5

"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.

4

"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.

3

"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.

2

"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.

1

"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.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print