As we wrap up 2017, it’s time to reflect upon the great year that country music has had. From the record-shattering success of Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” to continued success from acts like Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, and Maren Morris, the future looks bright for the format.
In selecting the ten best singles of the year in the genre, we tried to pick from a stellar group of releases from some of country’s top veteran performers, as well as four newcomers who made their initial mark on the musical landscape. See our list below and find out if you agree or disagree!
10. Brad Paisley, “Last Time For Everything”
When you’ve been releasing music for almost two decades, it gets increasingly difficult to come out with a song that makes a statement in a totally different way. With this performance – about enjoying the little moments in life — Brad Paisley did just that.
9. LANCO, “Greatest Love Story”
One of the biggest success stories among newcomers in 2017 came from this Arista Nashville act, who (once again) took an age-old concept and weaved it with modern flourishes in a way that made the sentiment fresh and entertaining.
8. Lady Antebellum, “You Look Good”
Rarely since “Ring of Fire” have horns played such an integral part in a Country Music hit record, but this free-wheeling single from Heart Break gave a showcase to the instrument that served notice on the world that Lady Antebellum was back.
7. Brothers Osborne, “It Ain’t My Fault”
The reigning CMA vocal duo of the year had one of the most enjoyable singles on country radio in 2017 with this fun song all about a man passing the buck for his bad behavior. We’ve all been there once or twice, right?
6. Scotty McCreery, “Five More Minutes”
The former American Idol winner delivered one of the most emotionally poignant moments of the year with a ballad about never forgetting to cherish the moments that we get to spend with our loved ones, as those moments can be very fleeting. If this is any indication of McCreery’s new musical direction, we can’t wait to hear more.
5. Luke Combs, “When It Rains It Pours”
One of the most improbable success stories of 2017 has been the career advancement of Combs, who is sort of a modern-day everyman in country music. What sets him apart is the relatability of his lyrics – especially the story of this man who seems to attract good luck. If we all could be so fortunate.
4. Midland, “Drinkin’ Problem”
Getting to watch this talented trio grow their career week by week in 2017 has been one of the highlights of this job. The harmonies, the looks and the production all sound steeped in the traditions of Strait, Parsons, and The Eagles. That’s not a bad combination at all – especially when it comes together as seamlessly as this.
3. Little Big Town, “Better Man”
Karen Fairchild’s interpretation of Taylor Swift’s lyrics proved to be money in the bank this year. She handled this Swift-penned ballad with an amazing amount of vulnerability and regret – and was able to do so without sounding too bitter about the break-up. A mark of a great song and writer? Sure, but give this band their due — they earn it every time!
2. Carly Pearce, “Every Little Thing”
Radio doesn’t play female artists anymore. Radio doesn’t play traditional-sounding songs anymore. And so on and so on. While it’s true that both statements could use some addressing in the coming year, the pride and joy of Taylor Mill, Kentucky scored with a throwback future classic that made an impact upon first listen — and resonated with fans all year.
1. Brantley Gilbert, “The Ones That Like Me”
One of the singer’s finest compositions to date, Gilbert exuded a great deal of self-acceptance in this example of a person who is comfortable enough to recognize his occasional weakness — but also his strengths. Perhaps Gilbert couldn’t have written this lyric a few years ago, but with age comes wisdom, and it sounds like he’s earned a bit of that.