"Life is tough / but this girl's tougher" is the message of this song. It's not a sugar-coated message, covered up with metaphors of superman and rain, but it's a message that all young girls and all people need to hear. Empowerment anthems are a dime a dozen, especially by women in country music. But this one is special, because the message is so true and necessary. And as a woman in country music, Wilson empowers other women to keep fighting.
From the critically acclaimed Shuteye, "I Wish You Loved Me" is an acoustic based track that speaks for itself. The lyrics are the main focus, and it's not overproduced at all. The song is basically a list of things that Brill wished for, most importantly, "I wish you loved me / as much as you don't." Many of the songs on this list are here because they are honest, country songs. This one is a perfect example of that, and of the feelings that come with unrequited love.
The only song on this list that has had a lot of commercial success, this was Cam's breakthrough song, which hit No. 1 just last week. A bittersweet ballad, this is a song that instead of blaming, takes blame. Cam pleads for forgiveness, and wants the chance to apologize to the man whose heart she broke. Inspired by a dream, the imagery in this song is vivid, and her vocal performance is gorgeous. Finally with this song, mainstream country radio acknowledged amazing music again.
Written by Whitters and Stephanie Lambring, this song is a blunt, and not a traditional topic for country music. Whitters sings about a woman whose demon is "the love that comes without feeling." It's a bittersweet ballad, but an honest one. Most country songs are the opposite, slamming the woman who is easy, the woman who sleeps with other people's boyfriends, the Jolene-like woman. But this song is from a different perspective, with Whitters explaining, "it ain't easy being easy."
Ashley Campbell is the daughter of country superstar Glen Campbell (who is now suffering from Alzheimer's) , and she wrote this song for him. One of the most emotional radio singles of the years, this song is meant to be reassuring to Campbell's father, saying "Daddy don't you worry / I'll do the remembering." A risky move for a new artist, to make this kind of beautiful song her debut single, but a bold and honorable one.
"Good Ol' Boys Club" is Musgraves saying 'F— You' to mainstream country radio. "Don't need a membership to validate / the hard work I've put in and the dues I've paid," is the first line of this shade-throwing track, and is saying that even though she's not played on the radio, she's talented and she's had success. The song criticizes the 'cigars and handshakes' culture of the country music industry, and even hits Big Machine Record Label, when she sings "another hear in a big machine / don't sound like fun to me."
Guyton really broke out in 2015, but she didn't get nearly the amount of success she deserved. This song came from her self titled EP, and if you want to know why everyone makes such a big deal about her, this is the song to listen to. Guyton's vocal performance is breathtaking, emotional, and powerful. This is what Guyton does best, as shown by her debut single "Better Than You left me," but emphasized here.
This is one of the most comedic songs of the year, and is a perfect song, given the primaries for the presidential elections start next year. Sweeney and Leigh penned a song that makes fun of Republicans and Democrats, but unites them through a love of country music. Sweeney takes the first verse, criticizing her Democratic neighbor, and Leigh follows by criticizing Sweeney for her Republican beliefs. " On top of these hilarious lyrics, the song is country, and really brings the genre back to its roots.
From their incredible debut, Start Here, "After the Storm Blows Through" is a timeless track about helping someone who has lost someone they loved. Maddie Marlow wrote this song with Tae Dye, with help from Aaron Scherzand and Trent Willmon for her friend who lost her father. The harmonies by Dye are more prominent in this song, and listening to this track with headphones is an incredible experience. This song is country music as its best.
Written by Marc Beeson, Jamie Floyd, and Allen Shamblin, "The Blade" masterfully captures the pain of heartbreak and discovering the one you love the most doesn't feel the same way. "You caught it by the handle, and I caught it by the blade" is one of the greatest lines in country music this year. On top of that, the vocal performance that Monroe gives is flawless, her sweet, twangy voice conveying the emotion and hurt in the song perfectly. "The Blade" is no doubt the best country song by a woman this year.
"Crutch" — Bailee Rainwater
"Hold My Hand" — Brandy Clark
"Never Mine" — Rainey Qualley