OFFSTAGE: Billy Ray Cyrus Doesn’t Belong on “Worst” List

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

It must be a slow news week at Rolling Stone if they’ve decided to pick on Billy Ray Cyrus for no good reason. The magazine asked their readers to vote on the worst song of the 1990s, and Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” is close to the top of the list. Their story gives a brief history of the song and how it was a huge crossover hit and launched his acting career. So wait, that somehow makes it one of the worst songs of that decade? I beg to differ. The album that song was on, Some Gave All, sold at least 9 million copies in America and about 20 million worldwide. And in addition to its overall popularity with regular folks, the song was nominated for two Grammys. Now, I realize big numbers don’t necessarily correlate with artistic merit. But come on. How can a song be that bad when so many people thought it was that good? It was an infectious tune, and the message was a solid one: You can tell the world, your friends, your ma, your brother, your dog and your Aunt Louise that it’s over, but just don’t tell his heart. That song may be a joke to a handful of music snobs, but to country fans, it’s really just another poignant love song. And, frankly, I can easily think of a dozen country songs from the ’90s that are much, much worse.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.