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Country Music Then and Now: 1991 VS 20

Do you remember what hit country music radio was like in 1991? Or perhaps the more salient question: Can you believe 1991 was 30 years ago! Well, some of us are older and can’t believe it’s been literally three decades since the ‘90s. But here we are, nevertheless, still writing, singing and listening to great country music. Except now instead of having the radio, cassette tapes and a few scratched-up CDs, we have our phones and digital methods.


Let’s not get lost in the weeds here. The question still stands. Do you remember country music from the early ‘90s? The Outlaw Country era was long gone by then. This was also before Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, and other now-famous acts. 


This isn’t a pop quiz. We’re going to go over the music here and  compare country music then vs. country music now, to look at what sort of stuff plays on the radio.


1991 Hit Country Music


To start, we can’t talk about 1991 without talking about the ever-popular duo of  Brooks & Dunn. They were all over the charts that year with smash hit country radio songs like Brand New Man, Boot Scootin’ Boogie and Neon Moon. Their pal, and ultra-famous country music singer Reba McIntyre was also big on the charts that year with Is There Life Out There and The Greatest Man I Never Knew.


Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Travis Tritt – they were all making appearances on the charts. The ‘90s came in like a lion with these amazing talents. And, yes, George Strait had one of his #1 hits this year as well – The Chill of an Early Fall. Talk about a strong year for country music! Even better for songwriters, if we’re honest, because George Strait doesn’t even write his own grocery list, and many of that year’s hit songs were written by writers other than the artists who performed them.


How is this year in comparison?


2021 Hit Country Music 


Well, 30 years later, the songs have picked up a little tempo and they seem to contain much simpler language, pop-culture references and some humor compared to decades ago. Though fans of hit country music radio are still listening to these songs and sending them up the charts. While the music has certainly changed some, fans have not stopped appreciating the music. 


As this is being written, Fancy Like by Walker Hayes is the biggest no.1 in the world. Jason Aldean has a smash with If I Didn’t Love You. Luke Combs is back on top with Forever After All. And Nelly has decided that Tim McGraw wasn’t his last visit into the country music genre, dropping a song called Lil’ Bit with Florida Georgia Line. 


The biggest trend we’re seeing in 2021 is actually in the Nelly and Florida Georgia
Line vein of joining forces. Freedom was a Highway by Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley; Buy Dirt by Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan; Cold Beer Calling My Name by Luke Combs and Jameson Rodgers; Drunk by Miranda Lambert and Elle King; Memory by Kane Brown and Blackbear – and on and on they go. Joining forces for a song seems to be a huge trend in 2021..


So, as you can see, the music is a lot different than it was three decades ago, but it’s still a huge hit with country music fans who love turning their radios on and listening to the tunes.

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