10 Best Country Singles of 2013: 615 Picks
Well, it's that time of year again: "Best Of" lists. Today, The 615 takes a look at some of the best singles that have been released to country radio this year. Our list reflects a mix of new and veteran artists, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and yes, at least one song that mentions... a truck. Let's dig in:
"Carolina" - Parmalee
One of the best songs by a duo or group this year. The lyrics are very much there, but with harmony this good, they could be singing the Plumbing section of the Yellow Pages, and almost strike the same effect. I have a feeling 2014 is going to be huge for these guys.
"Slow Me Down" - Sara Evans
For her return to the airwaves, Evans came up with a pop-ish ballad that leaned toward the dramatic, reminding one of the great cross-over material of Barbara Mandrell or Dolly Parton from the 1980s. In the middle of the arrangement however, you get a vocal performance from Evans that proves that Missouri twang is still there in abundance.
"Southern Girl" - Tim McGraw
The only artist with two songs on this list, McGraw simply turned up the octane on this track – and while nobody will confuse it with "Live Like You Were Dying," for three-and-a-half minutes, you sang along, forgot your troubles, and maybe thought of your own 'Southern Girl,' and there's nothing wrong with that.
"Two Black Cadillacs" - Carrie Underwood
A little romance, a lot of deception, and a plot line that has the cheating boyfriend getting his? It might sound like an episode of "Dynasty," but Underwood gave this a stark and cold reading that should shout out to men everywhere "Don't try this at home... or anywhere else."
"Boys 'Round Here" - Blake Shelton
We had to have a representative from the "Bro Group," and choosing it was pretty easy in this case. While nobody is going to award this hit record the "Song of the Century" award, it was a fun ditty that showcased Shelton's personality. Few can pull songs like these off as well as the Warner Brothers superstar, and the fact that in December we are still singing along with it easily puts it on the list.
"Goodbye Town" - Lady Antebellum
For their most recent disc, "Golden," Lady A definitely raised the bar. The award-winning trio struck a balance between heartfelt ballads and uptempo fare such as "Downtown." Still, when Charles Kelley connects with his blues side, few can do it better. Take away "Need You Now," and this might be his best performance yet.
"Don't Ya" - Brett Eldredge
Eldredge's first chart-topper, this song managed not only to sound great on the airwaves but also gave notice to the format that one of its' most soulful artists in quite some time had arrived.
"Highway Don't Care" - Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban
Any time you have three Entertainer of the Year award winners together, it's always a huge deal. With this all-star collaboration, the song was one that definitely lived up to the hype – and the reputations of the artists involved – which doesn't always happen.
"That Girl" - Jennifer Nettles
All eyes were on the lead singer of Sugarland to see just what she and Rick Rubin would come up with for her debut single. With Rubin's somewhat murky and backwoods arrangement, Nettles delivered one of her finest projects in years. It's a very well-written single that might answer the question 'What would 'Jolene' have to say for herself?' Rubin's laid-back production also helped this song to find its' wings, as well.
"Merry Go 'Round" - Kacey Musgraves
The Texas newcomer charmed fans and critics alike in 2013 with her irreverent sense of style and substance. Simply put, she writes and sings like nobody in a long time, and this song -- while only a top-ten record -- gave hope that true artistry and commercial success can be parallel forces. (Note: Billboard's pop critics named another Kacey song on their year-end top songs list.)
WELCOME BACK: The 615 has made no secret of its' respect for the career of Kenny Rogers, but the legend's return to music making with Dolly Parton on "You Can't Make Old Friends" showcases two masters of song interpretation doing what they have always done best!
A STAR IS BORN: Back in January, we heard the debut single from family trio The Henningsens, "American Beautiful." It was love at first listen. The harmonies are air-tight, and the song was one of the most dynamic of the first half of the year on Country Radio. If all of their records are this good, they are going to be around for a while.