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Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Three: #20-#11
Joey + Rory
Individual Rankings: #6 – Sam; #15 – Leeann; #17 – Ben
Joey Feek is not a woman to be trifled with. Blow off a day with her to go fishing with your buddies, and be prepared for a holdout that would make the recent NBA lockout look like a bathroom break. Along with a steel guitar-centric, pure country sound, the song’s humor doesn’t wear thin after repeated listenings. (Are you paying attention, Brad “Camouflage” Paisley?) – Sam Gazdziak
Drink Myself Single
Individual Rankings: #6 – Ben; #13 – Sam; #18 – Jonathan
Sweeney showed her vulnerable side with “From a Table Away” and “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” but here she reminds us that she still knows how to cut loose and have a good time. With “Drink Myself Single” Sweeney delivers an up-tempo track that’s rowdy and fun, with a jaunty electric-guitar-meets-steel-guitar arrangement.
Better yet, she does it without sacrificing lyrical intelligence, and even gets through the whole thing without having to resort to the crutch of citing ‘Ol’ Hank.’ With a seething undercurrent of hurt and anger echoing George Jones’ “Why Baby Why,” “Single” shows an artist with one foot grounded in country music’s storied past, but also with an eye toward the future. – Ben Foster
Mary Was the Marrying Kind
Individual Rankings: #4 – Kevin; #9 – Dan
A song that manages to characterize eight different girls more believably than a lot of songs characterize one. As the narrator runs through his rocky dating history, you get why he wasn’t conditioned to appreciate Mary when they met, and you mourn with him now that he’s learned to too late. – Dan Milliken
Alison Krauss & Union Station
Individual Rankings: #2 – Dan; #10 – Ben
Individual Rankings: #4 – Leeann; #7 – Ben; #19 – Tara
The sassy “Teenage Daughters” was a refreshing departure from the inspirational songs and rangy vocal performances that we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Martina McBride by now. Instead, with restrained vocals rife with personality, McBride slyly offers a realistic take on the frustrations of raising teenage daughters with honesty and without sap. More of that please, Martina! – Leeann Ward
Individual Rankings: #2 – Sam; #5 – Leeann
“Home” sounds like a pretty love song. And it is. it’s an emotional love song to America from a respectful Dierks Bentley. As the best love songs tend to go, it realistically acknowledges ups and downs while ultimately declaring the strength of the ties that bind. Best of all, not only is it a love song to America, it manages to be patriotic without the jingoism or chest thumping that has all too often pervades patriotic songs in the last decade. – Leeann Ward
Another Like You
Hayes Carll with Bonnie Whitmore
Individual Rankings: #1- Sam; #6 – Leeann
A heated political discussion between a diehard conservative and a bleeding-heart liberal turns into a drunken makeout session in an elevator. If more political discussions in this country ended that way, there would be a heck of a lot more being accomplished in Washington. – Sam Gazdziak
Staying’s Worse Than Leaving
Individual Rankings: #8 – Ben; #10 – Jonathan; #13 – Leeann; #14 – Dan
Sunny Sweeney just gets the economy of the best country songwriting: There’s nothing flashy about the opening lines of “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” but the weariness in her delivery of a simple aside (“Trust me, it’s really bad”) tells her character’s back-story in just a scant few words and gives her on-the-verge narrative real emotional heft. – Jonathan Keefe
A Little Bit Stronger
Individual Rankings: #2 – Kevin; #6 – Ben; #10 – Dan
As a portrait of the post-breakup healing process, Evans’ surprise comeback hit is striking in its simplicity, but nonetheless disarmingly effective. Simple vignettes of going through your daily routines with a smile on your face, changing the station when a song reminds you of your ex, coupled with the refrain of “I got a little bit stronger… just a little bit stronger” beautifully capture the progressive nature of the narrator’s healing journey.
Fittingly, Evans’ vocal begins on a hushed, tired-sounding note, building to a dramatic crescendo as the song progresses – a dynamic, layered performance from one of the finest interpretive singers of her generation. – Ben Foster
Individual Rankings: #6 – Kevin; #11 – Leeann; #12 – Ben; #16 – Tara; #16 – Jonathan; #20 – Dan
She’s heard through the grapevine what she needs to do to get her man back, a laundry list of every compromise under the sun. No wonder she reaches the conclusion that she just doesn’t need him that bad. – Kevin John Coyne
Next: Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Four: #10-#1
uhm.. I wonder if “Sparks Fly” or “Mean” will make it into the top 10. Nonetheless, good list! :D
I would’ve placed “Teenage Daughters” a bit higher though.
I wish Martina would release more songs like “Teenage Daughters” – meaning more songs without the screaming loudly. “Teenage Daughters” was a pretty good song but may have had limited appeal lyrically because it had way too much of a soccer mom vibe.I did like the song but I wish country music would broaden its appeal beyond soccer moms, country pride stuff, Jesus and America, and “outlaw” schtick. Anyway, I disagree but I know people who say that If you liked it but weren’t the parent of a teen, you kinda had a pedobear vibe. Pedobear or not, I think it was one of the better singles out this summer.
A very pleasant surprise to see Kasey Chambers on this list – love that song and its parent album too.
Teenage Daughters didn’t really do it for me. I appreciated the lyrics, but found McBride’s delivery overblown – just in a different way to normal. I prefer her being overblown with long high notes about cancer; at least that feels natural for her. In short, it’s a great song, just not in this performance.
Good group, especially the Sunny songs and AKUS’s “Paper Airplane”.
I liked the lyrics to “Home” – not jingoistic or chest thumping as Leeann pointed out. Kudos to writers Dan Wilson, Brett Beavers and Dierks.
Only good things can come out of co-writing with Dan Wilson. I wish Adele’s camp had submitted “Someone Like You” in the Grammy Song of the Year category instead of “Rolling in the Deep”, just so Dan could get a companion piece for his mantle.
Great list here. And I love seeing Kasey Chambers on here. I’ve always thought this single was a response from a more mature, self-assured version of the person who sang “Am I Not Pretty Enough” back one of her first stateside CDs.