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Top country song from the year you graduated high school

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    Top country song from the year you graduated high school

    Music provides the soundtrack for our lives because there’s a proven link between music and memory. This is especially true of your high school years, because the music we listen to as teenagers sets our musical taste for life. That’s why certain songs bring you right back to your high school prom.

    With the 52nd Annual Country Music Association Awards around the corner, Stacker set out to find the top country songs of your high school years. Many of this year's nominees for Entertainer of the Year made the list, including Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley host for the 11th year in a row, and you might be surprised to see which years they themselves were the most popular country artists. 

    Using Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs” charts, Stacker identified the most popular song of each year by selecting those that held the top spot the longest. If more than one song fit the bill in a year, they were all included. The charts take streaming and digital downloads into account as well. So fire up that mental time machine, and get ready to explore the top country songs from the past 84 years.

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    1944: "Smoke On The Water" by Red Foley

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    This patriotic song coincided with the end of World War II, as Foley sang of dictators stripped of their power. Foley was a Grand Ole Opry performer, and found his way into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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    1945: "I'm Losing My Mind Over You" by Al Dexter

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Texan Al Dexter helped popularize the honky-tonk genre with songs about a man who's “lonely and blue,” losing his mind over a woman. Dexter was a regular feature on the Billboard Juke Box Folk Record charts in the ‘40s with other big hits like “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “Guitar Polka.”

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    1946: "New Spanish Two Step" by Bob Wills

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 15

    Known to all country and western fans as the “King of Western Swing,” Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys scored big with songs like the “New Spanish Two Step,” which competed with Al Dexter’s “Guitar Polka” for the top spot in 1946. Wills also covered Red Foley’s 1944 hit “Smoke on the Water” in 1945 and brought it to #1 for two weeks.  

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    1947: "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" by Tex Williams

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 15

    In retrospect, a song encouraging people to smoke may not have been the best idea. It was nevertheless a smashing success for Tex Williams, who recorded the song with fellow country legend Merle Travis in 1947. Williams was known for his “talking blues” style, and grew up in Illinois, as opposed to the traditional Southern upbringings of most western swing artists of the time.

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    1948 tie: "I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)" by Eddy Arnold and His Tennessee Plowboys, "Bouquet of Roses" by Eddy Arnold and his Tennessee Plowboys

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    Eddy Arnold and his Tennessee Plowboys had a big year in 1948 with not one but two #1 hits. “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)” is about a man missing his lady, while “Bouquet of Roses” is about love lost. Arnold was managed by Colonel Tom Parker, who went on to work with Elvis.

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    1949: "Lovesick Blues" by Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 12

    This show tune originally appeared in the musical “Oh Ernest,” and Hank Williams played “Lovesick Blues” during his first appearance on the groundbreaking Louisiana Hayride show. Music industry trade magazine Cash Box dubbed the song the “Best Hillbilly Record of the Year.” 

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    1950: "I'm Movin' On" by Hank Snow

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 17

    Another Hank held the top spot in 1950—this time it was Hank Snow’s turn, with “I’m Movin’ On.” One of the most popular songs in country music history, “I’m Movin’ On” fits the 12-bar blues profile, and tells the story of a truck driver who’s leaving his love. Snow’s ensuing popularity led to him joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. 

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    1951: "Shotgun Boogie" by Tennessee Ernie Ford

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 14

    Bass-baritone Tennessee Ernie Ford was classically trained at the prestigious Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and fell into country and western music as a Southern California radio DJ who exaggerated his Tennessee roots. “Shotgun Boogie” was Ford’s biggest country hit. 

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    1952: "The Wild Side of Life" by Hank Thompson

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 15

    Recorded by artists to great success before and after Hank Thompson, the 1952 version of “The Wild Side of Life” captivated country and western fans thanks to Thompson’s much-loved band, The Brazos Valley Boys. The song also inspired Nelson Algren’s novel “A Walk on the Wild Side,” which in turn inspired Lou Reed’s hit song “Walk on the Wild Side.”

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    1953: "Kaw-Liga" by Hank Williams

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    Hank Williams owned a cabin on Lake Martin in the middle of Alabama, and Kowaliga was a Native American hero who was represented by a statue on the lake. Williams wrote the song in tribute to Kowaliga—one of the few tracks he co-wrote with longtime producer Fred Rose.

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    1954: "I Don't Hurt Anymore" by Hank Snow

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 20

    Hank Snow's “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” is about a man’s feelings about moving on after a breakup. It was covered by Dinah Washington later that year, and climbed up the R&B charts. Canadian country group Prairie Oyster covered the song in 1990, and hit number 70 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

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    1955: "In The Jailhouse Now" by Webb Pierce

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 20

    Yodeler Jimmie Rodgers popularized this song in 1928. When Webb Pierce got ahold of it in the mid-’50s, he too scored a major hit, landing  on top of the charts for five months.

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    1956: "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 17

    Elvis Presley’s first appearance as a chart leader is also his first single for record label RCA Victor. The song was a simultaneous hit on the country and western and rhythm and blues charts. Elvis made two more appearances at #1 later in the year with “I Want You I Need You I Love You,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”

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    1957: "Gone" by Ferlin Husky

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 9

    “Gone” not only hit #1 on the country and western charts, it landed at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. While Husky’s recording held the crown the longest in 1957, other top songs that year turned into full-on classics as well. Memorable hits included Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and “Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers.

     

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    1958 tie: "Ballad Of A Teenage Queen" by Johnny Cash, "Guess Things Happen That Way" by Johnny Cash

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 8

    Johnny Cash was only competing with himself in 1958, with two songs dominating the charts for a total of 16 weeks. In 2010, “Guess Things Happen That Way” was officially the 10 billionth song downloaded on iTunes.

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    1959 tie: "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton, "The Three Bells" by The Browns

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 10

    Johnny Horton’s version of “The Battle of New Orleans” is a historical song that details the events from the perspective of an American soldier. “The Three Bells” tells the life story of Jimmy Brown through the three church bells of his life: birth, marriage, and death. “The Three Bells” was so popular that it charted on three different Billboard charts: Hot Country Songs, the Billboard Hot 100, and Hot R&B Songs.

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    1960 tie: "He'll Have to Go" by Jim Reeves, "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" by Hank Locklin

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 14

    Two songs shared the spotlight for more than half of 1960. “He’ll Have to Go” and “Please Help Me I’m Falling” were both produced by Chet Atkins, widely credited with creating the “Nashville sound” that elevated country and western from its honky-tonk roots into a more refined product for mass appeal.

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    1961: "Don't Worry" by Marty Robbins

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 10

    Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry” tells the tale of a man reassuring a former lover that he’ll get over their breakup. It was a huge crossover hit, charting at #1 on the country and western list, and #3 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.

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    1962 tie: "Walk On By" by Leroy Van Dyke, "Wolverton Mountain" by Claude King

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 9

    “Walk On By” and “Wolverton Mountain” both spent nine weeks in first place during 1962. “Walk On By” has the edge as the top country song, because it held #1 spot dating back to December 1961. “Walk On By” was so beloved that its record-setting run wasn’t beaten until Florida Georgia Line came along with “Cruise” in 2013.

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    1963: "Love's Gonna Live Here" by Buck Owens

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 11

    “Love’s Gonna Live Here” closed out 1963 with a long run at #1 that continued well into 1964. The song was written and performed by Buck Owens, and later covered by Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, and Martina McBride.

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    1964: "I Guess I'm Crazy" by Jim Reeves

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 7

    Jim Reeves died tragically in a plane crash in 1964, and “I Guess I’m Crazy” was released after his death. The song hit #1 both in the United States and on the very first RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada. Due to his success, Reeves was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967.

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    1965: "Before You Go" by Buck Owens

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Buck Owens claimed the title again in 1965 with a ballad about trying to convince your sweetheart not to leave you. Owens actually hit the top spot with four different singles in 1965, although “Before You Go” stayed on top the longest.

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    1966: "Almost Persuaded" by David Houston

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 9

    “Almost Persuaded” is a tribute to marriage and fidelity, with David Houston singing about a man who slow-dances with a woman at a bar only to see his wedding ring reflected in the other woman’s eyes. The song won two Grammys for “Best Country and Western Recording” and “Best Country and Western Vocal Performance Male” in 1966. 

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    1967 tie: "There Goes My Everything" by Jack Greene, "All The Time" by Jack Greene, "It's The Little Things" by Sonny James

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    23 songs hit the top of the charts in 1967, including Tammy Wynette’s first solo #1 single. Sonny James had three chart-toppers this year, but only one (“It’s The Little Things”) held its ground for five weeks to tie Jack Greene’s two hits.

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    1968: "Skip A Rope" by Henson Cargill

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    Oklahoma-born Henson Cargill sang this song, asking adults to listen to their children in the midst of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement. The song was very successful, but was the only #1 single of Cargill’s career.

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    1969: "Daddy Sang Bass" by Johnny Cash

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Johnny Cash scored again with this tune about making the most of your family’s situation in poverty. The second most popular song in 1969 was Cash's “A Boy Named Sue,” which rose all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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    1970 tie: "Baby Baby (I Know You're a Lady)" by David Houston, "It's Just a Matter of Time" by Sonny James, "Hello Darlin'" by Conway Twitty, "Don't Keep Me Hangin' On" by Sonny James

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    The crown kept changing hands in 1970 with four love songs from three artists all sitting on top for four weeks each. Sonny James takes full honors as a country artist in 1970, with four songs climbing to the pinnacle of the charts for a total of 14 weeks.

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    1971: "When You're Hot, You're Hot" by Jerry Reed

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    This country-fried rock song tells the story of a man on a gambling hot streak, and the legal consequences that follow. The phrase “When you’re hot, you’re hot” entered the public lexicon, and actor/comedian Flip Wilson turned it into a catchphrase for his beloved character “Geraldine.”

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    1972: "My Hang-Up Is You" by Freddie Hart

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Freddie Hart had a big year in 1972. “My Hang-Up Is You” spent six weeks on top, but “Bless Your Heart,” and “Got the All Overs for You (All Over Me),” also made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles list for a combined 11 weeks on.

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    1973 tie: "You've Never Been This Far Before" by Conway Twitty, "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    While it was standard in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s to see songs stay in the #1 spot for weeks at a time, the ‘70s gave way to shorter durations. In 1973, the two leaders for the year spent only three weeks each at #1. Conway Twitty and Charlie Rich share the honor for the year, and both had other hits that grabbed the top spot for two weeks each.

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    1974: "A Very Special Love Song" by Charlie Rich

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    Charlie Rich carried his momentum into 1974 with five singles landing in first place. “A Very Special Love Song” also reached the summit of the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and won the Grammy for Best Country Song.

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    1975 tie: "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" by Freddy Fender, "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" by Willie Nelson, and five more

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    For the first time in “Hot Country” list history, the threshold for top song was just two weeks at #1. Eight songs carried the banner for two weeks, including Willie Nelson’s first major hit, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” Five songs in 1975 were both #1 on the Hot Country chart and on the cross-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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    1976: "Convoy" by C. W. McCall

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    Convoy took the chart lead back in mid-December 1975, and carried over in 1976, giving “Convoy” a total of six consecutive weeks in first place. It also enjoyed crossover success at peak position on the Hot 100 chart. The story of a fictional trucker rebellion, complete with CB radio jargon, also earned a spot as the 98th-best country song of all time.

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    1977: "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" by Waylon Jennings

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Waylon Jennings spun this musical yarn about a wealthy city couple who yearns for a simpler life in Luckenbach, Texas. Willie Nelson lent guest vocals to the track, and it was even covered by The Chipmunks in the early ‘80s.

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    1978: "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    Waylon and Willie teamed up again in 1978 for an album of duets called “Waylon & Willie,” which featured the song “Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” An example of the emerging “outlaw country” sub-genre “Mammas,” was originally recorded two years before by Ed Bruce on a version that peaked at #15 on the Hot Country charts. It was also covered by The Chipmunks.

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    1979 tie: "Every Which Way but Loose" by Eddie Rabbitt, "I Just Fall in Love Again" by Anne Murray, "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me" by The Bellamy Brothers, and three more

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    Six songs held the crown for just three weeks each in 1979. Big names like Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty, and Waylon Jennings made the list, along with up-and-comers (and future superstars) like The Bellamy Brothers and Anne Murray.

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    1980 tie: "Coward of the County" by Kenny Rogers, "My Heart / Silent Night (After the Fight)" by Ronnie Milsap, "Lookin' for Love" by Johnny Lee

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    43 singles hit #1 in 1980, but the real contenders stayed at the top for three full weeks each. Kenny Rogers started the year with his story of a coward who finally stands up for his lover. Ronnie Milsap bolstered his Country Music Hall of Fame career with “My Heart,” and Johnny Lee found success with “Lookin’ for Love,” from the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack.

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    1981 tie: "I Don't Need You" by Kenny Rogers, "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" by Ronnie Milsap, "Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)" by Charley Pride

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    In a near-replica of the 1980 results, Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Milsap found themselves squaring off for top country song against Charley Pride, each scoring hits that stayed on top for just two weeks each. 

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    1982 tie: "Always on My Mind" by Willie Nelson, "Just to Satisfy You" by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, "Slow Hand" by Conway Twitty, "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)" by Jerry Reed

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    The 1980s saw a lot of competition for peak position, with five straight years of two-week residencies. In 1982, it was a group of the usual suspects (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, and Jerry Reed) who had all hit #1 on the charts with previous hits. Nelson won the Grammy for his version of “Always on My Mind,” which had already gone certified gold when Elvis performed the song in 1972.

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    1983 tie: "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, "Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer to You)" by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    Named the greatest country duet in history “Islands in the Stream” paired country powerhouses Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers for a massive hit that shot to #1 on the Hot Country Adult Contemporary and Hot 100 charts. Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers only had three top hits in their history, and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)” was the last of them.

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    1984 tie: "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" by Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, "Why Not Me" by The Judds

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    In 1984, the two acts that held top position the longest were both breakout stars. Julio Iglesias had found immense popularity in the Latin market, but didn’t cross over into the mainstream North American market until his collaboration with Willie Nelson: “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.” Mother-daughter duo The Judds also hadn’t found success before they released “Why Not Me,” which closed out 1984 as the title-holder.

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    1985: "Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night)" by Ronnie Milsap

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    51 different songs hit #1 in 1985, but only one stayed for more than one week: Ronnie Milsap’s “Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night).” It was Milsap’s 27th single (out of 35) to climb to the pinnacle of the Hot Country charts. The pop-country crossover is non-traditional in that it combines Milsap’s original “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” with a 1956 cover of “In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins.

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    1986 tie: "Whoever’s in New England" by Reba McEntire, "Have Mercy" by The Judds, "Desperado Love" by Conway Twitty, and two more

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 1

    Not a single song earned a second week in the top spot in 1986, allowing for a 52-way tie for first place. In fact, 1986 is the only year in the history of the “Hot Country” chart where every week featured a different #1 song. Out of the crowded field, Reba McEntire and The Judds scored three first-place hits each. Country icon Conway Twitty’s “Desperado Love” was the last track of his career to hit #1.

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    1987: "Forever and Ever, Amen" by Randy Travis

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    Randy Travis first hit the summit of the charts in 1986, and the following year he stayed there for three full weeks with “Forever and Ever Amen.” Travis took home a Grammy that year for Best Country and Western Song, and also won the Academy of Country Music’s Single of the Year, and Song of the Year.

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    1988 tie: "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" by Kathy Mattea, "I Told You So" by Randy Travis, "I'll Leave This World Loving You" by Ricky Van Shelton, "When You Say Nothing at All" by Keith Whitley

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    There were lots of familiar faces on the 1988 charts—Reba McEntire, Alabama, George Strait—but the only country superstar to spend two weeks on the chart was Randy Travis who nabbed a #1 song for the third year in a row. Travis’ “I Told You So” was eventually re-recorded in 2009 as a duet with Carrie Underwood, and jumped to #1 on the Hot Country charts that year.

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    1989 tie: "I'm No Stranger to the Rain" by Keith Whitley, "The Church on Cumberland Road" by Shenandoah

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 2

    Keith Whitley achieved the last #1 single of his career with “I’m No Stranger to the Rain.” Whitley died just a month after this song hit the top of the charts for two weeks. Shenandoah, by contrast, found its very first #1 with “The Church on Cumberland Road,” about a man racing to get to the church on time to marry his love.

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    1990: "Love Without End, Amen" by George Strait

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    After so many short stints at the top, George Strait's five-week reign in 1990 must have felt like an eternity. That year, Billboard changing its methodology from radio station and record store self-reporting to the more standardized Nielsen Broadcast Data System reporting. “Love Without End Amen” was Strait’s 19th #1 song, and the first to hold the slot for more than a week.

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    1991 tie: "Down Home" by Alabama, "Don't Rock the Jukebox" by Alan Jackson, "You Know Me Better Than That" by George Strait

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    Despite the change in stat-tracking the previous year, 1991’s top artists only enjoyed three weeks each at the top of the chart. Alabama extolled the virtues of rural small-town life, Alan Jackson lamented the lack of country music in jukeboxes in his 1992 ASCAP Country Song of the Year, and George Strait sings about a man who can’t escape feeling like he’d be better off with his ex than his current flame.

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    1992: "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    “Achy Breaky Heart” was a worldwide smash success in 1992. The song encouraged the resurgent line-dancing craze of the ‘90s and turned Billy Ray Cyrus into a star.

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    1993: "Chattahoochee" Alan Jackson

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    The Country Music Association named it Single of the Year and the Song of the Year so it’s no surprise that “Chattahoochee” held the #1 spot for the most consecutive weeks in 1993. The lyrics detail the joys of growing up near the Chattahoochee River between Alabama and Georgia, which resonated well with Alan Jackson’s predominantly Southern fan base.

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    1994 tie: "Wild One" by Faith Hill, "I Swear" by John Michael Montgomery, "Wink" by Neal McCoy

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    Faith Hill found huge success with her first single from her debut album when “Wild One” grabbed the top spot for the first four weeks of 1994. “I Swear” became a big hit for John Michael Montgomery, and “Wink” finished out the year as the #2 overall song.

     

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    1995: "I Like It, I Love It" by Tim McGraw

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    Recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, “I Like It I Love It” was one of two top-rated songs from Tim McGraw in 1995. This one is a fast-paced tale of a man’s intense love for his lady. The song is now played whenever the Nashville Predators hockey team scores a goal.

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    1996 tie: "It Matters to Me" by Faith Hill, "No News" by Lonestar, "Time Marches On" by Tracy Lawrence, and four more

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 3

    1996 was a competitive year, with seven artists grabbing the top slot for three weeks apiece. Faith Hill was the first to span three weeks with “It Matters to Me,” which was also her first song to hit the Billboard Hot 100 (at #74). Lonestar’s “No News” was their very first #1 single, and “Time Marches On” was the longest-lasting #1 hit of Tracy Lawrence’s career.

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    1997: "It's Your Love" by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    When two superstars fall in love, it’s not long before they start singing about that love. That’s what happened with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “It’s Your Love.” The husband-and-wife team won four Academy of Country Music awards for the song, as well as Vocal Event of the Year from the Country Music Awards.

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    1998: "Just to See You Smile" by Tim McGraw

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Tim McGraw experienced on a massive popularity streak from 1995 onward. His 1998 hit “Just to See You Smile” matched his previous year’s record of six weeks in a row at the top spot. The song wound up as Billboard’s top country tune of the year, and spent 42 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1998—making it the longest-running single on the country charts in the 1990s.

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    1999: "Amazed" by Lonestar

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 8

    When Lonestar made it to eight weeks in a row at #1, they accomplished something nobody had done since David Houston’s 1966 nine-week stand with “Almost Persuaded." The biggest hit of the band's career “Amazed” also scored highly on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts. Lonestar’s song is just one of two country songs to hit #1 on the Hot 100 chart in the 21st century.

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    2000 tie: "Breathe" by Faith Hill, "How Do You Like Me Now?!" by Toby Keith, "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack & Sons of the Desert

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    Country-pop superstar Faith Hill continued her chart-topping dominance with “Breathe,” a five-week success story on the Hot Country charts. The song also spent a full year on the Hot 100 chart, making it Billboard’s top single of the yearan honor no other country song has earned in this century. Toby Keith also found crossover success with “How Do You Like Me Now?!” on the Hot 100 (it peaked at #31) while Lee Ann Womack hit #1 on both the Hot Country and Adult Contemporary charts, climbing to #14 on the Hot 100.

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    2001 tie: "Ain't Nothing 'bout You" by Brooks and Dunn, "I'm Already There" by Lonestar

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Brooks and Dunn found their 15th #1 hit with “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You,” while Lonestar found themselves in first place for the seventh time with “I’m Already There.” The song about a man separated from his family resonated strongly with military families who would start seeing their service members deployed in huge numbers.

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    2002: "The Good Stuff" by Kenny Chesney

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 7

    Kenny Chesney’s longest run in peak position was this ode to the love of a good woman, even when the odds are against you. It was also named Billboard’s best country single of the year, and earned Chesney the Academy of Country Music award for Single of the Year.

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    2003 tie: "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" by Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 7

    “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” has a special distinction for being Jimmy Buffett’s first time on top of the country charts. Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?” went for more serious subject matter with this September 11th memorial song that caused controversy for its pro-war stance.

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    2004 tie: "There Goes My Life" by Kenny Chesney, "When the Sun Goes Down" by Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker, "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    Kenny Chesney scored two major hits in 2004, and rode the wave of success to 10 weeks atop the charts for “There Goes My Life” and his Uncle Kracker collaboration “When the Sun Goes Down.” Gretchen Wilson hit the jackpot with her first single, “Redneck Woman,” moving up to #1 for five weeks in a row. The song has since turned into Wilson’s signature song, earning her a place at #97 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Country Songs of All Time.

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    2005 tie: "As Good as I Once Was" by Toby Keith, "Better Life" by Keith Urban

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    While Keith Urban and Toby Keith tied for six weeks each, Australian singer Keith Urban also had another song (“Making Memories of Us”) that spent five weeks on top. Urban’s “Better Life” was co-written with ‘80s star Richard Marx. Toby Keith’s “As Good as I Once Was” laments feeling like you’ve already peaked in life. 

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    2006: "Jesus, Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Carrie Underwood won "American Idol" in 2005, and roared to the top of the Hot Country chart for the first time with “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” She scored another hit in 2006 with “Before He Cheats” that hit #1 for five weeks. “Jesus Take the Wheel” was a breakout smash, rising to the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 Hot Adult Contemporary and Hot Christian Songs, while also securing the Grammy for Best Country Song and Best Female Vocal Country Performance.

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    2007: "Never Wanted Nothing More" by Kenny Chesney

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    Chesney was back on top in 2007 with “Never Wanted Nothing More” his fastest-rising single of all time, which hit #1 just eight weeks after its release. It was one of three top hits for Chesney in 2007: “Beer in Mexico” and “Don’t Blink” also saw time on top for a grand total of 12 weeks in lead position.

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    2008 tie: "Our Song" by Taylor Swift, "Letter to Me" Brad Paisley

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    Taylor Swift made her first appearance on the leaderboard with “Our Song,” a tune about the singer's freshman year of high school. It reached the charts in the last two weeks of 2007, and continued for four more in 2008. Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me” replaced “Our Song” in February, filled with advice to his younger self.

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    2009: "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 5

    In 2009 Lady Antebellum hit the #1 spot on the Hot Country chart for the first time when “I Run to You” reached the top for one week in July. Four months later, the band's second hit single “Need You Now” made it to the top and stayed there for the rest of the year. The song was a major success on multiple Billboard charts, and won big at award shows including the Grammys, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the CMT Music Awards. “Need You Now” has also been certified six-times Platinum for selling six million singles.

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    2010 tie: "Consider Me Gone" by Reba McEntire, "Why Don't We Just Dance" by Josh Turner, "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    Reba’s hit “Consider Me Gone” puts the country legend in rare company: McEntire has had a #1 single in each of the past four decades, and stayed in the top slot for the longest period of her career. It was also Josh Turner’s longest stretch on top, with his first #1 single since 2006. Miranda Lambert was flying high with her nostalgic “The House That Built Me,” written about the experience of returning to your childhood home. The song was certified platinum in 2011.

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    2011: "Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 4

    Nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the Grammys “Honey Bee” was one of three Blake Shelton songs to wind up on top in 2011. Shelton scored big with “Honey Bee,” tallying nearly 140,000 downloads in its first weekthe most ever from a male country artist at the time.

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    2012: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 9

    Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” remained at the top of the Hot Country chart for more than two months—the longest reign since 1966. The break-up anthem was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys, and Rolling Stone called it the second-best song of 2012. The track also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and sold more than six million singles.

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    2013: "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 19

    Starting in October of 2012, Billboard changed its ranking methodology to include digital streaming and downloads. This had a major effect on the longevity of artists staying in the #1 spot on the Hot Country chart, and led to Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” claiming the crown for 19 straight weeks (22 weeks overall in 2012). With more than six million downloads, it became the best-selling digital country song of all time.

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    2014: "Burnin' It Down" by Jason Aldean

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 14

    Jason Aldean’s song about two people getting intimate earned the title of “Top Country Song” at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. The song holds the distinction of reaching certified platinum status the fastest that year, and has since been certified as double-platinum.

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    2015: "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    Little Big Town won the 2015 CMA Award for Song of the Year and Single of the Year for “Girl Crush.” They also won two Grammys and a CMT Music Award. At thirteen weeks on top of the chart, “Girl Crush” barely edged out a weekly victory over Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time,” which spent 11 weeks at #. Hunt ultimately grabbed the title as Top Hot Country Song of 2015.

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    2016: "H.O.L.Y." by Florida Georgia Line

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 18

    H.O.L.Y. stands for “high on loving you,” and Florida Georgia Line’s fans were overwhelmingly supportive of this slightly controversial take on religion. The song was chosen as one of Spotify’s weekly New Music Friday picks, which helped take H.O.L.Y. towards the promised land at #1 for a whopping 18 weeks.

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    2017: "Body Like a Back Road" by Sam Hunt

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 34

    Sam Hunt scored the biggest hit of his career with “Body Like a Back Road,” the record-setting song that broke the record held by Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” to become the longest-running hit in the history of the Hot Country charts. Hunt’s hit has now been certified five-times Platinum for selling more than five million copies.

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    2018: "Meant to Be" by Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 21

    Pop/country crossover “Meant to Be” first hit Hot Country chart's top spot in mid-December 2017, and has held the title ever since. Currently at 24 consecutive weeks (including the first 21 weeks in 2018) “Meant to Be” is poised to give Sam Hunt’s 2017 record a run for its money. The music video has more than 415 million views on YouTube, and the song has been on the Hot 100 chart for 29 weeks, peaking at #2

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