Country music is all about three chords and the truth. While the genre has grown and changed over the years, the whole thing still revolves around a song. Fame is great, awards are awesome, music videos and tours are cool.. but none of that matters without the song. Words and chords strung together to help you relate and feel something. we had some great ones, and here are the ones that 2013 will be remembered for.
First of all, lets cover some honorable mentions that just missed out on the top 10, presented in no paticular order.
Wagon Wheel -Darius Rucker (Full Review Here)
Like Jesus Does -Eric Church (Full Review Here)
I Hold On -Dierks Bentley (Full Review Here)
Bourbon In Kentucky -Dierks Bentley (Full Review Here)
Selma Drye -Kellie Pickler
Frame of Mine -Blake Shelton
Could It Be -Charlie Worsham
Better -Maggie Rose (Full Review Here)
Red (2013 CMA Version) -Taylor Swift
Nearly Gone -Hank3
I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes -Ronnie Dunn
Blacktop -Alan Jackson
I Hope You're The End Of My Story -Pistol Annies
She's Driving Me Out of Your Mind -Ashley Monroe
Waiting On June -Holly Williams
The Gunslinger -Shooter Jennings
10.Outlaw You -Shooter Jennings
Shooter Jennings sent out a shot heard round the country music world with his protest song "Outlaw You". This song called out the wannabe outlaws on country radio and taught them a history lesson on the term in country music. Shooter has never been one to mince words about the state of country music, and this is the perfect way to get his point across: through song. Good job Shooter, we all think this outlaw bit has done got out of hand. The Other Life Full Album Review
"You say you're an outlaw, with your perfect boots
that you got from your record label's image group
Sing another man's song with a big drum loop
listen son, you ain't got a clue
You can't buy truth"
9. All Kinds of Kinds -Miranda Lambert
This track stands out on the radio as a refreshing glimpse of what could be. If we could combine modern sounds with classic elements, we could have a whole radio world full of songs like this topping the charts. Miranda takes an acoustic bluegrassy song with thoughtful lyrics about acceptance and reminds us all why we love country music. This was one of my favorites on the mainstream radio all year. Full Song Review
"Some point the finger
let ignorance linger
if they looked in the mirror they'd find
that ever since the beginning
to keep the world spinning
it takes all kinds of kinds"
8. Strong -Will Hoge
The song that graced your ears every commercial break this football season comes in at number 8. This song is more than a truck sales song. Will Hoge wrote a beauty of a song that celebrates the working man and the way of life that many Americans live every day. Ask Merle Haggard if people like those kinds of songs. "Strong" comes off as a modern day Haggard ode to hard work. Will sings with soul and passion on every line. This is simply a fantastic song. Full Song Review
"He's a 20 year straight get to work on time
he's a love one woman for all his life
he's the shirt off his back, give you his last dime
7. It Ain't The Whiskey -Gary Allan
Gary Allan is a master of the sad, soulful country song. "It Ain't The Whiskey" is no different. Gary brings us a tale of regret and heartache told through a man who is clearly self destructing slowly. Add in some steel guitar and a lonely organ and you have a recipe for a killer country song. Then, you throw Gary's ragged, rough delivery on top of that, and this song is a masterpiece. Full Song Review
"So what do you got for this empty spot inside of me
the deep dark hole where love used to be
before she ripped it out and ran into the arms of someone else
Ya'll sit in this room and you talk like you got some kind of remedy
well I hear what you're telling me
but I've got all the proof I need
It ain't the whiskey"
6. Merry Go Round -Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves burst onto the scene in 2013 and proved that you don't have to have loud songs about pickup trucks and beer to have a big hit on the radio. "Merry Go Round" is a soft, understated look at everyday America. It's not the picture perfect life that many hoped for, and given the state of things in our country right now, its the song that people need to hear. Kacey gave us all something to think about with this song, and made smart, philosophical, and real country music cool again. Same Trailer, Different Park Full Album Review
"Mama's hooked on Mary Kay
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane
and Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down"
5. I Drive Your Truck -Lee Brice
Lee Brice brought us this tale of a lost brother that nobody saw coming. Like many others, I saw the title to this song and rolled my eyes and prepared to write a smear job. Boy was I wrong. Lee tells us a sad story that many many people can relate to. That is what country music is all about. This song was the CMA Song of the Year, and well deserved. It was one of the strongest radio singles in years. Full Song Review
"Mama asked this mornin' if I'd been by your grave
but that flag and stone ain't where I feel you anyway.
I drive your truck
I roll every window down and I burn up
every back road in this town"
4. Stripes -Brandy Clark
This song is full of sass and attitude. Brandy Clark lays down the law in her song "Stripes" off her killer album 12 Stories. Brandy lets her cheating man know that there are only two reasons she doesn't take him out and neither are because she is scared. This is just a good ole fashioned love gone wrong song with guns, jail, and cheating... what more could you want? 12 Stories Full Album Review
"I hate stripes
and orange ain't my color
If I squeeze that trigger tonight I'll be wearin' one or the other
there's no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion
the only thing saving your life
is that I don't look good in orange and I hate stripes"
3. Drinkin' -Holly Williams
Holly Williams 2013 Keep It Country Kids Album of the Year The Highway had many songs that could have peppered the top 10, but none stood out to me like "Drinkin'". This song is simple and understated, but it is massively effective. Holly uses her raspy, unique voice to tell this tale of love gone wrong revolving around the bottle, as it often does. The music on this track is solid country gold, and has a really cool vibe. The way the song builds up from the moment it starts is a thing of beauty. This song is number 3 here, but it was close to being number 1. It's that good. The Highway Full Album Review
"Why are you cheating on a woman like this?
hey why are you cheating on a woman like this?
I raise your babies and I kiss you lips
so why are you cheating on a woman like this?"
2. Deadman's Blues -Matt Woods
If you want to hear a song that makes you really feel something, makes you want to break down and cry, this is the song for you. Matt Woods masterfully weaves a tale of heartache and pain in his song "Deadman's Blues". If you ever wondered about the dark and troubled side to being a musician, this is your insight into that world. Matt sings his absolute face off and really brings home every word. The video that goes along with the song is also a must watch, and is just as good on its own as the song. It really brings the whole stroy together with some emotional acting and painfully truthful clips. This song was thisclose to being number one, and if I made this list 10 more times it would probably win 5 of them. What a gem. Full Song Review
"There ain't no sense in acting like I do
when all I wants at odds with wanting you
girl I never meant to go so far"
1. Life Ain't Fair And The World Is Mean -Sturgill Simpson
Sometimes the easiest way to write a great song is to look around you at the state of the world and just honestly say what you think. That's the bare bones of "Life Ain't Fair and The World Is Mean". Sturgill comments on the state of the music business with the honesty of someone you know has gone through it all. He never openly criticizes, just tells us the way it is. With all of the mess on the radio and in the mainstream country world, Sturgill Simpson brings it all into perspective and proves it isn't all bad. If this guy can come out there with that Waylon backbeat and sing songs about real life for us on the Grand Ole Opry, maybe there is hope for all the old farts and all the jackasses like me. "Life Ain't Fair and The World Is Mean" sounds like 2013 and 1975 at the exact same time. It is relatable to anyone who feels left out by the current musical trends. It calls people out without sounding jaded or jealous. Most importantly, it is just a fun song to listen to. That's what it's all about folks. Congrats, Sturgill, on having the 2013 Keep It country Kids Song of The Year. Thank you for keeping it country!! High Top Mountain Full Album Review
"You won't hear my song on the radio
the new sounds all the rage
but you can always find me in a smokey bar with bad sound and a dim lit stage
that's the way it goes
in this day and age
you ain't gotta read between the lines, you just gotta turn the page
well the most outlaw thing that I ever done was give a good woman a ring
but that's the way it goes, life ain't fair and the world is mean"