The Year That Was: The Top 40 Country Singles of 2010

By: Roughstock Staff

Last Updated: December 30, 2010 1:12 PM

It’s that time of year again as we move past the Christmas season onto the New Year of 2011.  As is the case with every year, we will rundown our top 40 singles of 2010.  The rundown features single chart peak information (via Billboard) as of 12/26/2010.  Each single features a short blurb written by some of the Roughstock writers while the actual Top 40 list was decided by the editorial staff.  Each song blurb is a song on the writer’s individual lists.  Those lists will be published in a future article.  Now, with all the ‘boring’ out of the way, let’s get on to the fun with the list:

40. Smile – Uncle Kracker – Uncle Kracker's "Smile" may be just a ditty that doesn't have too much to say, but it's just such a happy, laid-back song that it's hard not to like.  – Bobby Peacock. Chart Peak: 6

39. The Man I Want To Be – Chris Young – Chris Young had potential from the first moment he sang on Nashville Star.  In an era when labels cut and run after a ‘slow’ or ‘failure’ of a debut, RCA Records stuck with C.Y. and both were rewarded for it.  This was the second of two #1 singles in a row from the album of the same name. – Matt Bjorke. Chart Peak: 1

38. Til’ Summer Comes Around – Keith Urban – Although Urban does up-tempo pop-country songs as well as anyone, he’s at his best on slower, smoldering numbers like this one. – Kyle Ward. Chart Peak: 2

37. I Can’t Love You Back – Easton Corbin – Easton Corbin scored with “A Little More Country Than That” (a single released in 2009) and “Roll With It.”  Both hit #1 but this one, which seems like a mere break-up song on the surface, became so much more thanks to the fantastic video.  Easton feels like a superstar right out of the gate, a rare feat in country music. – Matt Bjorke. Chart Peak (as of 12/26/2010): 33

36. Somewhere With You – Kenny Chesney – Kenny has found his niche with a pleasant, mellow, acoustic sound that's constantly evolving. And even within that niche, "Somewhere with You" is a darker, intriguing variant. – Bobby Peacock Chart Peak (as of 12/26/2010): 5

35. Daddy Phone – Marty Raybon – While country music has long been the music of real life, the effect of divorce on the parent/child relationship has been a reality it has mostly avoided. This is unfortunate, because when it is done, it is generally done well. In 2010 Marty Raybon added “Daddy Phone” to “I Don’t Call him Daddy” and “Highway 20 Ride.” “Daddy Phone” is contemporary, both in arrangement and in language, but is manages to never be gimmicky. In fact, the references to technology like speed dial and ring tones serve to underscore the urgency. This is a song that cuts right to the fear of all parents who suddenly find their face time with their kids cut by more than half. Marty Raybon is best known as the former lead singer of Shenandoah, and has struggled to gain traction as a solo artist. This is unfortunate, because he has one of the best voices to come out of country music in the 1990’s. While it has not gotten him the commercial success he deserves, it has given his fan a fitting song for that voice. – Stormy Lewis Chart Peak: Did not chart

34. Hillbilly Bone – Blake Shelton/Trace Adkins – Shelton and Adkins team up to give us one of the most fun rockers of the year. – Kyle Ward Chart Peak: 1

33. Sunshine (Everybody Needs a Little) Steve Azar – After multiple false starts, the highly underrated Steve Azar finally got a couple minor hits on his own label. "Sunshine" is a simple, heartfelt ode to that special someone. – Bobby Peacock Chart Peak: 20

32. Groovy Little Summer Song – James Otto – A groovy little tune from one of Nashville’s most versatile – and underappreciated artists. – Kyle Ward Chart Peak: 28

31. Guinevere – Eli Young Band – In general, men writing about women suffering from heartbreak is a tricky business. The women either come off as a bitch or a damsel, and both are generally waiting to be saved by the singer. The Eli Young Band managed to combine and avoid clichés for a nearly perfect song. In Guinevere, the female subject has, of course, been spurned and turned away from love. Its here that The Eli Young Band breaks from the tradition and tells the story of a woman hard as a box of nails and twice as steely, working her way through men, using music in lieu of emotions. There is no quick fix for the protagonist, and no seeming desire on the part of the band to “make the damage of her days disappear.” 2010 marked a return of interesting women as the subject of country songs. The Eli Young Band’s Guinevere stands among these characters as strongly as her medieval namesake. – Stormy Lewis Chart Peak: 50

30. Why Wait – Rascal Flatts – Rascal Flatts moved from the shuttered Lyric Street to the on fire Big Machine Records label with this single and the Nothing Like This album.  They also stripped off a little of the slick production and delivered their best single since “Bless The Broken Road.”  - M. Bjorke. Chart Peak: 1

29. All Over Me – Josh Turner – Armed with his powerful baritone, no one does the catchy up-tempo’s better than Turner. – Kyle Ward. Chart Peak: 1

28. Someone Else Calling You Baby – Luke Bryan – He's had some big hits at radio......but this one is by far the best I have heard him do. It’s a great tempo record – Chuck Dauphin. Chart Peak (as of 12/26/2010): 11

27. Giddy On Up – Laura Bell Bundy – "Giddy On Up" is a slick, catchy, fresh and modern take on the good ol' cheatin' song. I'm at a loss as to why it didn't catch on.  – Bobby Peacock. Chart Peak: 31

26. Tell Me You Get Lonely – Frankie Ballard – I can't deny support for an artist from my home state of Michigan (see #40). But when they turn out a gritty, original heartbreak song like this, I certainly feel like supporting them more. – Bobby Peacock. Chart Peak: 34

25. Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not – Thompson Square – The Stoney Creek Records couple were introduced to radio with the playful “Let’s Fight” but became an up-and-coming sensation thanks to this strongly-written tune from Jim Collins and David Lee Murphy. – Matt Bjorke.  Chart Peak: (as of 12/26/2010): 30

24. As She’s Walking Away – Zac Brown Band (Feat. Alan Jackson) – This fantastic song continued the ZBB’s winning chart ways, all the while giving the band a fifth different sounding single.  Alan Jackson’s addition only helped to give the strong even more country authenticity. – Marc Erickson Chart Peak: 1

23. Felt Good On My Lips – Tim McGraw – A love it or hate it kind of song; “Felt Good On My Lips” has a playful melody and a strong performance from Tim McGraw, enough to make for a nice piece of radio ear candy.  – Matt Bjorke. Chart Peak: 1

22. Stuck Like Glue – Sugarland – Like “Felt Good On My Lips,” this song became an earworm of epic proportions.  The fact that Jennifer Nettles’ vocal exudes charm only helped this song overcome objections to the playful ‘reggae’ breakdown to be a big hit and help The Incredible Machine ease in to gold status. – Matt Bjorke. Chart Peak: 2

21. Macon – Jamey Johnson – One of the best "should-have-been" hits of 2010. While anything Johnson sings is Country, this one had a raw and bluesy groove that couldn't be denied... – Chuck Dauphin Chart Peak: Did Not Chart.

20. Leavin – Blaine Larsen – The songs performance is a microcosm of Larsen’s career thus far: fast start but flamed out way too early.  – Kyle Ward Chart Peak: 47

19. Roll With It – Easton Corbin – The second single of Easton’s career, this single built on his #1 success with “A Little More Country Than That” and helped establish Easton Corbin as one of the top newcomers of 2010. – Marc Erickson Chart Peak: 1.

18. Little White Church – Little Big Town – Song for song, there's no stronger act in the business. – Chuck Dauphin. Chart Peak: 6

17. She Won’t Be Lonely Long – Clay Walker – A surprise hit that gives me hope that 90’s country isn’t dead and buried just yet.  – Kyle Ward. Chart Peak: 4

16. All About Tonight – Blake Shelton – Sometimes, a song doesn't need to make a huge musical statement.....It just needs to sound good on the radio. – Chuck Dauphin. Chart Peak: 1

15. Real – James Wesley – Reality television is ridiculously ubiquitous anymore. James Wesley's breakout hit contrasts it with the "real" reality of rural folk who struggle to get by, making for a very original song. – Bobby Peacock. Chart Peak: 25 (as of 12/26/10)

14. Til A Woman Comes Along – Chris Janson – Radio failed to play it, but hopefully this isn’t the last we hear of the supremely talented Janson… - Kyle Ward. Chart Peak: 52

13. Turning Home – David Nail – Songs about small town life are not a rarity in country music, but good ones are. While “Turning Home” does not measure up to some classics, the evocative imagery makes up for its mundane subject matter.  With it you have the first memorable hit about small town life to hit mainstream country in nearly a decade. – Stormy Lewis. Chart Peak: 20

12. Draw Me A Map – Dierks Bentley – "What Was I Thinkin'" proved out of the gate that Dierks has some bluegrass in him, and Up on the Ridge — especially the haunting "Draw Me a Map" — proves it again. – Bobby Peacock. Chart Peak: 33

11. Family Man – Craig Campbell – This song announced the arrival of yet another strong traditional country-minded artist with potential to ‘replace’ the aging class from 1989/1990.  This fantastic tale of a working class hero hit home and gave the artist a real breakthrough late in this year.Matt Bjorke. Peak: 26 (as of 12/26/10)

10. From A Table Away- Sunny Sweeney –  2010 will long be remembered as the year of high profile affairs. It should not be a surprise that America’s music devalued once again into the subject of adultery. Sunny Sweeny made the bold choice of picking the unpopular character for her highest charting national single to date. “From a Table Away” trods much of the same ground as Sugarland’s Stay, but with more clear-eyed honesty and far less cloying self pity. Co-written by Sweeny, Bob DiPiero and Karyn Rochelle, from a table away is a portrait of stark realizations. It is a song which makes us remember that the moment a heart breaks can also be the moment it breaks free. – Stormy Lewis Chart Peak: 20 (as of 12/26/10)

9. Raymond – Brett Eldredge – "Raymond" tackles the tough issue of Alzheimer's with sympathy and vivid details. It's easily the best debut since Matt Kennon's "The Call." – Bobby Peacock Chart Peak: 34 (as of 12/26/10)

8. That’s Important To Me – Joey+RoryThis fan-favorite hasn’t had much in the way of mainstream country radio success but that’s not for a lack in quality singles as “That’s Important To Me” is one of – if not the – best songs of their career thus far. – Matt Bjorke Chart Peak: Did Not Chart

7. Blue Sky – Emily West – Emily West is the best female country singer you aren’t listening to. Despite a gorgeous and expressive voice and a handful of decent songs, she has yet to gain traction with either mainstream or alternative audiences. “Blue Sky” is an example of why that Is a damn shame.  “Blue Sky” is a song about the day after the moment when a person has been pushed so far they finally leave a bad situation. There is no triumph, nor is this the moment for the sort of revenge fantasy that Miranda Lambert is skilled at. There is simply a painful and desperate resolution.  Blue Sky is the reason that people used to turn to country music. It is an eloquent and relatable song, sung passionately by someone with a naturally good voice. – Stormy Lewis Chart Peak: 38

6. I Will Not Say Goodbye – Danny Gokey – The passion in the vocal is what makes this song as good as it was.  Criminally ignored by many country stations because of it being ‘too sad,’ this single nonetheless showcased the potential that Gokey has when engaged with the material. – Matt Bjorke Chart Peak: 32

5. Lover, Lover – Jerrod Niemann – By turning an obscure 1990s adult rock single into an earworm of a country song, Jerrod Niemann managed to do two things: Become an instant star and have an earworm of a song that is worthy of that success. – Marc Erickson  Chart Peak: 1

4. Rain is a Good Thing – Luke Bryan – Luke has quickly become one of my favorite mainstream country artists thanks to playful, well-written radio hits like “Rain is a Good Thing.”  It’s mainstream but as Ashton Shepherd says, it ‘sounds so good. – Matt Bjorke Chart Peak: 1

3. Hello World – Lady Antebellum – From the very moment that I heard this song on the Need You Now album, it became my favorite song on the album and obviously one of the best singles of 2010. – Matt Bjorke. Chart Peak: 14 (as of 12/26/10)

2. If I Die Young – Band Perry - This poetic look at one cut down before their time gave The Band Perry one of the year’s biggest breakthroughs. – Kyle Ward. Chart Peak: 1

1. The House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert – This fantastic song proved that country radio needn’t be all bombast and frivolous songs and it deserves every accolade that it has received, including our choice of it as the #1 country radio single of 2010. – Matt Bjorke Chart Peak: 1

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