By Emily Wagner
The last few months have been full of amazing new albums and EPs and singles, that this top 10 list might have been the most difficult of the year (you know since I couldn’t get away with putting any Kip Moore songs on the list).
But these are my top songs; they might not always be in this order but they come pretty close. I’m always looking for songs that sound new and original, with amazing lyrics, something that I can listen to over and over and over again without tiring of. These songs fit that bill.
10. Sunshine State of Mind by Adam Hambrick
He isn’t straight country, he isn’t pop, he is his own genre and I love all his songs. I love how he compares his love to the sunshine, the most optimistic, energizing thing in this world. It’s really creative and he pulls it off as sincere, not generic and cheesy.
9. Broken Up by Mitchell Tenpenny
I love Mitchell, his voice, his songs, his style that I think, although not super country, is so unique. “Broken Up” is more of the Tenpenny we were introduced to on his debut album Telling All My Secrets. I like when artists can take a well used theme – the one who did the breaking up, is still broken hearted- and make it sound new and contemporary, which is exactly what this song is.
8. Next Girl by Carly Pearce
Some days this is my number one song, because honestly how much sass can Carly fit into a 3 minute song? Obviously, even though it’s never been said, we have to assume Carly wasn’t lacking for material after her divorce from Michael Ray. I believe this song will take her to the next level in her career and make her more successful than anyone ever thought.
7. Wild and Young by Eric Paslay
Chalk one up to Paslay for an album that I never thought I’d have on repeat, giving us some of the best songs of the year. “Wild and Young” is a quiet, tempered song and I love the stripped down, simplicity sound to it. When a song is able to make you slow down and really listen to the lyrics and not only feel the artists emotions, but also evokes your own feelings and memories, you know you’ve got a winner.
6. Family Tree by Caylee Hammack
What’s the line, you can’t pick your family? Caylee catapults this sentiment into a sweet, funny and all too realistic homage of her family. Besides the relatability factor that this song will have with millions of listeners, it’s also nice to reminded that while they might not be perfect, or even close, we all have a family of some sort to get us through this world.
This is where the list gets tough and nearly impossible to rank:
5. Crazyland by Eric Church
If there’s anything I love more than rock and roll Eric Church, it’s stripped down, minimal production, Eric Church. I love his words, the way he strings them together to create a song, that you discover something new each time you listen. Also I love when he highlights his amazing background singer, Joanna Cotton.
4. I Should Probably Go To Bed by Dan + Shay
I mean c’mon this song is insane. It’s honestly not like anything we’ve ever heard, let alone in the country world. I think we are all learning that with Shay’s vocals + Dan’s production there is no stopping these guys. I love how they bookend the song, beginning with a simple piano, crescendoing slowly until you reach the bridge, Shay takes off doing only things he can with his range, and then they bring the song back, quieting at the end again with just the piano. Just *chefs kiss.*
3. Give Heaven Some Hell by Hardy
When you talk about songwriting and how a song needs to feel original, like it’s being heard for the first time, Hardy is the guy who makes that happen. A song about losing a friend, a song title with both Heaven and Hell in it? We don’t see much of that sincerity, vulnerability, real life stuff in a ton of country music, at least in the past few years. Hardy is making that cool again.
2. 7 Summers by Morgan Wallen
There was a ton of hype behind this song and it lead to Wallen breaking single day streaming records. But most importantly, the song holds up. Sure it’s a song about lost love, young love that’s been covered before, but it only takes the slightest tweak, a different point of view to create a song that’s never been done.
1 Small Town Hypocrite by Caylee Hammack
If the song title itself doesn’t catch your attention, the opening guitar pick and the first line “Hand me down dreams got me high in the rafters” will entrance you into the song. While I know Caylee released this song earlier in the year before the release of her album, it took me listening to the entire album for me to pick up on just how great this song is. It’s heartbreaking and sad. It’s honest and self-blaming. It’s so haunting and real it’s scary. The story Caylee tells in these 3 minutes has undoubtedly been played across thousands if not millions of lives around the world.
While I’m normally the ‘find me the best song to jam to in my car’ kinda girl, the music that has been put out in the past months, and honestly all of 2020 has been so good and substantive. It’s fun to have fun songs and sing along lyrics, but sometimes it’s even better to really listen in on what the artist is saying and feel what they’re feeling. That’s what these 10 songs are for me.