9 of the Best ’90s Country Songs From George Strait, Shania Twain and More

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

As the saying goes: everything is cyclical. Right now, the wheel is turning back to the ’90s as more and more country artists are adopting the floor-filling, line-dance-inspiring shuffles that were pervasive across the decade.

From Shania Twain-type anthems to George Strait-esque croons, the ’90s are back baby, and we’re ready to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” Below, we’re going through 9 top-tier country songs from the decade that have surely been a part of many aspiring country artists’ vision boards.

1. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” (Shania Twain)

The queen of country music in the ’90s was undoubtedly Shania Twain. Though she released a number of perennial records during the decade, it was Come On Over that remains her magnum opus—a stellar line-up of country-pop crossovers that were something entirely new upon their release.

Though the album features a handful of her top hits—”Man! I Feel Like a Woman!,” “You’re Still the One,” and “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) to name a few—we have to look at ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much” for this list. Her cheetah print set featured in the accompanying music video has become something of legend and the song’s snide lyrics have become a rallying cry for any woman playing the dating game. Few were doing it like Twain in the ’90s and we’d argue few have compared since.

2. “Fancy” (Reba McEntire)

Speaking of rallying cries for women, a significant portion of the ’90s saw female country artists take the reigns, delivering hard-earned feminist anthems time and time again—even if they came a bit from left field.

One such song is “Fancy” by Reba McEntire. Originally recorded by Bobbie Gentry, the song tells the story of a girl escaping poverty by means of prostitution. It’s a classic southern gothic tale that McEntire renewed for a new generation at the start of the decade. Though it may not have been easy to swallow, it’s the kind of hard-luck candor that was flying rampant in the ’90s—which McEntire seems to have been leading the charge on.

3. “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” (Brooks & Dunn)

Few songs will make you want to slide on your Tecovas and start two-stepping more than “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” Brooks & Dunn released this staple in 1991 and it has endured as a classic of the genre ever since.

The track has long been credited as reviving a love of line dancing with its classic Texas shuffle and call-to-action lyrics: Yeah, heel toe, docie doe, come on, baby, let’s go, boot scootin’ / Oh, Cadillac, Black Jack, baby meet me outback we’re gonna boogie / Oh, get down turn around go to town boot scootin’ boogie.

4. “Wide Open Spaces” (The Chicks)

The title track of their 1998 album, “Wide Open Spaces” celebrates the need for a young woman to break free and trek out on her own. An assuage for anyone who has ever left home and an insatiably catchy country song to boot, the single skyrocketed the trio to fame having topped the charts for four weeks.

She needs wide open spaces / Room to make her big mistakes / She needs new faces / She knows the highest stakes, they sing on the erupting chorus. The entire song has an air of optimism that can inspire a lust for life in even the most defeatist of individuals.

5. “Blue Clear Sky” (George Strait)

As Twain was the queen of the country, George Strait was (and remains) the king. “Blue Clear Sky” hit No. 1 upon its release, marking one of the 60-plus chart-toppers he has clinched across his career.

The titular line was borrowed from Forrest Gump. Songwriter Bob DiPiero once said, “In the movie, Forrest talks about ‘life is like a box of chocolates.’ And also, he was talking about his girlfriend, Jenny, and how she would come and go out of his life. At one point, he says, ‘And out of the blue clear sky, Jenny came back.’ And I was listening, thinking, ‘Hey! It’s ‘clear blue sky,’ it’s not ‘blue clear sky!’ Just that little turn of phrase stuck in my head.”

7. “This Kiss” (Faith Hill)

“This Kiss” has expanded far beyond the confines of country music. It has found its way into countless films and broken genre lines, winding up in the playlists of even the staunchest country naysayers. When listening to this track, it’s not hard to see why. The chorus is infectiously buoyant with sugary sweet lyrics that stick around long after you hit pause.

Cinderella said to Snow White / How does love get so off course, oh / All I wanted was a white knight / With a good heart, soft touch, fast horse, she sings during the second verse. What also makes this song so enticing is Faith Hill teetering on the line between innocence and wry innuendos.

8. “Strawberry Wine” (Deana Carter)

The opening trill to “Strawberry Wine” is as nostalgic as anything ever has been. Much like “This Kiss,” this track has broken out of country circles and into pop culture as a whole. If you’ve ever heard “Strawberry Wine” come on in a crowded room you’ll know that few can resist its charms.

In the song, Carter looks back on her youth with a discerning eye. She lovingly rolls her eyes at her younger self singing I still remember when thirty was old and remembers when her biggest troubles were the last few waning days of summer – my biggest fear was September / when he had to go. Ah, the simple times…

10. Chattahoochee (Alan Jackson)

Alan Jackson was recently dubbed an Artist of a Lifetime by CMT and we can’t think of anyone more apt. “Chattahoochee” is ’90s country at its core. It’s the blueprint. It’s the hallmark.

Playfully singing about life growing up on the famed Georgia river, this song tops the list of enduring hits Jackson has released across his career. Though it has stiff competition, “Chattahoochee” is just too classic to forget.

George Strait (Photo: David McClister)

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