Shorr was named a Woman to Watch one year ago, and she's definitely proved herself. This song went on to become a Highway hit, and it also lifted up women in a time where women really needed to be lifted up, and have that positive encouragement coming their way. Shorr has become a champion for women, and her talent with words and music will allow her, and all women, to continue fighting, even after this song is only a single of the past.
Pearce's most recent release stands at No.6 on Sirius XM The Highway's Top 30 charts as of today, and it is well deserved. This could be called the "Burning House" of 2016: a simply produced ballad, telling the story of a failed relationship, and with a killer vocalist making those lyrics come to life. Pearce's voice is a rare kind, as it has a quality to it that makes everything she sings beautiful, and it doesn't hurt that she has a knack for crafting beautiful lyrics as well.
This solo write off of Price's debut studio record is blues-country at its best. Price has a reputation for being one of Music City's most traditional country performers, and this song echoes some of country's blues influenced past. Price's clever use of numbers makes this song into an anthem for scorned people coming out of failed relationships, and for everyone else? It's an uptempo country jam that's great to dance to in your kitchen.
Nashville can be a cruel city, and this year, a surprising amount of artists have been giving an inside look into the business through their music. Smith is one of them, and this song was the best song that properly tells the real story of Music City. The love/hate relationship in the song explains the life of a songwriter, with the carefully placed line, "if it don't sound like the radio, we'll pass," echoing a lot of arguments in the industry in 2016.
Here's the first of two songs on Lambert's record that made the cut on this list. Ballads are Lambert's forte, and this song is no exception. This is one of the most underrated and understated songs on The Weight of These Wings, but luckily, the song can show off its greatness with just one listen. The song was written with Aaron Raitere and Anderson East, and it simply states that "a heart can't be tested, if it ain't well rested."
This track was the simplest song of Freeman's excellent debut record, but the simplicity is what makes it so great. The song is created with just some finger snaps and Freeman's solo vocals. "I work all night / I work all day / cause ain't nobody gonna pave my way," she sings, bringing that blue collar element back into country music. She sings in this song that she works hard to be where she is, and from listening to this song, it's obvious that she deserves it.
I have not stopped talking about this song since it was released, and for a good reason. There was not a song released this year that so perfectly describes the problems of being a human. The line that closes off the chorus, "I'm a believer trying to figure out who I am" has so much truth. Bonagura's solo country debut was incredible, but there's something about the universal appeal of this song that sets it above the rest.
Morris's album was one of the most critically acclaimed of the year, and to me, that was because of the cool, soulful element she brought into the music. The best example of this is the closing track of the album, "Once." This almost-too-soulful to be country track speaks of remembering a relationship for just what it was, instead of forgetting it all together. The songwriting is incredible, but Morris's vocal performance is even better.
McKenna's track hit radio through Tim McGraw, and it went No. 1. Most songs that reached the top of the chart this year weren't like this one: "Humble & Kind" talks about real love and compassion. And although McGraw's version is incredible, nothing holds a candle to McKenna's own version. Her vocals are raw and beautiful, and every word sung is felt, and the message is completely understood by the listener. This was the nicest song of the year, and also one of the best.
And here it is. Queens of Country's best song of 2016. This song may be one of the most simplistic songs released this year, with Lambert just having a conversation with the Tin Man, from The Wizard of Oz in the song. But the sentiment is there. Lambert simply sings: "Take it from me darling, you don't want a heart." There's heartbreak. In one sentence, and said better than anyone else could this year. Here's your song of the year.