Country music is constantly changing and 2015 was no different. Over the last couple of decades it has become a big influence for many music genres, but it has also been at the receiving end several times. Looking back on 2015 it’s clear that country music is making a turn back to its roots in terms of lyrics and presentation. Ladies and gentlemen, the bittersweet tales of lost love, drinking a little too much sometimes and finding hope when there is seemingly nothing have made their way back onto the airwaves. In no specific order, here is a look at the most influential country songs of 2015.
Ashley Monroe – On To Something Good
It’s not easy to write a happy-go-lucky song while preserving depth in terms of the lyrics, by Ashley has done it beautifully. Better known for her ballads, she used several influences to come up with a song that won’t just get your foot tapping, but it will also get you to think a little. It’s the lead single from her 2015 album entitled “The Blade” and thanks to the mixture of genres she used, Monroe has made it a good year for country.
LoCash – I Love This Life
This bro-country duo might not be famous for their optimistic tunes, but they’ve decided the world needs a little hope. It’s unfortunate that 2015 had several bad moments around the world, which makes it hard to see the silver lining at times, but LoCash took the torch and brought some love back to life. When it seems like everything is falling apart around you then look to the small pleasures, because they typically get you through the worst parts.
Kip Moore – Running For You
This is not the most polished song out there, but it’s with good reason. Moore’s distinct voice is pushed a little further with something that sounds more like a live recording rather than a professional sound studio production. He is vulnerable, emotional and most of all, he is honest to a fault. It’s a realistic song about love that simply can’t happen and he has to make peace with it, and just like we all do, he lies to himself at certain points hoping it will work.
Jana Kramer – I Got The Boy
For everyone who thinks Kramer is just a pretty face with great legs, here is a little surprise for you. This is a song that will have you reminiscing about those first butterflies you had in high school and maybe even bring a tear to your eye, because Jana sings it from the heart. You can hear the longing in her voice and the “what if” tone that accompanies it all the way through. Forget an over-the-top chorus and fancy guitar licks. Instead, strap yourself in for a very sentimental ride you can’t stop listening to.
Carrie Underwood – Smoke Break
Carrie has built up a career for being a straight shooter and it seems she’ll be continuing down that road. In this case she says what everyone is thinking when the day simply gets too long – the relief that comes with a smoke break or stiff drink. Carrie doesn’t inspire people to start drinking and smoking, but she is relating to those who do. For some people life is a little harder and she knows it.
Kelsea Ballerini – Love Me Like You Mean It
The silly little country-pop song that will outlast the others come from Kelsea Ballerini. Her debut single jumped to no.1 on the charts and she is close on the heels of heavyweights such as Underwood and Swift. It’s a pretty straight song where Ballerini tells all the guys that if they can’t do it right from the start then they shouldn’t try at all, and it will most likely be a hit in karaoke clubs for years to come, but Ballerini just brings something else to the table.
Brothers Osborne – Stay A Little Longer
It’s obvious that the Brothers Osborne have the skills to write songs that won’t leave your head for days, but they aren’t making any sacrifices to get them on the radio. These guys manage to grab attention from just about everywhere, because you can sing along to the first part of the song, but the last part you have to listen to a nice guitar piece. Basically, they are catering to the easy-listeners and the hardcore music lovers and this is no easy feat.
Luke Bryan – Strip It Down
It looks like Luke Bryan is finally growing up and moving away from his well-known youthful tracks. In the end artists take huge risks when they feel the need to evolve and Bryan has reached his now-or-never point in time. Fans can expect to hear what Bryan regards as intimacy and for the most part everyone will agree. Make no mistake, Bryan has a great talent for entertaining those who care to listen, but this time around he is really making a deep connection.
The Cadillac Tree – White Lightening
The relation between country, rock and blues is a complex and close one, as can be seen in this great song by The Cadillac Tree. Where you would usually expect them to tear it up, they bring you a love song that is just as sincere as an Alan Jackson ballad. It’s unfortunate that White Lightening didn’t receive as much recognition as the rest of the songs on this list in terms of airplay and chart positions, but it would be a bigger shame not to mention it here.
Dierks Bentley – Riser
Consider this song the anthem for 2015, because it will have you standing up to all the possible problems you are facing. With such an inspirational video, Bentley’s passionate voice and lyrics that come around once in a lifetime, this single is much more than just a song to sing along with. It’s about getting up when life is pushing you down and never giving up when things get too tough. Even though Bentley didn’t write the song, he sure as hell believes in the words.
In 2016 it will be interesting to see which road country music is going to take, especially after such an explosive year. But it’s safe to assume it’s going to be great!