never better than on "Gonna Getcha Good!", weird, unfitting Tron video aside. Hook after hook pummels you as Shania’s iconic (and Canadian) voice seduces the listener. Every Shania Twain single is worth your time. Her 1997 album “Come On Over” produced 12 (!) singles and is the best-selling album by a female in any genre. The exclamation point in the title isn't optional, by the way.
Suds in the Bucket
Country songs are usually just pop songs with a little twang and a little story- this one’s got a lot of both. The 18-year-old girl that leaves her titular “suds” runs away from home with a boy in a pickup truck as she leaves her small town community in shambles. Badassery.