As a kid, Mark Wills wanted to be the next Jon Bon Jovi. Somewhere along the line, his tastes changed, and by the time he came to land a record deal in the mid-’90s, he was all set to become the next big thing in country music. A success right out of the gate, he enjoyed a string of top ten hits on the country charts throughout the ’90s and 2000s, releasing his last album to date, Looking for America, in 2011. In 2019, his impact on the genre was recognized when he became the 218th inductee into the Grand Ole Opry. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Mark Wills songs of all time.
10. And the Crowd Goes Wild
In at number one on our list of the 10 best Mark Wills songs of all time is this upbeat country-rocker about a bunch of wannabes and weirdos. Written by Jeffrey Steele and Craig Wiseman and recorded by Wills in 2003, the song went down a storm with both critics and fans alike, generating multiple positive reviews for its dance floor-ready appeal and reaching number 29 on the US Hot Country Songs chart.
9. High Low and In Between
Combining a lively fiddle and steel guitar with a winsome vocal performance from Wills, this charming country song about a man who’s fallen under the spell of a woman is one of the many gems on Wills’ 1996 self-titled debut album. Released as the B-side to his debut single Jacob’s Ladder, it charted at number 33 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
8. She’s in Love
Written by Keith Stegall, Julian Williams, and Dan Hill and first recorded by Wills in June 1994 for his second studio album, Wish You Were Here, this poignant ballad tells the story of a man who, after being told by a friend that she’s falling in love but will stay his friend “till the day I die,” wishes it was him on the receiving end of her affections. Wills’ sensitive, nuanced performance adds an extra layer of feeling to the emotionally-charged narrative, resulting in a huge hit that climbed to number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 7 on the US Hot Country Songs chart.
7. Back at One
Back at One was originally a hit for Brian McKnight, who took it to number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the top ten in New Zealand and Canada in August 1999. Numerous artists have covered it since, including Bob Baldwin, Westlife, Lulu, Warren Hil, and Paul Jackson Jr. Wills’ version is one of the most successful of the bunch – released as a single from his 2000 album Permanently, it reached number 2 on the US country charts and number 1 on the Canadian RPM country tracks chart.
6. I Do (Cherish You)
Wills’ second album, Wish You Were Here, is stuffed with stellar tracks… which probably explains how it came to sell over a million copies and earn platinum status. I Do (Cherish You), a seductive love song with a sweet message and an even sweeter performance from Wills, is one of its highlights. Released as the album’s lead single, it took the singer into the top ten of the country charts for the third time, peaking at number 2.
5. Don’t Laugh at Me
When songwriter Allen Shamblin’s daughter told him she was being teased at school because of her freckles, he was inspired to write Don’t Laugh at Me. After hearing it, Mark Wills was similarly inspired to commit it to tape, describing it to Billboard as “one of the strongest songs I’ve ever recorded in terms of dealing with life in general.” Released as a single in July 1998, the song reached number 2 on both the US and Canadian country charts.
4. 19 Somethin’
After releasing a string of slow-burning ballads, Wills turned the pace up a notch in 2002 with the uptempo country-rocker, 19 Somethin’. With a foot-tapping beat and a scattering of inspired references to Pac Man, Farrah Fawcett, and other icons of ’80s pop culture, the song finds Wills comparing his childhood to his current life and concluding “Now I’ve got a mortgage and an SUV / All this responsibility makes me wish sometimes / That it was 1980-somethin’.” A critical and commercial triumph, the song topped the US country charts and picked up a nomination for Single of the Year at the 38th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
3. Jacob’s Ladder
Wills was a success straight out of the gate, reaching the top ten of both the U.S. Billboard country singles chart and the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart with his radio-ready debut single, Jacob’s Ladder. The story about a poor boy’s efforts to win the heart of a rich girl might have been told a million times before, but Wills’ charming warmth and effortless delivery make it impossible to care.
2. Places I’ve Never Been
Named one of the best Mark Wills songs of all time by wideopencountry.com, the lovely Places I’ve Never Been became a major early hit for Wills in 1997, reaching number 5 on the US Hot Country Songs chart and number 7 on the RPM Canada Country Tracks chart.
1. Wish You Were Here
In at number one is the title track to Wills’ phenomenally successful, platinum-selling second album, Wish You Were Here. Although widely thought of as a melancholic song, Wills has said it’s the opposite, describing it as “a very positive, optimistic love song about life after death.” Regardless of what it’s about, it’s a gorgeous song, not to mention one of the singer’s most successful ever singles. Released in January 1999, it became his first number one on the country charts and one of his highest-charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 34. Over 20 years later, it’s still a firm fan favorite.