Top 17 Songs of 2017: Country

posted in: 2017, Music, Top Music | 0

All year I’ve been building a playlist of my favorite songs; or songs that, at least, I found catchy at one point. Now that it’s the end of the year, I want to take a look at my favorite 17 songs (by genre) of the year.

One of the first country songs I remember was Faith Hill’s “This Kiss.” But there was a long period of time between then and 2011, when I rediscovered the genre. As time has passed, I’ve become more and more engrossed in the country music scene, and this year I had an extremely hard time picking 17 songs. Why is that? I had to pare it down from well over 60 songs. Here are the ones that made the cut.

  • Last Time for Everything – Brad Paisley
    • Brad Paisley is always good for a country anthem. Add this one to the list—a look back at the simple pleasures of life and an encouragement to make the most of them. Whether it’s waiting for Santa to come, eating at your parents’ house, kissing your girlfriend for the first time…enjoy it because it could be the last time.
  • Somethin’ I’m Good At – Brett Eldredge
    • This song nearly gets away from Brett, but that’s what makes it so intriguing. Brett’s not good at much, he says…but getting his girl to smile is his superpower. “Would you look at that?” he asks, before breaking into a country rap that mentions Jiffy Pop, flip flops, and sugarcane. It’s a silly song, but a fun one—and one that I sang along to many times while sitting in traffic.
  • Broken Halos – Chris Stapleton
    • Chris Stapleton is a country music god among mortals. The soul of his voice is unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and he delivers each performance effortlessly. This is a simple song, but it really lets Chris’ voice shine. Add to it the harmony of his wife Morgane, and you have an instant classic. Listen to this one if you can only pick one.
  • The Days I Feel Alone – Eli Young Band
    • The entire EYB album Fingerprints is solid, but this song is the perfect album closer. A more country and lighter version of Black Stone Cherry’s “Like I Roll,” this is a great song to highway drive in the South to—and I did so in Columbia, South Carolina in early September. Anyone looking for a good road trip soundtrack needs to include this one.
  • Singles You Up – Jordan Davis
    • This is good old country pop: if your guy ain’t treating you right, I’ll do it better. I first heard this song on the highway in pretty heavy traffic, and this was just the remedy. There’s a more upbeat Jake Owen vibe here, with call and response chorus and pop drums over the track.
  • In Between – Kelsea Ballerini
    Kelsea Ballerini
    Kelsea Ballerini released a new album in November, and took over Taylor Swift’s spot as country royalty.
    • This ballad was a surprising favorite on Kelsea’s Unapologetically considering I’d already fallen in love with“Legends,” “Roses,” and “Unapologetically” before the album dropped. But Kelsea’s candor about where she isin life—“In between beer and a basement and a Napa Valley vacation”—is refreshing froman artist whose age puts her in the realm of those who pretend they have it all together and are more mature than they are (looking at you, Lil Pump). Underrated song of the year, for sure.
  • Legends – Kelsea Ballerini
    • Kelsea’s lead single from her second album hearkens back to a time when Taylor Swift was the queen of the country charts. While Taylor has moved on to pop, Kelsea stakes her claim as the successor in this song celebrating her and her beau’s relationship. Don’t these lyrics just scream classic Taylor? “Yeah, we were legends/Loving you, baby, it was Heaven/What everyone wondered, we’d never question/Close our eyes and took on the world together”? I’m looking forward to many more years of wonderful country music from Kelsea.
  • Plead the Fifth – Kip Moore
    • Kip Moore is just as throwback as Chris Stapleton, but while Chris focuses more on ballads and vocal gymnastics, Kip is pure country rock. I feel like I’m hearing the amalgamation of Bryan Adams and Eric Church in this song. “Have I ever mixed your memory with Tennessee? Have I ever dialed you up, but never let it ring?” are among my favorite lines in this one.
  • Doin’ Fine – Lauren Alaina
    • The American Idol runner-up (to Scotty McCreery, see below) is country music’s version of Beyonce—and expert storyteller with vocal chops that’ll make all the other girls jealous. In this song, Lauren posits that “everyone’s a little broken,” and despite being filled with fear she’s “doin’ fine.” It’s a nice reminder that no one ever really has it all together, and that’s okay.
  • When It Rains It Pours – Luke Combs
    • Luke’s gritty voice makes this male breakup song a gem of 2017. Similar to “Drunk on a Plane,” Luke doesn’t let his newfound freedom bother him in this story; he instead encounters a string of good luck that brings his ex back, but he’s having nothing of it. He wins a vacation on the radio, $100 in the lottery, golf passes and more in a raffle, and even snags a Hooters’ waitress’s phone number—one “hell of a redneck roll” and one that’s fun to follow along with.
  • Make a Little – Midland
    • I wasn’t fond of Midland’s debut single “Drinkin’ Problem,” but this song I’m ecstatic about. I feel like I’m waltzing through the southwestern United States’ Route 66 as I listen to the band harmonize and honky tonk. So naturally, I listened to the recently-released track while I was traveling parallel to that highway on my way from Las Vegas to Kingman, Arizona late one night. Made a tiring trip much more enjoyable.
  • No Such Thing as a Broken Heart – Old Dominion
    • “I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it/After the drums and guitars all faded” opens this lead single from Old Dominion’s second album. The chorus’ thesis—to love like broken hearts don’t exist—is a good reminder for those too worried to fall in love for fear of the consequences. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try.
  • Five More Minutes – Scotty McCreery
    • Scotty returned to the airwaves for the first time since 2015 in anticipation of his first album since 2013(!). Like Brad Paisley’s “Last Time for Everything,” Scotty wistfully looks back at times in his life where he wishes he could repeat. While he wishes he had a pause button for times like high school, I’d probably use mine for my early elementary years—I’m a big fan of the late 90s and early 00s. But I can appreciate the message of making the most of the time you have. I’ll have to work on that next year.
  • Craving You (feat. Maren Morris) – Thomas Rhett
    • Thomas’ super-popular duet with Maren Morris details the magnetism of a new relationship. “When it comes to you I got no patience,” sings Thomas. Maren echoes: “You’re like that cigarette, that shot of 100 proof…I’m always craving you.” This was the song of the summer for country radio, and deserving of a spot on this list.
  • Unforgettable – Thomas Rhett
    • The second of three Thomas Rhett songs on this list (in all honesty, it could have been five or six songs), this
      Danielle Bradbery
      Danielle Bradbery has come a long way since winning The Voice.

      song made the cut because of its simple guitar melody and Rhett’s flawless delivery of a summer night where sparks flew. He remembers every detail of that night and makes sure the listener does, too.

  • Life Changes – Thomas Rhett
    • This song is a look at all that’s gone on in Thomas’ life since he became a country superstar. Referencing breakout single “Die a Happy Man,” adopting a daughter from Uganda, and God laughing at your plans is certainly an eclectic mix of lyrics—but he makes the connections seem easy. This is a fun little ditty that gives you a little look into Thomas’ life—and it seems like he’s got everything he’s ever wanted.
  • Can’t Stay Mad – Danielle Bradbery
    • I’d heard Danielle’s name before, but had no idea she’d been on the Voice a few years back. I didn’t pay attention until she opened a show for LoCash I attended in December; I was blown away by her vocal ability and poise on stage. This fun track was a favorite of mine live, and sounds great as a studio cut, too.

Listen to these songs here:

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