With hit songs on the radio left and right, It seemed like each and every country artist could do no wrong. It was a decade where women and men had equal chart standings and sing-a-longs were inevitable. The 90s gave us more karaoke options than one could sing in a lifetime.
There was something magical about the storytelling and contagious hooks, which created a combination unrivaled by the current music scene. It also provided an abundance of cover song material for every bar coast to coast.
The entire decade gave us too many fantastic songs to choose from. This list is just the tip of the awesome, early 90s iceberg.
25. “Straight Tequila Night” – John Anderson, 1991
With the signature fiddle in the beginning, you’ll recognize “Straight Tequila Night” right away. The song launches into the story of a man giving another advice about a certain lady at the bar. If she’s drinking straight tequila, it is best to steer clear of questions about her past. It essentially tells the story of every Saturday night for many single people across the nation.
24. “Wink” – Neal McCoy, 1994
Neal McCoy has a way of charming the pants off of men and women alike and he has a knack for singing the catchiest songs! McCoy is the epitome of an entertainer, a fireball onstage. Pair his charisma with a chorus beginning with “and slam bam I’m feelin’ alright.” What’s not to love about “Wink”?
23. “Meet in the Middle” – Diamond Rio, 1991
“I start walkin’ your way, you start walkin’ mine…,” I dare you to not start singing this song. Diamond Rio released “Meet in the Middle” as the first single from its first self-titled album. The song shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks Chart and Diamond Rio became the first band to do so with its debut single.
22. “Daddy’s Money” – Ricochet, 1995
This chart-topping song was infectious and it quite possibly initiated years of disappointment for men who tried to match the characteristics of the ideal woman. To this day, some may still be looking for that bass-fishing, comic-book-loving, college-educated, country damsel.
21. “I Like It, I Love It” – Tim McGraw, 1995
This unforgettable song was the first single from Tim McGraw’s third album. It was just the beginning of a string of number one songs, but fans fell in love with this bold declaration of love. They still join in, singing, “I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!”
20. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” – Toby Keith, 1993
Toby Keith wrote this song and he couldn’t have asked for a better debut as a country artist. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and Tracks. Keith gained solid footing as a noteworthy country artist with this solid tune and is still going strong 22 years later.
19. “Love Without End, Amen” – George Strait, 1990
By the time King George released “Love Without End, Amen,” he already had 18 number one hits to his name. That didn’t keep anyone from recognizing country gold when they heard it and this song spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Tugging the heartstrings of parents and children alike, the song depicts unwavering love in times of self-doubt. It’s something any human being can relate to.
18. “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox” – Joe Diffie, 1993
People in the ‘90s sure loved their jukeboxes, and this song takes that love to the extreme. It’s a song about a man who wishes to have his final resting place propped up against the jukebox housing his favorite standard country tunes. Can you see the irony? Playing the jukebox song on the jukebox. Genius.
17. “I Swear” – John Michael Montgomery, 1994
Country fans and non-country fans grew to know and love this song, as it was a successful hit for both John Michael Montgomery and pop group All-4-One. It’s the ultimate love song. Ballads don’t get any sappier than “I Swear” and it’s amazing.
16. “Blame It on Your Lyin’ Cheatin’ Heart” – Patty Loveless, 1993
This is the definitive sassy, scorned ex-lover song. “Blame It On Your Heart” depicts the tried and true story of “you get what you deserve”. The woman tells her “lying, cheating, two-timing, double-dealing, mean-mistreating” ex he has brought on whatever hurt is coming his way.
15. “Chattahoochee” – Alan Jackson, 1993
With a title like “Chattahoochee”, how can you expect anything but 90s musical perfection? This song is light-hearted, upbeat and fun, which reminisces about the past and growing up.
14. “What Part of No” – Lorrie Morgan, 1992
Lorrie Morgan’s biggest hit, “What Part of No” stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for three solid weeks. Although she hasn’t seen overwhelming success, Morgan recorded 15 albums and is a four-time recipient of TNN’s Music City News Awards “Female Vocalist of the Year” honor. She is a fan favorite and this song is synonymous with the 90s country music scene.
13. “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” – John Michael Montgomery, 1995
Fans spent countless hours and repeated listening to memorize this song in hopes of busting it out and impressing their friends. To this day, you can see the excitement while everyone preps to sing along with the high-speed auctioneer chorus.
12. “Tell Me I Was Dreaming” – Travis Tritt, 1995
Dramatic, emotional and country through and through, “Tell Me I Was Dreaming” was the country music soap opera of the early 90s. Tritt’s character in the video is a wheelchair-bound mechanic whose pregnant wife suffers a tragic accident. Thankfully he’s blessed to still have his newborn child at the end of the story. The song focuses on the tragedy of losing someone suddenly without the opportunity to say goodbye.
11. “It Matters To Me” – Faith Hill, 1995
This chart-topping title track from Faith Hill’s second album, “It Matters To Me”, is a powerful love song. It showcases her vocal prowess and innate ability to effortlessly connect with the emotion of a song. Hill has over 40 million albums sold to date and this hit was just the beginning of an incredible musical career.
10. “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” – Brooks & Dunn, 1991
Here’s a song paying homage to the Texas line dancing scene. “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” is credited with reviving interest in line dancing and had country music fans dusting off their boots and hitting the dance floor all year long.
9. “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” – Alan Jackson, 1991
The love for the jukebox reappears! “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” earned Alan Jackson his second number one hit and it won ASCAP’s Country Song of the Year award in 1992. The track focuses on a man who is adamant the jukebox plays only country music to help heal his broken heart.
8. “She’s in Love With the Boy” – Trisha Yearwood, 1991
“She’s in Love With the Boy” was a smash hit for Trisha Yearwood and launched her into the spotlight as a powerful newcomer in country. Yearwood tells the love story between teenagers Katie and Tommy as they try to gain Katie’s father’s approval. The girl’s mother explains to her husband the love between Katie and Tommy is no different than the love they share. Katie’s father is finally convinced.
7. “I Still Believe in You” – Vince Gill, 1992
Country music’s velvet voice, Vince Gill was and still is one of the top vocalists of the genre. Every song he records is perfection and “I Still Believe in You” is the definition of “love song”. It reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
6. “Independence Day” – Martina McBride, 1994
Although “Independence Day” never made it to number one, it has gone down in country music history as one of the greatest and most controversial songs. McBride, the country girl with a larger-than-life voice took on this powerful song about domestic abuse head-on.
5. “Achy Breaky Heart” – Billy Ray Cyrus, 1992
This song was impossible to avoid in the 90s. Even if you claimed distaste for “Achy Breaky Heart”, you would find yourself singing along a few minutes later. It was that darn catchy. Mania ensued when the line dance emerged and Cyrus’s album, Some Gave All, spent a record-breaking 17 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart.
4.“Friends in Low Places” – Garth Brooks, 1990
This song needs no explanation. It is THE theme song for every night out at any country bar in the world. It stayed at No. 1 for four weeks on the Billboard Singles chart and earned Single of the Year from both the CMA and the Academy of Country Music. It has also encouraged millions of inebriated fans to join in the greatest sing-a-long of their lives.
3. “Any Man of Mine” – Shania Twain, 1995
With clever, simple lyrics, “Any Man of Mine” was destined to be a surefire hit. It garnered success on both the country and pop charts simultaneously, launching Shania Twain’s monstrous career. It eventually helped her earn the title “Queen of Country Pop”.
2. “Is There Life Out There” – Reba McEntire, 1991
With several albums under her belt, Reba McEntire nailed it with “Is There Life Out There”. It reaffirmed her standing as one of the greatest female vocalists in country music. The video features Reba as a mother who wonders if there’s possibly more for her beyond her family life. It’s a view of discontent not typically expressed publicly by any woman at the time.
1. “The Dance” – Garth Brooks, 1990
“The Dance” appeared on Garth Brooks’s debut album, so it was extremely meaningful for him. It resonated across the world, charting in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Europe and Canada. It was critically acclaimed in the U.S. and won the 1990 Academy of Country Music awards honor for Song of the Year and Video of the Year.
The track continues to be recognized as one of the greatest songs in country music history. It’s a song of encouragement, support, understanding and loss. Millions of fans around the world identified with and were moved by its message.