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Year in review: Top country songs of 2018

  • Year in review: Top country songs of 2018
    1/ Disney | ABC Television Group // Flickr

    Year in review: Top country songs of 2018

    Booze, babes, and pickup trucks—are these what come to mind when you think of country music? You’re at least partially right; there’s still plenty of booze, from whiskey to tequila, referenced in the top country songs of 2018. There are also plenty of odes to loves lost or found, if that's more your taste. This year’s crop of songs ranges from moody ballads to upbeat, shout-the-lyrics-along anthems—and everything in between.

    Stacker sifted through the Billboard Hot Country Songs Year-End Charts to find the top country songs of 2018. Criteria included radio airplay, sales data, and streaming data. There are songs with positive messages and songs with questionable morals, but in some cases that may all lead back to the booze.

    Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Luke Bryan or more of a Carrie Underwood queen, you’ll find something to like here. Read on to find out if your favorite made the list this time around, or if you’ll be crooning your own wistful ballad by the time you reach the end.

  • #50. Drunk Me
    2/ Columbia Records

    #50. Drunk Me

    Artist: Mitchell Tenpenny

    Tenpenny’s single "Drunk Me” was his first to hit the Billboard charts. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Tenpenny will release his album "Telling All My Secrets" on Dec. 14.

  • #49. Born To Love You
    3/ Arista Nashville

    #49. Born To Love You

    Artist: LANCO

    LANCO, short for Lancaster and Company and fronted by Brandon Lancaster, was founded in 2015. This upbeat tune is the band’s third single, and comes from their album "Hallelujah Nights," released this past January.

  • #48. You Broke Up With Me
    4/ Capitol, Monument Records

    #48. You Broke Up With Me

    Artist: Walker Hayes

    "You Broke Up With Me” put Hayes back on the map after his first album was shelved, prompting the musician to take a graveyard shift at Costco. Hayes says the song is about his relationship with Nashville.

  • #47. I'll Name The Dogs
    5/ EJ Hersom DoD // Wikimedia Commons

    #47. I'll Name The Dogs

    Artist: Blake Shelton

    Blake Shelton’s "I’ll Name the Dogs” offers a glimpse into the singer's affinity for canine companionship: "You name the babies and I’ll name the dogs.” The song hit #5 on the Billboard charts.

  • #46. Body Like A Back Road
    6/ Mario957 // Wikimedia Commons

    #46. Body Like A Back Road

    Artist: Sam Hunt

    This song was nominated for two Grammy Awards, but is not without controversy: Hunt and his team of writers have been accused of putting in too little effort to produce it. 

  • #45. Coming Home
    7/ Red Hit Records UMG Recordings

    #45. Coming Home

    Artist: Keith Urban Featuring Julia Michaels

    Keith Urban’s single "Coming Home” was inspired by his love for fellow country singer Merle Haggard’s music. "Hearing that rolling Haggard guitar lick sparked memories of my childhood—and my dream to come to America,” Urban says.

  • #44. Rich
    8/ Prbtsubedi12345 // Wikimedia Commons

    #44. Rich

    Artist: Maren Morris

    Maren Morris’ debut album, "Hero," produced three top 10 singles, including "Rich.” The lyrics describe what the artist would do if she had money. Spoiler alert: it's buying yachts and wearing Prada.

  • #43. Best Shot
    9/ Broken Bow Records Stoney Creek

    #43. Best Shot

    Artist: Jimmie Allen

    Allen is currently touring with Scotty McCreery on the singer's "Seasons Change" tour, and released his debut album, "Mercury Lane," earlier this year. "It took about 10 years to get my first record deal,” the singer recalls. 

  • #42. Kiss Somebody
    10/ Mbroky95 // Wikimedia Commons

    #42. Kiss Somebody

    Artist: Morgan Evans

    Australian singer-songwriter Morgan Evans is often assumed to have written "Kiss Somebody” about wife Kelsea Ballerini. He claims, however, to have written it to cheer up a friend he used to stay with in Nashville. For those wondering, his first song about his wife was "Dance with Me.”

  • #41. Greatest Love Story
    11/ Arista Nashville

    #41. Greatest Love Story

    Artist: LANCO

    This wistful ballad by LANCO is also from the band's January 2018 album, "Hallelujah Nights." It was the group’s first #1 country hit.

  • #40. For The First Time
    12/ Capitol Nashville

    #40. For The First Time

    Artist: Darius Rucker

    This is the second #1 single from Rucker’s 2017 album, "When Was the Last Time." "For the First Time” showcases the voice fans first got to know in Hootie and the Blowfish, and follows the success of "If I Told You.”

  • #39. Cry Pretty
    13/ Matthew Wittkopp // Wikimedia Commons

    #39. Cry Pretty

    Artist: Carrie Underwood

    Country music powerhouse Carrie Underwood sings about vulnerability and surrender in the title track from her September 2018 album. 

  • #38. Everything's Gonna Be Alright
    14/ Kenny Chesney // YouTube

    #38. Everything's Gonna Be Alright

    Artist: David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney

    Featured on his album "No Zip Code," David Lee Murphy’s #1 single featuring Kenny Chesney has hit the airwaves hard. Murphy says a highlight of his recent tour has been hearing 60,000 people singing this song, which gives him "goosebumps." 

  • #37. What Ifs
    15/ RCA Records Nashville

    #37. What Ifs

    Artist: Kane Brown, featuring Lauren Alaina        

    Kane Brown featured this song on his self-titled debut album. The lyrics refer to all the doubts and hopes you have at the beginning of a new relationship.

  • #36. Written In The Sand
    16/ RCA Records Nashville

    #36. Written In The Sand

    Artist: Old Dominion

    "Written in the Sand” refers to the doubts in a budding relationship. Old Dominion refers to texting bubbles and last calls, as well as things being written "in the stars" versus in the sand.

  • #35. Babe
    17/ UMG Mercury Nashville

    #35. Babe

    Artist: Sugarland Featuring Taylor Swift

    Country duo Sugarland recorded their hit single "Babe" with pop-country crossover star Taylor Swift. Swift wrote the final cut of the song—it’s the only song on "Bigger" that Sugarland didn’t write.

  • #34. The Long Way
    18/ Violator Mainstar Entertainment // Wikimedia Commons

    #34. The Long Way

    Artist: Brett Eldredge

    A sweet, simple ode to love, Brett Eldredge’s "The Long Way” comes from his self-titled album. The music video generated rumors that he was dating its leading lady, but Eldredge says actress Sadie Robertson is "just a good friend.”

  • #33. Hangin' On
    19/ RCA Records Nashville

    #33. Hangin' On

    Artist: Chris Young

    "Hangin’ On” is from Young’s 2017 album, "Losing Sleep." After weeks at the #2 spot on Billboard’s charts, the single finally reached #1 in early November 2018.

  • #32. Speechless
    20/ janabeamerpr // flickr

    #32. Speechless

    Artist: Dan + Shay

    Dan + Shay’s single "Speechless” is from their self-titled third studio album and was inspired by their wives. In fact, the music video includes their reactions to seeing their wives for the first time on each of their wedding days, both in 2017.

  • #31. Yours
    21/ Triple Tigers/Sony New York

    #31. Yours

    Artist: Russell Dickerson

    Russell Dickerson’s song "Yours” went platinum, setting a record for the longest for a debut song by a solo male artist has taken to reach the top of the country charts. Dickerson recalls seeing his face on a billboard in Times Square, calling the memorable moment "surreal.”

  • #30. Blue Tacoma
    22/ Triple Tigers/Sony New York

    #30. Blue Tacoma

    Artist: Russell Dickerson

    The follow-up single to "Yours,” "Blue Tacoma” tells the story of a West Coast trip Dickerson and his wife took, continuing the story. Events described in the song—like the couple singing Shania Twain’s "Still the One”—really happened on the trip.

  • #29. All On Me
    23/ Atlantic / Warner Music Nashville

    #29. All On Me

    Artist: Devin Dawson

    "All On Me” is from Devin Dawson’s debut album, "Dark Horse," which was released in January 2018. The sentimental, upbeat song put Dawson on the map as a country singer.

  • #28. Woman, Amen
    24/ Trina Stewart // flickr

    #28. Woman, Amen

    Artist: Dierks Bentley

    This song of devotion Bentley wrote with his wife Cassidy in mind was his 17th career #1 hit. Bentley calls it one of his "more personal songs.”

  • #27. I Lived It
    25/ Warner Music Nashville

    #27. I Lived It

    Artist: Blake Shelton

    This nostalgic song was intended to bring simple music back to country radio. "I Lived It" alludes to Shelton’s lifelong musical influences, like Earl Thomas Conley and John Conlee.

  • #26. Beautiful Crazy
    26/ Columbia Nashville

    #26. Beautiful Crazy

    Artist: Luke Combs

    "Beautiful Crazy,” from his debut release LP "This One’s for You," was released as a bonus track nearly a year later. The affectionate song includes the lyrics "her crazy’s beautiful to me.”

  • #25. Life Changes
    27/ Disney | ABC Television Group // Flickr

    #25. Life Changes

    Artist: Thomas Rhett

    Rhett’s song about the nature of life comes from his record of the same name, his third studio album. The album went platinum, and Rhett re-released a deluxe version on its one-year anniversary

  • #24. I Was Jack (You Were Diane)
    28/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

    #24. I Was Jack (You Were Diane)

    Artist: Jake Owen

    "I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” puts a country twist on the classic tune, with echoes of John Mellencamp’s famous words. In fact, Owen went directly to Mellencamp to ask for the artist’s blessing in recording this nostalgia-fueled song.

  • #23. She Got The Best Of Me
    29/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

    #23. She Got The Best Of Me

    Artist: Luke Combs

    Like many country songs, this tune is about heartbreak. Combs seems to have bounced back just fine, though—this song is off his latest hugely successful album, and he's recently been on tour with Jason Aldean.

  • #22. Five More Minutes
    30/ Sony Music Entertainment

    #22. Five More Minutes

    Artist: Scotty McCreery

    This single from "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery pays homage to his late grandfather. The song is from his latest album, "Seasons Change," which was released in March 2018 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.

  • #21. Lose It
    31/ Olga Steckel / Shutterstock.com

    #21. Lose It

    Artist: Kane Brown

    Kane Brown’s first single, "Lose It,” on his second album, "Experiment," was released in June 2018. It was one of 11 songs on the album Brown co-wrote.

  • #20. Hotel Key
    32/ RCA Records Nashville

    #20. Hotel Key

    Artist: Old Dominion

    Old Dominion scored its sixth #1 hit with the catchy "Hotel Key” from "Happy Endings," the third single from their sophomore album.

  • #19. Singles You Up
    33/ UMG MCA Nashville

    #19. Singles You Up

    Artist: Jordan Davis

    Davis, who recently embarked on his "White Wine and Whiskey" tour, debuted "Singles You Up” in January 2018. The song is about what might happen if a girl the narrator is pining after suddenly becomes single.

  • #18. Drunk Girl
    34/ Warner Music Nashville

    #18. Drunk Girl

    Artist: Chris Janson

    Chris Janson encourages male listeners to be morally sound in this wholesome song about respect between the genders, especially given the impacts of the #Metoo movement.

  • #17. Hooked
    35/ Curbed Records / Sony Music Entertainment

    #17. Hooked

    Artist: Dylan Scott

    Dylan Scott, who is currently at work on his sophomore album, had his second top five single with "Hooked.” Scott has been known to take time off from his busy career around the holidays.

  • #16. Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset
    36/ Capitol Nashville UMG

    #16. Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset

    Artist: Luke Bryan

    This song about young summer love by country favorite Luke Bryan hit the charts instantaneously. It's the artist’s 20th #1 country hit, and his 13th consecutive one.

  • #15. Broken Halos
    37/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

    #15. Broken Halos

    Artist: Chris Stapleton

    Stapleton debuted this song at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium in February 2017, sharing with the audience that the song is about "people who have passed away before their time.”

  • #14. Break Up In The End
    38/ Disney | ABC Television Group

    #14. Break Up In The End

    Artist: Cole Swindell

    This wistful song about lost love is Swindell at his most vulnerable. "Even if I knew you’d be the one that got away/I’d still go back and be with you,” Swindell croons.

  • #13. Drowns The Whiskey
    39/ Macon Music / Sony Music Entertainment

    #13. Drowns The Whiskey

    Artist: Jason Aldean, featuring Miranda Lambert

    Like many country songs, this one features booze. In this case, "the thing that really gets me/is how your memory drowns the whiskey.” Aldean, who collaborated on this song with Miranda Lambert, has lived in Nashville for more than 20 years and had a long climb to the top.

  • #12. Take Back Home Girl
    40/ Big Loud Records

    #12. Take Back Home Girl

    Artist: Chris Lane Featuring Tori Kelly

    Chris Lane and Tori Kelly sing about the girl you take home to meet your parents in this chart-topper. The song is the debut single from Lane's album "Laps Around the Sun."

  • #11. Most People Are Good
    41/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

    #11. Most People Are Good

    Artist: Luke Bryan

    Luke Bryan played this life-affirming song throughout 2018 on his "What Makes You Country" tour. "I believe most Friday nights look better under neon or stadium lights,” Bryan sings.

  • #10. Up Down
    42/ Big Loud Records

    #10. Up Down

    Artist: Morgan Wallen, featuring Florida Georgia Line

    25-year-old Morgan Wallen earned his first #1 single this year with "Up Down.” Wallen joined Luke Bryan for a number of dates on the superstar singer's "What Makes You Country" tour.

  • #9. Mercy
    43/ janabeamerpr // flickr

    #9. Mercy

    Artist: Brett Young

    Young’s third single, "Mercy,” from his eponymous debut album, features a brooding piano intro. It soulfully describes the messy end of a doomed romance.

  • #8. Get Along
    44/ Kittysocks // flickr

    #8. Get Along

    Artist: Kenny Chesney

    Kenny Chesney had been signed to BNA and Columbia Records for more than 20 years before releasing "Get Along,” his first new track with Warner Music Nashville

  • #7. Simple
    45/ DoD Dominique A. Pineiro // Wikimedia Commons

    #7. Simple

    Artist: Florida Georgia Line

    This song about the simple pleasures of love is just that: uncomplicated. "It’s like one, two, three, just as easy as can be, just the way you look at me, you make me smile.”

  • #6. One Number Away
    46/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

    #6. One Number Away

    Artist: Luke Combs

    The third single, "One Number Away,” from Luke Combs’ debut album, This One’s for You, is about holding back from calling your new flame. "In my brain, dial it up, everything I want to say/but I’m still one number away,” Combs sings.

  • #5. Marry Me
    47/ Disney | ABC Television Group // flickr

    #5. Marry Me

    Artist: Thomas Rhett

    This sweet song about a former lover's upcoming wedding has echoes of "Speak Now.” "She wanna get married/but she don’t wanna marry me,” Rhett croons.

     

  • #4. You Make It Easy
    48/ Disney | ABC Television Group // flickr

    #4. You Make It Easy

    Artist: Jason Aldean

    This single from Jason Aldean’s eighth album, "Rearview Town," was released in January 2018. The song, was originally written for another artist by Morgan Wallen and Jordan Schmidt, as well as Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line.

  • #3. Tequila
    49/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

    #3. Tequila

    Artist: Dan + Shay

    The music video for this song by country superstars Dan + Shay broke a number of barriers. "Tequila" features deaf actor, model, and former "Dancing With The Stars" contestant Nyle DiMarco meeting a beautiful woman in the wilderness, and falling in love while teaching her American Sign Language. 

  • #2. Heaven
    50/ Olga Steckel / Shutterstock.com

    #2. Heaven

    Artist: Kane Brown

    Brown’s #1 hit from his self-titled debut, "Heaven” sees the artist reflecting on his career, wondering whether heaven could possibly be better than a happy life.

  • #1. Meant To Be
    51/ Warner Music Group

    #1. Meant To Be

    Artist: Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line

    As of Dec. 7, this collaboration is Grammy Award-nominated. "Meant To Be" stayed at the top of the Hot Country charts for 50 weeks, breaking all previous records. There's been minor controversy over its nomination in the Country category as opposed to Pop, but this catchy tune is no worse for the wear. Tune in to the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019 to see if "Meant To Be" wins big.

     

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