Put on your cowboy boots as we dig into seven of the greatest 90s country songs.
The twang, the hat, the shabby sheik; we love it all. There’s nothing like home-grown Americana music. One hundred years and counting, the genre is going strong.
We’ll discover why these seven country tunes from the 90s became big hits.
About the Country Music Genre
Country music has roots as far back as the 1920s. The genre originated with blues, gospel, Appalachian, Creole, and cowboy western styles of New Mexico, red dirt, Tejano, and Texas country. It all rolled into one big, fat musical melting pot.
The 1920s are known for the emergence of hillbilly blues. The Grand Olde Opry launched in 1925. When radio emerged as popular entertainment in the 1930s and 1940s, barn dance music spread. At the same time, singing cowboys became famous in western movies.
In the 1950s and 1960s, a mountaineering string band sound called bluegrass began. Rockabilly and the newfound rock and roll arose.
By the 1970s and 1980s, country music was well-established. Rock-folk styles gained in popularity. Overall, country pop did well on the traditional pop charts.
During the 90s, country music became a worldwide phenomenon. Artists in the genre enjoyed mainstream popularity. We think these tunes are some of the greatest 90s country songs.
#1 Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson
Written by Tim McBride and Alan Jackson, Chattahoochee is an upbeat song that resonates with people across the US. It’s about growing up and coming of age in small town USA.
Jackson grew up a few miles from the Chattahoochee River in Newnan, Georgia. Released in 1993, Chattahoochee became Jackson’s first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, he earned Song of the Year and Single of the Year from the Country Music Awards (CMA).
“Well way down yonder on the Chattahoochee. It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.” We can totally relate!
#2 Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks
If you’ve ever been in a late-night bar scene, at a rowdy frat party, or listening to karaoke wannabes, you’ve heard Friends In Low Places.
Not surprisingly, Earl Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell wrote this song on paper napkins. They asked Garth Brooks to demo it. He ultimately released the tune on his album No Fences in 1990. It shot straight to the top of the Billboard charts.
Oh, that deep, low baritone voice of Garth Brooks. So good. Don’t tell us you never sang along to this song. We won’t believe you.
#3 How Do I Live by LeAnn Rimes
One of the classic country love songs of the 90s, both LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood recorded versions of How Do I Live.
Diane Warren wrote the song, which is on the soundtrack of Nicholas Cage’s film Con Air. However, Rimes had already recorded it. The studio wanted to make changes that the teenager’s father didn’t like. So, Warren handed the song off to Yearwood.
Controversy ensued. Everyone was mad at Warren until both versions hit the airwaves in 1997 on the same date. Both artists and their performances did very well.
Yearwood’s version won awards. Rimes’ version became the 12th most successful song of the 1990s. It peaked at number two on the Billboard US Hot 100 and stayed there for sixty-nine weeks.
Rimes’ rendition became a hit when she was just fifteen years old. Her clear, angelic voice will bring tears to your eyes.
#4 Independence Day by Martina McBride
Seen through the eyes of a child, Independence Day is about a mother abused by an alcoholic husband. While the child attends an Independence Day parade, the mother burns the house down. Thus, the metaphor of freedom for the child.
Gretchen Peters wrote the song, and Martina McBride released it in 1994. McBride tried to identify with the child, having experienced her own loss as a young girl. It gives her vocals an impassioned delivery. Independence Day won the 1994 CMA Video of the Year award.
The lyrics, “Let freedom ring,” have become a bit of a patriotic anthem despite the original domestic violence undertones.
#5 You’re Still the One and Man! I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain
It’s a tie for our favorite Shania Twain’s greatest 90s country song. Twain and her husband, Robert “Mutt” Lange, wrote both numbers.
Their marriage inspired the lyrics for You’re Still the One, which many felt the pairing wouldn’t last (it didn’t). The remixed single sounded less country and appealed to pop audiences.
The easy, sentimental ballad was a mainstream crossover hit. Additionally, the song won the 1998 Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song.
The 90s were the highlight of music videos. Twain shot the video for I Feel Like A Woman in New York City under the direction of Paul Boyd, who worked with Sting as well.
It’s a delicious parody of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love. The role reversal shows Twain on a stage singing, surrounded by sexy male musicians dressed in red.
Shania, you twixy lady.
#6 She’s In Love With the Boy by Trisha Yearwood
She’s In Love With the Boy is a small town love story of a teenage couple eager to get married. John Ims wrote the song and rewrote it about thirty-two times. It can take time to get the process and technique right. But the work paid off because it’s now in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Trisha Yearwood released She’s In Love With the Boy in 1991 as her breakout single. It ranked as the most-listened-to country song by a female artist since measuring the radio audience began.
Yearwood was the first female country artist to top the charts with a debut single since 1964. It’s a super sweet song.
Oh, and Trisha, we’re in love with you too.
#7 This Kiss by Faith Hill
This Kiss is all about the best kiss. Written by Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner, and Annie Roboff, it originated with a fictional conversation between Cinderella and Snow White. It’s just two girls talking about getting kissed.
Faith Hill released the song in 1998. It was a huge crossover hit from country to pop. Hill’s vocals are passionate and jubilant. While nominated for two Grammy Awards for This Kiss, she didn’t end up winning an award.
“I hate cynical people who say their first kisses are nothing special,” Hill said. “My first kiss with Tim [McGraw] was perfect, exactly as it should be. I love kissing.”
We must throw in a couple of honorable mentions. Both of the following country songs broke out on their own in the 90s to become unique sensations.
Boot Scootin’ Boogie by Brooks & Dunn HM
Start clapping your hands because Boot Scootin’ Boogie by Brooks & Dunn is on y’all! This honky-tonk tune gets everyone on their feet. It’s one of the most popular line-dance songs. In fact, we may have scuffed up our boots a time or two with this tune.
Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
Achy Breaky Heart is probably the one Billy Ray Cyrus song everyone knows. However, VH1 listed the song as number two of the 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs. It’s so annoying, yet so good.
Country Music Hit the Big Time in the 90s
Cry, laugh, clap, dance, country music brings it all. It continues to grow and expand, and is popular all over the world. There’s a little something for everyone.
What’s your favorite country song from the 90s? Let us know in the comments below.