Robert James Ritchie has enjoyed one of the most diverse careers in American popular music over the past two decades. There is no other artist who can effortlessly segue from Rap to Southern Rock to Metal to Country and do it as efficiently as Ritchie, aka Kid Rock.
Of course, his flamboyant lifestyle and personal life sometimes causes the public to focus more on his persona than his music — which is a true shame, because Kid Rock has given us some timeless moments since breaking into the mainstream world just prior to the turn of the century. He does a lot of things musically, and always finds a way to do them well. And, who knows, he also could be the next great American senator! Here are ten moments in the Kid Rock song catalog that deserve to be heard time and time again!
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10. Kid Rock – “Bawitdaba“
This Kid Rock song proved to be the first major hit for the singer back in 1999, and it signified the fact that music critics or fans weren’t going to be able to put his music in a box. It was equal parts grunge and metal, and served as notice that music fans were in for something very unique — and very different.
9. Kid Rock – “Jackson, Mississippi”
Kid Rock has been known to take a walk on the wild side of life every now and then. But, with that said, he also is very up front and honest about the repercussions of making wrong decisions. He was at his sobering best in this piercing track about a man dealing with his addiction. It was tortured. It was twisted. And, it was real, very real.
8. Kid Rock – “Care”
Over the years, many different female artists have stepped into the role of Sheryl Crow in the classic “Picture” — which shows up later on this list. One of those was Martina McBride who delivered a stunning performance of the song at the CMA Music Festival a few years back. Of course, the songstress had her own studio highlight with the iconic artist, delivering a soaring vocal on this 2010 single that was one of his deeper and more meaningful moments as an artist.
7. Kid Rock – “Only God Knows Why”
Yes, Kid Rock is not for everyone. Yes, he can be a little bit cocky and polarizing. That’s a given. But, musically, the man is a genius — being able to quote lyrical content from Rap artists as well as “Deep Catalog” Country titles that most fans have ever heard. That soul and that swagger both come to light on this track from Devil Without A Cause which showed a weariness to the singer that few had heard before. A definite highlight of his — or any career.
6. Kid Rock – “Collide”
Political differences aside, there are always sparks between Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock when the two get together. In this 2010 single — that also featured Bob Seger — the two were in fine vocal form on a song that showcased their talents to the maximum degree. The track was one of the high-water marks of the million-selling album Born Free, which has three songs on this list.
5. Kid Rock – “American Bad Ass”
This 2000 offering was the only single released from his The History of Rock disc, which molded together his love of metal and rap. The song earned the singer a nickname that has stayed with him over the years, as he recently launched a successful portable grill company named after the song.
4. Kid Rock – “Born Free”
The title track from one of the artist’s most diverse musical offerings, this one featured some of the best vocalizing of his career. The track was very much wide open, and the video showcased the singer driving throughout his home state of Michigan.
3. Kid Rock – “Cowboy”
The first top ten single on any chart for the singer, this Kid Rock song — for better or worse — is often credited for the inspiration of the “Hick Hop” movement, or as it was later dubbed, “Bro-Country.” Somehow, we don’t think any of that was on Kid Rock’s mind when he recorded this one in 1999. It was a simple fusion of the music that influenced him — ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Run-D.M.C.
2. Kid Rock – “All Summer Long”
One of the most undeniable hits of the Kid Rock canon, this 2008 single was a hit in multiple formats — including a career high No. 4 ranking on the Country charts — and across the world. The summertime anthem became a hit here in the United States, but also topped the charts in countries such as Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland.
1. Kid Rock – “Picture”
The final single from Cocky sounded a little different at first in its’ single version. While Sheryl Crow did appear on the album cut, A&M refused to give permission to release the track as a single with her voice on the song. So, Kid Rock went to Americana artist Allison Moorer and persuaded her to lay down a vocal track for the song. The song started to gain inroads at both Top 40 and Country radio, and some stations broke rank with the wishes of Crow’s label. In either case, the song wound up being a classic, with the original recording standing as one of the top male / female duets of this century — so far.