10 Current Country Singles That Aren’t Completely Terrible

Miranda LambertIt’s been about half a year since our last roundup of likable country radio singles, which seems to be just enough time for playlists to turn over and a new batch of songs worth mentioning to come along. If you’re listening more than once every six months, you’re hearing a lot of the same stuff over and over… and it’s not necessarily the best stuff, either.

If you’re still somewhat interested in what’s happening on FM radio, this’ll catch you up quickly without the corny DJs and hip-hop beats. If you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that country radio just isn’t for you anymore, consider this your litmus test: If none of these songs do anything for you, you are indeed past the point of no return.

(Fear not, though: We’ve still got curated music selections for you. Prime Cuts seldom include anything that has been on the radio, and the January edition is coming right up.)

Although I’m no great fan of the lyric video trend, I’ve included a number of them below because they were the best available full-length versions.

Ashley Monroe – “Like a Rose”

The Band Perry – “Better Dig Two”

Big & Rich – “Cheat on You”

Chris Young – “I Can Take It From There”

Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”

Kelly Clarkson w/ Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush”

Kip Moore – “Hey Pretty Girl”

Lee Brice – “I Drive Your Truck”

Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart”

Shane Yellowbird – “Pickup Truck”

How do you feel about the current state of commercial country music?

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About C.M. Wilcox

A freelance writer and humorist with an abiding love of country music, C.M. Wilcox's cutting, clear-eyed take on the genre has drawn the attention of Country Weekly, The Washington Post, and The Tennessean in the years since this site began. He lives near Sacramento and can be reached by email at CMW (at) countrycalifornia.com.

Things People Are Saying

  1. Maybe I’m biased because I’m the music director for a country station, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as people make it out to be. The really terrible ones like Aldean and Luke Bryan get a lot of attention, but most of it isn’t that bad, albeit most of them will never be classics either.

    • I think you’re right that the songs are more often plain boring than actually terrible.

      It might even be better now than it has been, judging from the fact that putting together this particular edition meant whittling my list down from 13 or 14 rather than working it up from 6 or 7 (as has sometimes been the case in the past).

      Then again, maybe I just caught myself in an unusually charitable mood.

      • Blake Boldt says:

        I’ve gotta agree. The only flat-out awful songs in the Top 20 are from Aldean, Chesney, Shelton and Lady A. A lot of bright spots right now, whether lyrically interesting (“Merry Go ‘Round,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Better Dig Two,” “Begin Again,” “I Drive Your Truck”) or with a unique arrangement/compelling performance (“Every Storm,” “Tornado,” Two Black Cadillacs”).

  2. LOVE Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart! Can’t get the Miranda song out of my head. :)

  3. AndyTheDrifter says:

    I think commercial country music has improved slightly over the past year or two. Realistically, it probably reached its nadir around 2010. I also concur that the majority of singles on country radio are more bland and forgettable than outright abysmal (the likes of “Corn Star” notwithstanding). I still don’t really view it as worth my time, or a particularly viable source of new, good music, but maybe that will change sometime in the future. I’m just so glad I live in the Internet age.

    Can’t wait for Prime Cuts.

  4. Mike Wimmer says:

    I think what has hurt radio more than anything is just how small the playlists are now. If you dislike Jason Aldean, he is very, very hard to avoid since it seems he is getting at least one of his songs played once an hour.

    But mostly it’s just how uninspired it all feels. Half the artists seem to be sleep walking through it all, like an office drone filling out tps reports. Which, sadly is the reality of a lot of people who have to do just that to live, but it shouldnt be that way when it comes to art.

  5. I am indeed definitively past the point of no return (but you know how long it’s been since I’ve listened to commercial radio.) I made a serious concerted effort (much to my husband’s amusement) to listen to every single song and didn’t make it through any of them. Made it furthest into Darius Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel” simply because I love the song, but needed to go listen to OCMS afterwards before continuing down your list. For me, a not unexpected, yet still somewhat depressing reminder that c.r. continues to have nothing much to offer me.

  6. I rarely listen to the radio, and probably wouldn’t so much as know Blake Shelton’s name if blogs didn’t mention him occasionally, but it interests me to occasionally catch up on who’s actually making the (mostly awful) sounds I hear on the occasions when I’m subjected to country radio. A lot of these aren’t bad, though. The Big & Rich and Ashley Monroe ones were pretty good, and there were only a couple of this list that I really disliked. A couple of them (Kip Moore and Shane Yellowbird, mostly) annoyed me, because they felt like they could be really good songs if they were sung by someone less boring.

    But my God, the Miranda Lambert song – that’s the only one on this list that I intend to add to my collection, and listen to quite a bit. I’ve never paid much attention to Miranda Lambert, aside from being annoyed that she did a terrible cover of Fred Eaglesmith’s Time To Get a Gun, but song was very impressive. Thanks for putting this list together.

  7. I’m not a huge fan of Darius Rucker’s version of “Wagon Wheel,” but I will concede that it is, in fact, not completely terrible.

    I don’t get “Pickup Truck.” At all.

    Didn’t realize Big & Rich had a new single out already. Did they pull that godawful “Party Like Cowboyz” song?

    I love “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and am very happy to finally have a new Miranda Lambert single that I can get behind. Also glad that I’m not the only one feeling “Don’t Rush.”

  8. Well, I’m borderline too far gone to accept that country radio might possibly not completely suck donkey balls at the moment, but I will admit to liking a number of these tracks.
    - Ashley Monroe was great
    - I’ve never found The Band Perry interesting before, but this song was pretty good
    - Big & Rich were surprisingly inoffensive
    - Chris Young’s song was in-one-ear-out-the-other
    - Darius Rucker: good song, at least it sounds country
    - Kelly Clarkson channels her inner Reba circa 1997. Not bad. Nice to hear some Vince harmonies again.
    - Kip Moore: kind of a snooze, not unlike a Keith Urban ballad
    - Was prepared to hate the Lee Brice track based on the title, but it wasn’t bad
    - New Miranda single was better than most of what I’ve heard from her most recent album
    - Pickup Truck? Eh, warmed-over mid-period Blake Shelton … (But not nearly as awful as Aldean/Bryan/Moore/other-faux-outlaw-doofus-whose-name-I-can’t-recall.)

  9. I’ll admit it here, I just don’t get Kip Moore. He does nothing for me.

    There are some decent songs here , particularly the Monroe and Lambert Songs, but I’m too far gone to listen to radio to hear them. I’ll just buy the ones I like and keep my radio off. Thank goodness for internet so that I can at least keep up with what’s going on without having to wade through radio. I would, however, be amused if you’d do another radio live blog.:)

  10. I’ve thought of doing one myself too, but decided that I don’t want to lift such a brilliantly massochistic idea from you…not to mention that I’d rather put my head through a wall.

  11. If Ben or Leeann or anyone else wants to try his/her hand at live blogging country radio, let me know. I wouldn’t be opposed to publishing a guest edition.

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