Flop Then Fly – Five Country Songs That Failed Before An Artist Took Off
Some country artists’ careers take off from their very first single, and they continue to have hits for years. The Zac Brown Band is a prime example. Their song, “Chicken Fried” went to number one on the charts right out of the box, and every single they’ve released since has followed. However, some of country’s biggest stars had to deal with a chart “stiff” before they found their biggest success. That doesn’t mean the songs were bad in all cases. They just never hit. Here are some examples of the biggest turnarounds to happen in country music.
1. LONESTAR – SATURDAY NIGHT
While some of the flops weren’t that bad, some were very, very bad. One of the biggest flop to fly moments I can remember is from the first single to second single of Lonestar’s “Lonely Grill.” Lonestar had moderate success with their first two albums, but by the time Lonely Grill came out, John Rich had left the band as its number two lead singer, and the country game was changing. The boys threw away their cowboy hats and released “Saturday Night,” a pseudo-party song, that frankly is no “Finally Friday.” The repetitive spelling of the title was pretty annoying. So annoying, in fact, I didn’t have the heart to include it here. Grab a copy of “Lonely Grill” if you’re a glutton for punishment. The spelling song, “Saturday Night” could’ve spelled the end for Lonestar, peaking at #47, but their next single made it all better, as “Amazed” spent a huge 8 weeks at number one and made them a crossover sensation! So really, I won’t post that “Saturday Night,” but this one by the Bay City Rollers is quite similar…so enjoy.
2. TIM MCGRAW – WELCOME TO THE CLUB
It was the early 90’s and many young guns were trying to make it big. One young guy with mullet in tact, released an album that produced a very small ripple on the country charts. With songs like “Memory Lane” he tried and tried to find his niche in the dance halls and on the radio. The dance halls seemed more receptive as a young Tim McGraw released “Welcome To The Club.” Folks were line dancing and two-stepping to it nightly, but the single halted on the charts at a whopping #47. It wasn’t until Tim planned for his second album, “Not A Moment Too Soon,” that the first single “Indian Outlaw,” even with a little controversy, went all the way to the Top 10, then “Don’t Take the Girl” followed to #1.
3. CARRIE UNDERWOOD – INSIDE YOUR HEAVEN
American Idol has sure made a lot of big stars, but in the early seasons, the songs they game the winners to perform at the finale were kind of bland, and generic. That’s mainly because they had to create a song that would be the first single, no matter who won the contest. The song for AI Season 3 was “Inside Your Heaven.” Granted, it did fit Carrie Underwood a lot better than her competitor, Bo Bice, but it still didn’t match what she wanted to do…and that was country music. So, “Inside Your Heaven” debuted at the top of the pop charts, but failed to crack the top 50 on the country charts. Carrie made up for that with her next single, as “Jesus Take The Wheel” soared to number one, as did 11 straight singles after that.
4. KENNY CHESNEY – BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN
Kenny Chesney, the multiple time Entertainer of the Year, in the mid 90’s was just a mid-level act opening stadium shows the size of the ones he does now for acts like George Strait. He had some chart success up to that point, but wasn’t a sure thing for a hit with every release. Case and point, in 1996, the single “Back In My Arms Again,” from the album “Me and You” didn’t see any higher than #41. It wasn’t very long after that, Kenny would zoom to the top with “She’s Got It All,” his first #1 and he hasn’t looked back since. Now Kenny still playing stadiums, but now he plays when it’s dark.
5. TOBY KEITH – WHEN LOVE FADES
Toby Keith was a viable artist getting flop-flopped through different record labels in his early career. He had already had #1 songs. He had sold out concerts. He was selling lots of albums. Toby still hadn’t grown to that next level and it looked like he wouldn’t. Many artists have a lot of success but never become a superstar (See Clay Walker, Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Trace Adkins…but I digress). So, after his first 4 albums that spawned several top 10 hits, he released his first Greatest Hits album, which included new songs like “Getcha Some” which got as far as #18. After that came “If A Man Answers” which peaked at #44. It was starting to look like the Greatest Hits might be a period instead of a comma on Toby’s run. Then, his next album came out with the release of “When Love Fades,” another disappointment that stopped short at #44. But what happened next, brought the “Big Dog Daddy” to that elusive next level. He released “How Do You Like Me Now,” and he became one of the biggest stars in country. In the years to follow, Toby used his patriotism to further his career even more. Now we step back in time to the song that preceded “How Do You Like Me Now,” that didn’t do as well as hoped.
So, it just goes to show you, sometimes you have to scrape the bottom before you hit the top. Are there any songs you loved that you wish would’ve been a bigger hit?