It’s impossible to find any rising country performer today who isn’t impacted by ‘90s country music.
CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown will honor this celebrated period in music on an all-new, four-hour special, ’90s Country Forever, premiering Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 22-23) at 8 a.m. ET.
It was an era that directly influenced the current class of country musicians. Listen to a Brothers Osborne album, and you’ll hear influences of Travis Tritt. For Justin Moore and Midland, it was Dwight Yoakam. Lauren Alaina salutes the women who rocked ‘90s country in her current single “Ladies of the ‘90s,” while Walker Hayes has his own tribute in “90’s Country.” And of course, everyone loves the G-man, Garth Brooks.
So, what is it about that era that makes today’s artists crave that nostalgia?
“We all loved each other and supported each other, too, and there was room for everybody because frankly, everyone sounded different,” Deana Carter tells CMT.
“I think the ‘90s had some songs that will stand the test of time,” Martina McBride tells CMT. “They’re just classics. Those songs will always resonate with people because they’re from the heart.”
Country music in the ‘90s marked a time where the women dominated the airwaves with their undeniable hits. Most women in music today wouldn’t be who they are if there wasn’t a McBride, or a Reba McEntire, or a Trisha Yearwood to emulate.
Here are just a few of the iconic videos that will be featured on ’90s Country Forever:
Leann Rimes “Blue”
“Blue” marked Rimes’ major breakthrough, and it was inescapable in 1996 when it hit No. 1. That same year, she won her first Grammy awards for country female vocal and best new artist. Rimes continues to work and record. She just wrapped her sixth annual holiday tour, You and Me and Christmas, and her latest TV film, It’s Christmas, Eve. In the movie, Rimes plays an interim school superintendent who finds herself in a tough spot when she gets an assignment to shut down the school’s music program. She also produced the film’s soundtrack, which features three new songs, “The Gift of Your Love,” “It’s Christmas, Eve,” and “You and Me and Christmas.”
Reba McEntire “Fancy”
Reba’s career continues to be the one everyone aspires to have for themselves. She is among the genre’s greatest ambassadors and American treasures. Earlier this month, she became a Kennedy Center Honoree with Cher, Phillip Glass, Wayne Shorter and the Hamilton creators, actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and music director Alex Lacamoire. But in 1991, it was all about “Fancy,” the Bobbie Gentry hit she took to No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart that year.
Martina McBride “Independence Day”
We wouldn’t have Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Kelly Clarkson and other powerhouse singers of today without McBride. Every song she released was one power anthem after another. After releasing a series of hits including “My Baby Loves Me,” she released her first signature song “Independence Day,” which went on to become a CMA song of the year.
Shania Twain “Man, I Feel Like a Woman”
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” was Twain’s third in a series of blockbuster smashes from her third album, Come On Over. The video was a flirtatious role reversal of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video with Twain starring as Palmer and buffy topless men replacing Palmer’s female backing band. Twain still kills it to this day. By the time her Now tour wraps Dec. 23 in New Zealand, the tour will have visited 16 countries and four continents. It’s the only country tour to visit South America this year.
Deana Carter “Strawberry Wine”
Whenever Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” comes on the speakers, everyone immediately stops what they’re doing to sway to the waltz and sing. Carter’s breakout hit was a two-week No. 1 and the CMA’s single and song of the year in 1996. Carter continues to build her career in film in tandem with working with other rising artists. Her latest movies are Painted Horses and Running From My Roots.
Allison Krauss & Union Station “When You Say Nothing at All”
Krauss’ version of this Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz classic was everywhere in 1995 and went on to become not only her signature song with Union Station but also the CMA’s single of the year. Krauss continues to work and tour to this day, her latest album Windy City arrived in 2017.
Dixie Chicks “Wide Open Spaces”
“Wide Open Spaces” was the Dixie Chicks’ next hit released following their first Grammy win for country vocal group in 1998. It went on to become the CMA’s single of the year and a four-week No. 1. Including Taylor Swift, nearly every female musician making music today credits the Dixie Chicks’ rise as their inspiration. Their latest album was a live compilation of performances from their wildly successful DCX MMXVI World Tour.