2010 saw the release of many truly wonderful additions to the country music songbook. Below are fourteen I’m selecting as my favorites for the year. Each has a little something hat helped it to stand out and even garner some radio airplay along the way.
Of course, and we all should remember, radio only tells a tiny piece of the story. In my upcoming post regarding the worst songs of the year, you’ll see some of the year’s biggest hits. While most of my selections do trend toward the mainstream culture, its not to say there weren’t some fantastic independent releases worthy of attention. There are my fourteen favorite country songs for 2010 ranked in descending order.
I’m starting with the praise first this year. Its counterpart (the worst country songs of 2010) is scathing and leaves no stone unturned. Enjoy the best of the good and consider yourself forewarned about what’s to come.
14. Sugarland – “Stuck Like Glue”
Easily the most infectious single of the year, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush have created the best non-country, country single ever. Unmistakable in it’s charms, and controversial in its bridge, you’ll be singing along well after this tune finishes its run at radio.
13. Laura Bell Bundy – “Drop On By”
If nothing else, Bundy’s second single showcases her true potential. A tale about a woman waiting for her man to show up at her house, Bundy infuses her performance with true classic country charm. A modern day Dolly Parton, Bundy proves she goes far deeper than “Giddy On Up”
12. George Strait – “The Breath You Take”
Strait has always scored when singing about the relationship between fathers and sons (“Love Without End, Amen,” “The Best Day”), and this gem from Twang is no exception. One of his best vocals in recent memory, Strait gives what a lesser singer could only pull off as preachy. He’s back in the male vocalist race with this one.
11. Taylor Swift – “Back To December”
An elegant apology to a mishandled love affair, “December” is Swift’s shining moment, her fully developed artistic statement, and a sign of her developing maturity. A step in the right direction, Swift proves she is far more than a teenybopper.
10. Dierks Bentley Feat. Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson – “Bad Angel”
Hands down, the best duet of the year finds Bentley singing about temptation in the same tradition as “Long Black Train.” Brining Lambert and Johnson along for the ride was a smart move – they add the richness that takes this song to the next level. If only it were released a single and radio would play it.
9. Zac Brown Band Feat. Alan Jackson “As She’s Walkin’ Away”
The first chapter in Brown’s guide of how to pick up women, “Away” finds him warning men against falling for women as they walk out of their lives in a bar. A song about taking chances and seizing opportunities, it accomplishes the impossible task of making Alan Jackson cool again.
8. Dierks Bentley – “Draw Me A Map”
“Map” is the sad truth about country radio – it’s the best single released this year they didn’t play. An acoustic gem, Bentley is finally coming into his own and the results are gorgeous. This is the kind of song Bentley was born to sing and almost puts the memory of “Sideways” out of sight and mind.
7. Court Yard Hounds – “Ain’t No Son”
One of the harshest songs released this year; “Son” chronicles a father’s bigotry toward his gay child. It’s also the best Dixie Chicks song that doesn’t feature Natalie Maines. “Don’t expect to get my love for free,” the father tells his little boy with all the hurt and anger he can muster. At least he warns the ladies (“Forget it girls, there ain’t no use in trying”) they have no chance.
6. Easton Corbin – “Roll With It”
A cool, laid-back, ode to the simple joys of summertime, Corbin scored his second consecutive chart topper while reminding everyone how to sing country music. It may be forgotten in the years to come, but it shined through loud and clear amidst a sea of slick pop.
5. Craig Morgan – “This Ain’t Nothin’”
No matter how bad your current situation may be, it isn’t anything compared to events of your past. Loosing your wife after fifty years of marriage and your father when you were eight is far worse than loosing your home to a tornado.
Great country songs strike a nerve and hit you where it hurts. The best country songs hit that nerve but also stop you dead in your tracks and make you think about your life. “This Ain’t Nothin’” ranks among the best.
4. Zac Brown Band – “Colder Weather”
He’s begging for another chance but she’s done with his unchanging ways. Country music at its emotional best, “Weather” is the rare delight that knocks you upside the head and throws you for a loop. It’s also the best song Zac Brown has ever written and their career record.
3. Miranda Lambert – “The House That Built Me”
An ode to finding yourself within the walls of your childhood home, Lambert’s walk down memory lane is an instant classic. I just wish she had written it herself.
2. Sunny Sweeney – “From A Table Away”
Lying only works until you get caught red-handed. When you have to make a choice between your wife and your mistress, don’t bring the wife out dinner as the mistress may see it all (the dancing, the ring still on her hand, and your confessions of love) from a table away. When the jig is up…
1. The Band Perry – “If I Die Young”
In 2010, “Young” cements itself as the best country song regarding mortality since “Whiskey Lullaby” seven years ago. An instruction manual of sorts; lead singer Kimberly Perry tells of how she’d wish to be sent off to the next life if she should have to leave the world a young woman – buried wearing satin in a bed of roses to the words of a love song. After all, it’s when you’re dead that people start listening. Magic.