This month’s favorites include Brett Young, Filmore, Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell, and Maddie & Tae.
Natalie: “1, 2, 3 Mississippi” by Brett Young
Brett Young’s songs are the late-90s rom-coms of country. They’re sweet, catchy and irresistible (and occasionally predictable), and—like the on-screen chemistry between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks— it’s a win every time. This track, from his sophomore album Ticket to L.A., stood out to me upon first listen, and I’ve been addicted ever since. It’s nothing too groundbreaking, but twists his usual formula just enough to keep things interesting. With lovely lyrics (“Index finger tracing all the stars in your eyes”) and a clever chorus (“I’m gonna need a 1, 2, 3, Mississippi / Time out right now cause I’m falling too fast, for / You listening to your life story on the hood of a ’64 Cadillac”), it somehow escapes cliche territory while checking every cuteness box.
Lydia: “Love That About You” by Filmore
I’m a sucker for a good ol’ sweet love song. Here, Filmore adds his own upbeat twist to a classic story. He captures the carefree feeling of being so in love that you see the good in everything about your someone special—plus, it’s catchy and just all-around fun. It’ll definitely on repeat for the foreseeable future. Key Lyrics: “Ooo girl, I love that about you / You know you can’t do no wrong / Yeah, every time I’m around you / I see a little bit of you that you don’t / So unpredictable / You’re so unforgettable / Girl, so don’t go changing no time soon.”
Markus: “What Happens In a Small Town” by Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell
Brantley Gilbert is at his best with strong hooks and melodies, blended with a gritty edge in production and melancholic songwriting. While this formula fell off the rails somewhat with the 2017 project The Devil Don’t Sleep, he has returned to it with his most recent single, “What Happens In a Small Town.” The single evokes a sense of regret and nostalgia, along with a longing for the return of lost love and an angst that comes with the memories surrounding the narrator. Production-wise, it holds a strength that works to hold up the lyric, while the hook and chorus are effective in creating a sort of earworm. Lindsay Ell puts in a tremendous vocal, that works well with Gilbert’s distinct rasp. It’s a nice return to form for Gilbert, and one that can hopefully find a home on country radio this year.
Annie: “Friends Don’t” by Maddie & Tae
I’ve been really digging this song from Maddie & Tae lately. I always love their harmonies and song selection, and as we enter a new year full of new beginnings, this ode to the potential start of a more-than-just-friendship is a perfect pairing.