It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through 2016, but summer is officially upon us. As such, it’s time to take a look back at what the first half of the year has brought in terms of good country music.
The year 2016 is already off to a killer start when it comes to good tunes, thanks to the arrival of fresh up-and-coming artists and solid efforts from established musicians alike. The five songs below have seen successful both with critics and fans (read: radio airplay) and will no doubt still sound good by the end of the year.
Underwood is really at her best with ballads, and “Church Bells” is the perfect vehicle for her characteristic spunk and that incredible voice. The track, penned by star songwriters Zach Crowell, Hillary Lindsey and Brett James, also touches on the incredibly serious topic of domestic violence, bringing some much-needed seriousness to the country music charts. Underwood has described the song as “"Fancy"’s little sister,” referring to the Reba McEntire hit from which it draws a great deal of lyrical and sonic inspiration.
Nobody could’ve predicted the breakout success of Rhett, who’s to date earned six No. 1 singles in a row. This love song, written for the singer's wife, brings the perfect formula of sultry and sweetness that makes for an excellent country love song. Expect to hear this one at every wedding you attend this summer.
Texas native and Nashville transport Morris’ fiery debut Hero is earning her acclaim from everyone from NPR to Rolling Stone, and “My Church,” the lead single from that album, is just pure country goodness. From the references to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash to the rollicking chorus, it’s certainly a track that will having you worshiping at country’s altar.
Despite incredible success, Church still remains a country music outsider in a number of ways. The title track of his fifth studio album, “Mr. Misunderstood” expresses a feeling that’s familiar to plenty of country fans who are practically aching for old-school tunes -- and, as a co-writer on the song, it’s pretty clear that Church feels the same way.
Also a newcomer, Price has earned a hit with critics and fans alike with her Midwestern Farmers Daughter album. With “Hurtin’ (on the Bottle),” the singer-songwriter offers the 21st century’s answer to Bobbie Gentry and a strong entry into the crowded hall of country’s finest drinking songs. If you’re looking to nurse a heartbreak, you’ll have a hard time finding a better soundtrack than Price.