Twenty-five years ago, country music's '90s boom period stayed hot behind more than just Garth Brooks and Shania Twain's genre-transcending success or the sustained excellence of Reba McEntire and George Strait.
New faces fanned those flames in '96, with recent breakout stars Deana Carter, LeAnn Rimes and Ricochet releasing three of the best-aged singles of the year. Established names held their own, as well, with Strait reaching a career milestone and Alan Jackson tipping his hat to an all-time great songwriter.
Read on and revisit five great songs turning 25 in 2021.
"Strawberry Wine," Deana Carter
Carter debuted on top with "Strawberry Wine." The flashback to simpler times still defines the careers of Carter and one of the song's co-writers, Matraca Berg.
The summer hit of 1996 is one of three No. 1 hits from Carter's debut album, Did I Shave My Legs For This?, with the others being "We Danced Anyway" and "How Do I Get There."
"Itty Bitty," Alan Jackson
Hall, the songwriter and recording artist behind Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA" and other definitive country hits, wrote and first recorded what became the highlight of Jackson's Everything I Love album.
Best of all, it inspired a surreal music video in which a scarecrow becomes a sentient being!
"Daddy's Money," Ricochet
"Daddy's Money," written by Bob DiPiero, Mark Sanders and Steve Seskin, created new stars out of Oklahoma-born band Ricochet.
The second single off the band's self-titled album debuted at No. 63 and rapidly climbed to No. 1. The tribute to a "good bass fisher and dynamite kisser" who was "country as a turnip green" followed debut single and Top 5 hit "What Do I Know."
"One Way Ticket (Because I Can)," LeAnn Rimes
Though it's not as synonymous with Rimes' early career success as "Blue," "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)" remains the singer's only No. 1 hit.
This co-write by Keith Hinton and underrated '80s artist Judy Rodman became just the fourth No. 1 country single performed by a teenager. Going into 1996, only Jean Shepard, Phil Everly and Tanya Tucker had a chart-topper before turning 20.
"Carried Away," George Strait
The second single from Strait's 1996 album Blue Clear Sky became the King of Country Music's 30th career No. 1 hit. The sentimental heart song's sandwiched on Strait's singles discography in between the album's chart-topping title track and one of Strait's best songs to not reach No. 1, "I Can Still Make Cheyenne."
It's not Google search-friendly nowadays because of Passion Pit singer Michael Angelakos' pitch to recreate "old parts" from his "favorite little scene" plus the same-titled Surf Mesa and Madison Beer duet.