LeAnn Rimes was just 13 years old when she broke onto the country scene in 1996. Her debut album Blue topped the country albums chart and was certified six-times platinum in the US. As she won the hearts of country fans, she broadened her horizons with a more country pop-leaning sound and began to reach fans all over the world - this loyal global fanbase sticking with her over the decades.
To celebrate her birthday at the end of the month, we reflect on what has been a whirlwind of a career and make our pick of the best LeAnn Rimes songs.
We’re starting our selection in 1997, when Rimes was just 15 years old and released ‘You Light Up My Life’. A song originally made famous by Debby Boone, in her cover, Rimes expresses her more vulnerable side - the raw emotion in her vocals unwavering and flawless. It peaked at no.48 on the country charts but eventually became certified gold. It became the title track of Rimes’ no.1 album You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs.
This lead single from Rimes’ album Remnants was a big hit on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart as it climbed its way to no.1 - her second on this chart. The performance shows off just what a powerhouse vocalist she is, and trust us, it’s jaw-dropping to watch her perform this live. It’s certainly a different sound in comparison to some of the other songs on this list, but that’s what makes Rimes’ repertoire special - she’s not afraid to embrace different styles.
This country-pop song is one to put on after a bad day at work when you need a good break to “talk trash”, as the lyrics say, with your friends… and let’s not forget the wine! Rimes belts out the tune with a fierceness and twang to her voice; the verses full of attitude. ‘Good Friend and a Glass of Wine’ features on Rimes’ album Family - the first record in her career on which she co-wrote every track.
‘Life Goes On’ didn’t perform particularly well in the States but was much more popular in the UK and other parts of Europe, likely due to its pop-orientated nature. Its catchy chorus boasts a strong hook and powerful message. This is another song that Rimes co-wrote alongside Andreas Carlsson and the great Desmond Child.
This Christian love song is a beautiful power ballad perfectly executed by Rimes. The lyrics, written by Gary Burr and Gerry House, look at having faith through the turbulent times; “Every time you touch me / Don’t you feel it too / The gentle hand that's guiding us / You to me, me to you”. ‘On The Side Of Angels’ was featured in the movie Holiday in Your Heart (which Rimes also acted in), giving it an unexpected boost in the country charts, ultimately peaking at no.4.
Rimes joined Elton John to duet on ‘Written In The Stars’, a song that he co-wrote with Tim Rice for the musical Aida. It’s beautiful performance showcases Rimes’ vocal versatility - after all, she did start out with the dream of pursuing musical theatre. The pair take it in turns to sing verses before coming together on the chorus, injecting emotion into every line as they discuss the challenges of forbidden love.
Rimes’ debut single - released at just 13 years old – instantly commanded the attention of country fans. Her soulful and mature voice was often compared to Patsy Cline’s; the control she exhibits as she yodels through the chorus is to be applauded.
Bill Mack originally wrote and released this song in 1958, his version receiving some airplay but not gaining any momentous traction. Roy Drusky, a fellow singer-songwriter and friend of Mack’s suggested he pitch the song to Cline, which he did, but unfortunately she passed away before she ever got the chance to record the song.
Rimes’ version, released almost 40 years after the original, won two Grammys and an ACM award for Song of the Year.
Rimes topped the country charts with this song at just 14 years old, making her the fourth teenage country music artist to score a no.1 single on the U.S. Billboard country music charts. Ever the professional, even at that young age, her vocals were apparently recorded in just one take. The up-beat country track was written by Judy Rodman and Keith Hinton.
This theme tune from the film Coyote Ugly was written by Diane Warren and was a global hit for Rimes, breaking into the top 10 in 21 different countries, topping the charts in 11 of those. Rimes appeared in the film as herself, performing alongside main character Violet Sanford (played by Piper Perabo). Rimes provides the singing voice for Perabo throughout the film, so the duet between the two is actually Rimes duetting with herself!
There are two versions of this power ballad - LeAnn Rimes’ and Trisha Yearwood’s - both of which were released on the same day in 1997. Yearwood’s has a more country vibe to it and was used in the film Con-Air, whilst Rimes was told her version was too pop-leaning for the soundtrack. However, upon its release it still achieved chart success both in the States and in the UK and is regarded as one of her signature songs.
Listen to Holler's full playlist of the best LeAnn Rimes songs below