Monday, December 14, 2015

That Nashville Sound’s Top 100 (and something) Songs of 2015

2015 was another fabulous year of country music. Traditional country, bluegrass, modern country and Americana were all represented well and this list proves that out- we’ve cast a wide net over that definition of roots-oriented music.

Here are the rules by which this list was selected. It had to be released off an album that was released in 2015 or is an already-released single off a to-be-released album. If the album came out in 2014 or before, it couldn’t be included- even if it wasn't released as a single until 2015.

Let us hear what you think. Anything we missed? Without further ado, here is That Nashville Sound’s Top 100 (and something) Songs of 2015.

Best of the Best
1. Chris Stapleton - "Tennessee Whiskey" - listen
If anyone needed any more reason to think that this Dean Dillon/Linda Hargrove penned song first sung by David Allan Coe and then George Jones wasn't worthy of the top spot, they just needed to hear Stapleton and Justin Timberlake's live performance at this year's CMA Awards. For those that might have heartburn that a cover song was chosen as number one, Stapleton's interpretation of the original track is so diverse and unique in delivery, production and interpretation, it figuratively (and literally) gave this song new life. It highlights everything so brilliant about Stapleton with his big voice and amazing range.

2. Will Hoge - "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To" - listen
A dedication to his father, the song has a level of intimate poignancy that rivals anything else released to the marketplace in recent memory. Hoge continues to regularly lean on American blue-collar storylines as his muse to write about and this track couldn't be more equal parts autobiographical and perfect for every rural-born individual in these 50 states.

3. Courtney Patton - "So This Is Life" - listen
She channels the heartbreaking story of a stay-at-home mom whose supposed fairytale life crashes around her with such realistic honesty, it can only mirror life experience, which it does on this title track from Patton's album this year. The production is simple, allowing the incredibly intelligently written lyrics to shine. They're equal parts tragic and redemptive, just like nearly everyone's roller-coaster life. Few of us have the ability to write it down with such clarity, however. Patton's Shakespeare in song on this one.

4. Love & Theft - "Whiskey On My Breath" - listen
It seems appropriate that it was only after Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles parted ways with Sony Nashville and released this independently, they would have the freedom to tackle this solemn down-and-out drinking song co-written with Trent Tomlinson. Rumors have the duo working with Thirty Tigers- a connection this critic crosses his fingers for as it means more of this from the talented twosome.

5. Pat Green - "While I Was Away" - listen
Written and released first by Texas troubadour Zane Williams, this site regretfully missed it the first time around. It didn't make the same mistake twice, however. This testament to missing the key components of life occurring with the kids at home while the musician is out making a career on the road is introspective and revealing.

6. Cam - "Burning House" - listen
This is another doozy and the most popular charted hit of this bunch. A house on fire is an analogy for a relationship going down in flames and it's just one of the highlights of a phenomenally brilliant debut album for this multi-lingual artist.

7. Ashley Monroe - "The Blade" - listen
Even when Vince Gill doesn't have a release out in a year, he still manages to have his hands (and strings) involved in some of the best music put out in 2015. He produced this project and with its depth of emotion describing loss, it fits Monroe's angelic voice perfectly.

8. Ashley Campbell - "Remembering" - listen
“Remembering” could just be the most poignant and human song released this year. Written at the conclusion of that fateful tour as the debilitating brain disease took away her father’s memories, the track delivers a heartfelt and heart-wrenching message of that incomprehensible loss with an earnest honesty that can only be earned the most difficult of ways. It’s powerful songwriting at its best and sets a high bar for what comes next for the songwriter.

9. Chris Roberts - "Song for a Girl" - listen
The conclusion of Roberts' brilliant new album The Way West is this lullaby written for his youngest daughter, a beautiful young girl named Abby. It's Roberts, his piano and a simple and elegant testament to the curiosity of a child and the love of a father. Any parent that's had a child filled with questions and wonder about the world around them will see it written not for little Abby, but their own child- and that's the genius of the song. It's written at once for one and at once for all.

10. Darrell Scott - "Born in 55'" - listen
This track off of his album Ten embraces the simplicity of a man, his guitar and the songs and stories of a friend. The album sees Scott taking a step back from song-writing with a haunting compilation of songs written by the late Ben Bullington, who became a victim to pancreatic cancer in November 2013 aged just 58. Scott sets aside his guitar in Born in ’55 and holds us captive with his chilling piano accompaniment perfectly capturing the sorrowful words on the deaths of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King.

Narrowly missed the top ten:
11. Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen - "El Dorado"
12. Nick Sturms - "Amen"
13. Reba McEntire - "Love Land"
14. Corb Lund - "S Lazy H"
15. Will Hoge - "Still a Southern Man"
16. Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay - "The Driver"
17. Don Henley - "Waiting Tables"
18. Eric Church - "Mistress Named Music"

Honorable Mention:
Aaron Watson - "The Underdog"
Abbey Cone - "When I Find You"
Alan Jackson - "The One You're Waiting On"
Ashley Gearing - "Love Can Go To Hell"
Ashley Monroe - "If the Devil Don't Want Me"
Brennen Leigh and Sunny Sweeney – “But You Like Country Music”
Carrie Underwood - "Little Toy Guns"
Carrie Underwood - "The Girl You Think I Am"
Chris Stapleton - "Traveller"
Cody Jinks - "David"
Cody Jinks - "What Else Is New"
Darius Rucker - "So I Sang"
Daryle Singletary - "Sunday Mornin' Kind of Town"
Daryle Singletary - "There's Still a Little Country Left"
Dean Brody - "Sweet Lola"
Eddie Bush - "Buffalo"
Elle King - "America's Sweetheart"
Emily Hearn - "Annie"
Eric Church - "Three Year Old"
George Strait - "Everything I See"
George Strait - "Rock Paper Scissors"
Hailey Whitters - "Black Sheep"
Jamey Johnson - "Alabama Pines"
Jana Kramer - "The Last Song"
Kacey Musgraves - "Pageant Material"
Kid Rock - "Ain't Enough Whiskey"
Kristian Bush - "Walk Tall"
Levi Lowery - "A Maritime Song"
Little Texas - "Rednecks Do Exist"
Logan Brill - "Don't Pick It Up"
Mickey Guyton- "Better Than You Left Me"
Ray Wylie Hubbard - "Mr. Musselwhite's Blues"
Ray Wylie Hubbard- "Bad on Fords"
T. Graham Brown - "Which Way To Pray"
The Statesboro Revue - "Like the Sound"
Wade Hayes - "Let You Go"
Whitey Morgan and the 78's - "Waitin' Round To Die"
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard - "Live This Long"
Zac Brown Band - "Dress Blues"

Best of the Rest:
Aaron Watson - "Rodeo Queen"
Aaron Watson - "That's Why God Loves Cowboys"
Ashland Belle - "Whiskey Prayers"
Ashley Monroe - "On To Something Good"
Billy Currington - "Good Night" (featuring Jessie James Decker)
Billy Currington - "It Don't Hurt Like It Used To"
Billy Currington - "Soundtrack"
Brett Eldredge - "Illinois"
Brett Eldredge - "Lose My Mind"
Bri Bagwell - "My Fisherman"
Bucky Covington - "Happy Man"
Carrie Underwood - "Choctaw County Affair"
Carrie Underwood- "Church Bells"
Chris Roberts - "Heartless World"
Chris Roberts - "Love Gets Gone"
Chris Young - "I Know a Guy"
Chris Young - "Sober Saturday Night" (featuring Vince Gill"
Corb Lund - "Washed Up Rock Star Factory Blues"
Courtney Patton - "Need for Wanting"
Darius Rucker - "Southern Style"
Daryle Singletary - "Like Family"
Dean Brody - "Footprints of a Giant"
Dean Brody - "Old Friend"
Diamond Rio - "Beckett's Back Forty"
Diana Upton-Hill - "Aim's Getting' Better"
Don Henley - "Words Can Break Your Heart"
Donna Ulisse- "Workin' On the C&O"
Eddie Bush- "Chapter Two"
Emily Hearn - "The Oak Tree"
Emily Hearn - "Volcano"
Emily West - "Battles"
Glen Campbell - "Long Walk Home"
James Taylor - "Showtime"
Jamie Lin Wilson - "Roses by the Dozen"
Jamie Lin Wilson - "Yours and Mine"
Jamie Lin Wilson (and Wade Bowen) - "Just Some Things"
Jana Kramer and Steven Tyler - "Bullet"
Jason Michael Carroll - "What Color Is Your Sky?"
John Anderson - "Louisiana Son of a Beast"
John Anderson - "Song of the Mountains"
JT Hodges - "Locks on Doors"
Kacey Musgraves - "Dimestore Cowgirl"
Kacey Musgraves - "Somebody To Love"
Kid Rock - "Jesus and Bocephus"
Kirsten Kelly - "Fire"
Kristen Merlin - "A Little While"
Kristian Bush - "Southern Gravity"
Levi Lowery - "A Father's Love"
Levi Lowery - "Put Your Badge Back On"
Little Texas - "Slow Ride Home"
Logan Brill - "The Woman on Your Mind"
Pat Green - "Day One"
Pat Green and Lyle Lovett - "Girls from Texas"
Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen - "In the Next Life"
Reba McEntire - "Livin' Ain't Killed Me Yet"
Sammy Kerhaw - "I Had To Give That Up Too"
Steeldrivers - "Day Before Temptation"
Steeldrivers - "River Runs Red"
Stoney LaRue - "Empty Glass"
T. Graham Brown - "People Get Ready"
T. Graham Brown - "Power of Love"
The Mavericks - "All Night Long"
The Mavericks - "The Only Question Is"
The Mavericks - "What You Do To Me"
The Statesboro Revue - "Undone"
Toby Keith - "35 MPH Town"
Tom Paxton - "The Losing Part"
Tom Paxton - "Time To Spare"
Tyler Farr - "Suffer In Peace"
Wade Hayes - "Remember the Alimony"
Watkins Family Hour - "Hop High"
Whitey Morgan and the 78's - "Goin' Down Rockin'"
Will Hoge - "Middle of America"
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard - "Missing Ol' Johnny Cash"

1 comment:

  1. What do you guys have against Western Swing? How could you possibly leave out "Sweet Harriet" by the Western Swing Authority? Just kidding, but they are great. Other WSA favorites of mine include "One of Us Is Lying", "I've Got a Feeling", "Old Dance Floor", etc.
    On this otherwise great list, my favorites are the songs by Don Henley and Will Hoge and I like "Dress Blues" even though I didn't care much for ZBB's latest album. Oops! almost forgot. Love Cam's "Burning House".