I’m embarrassed that this list has taken so long to come out, but better late than ever, right? I promise if I’m still around next year this list will come out in a more timely fashion. 2009 wasn’t a particularly strong year for country music, but there was still a decent amount of great music. Here is my 20 best country singles of ’09.
20. “I Run To You”, Lady Antebellum
This song’s definitely not outstanding, but it is a solid slice of country-pop music.
19. “It Happens”, Sugarland
This is deliriously catchy and despite being a little silly it`s garaunteed to put you in a better mood after hearing it.
18. “I Told You So”, Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis
Carrie does a great job with this song, she should really record traditional leaning music more often. This song and “Just a Dream” almost had me converted, but “Cowboy Casanova” scared me off again. The addition of Randy Travis was a great idea too.
17. “Fifteen” Taylor Swift
It`s these kind of songs that make me think that Taylor Swift might have the slightest chance at career longevity. It`s well written, understated both vocally and production wise and showcases her at her most mature. This is the kind of music Swift needs to make more of.
16. “That Kind of Happy”, Emily West
A fun little ditty that finds a great balance between country and pop and is sung by a great vocalist.
15. “Highway 20 Ride”, Zac Brown Band
A sweet and touching song about a father who can only see his son every other weekend due to his divorce from his wife. This is by far my favorite song from the Zac Brown Band, hopefully they will make music as emotionally gripping as this more often.
14. “Sissy’s Song”, Alan Jackson
Jackson’s tribute to a housekeeper that suddenly passed away was one of the most touching songs released to radio this year.
13. “Joey”, Sugarland
Ultimately, it’s the song’s semi-lackluster chorus that holds it back from charting any higher on my list, which is quite odd since a lot of music in today’s industry relies on big catchy chorus tied together with flimsy verses. In Sugarland’s case, the verses are stellar, but the chorus fails to live up to them. Still, it’s hard not to connect with a song about what-if’s.
12. “It’s a Business Doing Pleasure With You”, Tim McGraw
Probably the wittiest song released in not only country music, but music in general this year. To be honest, I’m still having trouble believing that Chad Kroeger helped write it.
11. “Solitary Thinkin'”, Lee Ann Womack
The best song on the list for those who prefer a soundtrack for their self-pitying.
10.”Busted”, Patty Loveless
This is a very enjoyable song with an interesting story that catches my attention every time I listen to it, it helps that it’s sung by a great singer like Patty Loveless.
9. “Consider Me Gone”, Reba
In my initial review for this song I only gave it a decent B, but oh, how it has grown on me since then. The production is stellar, Reba’s voice is a fantastic, and the lyrics have managed to grow on me too. No wonder it managed to become her first number one in half a decade.
8. “White Liar”, Miranda Lambert
This song boasts one of the most exciting productions of the year, it has a very country feel that doesn’t feel the least bit forced. Which is a lot more than I can say for current chart toppers Carrie and Taylor. Ironically enough this has managed to become her biggest single to date on both the country and all-genre charts.
7. “If You Want Fire”, Terri Clark
“Gypsy Boots” was a very disappointing release, luckily Terri Clark followed it up with this great single. Unlike “Gypsy Boots”, “If You Want Fire” is mature and completely adult and she doesn’t sound like she’s trying to cater to country radio.
6. “My Way To You”, Jamey Johnson
Johnson sings about a man’s journey to find “you”, while it’s not clear whether that “you” is a lover, God, or perhaps even himself, it’s hard to complain with Johnson’s emotive delivery.
5. “‘Til Summer Comes Around”, Keith Urban
My favorite Keith Urban single since “Stupid Boy”. Keith finally finds material with substance that’s worthy of his great voice.
4. “Dead Flowers”, Miranda Lambert
While “Dead Flowers” doesn’t have the same stellar production as “White Liar” it more than makes up for it with Miranda’s great vocal performance and what is perhaps the most poetic lyrics of the year. “Dead Flowers” is an artistic triumph and is one of Miranda’s best singles to date.
3. “The High Cost of Living”, Jamey Johnson
Johnson tells a tale of man (seemingly himself) whose life goes on a downhill spiral, from losing his wife to being arrested, because of his drug addiction. This song is much darker than anything else on this list and has a very real feel to it because of lyrics that are more than likely autobiographic. I can’t remember the last time country radio has played a song with a line more controversial than “The high cost livin’ aint nothing like the cost of livin’ high“.
2. “Poison and Wine”, The Civil Wars
Wonderful harmonies and a haunting production. The real kicker though is the magnificently twisted and contradicting lyrics. I don’t think any song has had a better line than “I don’t love you but I always will” in all of 2009.
1. “To Say Goodbye”, Joey + Rory
This is a truly beautiful song. Tackling 9-11 and alzheimers in the same song is no easy business, but this husband and wife duo does it effortlessly. Maybe that’s because they’re not trying to make music off of those two controversial subjects, but rather off of the feelings of those closest to them. The gentle production and Joey’s wonderful voice works wonders on it and is further proof that the song is not supposed to be a big attention seeking scheme. This song is a perfect expression of true feelings and that is essentially what all songs aim to be, but so very few reach the standards of this one.