Sunny Sweeney with Will Hoge
Written By Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, and Sunny Sweeney
Both Sunny Sweeney and Will Hoge have flirted briefly with mainstream success: Sweeney cracked the top 10 at radio with “From a Table Away,” while Eli Young Band scored a major hit with their cover of Hoge’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” A slow-burning ballad that chronicles the dissolution of a relationship between actual adults, “My Bed” is, unfortunately, too far out-of-step with the culture at country radio for the pair of singer-songwriters to make any new inroads there. But it’s a measured, mature single that deserves a wider audience.
“Hot Corn, Cold Corn”
Robert Earl Keen
Written By Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
Robert Earl Keen has spent the past three decades as one of the most venerated singer-songwriters in country music, particularly within the Texas Country community. His latest album, Happy Prisoner, is a departure from Keen not because of his decision to dabble in Bluegrass music— his material has always skewed in a folk-leaning, acoustic direction— but because it’s an entire album of cover songs, and he’s known for his sharply-observed originals. Fortunately, there’s no faulting Keen’s taste in material, and the album’s first single is a cover of “Hot Corn, Cold Corn,” a Flatt & Scruggs tune that has become a Bluegrass standard.
“Doin’ Country Right”
Written by Heather Morgan, Josh Osborne, and Jimmy Robbins
Seems safe to bet that the irony of this single’s title is lost on everyone involved in inflicting it upon a genre that keeps finding ever-more horrifying ways to embarrass itself.
“Hard to Be Cool”
Written by Rob Hatch and Jason Sellers
I’m always rooting for Joe Nichols. He’s got a smooth twang, two qualities that usually don’t go together. He’s made some solid music over the years, too.
What gets him in trouble is his strange tendency toward songs that walk the line between clever and corny. He seems to be drawn to songs that come up with an interesting concept, but never get around to building a compelling song around it.
“I Cheated on You”
Written by Brent Anderson, Brandy Clark, and Forrest Whitehead
“I Cheated on You” is likely to be the best country single of 2015 that barely gets heard south of the Canadian border.
Terri Clark’s latest single is perfectly structured, has an edge that can come only with maturity, and tells such an obvious country cheating tale that it’s amazing that it’s never been told this way before.
Written by J.T. Harding, Josh Osborne, and Trevor Rosen
This is Shelton’s best single an a good long while.
It’s smooth and seductive, without sounding overly coy or even the least bit tacky. The Sangria angle is used well both literally and figuratively, and the lyrics are creative enough that they don’t run the concept into the ground.
“Tonight Looks Good on You”
Written by Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, and Ashley Gorley
Great artists start trends, and when everybody else is catching up to what they started, they’ve already moved on to something fresh.
Jason Aldean is not a great artist.
“Hell of a Night”
Written by Jaron Boyer, Zach Crowell, and Adam Sanders
I’m starting to believe that the “bro-country” movement doesn’t even exist, and it’s really just an attempt to ascribe meaning to a trend as old as Music City itself: lazy songwriting.
“Love Me Like You Mean It”
Written by Kelsea Ballerini, Lance Carpenter, Josh Kerr, and Forest Glen Whitehead
This sounds like a demo recording for a Taylor Swift album that will never be recorded.
Credit to Kelsea Ballerini for co-writing her single and for not getting vocally lost in the shuffle of a fairly busy production. I suppose there’s some promise underneath all of the proceedings here, and there’s nothing inherently awful about any of it.
But it takes a special kind of narcissistic charm to pull off a laundry list of requests for a potential beau, and she has neither the outsize personality or outsize list of demands to pull this off. It would’ve worked better if she’d gone the vulnerable angle instead of the “I mean business” one, which she simply doesn’t have the assertiveness to convincingly convey.
It’s so milquetoast that it’s more like “Take it or Leave it” than “Love Me Like You Mean It.”
Written by Gary Allan, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure, and Chris Stapleton
With its play on the word “hangover” and its playful production, Allan’s latest single has a happy and silly vibe with an infectious swampy groove. “Hangover Tonight” is carefree and treads the old topic of partying, but it still stands above and apart from the loud raucous party anthems of his mainstream peers.