When LeAnn Rimes made her country debut, she couldn’t even drive yet. The teenage ingenue from Garland, Texas, was poised to become the 20th century's version of Patsy Cline thanks to her mature (even for a grownup!) pipes and girl-next-door aesthetic. Unfortunately, much of that never came to fruition, as Rimes’ personal life dominated the tabloids -- but she's still given us some darn good music.
With a career spanning pop, Christian contemporary and, of course, country, Rimes has firmly staked her place in music history. These five tracks are just a few of her best:
Released in 1996 on her debut album of the same name, "Blue" helped 13-year-old Rimes storm onto the country music scene. Fittingly, this song was rumored to have been originally written for Cline, though songwriter Bill Mack vehemently denies that idea; still, fans certainly took notice of Rimes’ precociously soulful voice.
"I Need You"From 'Jesus: Music From and Inspired By the Epic Mini-Series' (2000)
Rimes has frequently recorded songs rooted in her faith, such as this 2000 release. Originally released on Jesus: Music From and Inspired By the Epic Mini Series, the track would later appear on Rimes’ 2001 compilation album, I Need You. Fans may remember that Rimes publicly disowned that album, saying that it was made by her record label without her “creative input.” Despite the controversy, “I Need You” stayed on the Billboard charts for 25 weeks, and firmly established Rimes as a country-pop crossover.
"One Way Ticket (Because I Can)"From: 'Blue' (1996)
Written by Judy Rodman and Keith Hinton, the poppy and upbeat “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)” was the third single from Rimes’ 1996 debut Blue, and it’s almost hard to imagine that this tune and the project's title track could exist on the same album. To date, it remains Rimes’ only No. 1 country single.
"How Do I Live"From: 'You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs' (1997)
This song has quite the history: "How Do I Live" was originally intended to be a single from the soundtrack for the 1997 Nicolas Cage film Con Air; songwriter Diane Warren promised the song to Rimes, and according to the artist, the song was written specifically for her. However, when Walt Disney Pictures, the film’s production company, decided that the subject matter was a bit too mature for the then-14-year-old, the song was re-recorded by Trisha Yearwood -- and both versions were released on the same day. The Rimes version of “How Do I Live” peaked at No. 2 on the charts, and has since been certified platinum three times, selling more than 3 million copies -- but Yearwood took home the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song, in 1998 ... with Rimes' version also nominated in the same category.
"Can't Fight the Moonlight"From the 'Coyote Ugly' soundtrack (2000)
Featured on the soundtrack for feature film Coyote Ugly, this track created a whole new crowd of Rimes fans. The movie was based on the real New York City bar, and Rimes provided vocals for Violet, the film’s protagonist, played by Piper Perabo. “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” was released on Aug. 1, 2000, and by November, it had already been certified platinum. Fans of the film also may remember Rimes’ cameo in Coyote Ugly, or the music video for the song, filmed with the bar as the backdrop.