The Best In Country Music for 2013: The Top 30 Country Music Singles of the Year
By: Matt Bjorke
In what originally was gonna be a lean and mean Top 10 Country Singles playlist, we’ve instead chosen these 30 songs as the 30 best singles of 2013. We loved quite a few more songs (as we always do but these ones stood out to us for whatever reason (Some that just missed were “Carolina,” “It Goes Like This,” “Someone Somewhere Tonight,” “We Were Us,” “All Kinds Of Kinds,” “I Want Crazy,” “Night Train,” “I Can Take it From There,” “The Outsiders,” and “Point At You”). Some songs that peaked in 2013 and were on our 2012 list weren’t included here either. Some were big hits, some weren’t and some probably should’ve been (we have a separate post for those here). We hope you enjoy this list as much as we enjoyed making it for you.
30. "Boys Round Here" - Blake Shelton
Yes. It’s a Ditty. Yes, the verses are ‘spoken’ but if you think this song is a poorly written song, you don’t understand songwriting. The song is also completely tongue-in-cheek. Blake Shelton is singing about himself and his buddies from Oklahoma and many of these guys “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco (and) spit.” It is an irreverent song and perfectly fits with Blake’s personality and could even be called a guilty pleasure.
29. "Wasting All These Tears" - Cassadee Pope
A hauntingly intoxicating melody is paired by an equally haunting vocal delivery from Cassadee Pope who showcases that she may lean in the pop side of Country/pop more than say her fellow The Voice winner Danielle Bradbery but she’s nonetheless a strong, strong contemporary star and she may actually help break the weird glass ceiling of 3 or 4 solo female vocal stars at one time in Country music. “Wasting All These Tears” has strong lyrics to go with the melody and vocals and it certainly also helps legitimatize “The Voice” as another platform where stars can be found.
28. "Anywhere With You" - Jake Owen
The final single from Barefoot Blue Jean Night explodes out of the speakers and became one of 2014’s biggest hits for good reason. One of Owen’s best performances to date, “Anywhere With You” is about a guy who is willing to go wherever the love of his life wants to go, just so he can be with her. The theme may not be all new and unique but the production from Joey Moi and Jake Owen’s vocal make the track one of the year’s highlights.
27. "Drunk Last Night" - Eli Young Band
Much like Eli Young Band’s previous hits, “Drunk Last Night” showcases a new side to their brand of Country music. The melody is catchy, Mike Eli’s lead vocal is emotive and the band’s performance helps to deliver an easy-to-listen-to track which showcases an emotion that many have felt in their life, the getting over a broken heart.
26. "Sweet Annie" - Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band have consistently delivered great songs and “Sweet Annie” is yet another one to add to the band’s cache of hits. Harmony, strong band performances and strong lyrics and a lead vocal from Zac which recalls James Taylor, “Sweet Annie” is an intoxicating musical concoction that just gets better with each listen.
25. "Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me" - Hunter Hayes
It may be under three minutes long but “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” is a cute, cleaver little song that’s good either in the original solo version or the duet with Jason Mraz. Hayes shows off a humorous frustration with the fact that everywhere he goes he’s seemingly aware of couples and the cold, hard fact that he isn't a part of one himself. The performance is strong and the melody is catchy and serves the humor-filled lyrics well.
24. “Done.” - The Band Perry
How can one not like this single? It’s the kind of song where the vocal performance rises an otherwise middle-of-the-road song into the stratosphere. Kimberly Perry gives the lyrics all of the personality and charm that anyone could want and the production from Dann Huff accentuates all of the qualities that make The Band Perry one of Country music’s best and most exciting young bands.
23. "See You Tonight" - Scotty McCreery
Scotty McCreery was at a crossroads with his career (at least with radio) and he managed to deliver a hit with “See You Tonight” and after listening to it, it’s easy to see how it has slowly, but surely become the hit that he needed. Well-written and performed, it’s the first time he’s sounded like the star fans of American Idol helped him become.
22. “Get Your Shine On” - Florida Georgia Line
Perhaps radio’s most-favorite stars of 2013, “Get Your Shine On” showcases Florida Georgia Line’s strong ability to write songs that appeal to the masses. Their performance is very strong here and Joey Moi’s production helped cement a new sound to the mainstream.
21. "Better" - Maggie Rose
Another case where the vocalist helps deliver an emotional lyric and raises it up above the others, “Better” showcased that Maggie Rose deserves any and all success that she has achieved to date with this well-written song about a woman who needs to feel something, even a strangers touch, to get over the pain of a bad breakup. I have a feeling if this one had been more.
20. "Goodbye Town" - Lady Antebellum
While the trio’s ‘weakest’ radio hit of the past couple years (it peaked at #11), “Goodbye Town” is still one of the trio’s best-written, most-emotional singles. Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott tell the story of many a small-town youth’s dreams of getting out of the small, middle-of-nowhere town and, with the loss of a cherished love and all of the memories that are in the town, the only way to go is to leave it behind. Who cannot relate to such a story?
19. “If I Didn’t Have You” - Thompson Square
Thompson Square’s song took on new meaning for the duo when Shawna’s father passed away. This one is about true love and the kind of true love we all are searching for as human beings. The husband and wife harmonies and emotion of the original recorded performance puts the song over the top and makes it one of 2013’s best.
18. “Chillin’ It” - Cole Swindell
One of the catchiest songs of 2013, “Chillin’ It” started off as a “Highway Find” and made its way up the charts and as 2013 ends, the single has sold over 500,000 downloads and also hit the Top 10. That is good enough for Luke Bryan’s buddy to be one of the rising stars for 2014 and also the holder of one of 2013’s biggest hits.
17. "Redneck Crazy" - Tyler Farr
A unique take on ‘redneck’ songs, it’s no surprise that Tyler Farr was able to finally break-out with the tune. The melody and lyrics all service the classically-trained vocalist’s performance and it’s passion-packed.
16. "Runnin’ Outta Moonlight" - Randy Houser
You can call this a ditty if you want but what I call it is a well-written song featuring a vocal performance that is hard to beat. If there’s a theme in our rundown this year, it’s that we really enjoy strong vocal performances as much as we enjoy great lyrics or a catchy, hook-filled melody.
15. "Hey Pretty Girl" - Kip Moore
Kip Moore writes some of the strongest songs in all of Country Music so it shouldn’t be any surprise that he’d land on the best of 2013 list with a song that many, including us, thought was the best song on Up All Night. The fact that it’s one of the truest ballads to be release to radio in 2013 (not mid-tempo or uptempo) only stands as icing on the cake.
14. "Stripes" - Brandy Clark
There’s nothing not to like in “Stripes.” The lyrics (co-written with Matt Jenkins and Shane McAnally) are clever in their story of a woman who announces she couldn’t possibly kill her no-good cheating husband because not only is “orange not [her] color” but she also “hates stripes.” It’s the kind of song Country used to play all the time and except for SiriusXM and some other smaller market stations and hopefully they’ll do so again in the near future.
13. "It Ain’t The Whiskey" - Gary Allan
As usual, Gary Allan emotes lyrics better than just about any other vocalist. You feel the nuanced pain of each lyric as he performs. This song is one of the year’s best-written songs as it finds a man at an AA meeting not for his drinking problems but for the heartache with the classic-sounding line of “It ain’t the whiskey that’s killing me.”
12. "Mama’s Broken Heart" - Miranda Lambert
Everything about this single is pretty much perfect. The unique melody, the unique lyrics, the spirited performance from the studio musicians and of course, Miranda’s quirky, strong vocal delivery, one of her all-time best (along with “The House That Built Me” and “Over You”).
11. "See You Again" - Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood didn’t release many singles in 2013 but “See You Again” certainly was a strong entry. As usual, Carrie’s vocal is spot on and this soul-filling performance was clearly one of the highlights of her Blown Away record from last year.
10. "Slip On By" - Austin Webb
A fantastic single from the Streamsound recording artist, “Slip On By” is also his first Top 40 hit. The inspirational ballad may tread familiar ground but it most certainly is one of the best singles of 2013 and hopefully radio continues to embrace it. The vocal from Webb is fantastic.
9. "Compass" - Lady Antebellum
The song that drove the release of a Deluxe edition of Golden, “Compass” returns the trio to the uptempo sounds fans have come to love and does so with an infectious, mandolin, banjo and fiddle-filled “Mumford” like slice of contemporary Country music. “Compass” is a lyric about following your dreams and how that even when you’re away from the ones who love you, you’re never too far away from them or God and thus, you’re never alone, even if you think you are. It’s a great song of hope and faith and everything good that comes with that.
8. "Don’t Ya" - Brett Eldredge
The break-out single from Brett Eldredge may seem like a ‘ditty’ to some but the lyrics are clever an the production from co-writer Chris Destefano accentuates the key component to “Don’t Ya,” the passionate vocal from Brett Eldredge, that’s equally gritty and soulful.
7. "Mine Would Be You" - Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton and his team at WB Records crafted a wonderful album in Based On A True Story… and one of that album’s finest moments is “Mine Would Be You,” the third single from the album (a single which recently topped the charts). It’s a sweetly romantic song about a man’s one addiction, the love of his life.
6. "Wagon Wheel" - Darius Rucker
While a song many heard in virtually every bar in the Southern part of the USA for a good decade, for the rest of America, “Wagon Wheel” was a brand new song. Never a hit single in the mainstream until 2013 (though plenty certainly tried, including Jeremy McComb a few years back), this one became the biggest hit of Darius Rucker’s career and was also one of the genre’s most ‘traditional’ sounding tracks of the year.
5. "The Bible And The Gun" - Rosehill
This Texas-based duo bravely released this fantastic song about a man down to his lowest point in his life where contemplating suicide when he finds a Bible and finds comfort in the words held within to let the fleeting thoughts of Suicide pass. It's a topic that's all too real for most families and one most don't want to talk about. But we absolutely should. Too bad most folks at radio were too scared to play such an impactful song like this. If you've never heard it, you need to check this video out here.
4. Drink A Beer - Luke Bryan
One of the best singles of Luke Bryan’s career to date, “Drink A Beer” is one of the most-emotional singles of 2013. When you know the story about how this song hit Luke Bryan’s emotions (two of his siblings have passed away). It’s raw, it’s real and it’s a song that doesn’t talk about the loss of those close to us and why they died but that instant feeling of helplessness and wanting to do something to quietly honor them/think about them right after you hear the news.
3. What Are You Listening To? - Chris Stapleton
One of Nashville’s best songwriters scraped the Top 40 with this stellar song and it remains one of the year’s biggest miss from Country radio. This is a soulful song of heartbreak that also showcases one of the best male vocalists in all of music. This is a song that wasn’t formulaic but if there’s one thing radio needs to do it is to get over the bias of what a singer looks like and simply play songs that people like and MANY people liked this song.
2. Follow Your Arrow - Kacey Musgraves
2013’s song of inclusiveness is hopefully ushering in a time when Country music fans will just enjoy the best songs they can and that radio will play them and let fans decide if songs which may be a little ‘edgy’ like “Follow Your Arrow” are worthy of being heard. “Arrow” is such a song and it showcases a lyric which is all about living our lives and not worrying what others think. Do what you want, date who you want and just live your life (as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else). The way it’s packaged into a neat, catchy melody (which was co-written with Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally) is only icing on the musical cake.
1. Highway Don’t Care - Tim McGraw/Taylor Swift/Keith Urban
One of the year’s best singles is also one of the best singles of the past five years. The lyrics are haunting and the video only made the song even moreso. The lyrics can be interpreted the way the music video or in other ways. Either way you look at it, It’s a song for the ages.