Favorite Singles of 2010 – Part 1 of 2

30 Dec

Sure, we put up with a lot of crap over the past year on country radio, but there was still some great country music made, and a small handful even found its way onto radio.  Now that we’re done venting our hatred for the bad singles, it’s time to celebrate the good ones.  The following is the first of two lists that look back on the greatest and most memorable singles that we heard over the past year.

There are my favorite singles of the year, listed in no particular order, and I want to hear about yours too.  Please leave a comment.

Easton Corbin, “Roll with It”

Summer songs are generally made of the same fiber, but Easton’s performance of “Roll with It” exudes more than enough laid-back charm to lift it high above the competition.  While country radio was playing the heck out of “Water,” “Roll with It” was a breath of fresh air.

Joey + Rory, “That’s Important to Me”

The fact that country radio consistently ignores this talented duo is nothing short of criminal.  A song like “That’s Important to Me” could have gone terribly wrong if not handled this well.  But instead of being a trite and meaningless cliche-pile, Joey + Rory go for naturalness and authenticity with much more personal-sounding lyrics.  “That’s Important to Me” exemplifies the country sincerity that makes Joey + Rory such a lovable duo, and the soft piano and dobro make it even more of a treat.

Laura Bell Bundy, “Giddy On Up”

Yes, you read that right.  This can be a polarizing single.  Maybe you loved it; maybe you couldn’t stand it.  But I can guarantee one thing:  Once you heard it, you didn’t forget it.  On paper it might seem like just another typical caught-her-man-cheating song, but Laura totally sells the vocals.  Her performance is bold, sassy, spunky, and bursting with charisma and personality.  And while things like horn sections in a kiss-off country song might not float everybody’s boat, it’s another sign that Laura is an artist who dares to stand out from the pack.  Isn’t that the kind of artistic quality we usually ask for?

Mary Chapin Carpenter, “I Put My Ring Back On”

A gently-rocking tune that sounds reminiscent of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s heyday as a country radio hitmaker.  It has a positive message of persevering in a relationship, and being realistic in one’s expectations, delivered through one of Mary Chapin’s finest vocal performances.  Besides that, it’s catchy.  If this song had been released in 1993, I’m willing to bet it would have been a huge hit.

Dierks Bentley, “Draw Me a Map”

Dierks gives a plaintive and emotional delivery of a great song.  The stripped-down bluegrass instrumentation, not to mention the angelic voice of Alison Krauss, adds further to the song’s emotional impact.  The song seems even more appealing when you consider the risk that Dierks took in having this song shipped to country radio at a time when the airwaves are dominated by loudness and inanity, thus daring radio to play something different and better.

Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”

Sara’s performance on this track is toned back, but at the same time layered with aching emotion. The song portrays a woman who is nursing a broken heart, but who has the strength to shake off feelings of self-pity, refusing to act as the victim. With each step she takes in pushing her ex-lover out of her mind, she gets “a little bit stronger.” It’s a winning blend of heartache with progressively dawning optimism.

Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”

There are plenty of reasons to love this single, from the subtle pulsing production to the raw and honest lyrics.  But what really makes this single is Jerrod’s vocal delivery, which is fully connected to the tortured emotions expressed in the song’s lyrics, making “What Do You Want” one of the most potent releases of the year.

Taylor Swift, “Fearless”

“Fearless” perfectly captures the elation of a young romance, and this young barely-over-twenty starlet is the perfect one to deliver such a song. The breezy mandolin-laced production makes the song a joyously relaxing experience. When a song like this comes on the radio, you just sigh, lean back, close your eyes, and let it take you to a better place.

Luke Bryan, “Rain Is a Good Thing”

A big thanks to Luke Bryan for giving country radio a much-needed blast of personality with this crazy fun single.  All that fiddling would typically reel me in on its own, but quirky and clever lyrics are also a plus. (You can let the kids think that it really is just about rain)

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Posted by on December 30, 2010 in Commentary


8 responses to “Favorite Singles of 2010 – Part 1 of 2

  1. Anonymous

    December 30, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    I love sara evans song, easily one of the best this year,BUT the music video is AWFUL, all she is doing for the WHOLE thing is walking about a big empty apartment and talking on her blog….LAME,plus that scene with her in the car while its raining seemed really unnessecary but anyway like i said its a fantastic song.BTW, i saw your review of reba's all the women i am album, and read that you liked her cover of if i were a boy, You should be happy to know then that its her new single. Not really surprising, considering of all the reaction to it and she did perform it at the CMA awards.

  2. Ben Foster

    December 30, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    I liked Sara's "Stronger" video in general, but I definitely wouldn't call it one of my favorite music videos.I did enjoy Reba's cover of "If I Were a Boy," even though it seems wrong for a country legend like Reba to be covering Beyonce. I know a lot of critics are divided on that track, but I think Reba does a fine job on the song. Yes, I was aware that it's been slated as her next single, and I look forward to possibly reviewing it in the near future.

  3. DB Congress

    December 31, 2010 at 3:37 AM

    Love that you have Dierks' Draw Me A Map on your list! Too bad radio didn't give it a chance. It's my favorite song on the Up On The Ridge album and I love every song on that CD!

  4. Ben Foster

    December 31, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    My list would not have been complete without.

  5. Steve F

    December 31, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Country radio may ignore Joey + Rory, but I sure am glad that you give them the credit they deserve."keeping it country on the radio, that's important to me" It's important to me as well, a country song that actually sounds country. Sweet video too.I'm also with you on Sara's song "Stronger", I really like it, but I dont care for the concept of the video. I think the monologue detracts from the flow of the song. I too give Dierks a lot of credit for forging his own path, and challenging Country radio with something better. One song that I would include is Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood's "Another Try". Not surprising that a good song with two of the best vocalists in Country music, completely out-classes most of what's been on the radio this year.

  6. Ben Foster

    December 31, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    Seems like "A Little Bit Stronger" isn't really the kind of song that easily lends itself to a great video. With some songs (particularly story songs like "Suds In the Bucket" for example) you would think the video would proactically create itself, but "Stonger" doesn't really sound like it would be one of them.Yes, "Another Try" was a goodie, but it didn't quite qualify for this list because it actually came out back in 2008.

  7. Steve F

    January 1, 2011 at 5:31 AM

    I stand corrected..LOL. At my age Ben, the years all seem to run together. Time is a blur.

  8. Ben Foster

    January 1, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    I hear ya, Steve! ;)


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