Top Songs of The Year
(This article was printed in the January / February 2011 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)
These days it's hard to find an album totally filled with great songs. In fact, I would have to say the last time I heard an album like that - was back in 1991, with Reba McEntire's For My Broken Heart album. Now days, we are even lucky to find one good song on each album.
That's where Strictly Country comes in. It is our job to review all of the albums out there. Why? To find the best albums, songs and entertainers.
This got me thinking. What if Strictly Country were to put out an album out with the best songs in country music? It would be more of a box set than an album.
But let's just stick with the best songs of 2010. Going from A to Z, here is Strictly Country's album of Best Songs of 2010...
We begin with "A Man On A Tractor" by Rodney Atkins. Lots of people believe that farming is not an important job. However, it is one of the most important jobs in the world. Farmers feed the world with their hard work. One of the nice things about being a farmer is the luxury of freedom. This song speaks about that freedom and how each of our jobs and our lives are important.
We continue with "Angel On Its Way" by Steve Gulley & Tim Stafford. This song is the result of an event that happened to Tim and his family. This beautiful ballad is about a family helping out a person less fortunate.
Lorrie Morgan hits our list with her beautiful rendition of an old classic in "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" Sure, we usually ban entertainers for re-recording other hit songs. But, Lorrie is one of the very few entertainers who can mesmerize the listener with their vocals. Simply beautiful!
Our next song comes from Joe Nichols with "Believers." This is a wonderful song about today's society of believers. Those who believe in their actions. It's another beautiful song with a message of hope.
We continue with another great ballad with "Better Than I Used To Be" by Sammy Kershaw. This song is about a man who has danced with the devil and is now ready to walk the straight path, with the help of a loved one.
Mark Brinkman has hit our list several times. The first song is a beautiful ballad of hope with "Beyond The Rain." Fans voted this song to win the 2011 Spirit Award's Song of The Year award. Another simply beautiful song!
In 2010, John Anderson released an album called Bigger Hands. It was nice to hear his unique vocals again. From that album we pulled a very powerful song, which happened to be the title track. This beautiful song combines spirituality with today's society in a strong message of hope.
Gretchen Wilson is a talented singer songwriter who will not conform to the country music standards. Perhaps that is why her music is so popular. Coming from her latest album, I Got Your Country Right Here is a great song in "Blue Collar Done Turn Red." This song speaks of the troubles within our country and when you set those aside she is still patriotic.
Joe Nichols returns with "Cheaper Than A Shrink." This is truly a country boy song. Nichols speaks about how alcohol and booze is totally cheaper than a shrink. A truly fun, Friday night, bar song.
Rodney Atkins returns with "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)." This is a great song about growing up and learning life's lessons. This is a song for all the fathers of daughters.
A new artist by the name of Jonmark Stone hits our list with "Chosin' Up Sides." This is a simple song about American pride and freedom.
We continue our list with a beautiful ballad by Wynonna Judd with "Come Some Rainy Day." This song is beautiful in so many ways. The instrumentals are light and airy. Now mix that with Wynonna's unique vocals and gentle message and what you have is one beautiful, beautiful song of love.
Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford return with the title track of their 2010 album release. "Dogwood Winter," is a beautiful bluegrass song that brings the listener on a journey back in time.
Another new artist, Mickie James, hit our list with her "Freedom Song." This country rock song is sure to get you going.
In 2010, the legendary Willie Nelson released an album called Country Music. From this album we pulled "Freight Train Boogie." Nothing beats going back to the classics like this one!
One of Strictly Country's picks of entertainers to watch was LoCash Cowboys. The reason was because of their song "Fresh Off The Farm." This is a true country rock song that will get any cowboy going. It's a song about a girl, fresh off the farm.
Mark Brinkman hits the list again with "Grandpa's Way of Life." This song speaks about the old ways of life. It's a great song to teach or remind you of lost loved ones.
Charlie Daniels was one of many to release a Christmas album in 2010. We couldn't pass by his song "Hallelujah." This is a beautiful song about the birth of Christ and the what joy that it brings!
In 2010, we saw the return of many artists including Mary Chapin Carpenter. It was nice to hear from her again. From her album, The Age of Miracles, we took "Holding Up The Sky." Mary has a very unique way of telling a story within her music. This song is just that, a story of life.
We also saw a lot of albums in which artist re-record former hit songs. This was the case with Louise Mandrell and her version of "I Can't Stop Loving You." Louise performs this old classic with such heart and soul that it comes through the speakers to hit the listener in the heart.
Gretchen Wilson returns with "I'll Love To Be Your Last." Gretchen is known as an artist who performs the high octane songs. This song proves that she has the talent to perform the heart felt ballads as well.
Ken Mellons returns to the country music scene with a brand new Bluegrass album, Rural Route. From this album we pulled "I'm Just A House." This is a great ballad that proposes the question - what stories would a house tell?
Steve Wariner was another artist who released a Christmas album in 2010. From this incredible instrumental album we pulled "I Saw Three Ships." Steve performs this song in the old world Celtic feel. Simply beautiful.
In 2010, Aaron Tippin teamed up with Governor Mike Huckabee and several other artists to record an album to raise funds for the Wanna Play Fund. This organization raises funds to help put musical instruments into the hands of every child in America. For this cause Aaron wrote a song called "I Wanna Play." This upbeat song is truly inspiring!
Mark Brinkman returns with "Littlest Guardian Angel." Performed with Dale Ann Bradley, this song is a beautiful ballad about children who have passed on before their time. This song is a great healing song for parents who have lost their children. It's a song of hope and healing.
Joe Nichols returns with "Old Things New." This song explores how we tend to find things from the past that we once knew and forgot about and we find them and bring them back into our lives.
Mark Chesnutt released a new album in 2010. From his Outlaw album, we pulled "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line." This is a great song that is pure country all the way. From the instrumentals, like the accordion, to the feel and the lyrics, simply country.
Willie Nelson brings us back to the old days of country music with his version of "Pistol Packin' Mama." Man, it's great to hear the classics like this. No one plays them like Willie!
Bluegrass singer Audie Blaylock and Redline comes to our list with "Pray The Clouds Away." This song has a message of hope performed in the traditional bluegrass feel.
Antsy McClain is one of the most prolific songwriters. He as the unique ability to capture everyday life and bring it to our attention. With his group, The Trailer Park Troubadours, he brings us his song "Primer Grey Impala." This beautiful ballad tells us a story of a young woman and her journey with her primer grey Impala.
Roseanne Cash returned with a beautiful album called The List. This album comes with an incredible story about her father, the legendary Johnny Cash. Roseanne teams up with Bruce Springsteen in a remake of "Sea of Heartbreak." The two keep with the tradition of the song and give a commanding performance.
Mark Brinkman returns again with "She's A Stranger In His Mind." This is a powerful ballad about dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimer's.
John Anderson returns with "Shuttin' Detroit Down." This song speaks of the events of the last few years. About, banks getting bailed out and farmers declaring bankruptcy. About, how the politicians get to live it up while factories are shutting down. This is a great anthem for today's society. Sure, the politicians say that society is getting better. But in the real world, things still look and are grim.
One of the best songs that I have ever heard is our next song. It comes from Wynonna Judd's album Love Heals, from Cracker Barrel and Curb Records. "Sing" is one of the most beautiful inspiriational songs that I have heard in a long time. The instrumentals mixed with Wynonna's incredible vocals simply make this song beautiful! This song is sure to inspire any one at anytime!
In 2010, we were introduced to several new artist including Travis Rush. Hailing from Oregon, Travis enlightened us with his unique style. Hitting our list is "Some Things Just Go Together." This upbeat tune speaks about how things go together like "America and being free." It's a great song that truly makes you think.
We continue our list with another great song by Antsy McClain and The Trailer Park Troubadours. This humorous song called "Spit Cup," talks about a boss who accedentally took a sip from someone's spit cup. This acoustic song features the true vocal talent that this group has.
Ken Mellons returns to our list with "Still Brand New." This is a beautiful ballad about how love over the years can still be new.
Trace Adkins hits our list with his song "Still Love You." This is a beautiful ballad of love. Not to get to morbid, but I can see this song played at a funeral. I can also see this one in a wedding. The message is a message of love.
Mickie James hits our list again with "Strangers & Angels." Wow! This is a great song with a powerful message. It's a message that inspires us to look beyond ourselves. To look for the good, the angels, in strangers. This is a song that you just have to hear!
Mark Chesnutt hits our list again with his rendition of an old classic with "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down." Yes, again we always detest entertainers re-recording former hit songs. But, this is one song that we all need to hear, in today's world.
Country new comer, Matt Kennon, hits our list with his song "The Call." This is a powerful ballad about things that we do and how they may change devastating events like suicide.
One of my favorite rock songs is a fun song called "The Cover of The Rolling Stone." Sammy Kershaw teams up with Jamey Johnson to give us their rendition of this fun song! They do alright, however, the original is better.
We continue our list with another song from John Anderson with "The Greatest Story Never Told." This is a beautiful ballad about a woman, who is a loving mother and wife. A story about a woman and all she does with out any recognition.
We continue with another from Antsy McClain and The Trailer Park Troubadours with "Way Cool World." This light hearted song speaks about the good things in our world. Antsy and crew explain how we should enjoy it, because it's a 'way cool world.'
Our list continues with another great song by Wynonna Judd. I can not help but truly wonder if "When I Fall In Love" is Wynonna's life song. It is truly remarkable how Wynonna performs this one!
We continue with another great song by Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford. "Why Ask Why?" is an upbeat song that truly asks what the the title states.
Through the years we have heard many great songs associated with honoring our soldiers. However, none of them sounded quite like Mark Brinkman's "With Love From Normandy." Mark is a talented songwriter. He has a unique ability to tell a short story in all of his songs. This one is no different. Based during World War II, this song is about the love between a soldier and his wife.
Trace Adkins tells it like it is in "Whoop A Man's Ass." This high octane country rock song maintains a powerful message. I truly believe that this song is Trace's persona. I would hate to cross him!
We close out our list with another great song by new comer Travis Rush with "You'll Find Your Way." This is another song about hope. When things get tough, like our society, you - we will find our way. This year we will find our way to even more great music.
Why is it that country music does not have any songs that begin with Z? Who knows?
In going through this list, I find that we have many repeating artists. Why? Were there no other artist worthy of making this list? Sure. But, each of these songs met strict requirements.
I few days ago, I was asked by a friend what makes a good song or album? My answer is always the same. Take an album, any album listen to it via radio then listen to it using studio quality headphones. There is a whole world of difference between the two.
A great song will have incredible instrumentals mixed with a well written song. Now take that and mix it with an entertainer who has vocal talent. If the mix is just right, then you have a great song. It's a sound that you can only hear through studio quality headphones.
Forget the MP3s, iPods, radios and cheap ear buds - you will not hear it on those. Invest in a stereo CD player with studio quality headphones and you will hear a whole new world of music.
So there you have it - Strictly Country's list of Top Songs of 2010! What will 2011 bring? I guess you will have to wait and listen...
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