There have been many excellent country singles released this year, as well as more than a handful of surprising duds. But let’s keep it positive and take a look at some of the better songs released to radio in 2009. Perhaps some of these will make their way onto your year-end greatest hits list.
1. “Love Story” – Taylor Swift
Big Machine Records
The first single off of Taylor Swift's
2008 album Fearless
, “Love Story” shows off her prodigious talent for writing infectious hook-laden songs of love and loss for the high school crowd. Taylor’s voice isn’t the strongest in country by any stretch, but her conviction, especially in “Love Story,” is undeniable. And she writes or co-writes everything—girl’s just printing money!
2. “Alright” – Darius Rucker
Despite Darius Rucker’s
very recognizable voice from his Hootie days, his foray into country music is proving a real breath of fresh air, and it’s just the shot in the arm some feel country has needed for a couple of years. Rucker’s personality shines through beautifully on the peppy single, “Alright,” which makes him three-for-three on his debut album Learn to Live
3. “God Love Her” – Toby Keith
Big Dog Records
The plot of Toby Keith’s
18th No. 1 country single, “God Love Her,” is not a new one: good girl (a preacher’s daughter, no less) meets bad boy, and the rest is young love history. Despite its clichéd story, “God Love Her” mixes in just the right amount of driving rock, country and pop, resulting in one of Toby’s finer efforts of the last few years.
4. “Feel That Fire” – Dierks Bently
Upbeat with some catchy vocal gymnastics in the verses, Dierks Bentley’s
schmaltzy “Feel That Fire” reeks of having been hatched by Dierks and his three co-writers in about six minutes over a game of pool in some Music Row publishing house. It’s catchy enough if not enduring.
5. “Sweet Thing” – Keith Urban
wonderfully passionate and intense song, "Sweet Thing," is a pop-country confection that showcases his prowess on the guitar. Even more impressive is just how perfectly Keith’s dazzling musicianship complements his earnest vocals.
6. “Big Green Tractor” - Jason Aldean
On first listen, Jason Aldean’s
catchy though quite disposable “Big Green Tractor” screams radio hit. The lyrics are silly, but the production is top-notch, and it’s definitely more country in feel than some of his earlier singles. Aldean continues moving in the right direction.
7. “Summer Nights” – Rascal Flatts
Co-written by Rascall Flatts
singer, Gary LeVox, “Summer Nights” is a frolicking slice country-pop paradise (with a much heavier emphasis on the pop). Loud driving guitars might alienate the more traditional-minded, but this infectious song wasn’t written for them anyway.
8. “White Horse” – Taylor Swift
Elegantly understated and, dare I say, mature, “White Horse” is a gem from Taylor Swift
, the reigning queen of country-pop. Gone are the fairytale endings and fantasies of scorned teenage vengeance, and Taylor’s understated vocals have never sounded better or more honest.
9. “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” – Jake Owen
On the soulful “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” Jake Owen
dials back his impressive country wail, and the result is a warm and surprisingly bluesy vibe. A very nice change of pace from Mr. Owen.
10. “I Run to You” – Lady Antebellum
first No. 1 country single, “I Run to You,” is a soothing and melodic stroll that wonderfully highlights the group’s pristine vocals. A sweet and solid effort from this talented trio’s debut album.