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Year in review: best country songs of 2017

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    Year in review: best country songs of 2017

    The 51st annual Country Music Association Awards put an exclamation point on what’s been a lively year for country music. Garth Brooks was named entertainer of the year for the second consecutive time and fifth overall, while Miranda Lambert was dubbed female vocalist of the year for the seventh time in eight years. Among those nominated and those left off the final ballots, there were plenty of memorable songs put out by artists both big and small.

    To narrow down the songs that struck a chord with listeners in 2017, the folks at Stacker ranked the 50 most popular country songs of the year based on all-time Spotify plays. The list features country songs that rose in popularity in 2017, including a handful of titles that were released in the latter part of 2016 but gained prominence the following year.

    Each song in the top 50 was played over 19 million times on Spotify, with the top nine songs receiving more than 59 million streams. Three different artists had three songs make the top 50: Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, and Maren Morris. Rhett and Morris each received credit for their shared song “Craving You,” which makes an appearance in the top 10.

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    #50: Like I Loved You

    Artist: Brett Young
    Spotify Plays: 19,880,000
    Release Date: 2017

    The third single off Young’s self-titled debut album — following “Sleep Without You” and “In Case You Didn’t Know” — “Like I Loved You” is a song about the fruitless attempts exes make to remain friends after breaking up. It was co-written by Young and Jesse Lee and made its radio debut on July 17, 2017.

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    #49: My Old Man

    Artist: Zac Brown Band
    Spotify Plays: 20,232,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Zac Brown Band released “My Old Man” as the lead single for their fifth studio album “Welcome Home.” In this emotional song, lead singer Zac Brown sings about his own now-deceased father, and details the lessons he learned from him as a young boy. Brown then sings about how he tries to emulate his father with his own young son.

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    #48: Today

    Artist: Brad Paisley
    Spotify Plays: 21,074,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Today” is the lead single from Paisley’s 11th studio album “Love and War.” It debuted in October at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Music Digital Chart. The song is about living in the now and cherishing life’s happy moments as they happen.

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    #47: They Don't Know

    Artist: Jason Aldean
    Spotify Plays: 21,315,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “They Don’t Know” is the fourth single off Alden’s album of the same name. In it, Aldean talks about the various misconceptions people have about small towns. Aldean grew up in Macon, Georgia, which is about 85 miles south of Atlanta.

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    #46: Tin Man

    Artist: Miranda Lambert
    Spotify Plays: 21,806,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Lambert released “Tin Man” as the third single from her sixth studio album “The Weight of These Wings,” for which she won album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards. “Tin Man” was nominated for single of the year and song of the year at the CMA Awards, losing to “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and “Better Man,” respectively.

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    #45: You Broke Up With Me

    Artist: Walker Hayes
    Spotify Plays: 23,149,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “You Broke Up With Me” is Hayes’ lead single off his album “boom.” According to Hayes, it’s about him losing out on a record deal and the fair-weathered friends who left him when his career stalled, only to come back after he’d started to regain success.

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    #44: Love Triangle

    Artist: RaeLynn
    Spotify Plays: 23,987,000
    Release Date: 2017

    ReaLynn released “Love Triangle” as the lead single from her debut studio album “WildHorse.” The emotional song was inspired by RaeLynn’s experience as a child of divorce, and how her parents’ arguments left her feeling isolated. The personal nature of the lyrics drew rave reviews from critics.

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    #43: Drinkin' Problem

    Artist: Midland
    Spotify Plays: 24,510,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Drinkin’ Problem” is the lead single from Midland’s debut album “On the Rocks.” Lead singer Mark Wystrach sings about how he turns to alcohol to cope with his heartache, noting “People say I got a drinkin’ problem / But I got no problem drinkin’ at all.”

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    #42: Every Time I Hear That Song

    Artist: Blake Shelton
    Spotify Plays: 24,781,000
    Release Date: 2016

    The fifth and final single off of Shelton’s 10th studio album “If I’m Honest,” “Every Time I Hear That Song” is about a recently broken-up man that thinks back on his past relationship when he hears “that song.” The song peaked at No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on July 15, 2017.

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    #41: Smooth

    Artist: Florida Georgia Line
    Spotify Plays: 25,351,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “Smooth” is the fourth single from Florida Georgia Line’s third studio album “Dig Your Roots.” It features the duo’s signature, light-hearted style, and spent seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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    #40: Somethin' I'm Good At

    Artist: Brett Eldredge
    Spotify Plays: 26,033,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Eldredge’s “Somethin’ I’m Good At” is a light-hearted song that celebrates the idiosyncrasies that make the singer unique, including both his flaws and strengths. It was the lead single off Eldredge’s self-titled fourth studio album.

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    #39: Losing Sleep

    Artist: Chris Young
    Spotify Plays: 27,086,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Losing Sleep” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart on Nov. 11, 2017. Young described the song as the “most pop-leaning song” he’s ever done. The song and album of the same name were well-received by both fans and critics.

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    #38: If I Told You

    Artist: Darius Rucker
    Spotify Plays: 28,518,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Rucker’s lead single off his fifth country album “When Was the Last Time” is about a man’s trepidations with revealing his past faults as he begins a new relationship. It reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, his first No. 1 song since 2013’s “Wagon Wheel.”

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    #37: Road Less Traveled

    Artist: Lauren Alaina
    Spotify Plays: 28,877,000
    Release Date: 2017

    It was a big year for Alaina, who was nominated at the CMA Awards for new artist of the year on the strength of her second studio album “Road Less Traveled.” The lead single of the same name charted well, with critics praising its country-rock sound.

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    #36: You Look Good

    Artist: Lady Antebellum
    Spotify Plays: 29,123,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Lady Antebellum’s lead single from their album “Heart Break” peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard chart. The song was co-written by Ryan Hurd and inspired by his fiance, Maren Morris.

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    #35: When It Rains It Pours

    Artist: Luke Combs
    Spotify Plays: 30,307,000
    Release Date: 2017

    It seems everybody’s had that one day where everything went wrong. “When It Rains It Pours” flips that idea on its head, with the narrator’s day starting off with a breakup but subsequently featuring a series of fortunate events. The song was the second single released from Combs’ debut album “This One’s for You.”

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    #34: All On Me

    Artist: Devin Dawson
    Spotify Plays: 31,187,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Dawson first broke onto the country scene in 2014 when he released a mashup of Taylor Swift songs as a student at Belmont University. “All On Me” is his first single, and it turned into a hit, peaking at No. 20 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

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    #33: Seein' Red

    Artist: Dustin Lynch
    Spotify Plays: 31,368,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Seein’ Red” served as the lead single off Lynch’s third studio album “Current Mood.” It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in late February, his fourth single to achieve that feat.

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    #32: Yours If You Want It

    Artist: Rascal Flatts
    Spotify Plays: 32,418,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Rascal Flatts released their 10th studio album and first since 2014 entitled “Back to Us,” with “Yours If You Want It” serving as the lead single. It was the band’s 17th No. 1 song, and first since “I Like the Sound of That.”

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    #31: Setting The World On Fire

    Artist: Kenny Chesney Featuring P!nk
    Spotify Plays: 32,516,000
    Release Date: 2017

    This cross-genre collaboration was the second single released from Chesney’s 16th studio album “Cosmic Hallelujah.” The song has P!nk singing the chorus about an on-top-of-the-world duo feeling the rush of living in the moment. P!nk’s upbeat vocals pair nicely with Chesney’s typical laid-back style, and the song peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart.

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    #30: Greatest Love Story

    Artist: LANco
    Spotify Plays: 33,354,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “Greatest Love Story,” tells a tale of young love, and the trials and tribulations faced by a couple living in a small town. It was released as a single off LANco’s album “Extended Play.”

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    #29: There's A Girl

    Artist: Trent Harmon
    Spotify Plays: 33,928,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “There’s A Girl” was released shortly after Trent Harmon won season 15 of “American Idol." The song is about all the foolish things the singer has done throughout his life in an attempt to impress a girl. “There’s A Girl” peaked at No. 48 on Billboard’s Country Digital Sales chart.

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    #28: I Could Use A Love Song

    Artist: Maren Morris
    Spotify Plays: 35,398,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Thanks in part to the success of “I Could Use a Love Song,” Morris was nominated for female vocalist of the year at the CMA Awards. The song was the third single off Moren’s major label debut studio album “Hero” and peaked at No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

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    #27: More Girls Like You

    Artist: Kip Moore
    Spotify Plays: 36,102,000
    Release Date: 2017

    In this song, Moore gives praise to “girls like you” that help him balance his life. “More Girls Like You” is the lead single off Moore’s third studio album “Slowheart,” followed by “Last Shot.”

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    #26: 80s Mercedes

    Artist: Maren Morris
    Spotify Plays: 36,955,000
    Release Date: 2016

    The second single off Morris’ “Hero,” “80s Mercedes” draws some influence from 80s songs, including Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” It peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

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    #25: For Her

    Artist: Chris Lane
    Spotify Plays: 38,595,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Lane features a pop influence and an upbeat tempo in “For Her,” the second single in his extended play “Fix.” The song was produced by Joey Moi, who also produced Florida Georgia Line’s third studio album “Dig Your Roots.”

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    #24: Heartache On The Dance Floor

    Artist: Jon Pardi
    Spotify Plays: 38,923,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “Heartache on the Dance Floor” is the third single off Pardi’s second studio album “California Sunrise.” The music video was fittingly shot on Venice Beach, California. Pardi was named new artist of the year at the CMA Awards, beating out a group that included Old Dominion and Lauren Alaina.

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    #23: A Guy With A Girl

    Artist: Blake Shelton
    Spotify Plays: 39,013,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “A Guy with a Girl” is the fourth single off Shelton’s “If I’m Honest.” The song reflects on Shelton’s relationship with Gwen Stefani, and how her fame and notoriety overshadowed his own.

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    #22: Flatliner

    Artist: Cole Swindell
    Spotify Plays: 39,803,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “Flatliner” is an upbeat track that served as the third single from Swindell’s second studio album “You Should Be Here.” The song peaked at No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Aug. 19, 2017.

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    #21: No Such Thing As A Broken Heart

    Artist: Old Dominion
    Spotify Plays: 40,270,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” is the lead single from Old Dominion’s second studio album “Happy Endings.” The group performed the song at the 51st CMA Awards on November 8th. Old Dominion was nominated at the event for vocal group of the year and new artist of the year, losing out to Little Big Town and Jon Pardi, respectively.

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    #20: The Weekend

    Artist: Brantley Gilbert
    Spotify Plays: 43,135,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “The Weekend” has a country-rock sound that’s become a staple of Gilbert’s style. The song­ is the lead single off Gilbert’s fourth studio album “The Devil Don’t Sleep.” Gilbert co-wrote the song with Andrew DeRoberts entirely over the phone, before the two had ever met in person.

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    #19: How Not To

    Artist: Dan + Shay
    Spotify Plays: 44,508,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Dan + Shay released “How Not To” as the second single from their second studio album “Obsessed.” The song has a more bittersweet storyline than their previous hits, but that only bolstered its success — “How Not To” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, their third straight No. 1 hit.

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    #18: Any Ol' Barstool

    Artist: Jason Aldean
    Spotify Plays: 44,625,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “Any Ol’ Barstool” is the third single from Aldean’s seventh studio album “They Don’t Know.” It peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s Country Streaming Songs and is about the singer dealing with a recent breakup.

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    #17: Better Man

    Artist: Little Big Town
    Spotify Plays: 45,048,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Little Big Town released “Better Man” as the lead single off their eighth studio album “The Breaker.” The song was written by Taylor Swift and won song of the year at the CMA Awards. It was also nominated for single of the year and music video of the year.

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    #16: Unforgettable

    Artist: Thomas Rhett
    Spotify Plays: 47,006,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Unforgettable” is told from the vantage point of the narrator watching the early stages of his current relationship and highlighting fond memories. The song was the second single off Rhett’s third studio album “Life Changes” and peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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    #15: Hometown Girl

    Artist: Josh Turner
    Spotify Plays: 49,044,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Hometown Girl” was released as the second single from Turner’s sixth studio album “Deep South.” It’s Turner’s first album release since 2012’s “Punching Bag,” marking the longest break in between albums since he put out his debut effort, “Long Black Train,” in 2003.

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    #14: Black

    Artist: Dierks Bentley
    Spotify Plays: 49,955,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Bentley released “Black” as the third single off his album of the same name. The album sold 88,000 copies in its first week, marking the best-selling week of the singer’s career. His previous high was 82,000 with 2006’s “Long Trip Alone.”

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    #13: God, Your Mama, And Me

    Artist: Florida Georgia Line Featuring Backstreet Boys
    Spotify Plays: 54,453,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “God, Your Mama, and Me” is the second single from Florida Georgia Line’s album “Dig Your Roots” to make the list. True to form, the duo features some cross-genre collaboration, with pop group Backstreet Boys featured on the track. The song debuted at No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was the Backstreet Boys’ first Hot 100 hit since 2007’s “Inconsolable.”

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    #12: The Fighter

    Artist: Keith Urban Featuring Carrie Underwood
    Spotify Plays: 54,586,000
    Release Date: 2016

    The fifth and final single from Urban’s album “Ripcord,” “The Fighter” features an up-tempo pop beat, with Underwood singing the hook. Urban reportedly wrote part of the song while riding in an Uber, and the lyrics were inspired by his relationship with Nicole Kidman.

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    #11: Small Town Boy

    Artist: Dustin Lynch
    Spotify Plays: 54,601,000
    Release Date: 2017

    Just missing out on the top 10 is Lynch’s “Small Town Boy,” the second single off his album “Current Mood.” The song achieved certified Gold status, making it the fastest-rising song of Lynch’s career.

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    #10: My Girl

    Artist: Dylan Scott
    Spotify Plays: 54,675,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “My Girl” is the third single off Scott’s self-titled debut album. It peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100, his first song to reach the chart. The song features the singer bragging about his girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife.

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    #9: Star Of The Show

    Artist: Thomas Rhett
    Spotify Plays: 59,714,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Rhett enjoyed a stream of success with his album “Tangled,” which included the singles “Crash and Burn,” “Die a Happy Man,” “T-Shirt” and “Vacation.” The fifth and final single off the album was “Star of the Show,” which features Rhett’s standard upbeat tempo and guitar chords. Rhett had performed the song live years before he recorded it, only hitting the studio after fans expressed their enthusiasm about the track on social media.

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    #8: Dirt On My Boots

    Artist: Jon Pardi
    Spotify Plays: 60,340,000
    Release Date: 2016

    Pardi put out “Dirt on My Boots” as the second single from his second studio album “California Sunrise.” It was the first song Pardi released after his No. 1 hit “Head Over Boots” and peaked at No. 27 on Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart.

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    #7: Craving You

    Artist: Thomas Rhett Featuring Maren Morris
    Spotify Plays: 61,089,000
    Release Date: 2017

    “Craving You” is the lead single off Rhett’s third studio album “Life Changes.” The song has a more upbeat, bass-heavy tempo than usual, and features Morris singing backup vocals.

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    #6: In Case You Didn't Know

    Artist: Brett Young
    Spotify Plays: 70,282,000
    Release Date: 2017

    The second single off Young’s self-titled debut album, “In Case You Didn’t Know” came about, in part, as the result of a bribe. Young wanted to meet with top Nashville songwriters Trent Tomlinson, Tyler Reeve, and Kyle Schlienger, but couldn’t get a meeting. He countered by offering the group a free, eight-day trip to Mexico, and the song was written on the last day of the trip.

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    #5: Blue Ain't Your Color

    Artist: Keith Urban
    Spotify Plays: 76,231,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “Blue Ain’t Your Color” was the fourth single off Urban’s album “Ripcord,” and became a commercial and critical hit. The song peaked at No. 1 on three different Billboard charts simultaneously, while also winning single of the year at the ACM Awards. “Blue Ain’t Your Color” was also nominated for best country solo performance and best country song at the 59th Grammy Awards, losing out to “My Church” by Maren Morris and “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw, respectively.

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    #4: May We All

    Artist: Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw
    Spotify Plays: 77,456,000
    Release Date: 2016

    The third song off “Dig Your Roots” to appear on this list, Florida Georgia Line’s “May We All” celebrates the experiences the duo shared growing up in a small town. It features a guest verse from Tim McGraw, and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Streaming Songs chart.

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    #3: What Ifs

    Artist: Kane Brown Featuring Lauren Alaina
    Spotify Plays: 77,710,000
    Release Date: 2016

    “What Ifs” is the third single off Brown’s self-titled debut studio album. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and it became just the second country song of 2017 to reach Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart.

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    #2: Hurricane

    Artist: Luke Combs
    Spotify Plays: 99,165,000
    Release Date: 2017

    In “Hurricane,” the lead single off Combs’ debut album “This One’s for You,” the singer compares his ex-girlfriend to a natural disaster. The song peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and was well received by critics.

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    #1: Body Like A Back Road

    Artist: Sam Hunt
    Spotify Plays: 226,254,000
    Release Date: 2017

    The runaway winner for most popular country song of the year, Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” was written shortly after the singer got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Hannah Lee Fowler. Hunt has released a series of singles this year, though no forthcoming album has been announced, marking a shift in strategy from the traditional model. Given his success, it’s hard to argue against the gameplan.

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