The world of mainstream country music thrives on number one singles.
Most of the time, fans have no idea which songs go number one, nor do they really care, but for artists trying to achieve big time radio success, and songwriters trying to get those big checks, it’s the name of the game. Some artists don’t even consider their songs “hits” unless they go number one (looking at you Thomas Rhett).
Of course some of the best artists in country music, artists like Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, Brandi Carlile, etc… never get played on country radio at all, and then you have mainstream stars like Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Miranda Lambert who, although are regarded by many as the best in the mainstream, have way less number one singles than you’d think. And don’t even get me started on women on country radio…
The whole thing is a broken system, one that inherently puts the focus on commercial success and not good art, but that’s the way country radio works.
However, when you actually take a second to look at number one singles, you’d be pretty surprised at the songs that DON’T make the cut. Even King George himself, who has over 60 number one singles, has some that would leave you scratching your head. “Amarillo By Morning,” “Marina Del Ray,” “Troubadour,” none of those are in his immense collection of number ones.
So, partly inspired by Eric Church’s “George Strait Number Ones Drinking Game,” we decided to take a look at the Billboard Charts (didn’t consider Mediabase) over the years, mostly digging into artists from the 90s through the early 2000s, to find some of our favorite tunes that surprisingly didn’t go number one.
The list endless so we just capped it at 50 for now, but we’ll continue to add more in the near future.