Miranda Lambert - All Kinds of Kinds
Quirky… no, downright strange for country radio, this is a song only someone with an established track record like Miranda Lambert could get away with (and she's only managed to barely crack the top 20 with it). It's weird and warm and has hopefully prepared listeners for the next big ode to open-mindedness to hopefully grace the charts, Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow."
Zac Brown Band - Sweet Annie
Reminiscent of their earlier earthy smash "Colder Weather," "Sweet Annie" is a slow rolling vocally driven gem. It's not pure country, but it's right there in the pocket of what pop-country should sound like in a natural evolution of genre. It's a low-key, high-quality song that hopefully won't be hurt by any higher ups trying to serve out "justice" for Zac's comments about genre cash-cow Puke Bryan.
Jason Aldean - Night Train
Yes, I'm serious. No, I'm not testing you. No, please don't shun me. Sure, this isn't traditional-sounding and it's not particularly deep… but it sounds good and isn't a generic party/listing song. There's only a passing mention of a truck. And no cut-off jeans. Aldean usually puts out one single per album that I genuinely enjoy and this is it for the album of the same name. I'll probably never care for Aldean as an artist or person due to his attitude and tendency to put out crap like "1994," but "Night Train" shows that he's got a little more appeal behind the bluster than some of his compadres.
Cole Swindell - Chillin' It
An unmemorable voice singing an unremarkable song that sounds like a Florida-Georgia Line album cut. There aren't any particularly embarrassing lyrics in the song, but certainly nothing to hang your new vintage trucker cap on. Oh, and did I mention he used to be Luke Bryan's merch guy? That's got nothing to do with the song sucking but... who am I kidding? Yes it does.
Chris Young - Aw Naw
Thankfully this is one of the 2 or 3 worst songs on his new album. Unfortunately, he'll probably release all of those as singles. Chris wasn't making enough money to keep up with the Aldeans putting out critical favorites like "Neon," so he became a follower of the less talented but more successful members of his genre, and this was the result. A bone-headed partyin' drinkin' anthem that he yells instead of sings.
Parmalee - Carolina
These guys switched from mainstream rock to mainstream country without even changing their sound or even remixing this song (not even a token fiddle or steel) and nobody said a word about it. DJ's just bent over and said "put it right here." It's not that this is a terrible song; it's one of the better songs I've heard from Daughtry… I'm just saying it doesn't belong on country radio. Why does country have to be the collection bin of failed pop singers and fake alt-rock bands?