220px-drivealanjacksonAlan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” – (2002)

Consider this the much subtler cousin to Toby Keith’s patriotic anthem. Country fan or not, it should be noted that Alan Jackson is a much classier singer than Toby Keith. Regardless, we still have the issue of a really long title… but while this might be standard fare as far as country songs go, there’s a big problem lyrically that makes this song seem incredibly dated “I’m just a simple songs, I’m not a real political man… I watch CNN but I’m not sure I could tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran.” Maybe in 2002. But nowadays if you can’t differentiate between Iraq and Iran, there’s a problem. But maybe this is just horrible foreshadowing of what would come a year after this album came out.

220px-keithunleashedToby Keith – “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” – (2002)

This song is a victim of all of that patriotism that exploded after 9/11 and faded away in the years after. There was a weird phenomenon shortly after 9/11 where country singers recorded tacky songs about ‘Murica… and this is the prime example (side note, the song is partly about Keith’s dad’s death, which is fine and I have no problem memorializing him in song). But come on, the title is horrendous… and talking about putting a “boot in any country’s ass” just seems kind of… well, country. Which I guess is the point.

#83 – Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats” – (2005)

Uh-oh. Country? Yep, sorry. Carrie Underwood is the second-coming of Shania Twain: beautiful, talented country-pop crossover artist with solid fan bases that only operate in one spectrum. The song, for me, cemented Carrie Underwood as the best thing to come out of that awful American Idol thing. This was a country #1 for a month and a top ten hit on the Hot 100, Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs, and Adult Contemporary charts. And the Canadian Hot 100. While it is a country song – like all of Ms. Underwood’s best songs – has a rock flair to it that makes it successful on other charts. Did I mention how beautiful she is?

Carrie Underwood – “Flat on the Floor” – (2007)

I hate American Idol and I don’t really love country music. But I really like Carrie Underwood. While most of her songs are country or country/pop – they all seem to have a little rock edge to them (or at least the ones I like and know). This is the lead track from her 2007 album Carnival Ride and it wasn’t even a single. I’ve still heard it on the radio and it could’ve been an official single and done just as well as some of the others. Carrie is the best thing American Idol has produced.