As 2012 gets underway, Chart Beat remembers songs that rose to No. 12 high points on Billboard surveys and, despite falling two spots shy of the top 10, remain cherished and notable.
Last week, we recalled No. 12-peaking R&B/hip-hop hits, including Prince‘s debut song “Soft and Wet,” LL Cool J’s rap classic “Mama Said Knock You Out” and Mariah Carey‘s Eminem-skewering “Obsessed.”
Jan. 10: 12 No. 12 R&B/Hip-Hop Hits
Jan. 17: 12 No. 12 Country Hits
Jan. 24: 12 No. 12 Rock Hits
Jan. 31: 12 No. 12 Billboard Hot 100 Hits
This week, we head on over to the country. Here are 12 memorable No. 12 hits over the 68-year history of Billboard’s Country Songs chart.
“Christmas Can’t Be Far Away,” Eddy Arnold, 1954
Arnold holds the record for most top 10s (92) in the chart’s archives. His first 57 came consecutively in 1945-54 until this holiday extra interrupted his streak. His momentum picked right back up in 1955, when he reigned with one of his signature songs, “Cattle Call.”
“Hank,” Hank Williams Jr., 1973
Bocephus addresses rumors of his famous father in this bittersweet song, ultimately ruing that he’ll “never know” his dad, who died from alcohol and drug abuse when his son was only three years old in 1953.
“Make My Day,” T.G. Sheppard with Clint Eastwood, 1984
One of the most celebrated movie quotes of all-time from the 1983 film “Sudden Impact” partially doubled as the title for this novelty hit.
“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” Reba McEntire, 1992
McEntire’s cover missed the top 10 but still outperformed the original on Country Songs: Vicki Lawrence had sent the song to No. 36 in 1973. (Lawrence’s version topped the Hot 100 for two weeks).
“We Shall Be Free,” Garth Brooks, 1992
After opening his career with 13 consecutive top 10s on Country Songs, Garthmania was in full force as he released his fifth album, “The Chase.” Perhaps surprisingly, this first single from the set fell short of the top tier. Billboard’s Nashville-based senior chart manager Wade Jessen surmises that the song may have been too much of a “curveball,” in both its bluesy tone and political lean.
“Independence Day,” Martina McBride, 1994
One of the best examples that a song can impact audiences long after it’s peaked on a Billboard chart, this essay of overcoming domestic abuse has become a powerful anthem of survival. (Less crucial, although still notable: Carrie Underwood‘s performance of the song on “American Idol” contributed to her coronation in the series’ 2005 season).
“High Lonesome Sound,” Vince Gill, 1996
While it’s not one of his 27 top 10s, the song featuring Alison Krauss won a Grammy Award for best country collaboration with vocals.
“Who Needs Pictures,” Brad Paisley, 1999
Paisley parked on Country Songs for the first time almost 13 years ago (Feb. 6, 1999), when his debut entry began its chart run. Once established, he soared to No. 1 with his next single, “He Didn’t Have to Be.” He’s added a hefty 17 toppers since.
“Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” Dwight Yoakam, 1999
Yoakam’s always been a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll, as this Queen cover reinforced. Two years later, he reached No. 49 with a remake of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.”
“Cry,” Faith Hill, 2002
Country programmers became skittish when Hill flirted heavily with pop arrangements on 2001’s “There You’ll Be” (No. 11) and this ballad, both of which topped Adult Contemporary. A return to a more core country sound brought Hill back to No. 1 with 2005’s “Mississippi Girl.”
“Up!,” Shania Twain, 2003
Hard to quibble over a No. 12 peak when the song’s like-titled parent album has sold 5.4 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. With career album sales of 34.1 million, Twain is the top-selling female country album artist of the 20-year SoundScan era.
“Shuttin’ Detroit Down,” John Rich, 2009
There’s more to Rich than the cheekiness of “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” (No. 11, 2004). “While the boss man takes his bonus paid jets on out of town, D.C.’s bailing out them bankers as the farmers auction ground,” he sings in his musical attack on those responsible for the economic woes of one of the hardest hit cities of the U.S. recession. “Yeah, while they’re living up on Wall Street in that New York City town, here in the real world, they’re shuttin’ Detroit down.”