The Shotgun Seat’s Top Singles of 2016

There was plenty to celebrate on country radio this year, and The Shotgun Seat team had to narrow it down to our favorite 20. Like our list of top albums, five writers (Markus Meyer, Annie Dineen, Lydia Simonetti, Christina Bosch and Natalie Schumann), compiled a personal list, which blended together to create this master list. Enjoy, and as always, feel free to share your opinions in the comments or on social media. Here’s to a great 2017 in country music!



“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban

Individual Rankings: #12 – Annie; #17 – Christina

A change in pace for Urban, this track is lyrically different and certainly unique. With imagery that captures you from the first line, this classic ballad boasts a simple arrangement allowing the lyrics to really shine. – Christina Bosch



“Unlove You” – Jennifer Nettles

Individual Rankings: #3 – Annie

I wasn’t lost until you found me.” That line alone can knock a listener head over heels for this song, which Jennifer Nettles delivers with quavering vulnerability and strength. Emotion, responsibility, wisdom, and selfishness blend beautifully in this song, perfectly nailing the complications of what it means to feel. – Annie Dineen



“Pretty Faced Fool” – Jewel

Individual Rankings: #1 – Annie

Jewel, never change. Her delivery on this Spring single was shimmering and smoky, perfectly delivering the lyric, which dexterously handles the perks and pitfalls of taking a risk on love. Trivia: Kip Moore was a co-writer on this one, with Dan Couch and Brett James. – AD



“The Driver” – Charles Kelley feat. Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay

Individual Rankings: #5 – Lydia; #9 – Christina; #12 – Natalie

The title track off of Charles Kelley’s debut solo album is the story of life on the road. It’s a descriptive ballad giving insight into what goes on before and after the show. Kelley, Bentley and Paslay give an authentic look into the industry, a view not often highlighted. – Lydia Simonetti



“Wasted Time” – Keith Urban

Individual Rankings: #8 – Natalie; #16 – Lydia

Keith, at it again with the feel-good summer hit. This was one of the highlights from his genre-fusing Ripcord album, and it gives off major “Sweet Thing” vibes. (The Four Loko reference left me skeptical at first, but I think he pulled it off – a difficult feat for any respectable artist, in my opinion.) Overall, a solid windows-down jam. – Natalie Schumann



“Parachute” – Chris Stapleton

Individual Rankings: #3 – Lydia; #10 – Annie; #15 – Christina, Natalie; #20 – Markus

The third single from the award-winning Traveller album highlights the songwriting and vocal excellence that we have come to respect from Chris Stapleton. “Parachute” is at its core a love song, centered around a man promising he will always be there.  Lyrically strong, the genius of this catchy song is Stapleton’s delivery – his strong, confident vocals command your attention from the first line.  – LS



“I’m Not the Devil” – Cody Jinks

Individual Rankings: #7 – Christina; #8 – Markus

A deep, intimate record by one of underground-country’s best. Jinks’ deep voice thunders over undoubtedly country production, a well-done melody, and a stunning lyric. The title track of his recent project, “I’m Not the Devil” serves as a template for what modern country should strive for. – Markus Meyer



“Think of You” – Chris Young feat. Cassadee Pope

Individual Rankings: #12 – Christina; #14 – Annie; #16 – Natalie

Chris Young is one hell of a vocalist, and Cassadee Pope more than rises to the occasion on this compelling duet. The chemistry between these two is fabulous, and the lyric and delivery are straightforward and strong, hitting that sweet spot between tears and toughening up. – AD



“Love Triangle” – RaeLynn

Individual Rankings: #3 – Markus; #19 – Lydia

RaeLynn delivers easily her best single to-date with “Love Triangle.” It’s an accessible and equally touching song that tackles a tough subject, with subtle details and an intricate point of view that may make it a tear-jerker for some. The gripping melody and pleasant pop-country production make this an absolutely dynamic listen, and certainly the most pleasant surprise of 2016. – MM


“Mayday” – Cam

Individual Rankings: #5 – Markus; #13 – Christina; #14 – Natalie; #15 – Annie

This has always been one of my favorites off of Cam’s debut Untamed, and it nicely showcases her ability to balance solemn subjects with catchy melodies, i.e. her megahit “Burning House.” “Mayday” feels retro and modern at the same time and tastefully touches on a complicated, realistic relationship dilemma. (And bonus points for those perfectly-executed, super-addictive background vocals that sneak in at the end.) – NS



“21 Summer” – Brothers Osborne

Individual Rankings: #1 – Christina; #10 – Natalie

Brothers Osborne released their second single off the incredible Pawn Shop early in the year. Riding the success of “21 Summer,” the brothers grabbed a second Grammy nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for the song. The track fills your head and heart with nostalgia, leaving you longing for a simpler time. – CB



“Running For You” – Kip Moore

Individual Rankings: #2 – Lydia; #9 – Annie

“Running For You,” the second single off Kip Moore’s sophomore album Wild Onesis a beautifully written ballad about being selfless in a relationship. Moore’s intense vocals capture the passion of a couple in love as they realize the relationship has run its course.  The message of moving forward separately while wishing nothing but the best for one another is a refreshing spin on a breakup song. – LS



“Forever Country” – Artists Of Then, Now & Forever

Individual Rankings: #1 – Markus; #11 – Christina, Natalie; #18 – Annie

What could have been a clunky, gimmicky effort turned out to be the single best record of the year. It’s a stunning display of talent from all eras of country music, blended together by a seamless, gorgeous traditional production (courtesy of Shane McAnally). The artists play off each other almost perfectly, harmonizing in unity on a number of occasions. A blend of three country classics turned out to be one of its own, and ends up as a beautiful portrayal of the beauty of the country music genre and its history. – MM



“It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” – Billy Currington

Individual Rankings: #5 – Christina, Natalie; #10 – Markus; #16 – Annie; #18 – Lydia

In a long string of number one hits, this mid-tempo track deals with the difficult phases of heartbreak, something Currington has perfected over the years. – CB



“Vice” – Miranda Lambert

Individual Rankings: #3 – Natalie; #4 – Lydia; #8 – Annie, Christina; #13 – Markus

Miranda Lambert’s introduction to The Weight of These Wings was this stunning single that’s rich as the freshly poured wax on which it’ll be spinning. Lambert is lyrically compelling here, offering an offhand confession to imperfections she’s not bothered by quite enough to change. In it, the Texan perfectly introduces her double album as a project chock-full of things to say. – AD



“My Church” – Maren Morris

Individual Rankings: #4 – Natalie; #6 – Christina; #11 – Lydia; #16 – Markus; #19 – Annie

Maren Morris is coming off a huge year, with her debut album granting her CMA accolades and four Grammy nominations, her debut single “My Church” had to make an appearance on our countdown. The anthemic song, dedicated to the power of music, shot Morris into the country world and we are pretty sure she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. – CB



“Better Man” – Little Big Town

Individual Rankings: #4 – Christina; #6 – Markus; #9 – Lydia, Markus; #17 – Annie

This no-frills heartbreaker from Little Big Town marks their first release since Painkiller (except for a brief foray into the pop world with Pharrell). Their exquisite harmonies add complex layers to the simple lyrics, which are just devastating enough to make you feel something but somehow friendly enough to make it a massive radio hit. – NS



“Kill a Word” – Eric Church feat. Rhiannon Giddens

Individual Rankings: #1 – Lydia; #4 – Annie; #6 – Natalie; #7 – Markus

The third single off Eric Church’s surprise album Mr. Misunderstood is on track to become an iconic song.  “Kill A Word” has a thought provoking, anti-hate message, and teaches a lesson on how to treat people.  It’s an intelligent song with clever lyrics reminding us to choose our words wisely, as they can be as damaging as physical actions. – LS



“Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw

Individual Rankings: #2 – Markus, Christina, Natalie; #7 – Annie; #10 – Lydia

A stunning, yet simple display of everyday morals that hits home. “Humble and Kind” is a statement, one that drives a message of simply, “stay humble and kind.” It’s a gorgeous example of stunning songwriting, courtesy of Lori McKenna, that serves a compass for life for all of us, through the most basic yet touching of messages. 2016 needed a “Humble and Kind,” and it is certainly worthy of each and every accolade it has received. – MM




“Record Year” – Eric Church

Individual Rankings: #1 – Natalie; #2 – Annie; #3 – Christina; #4 – Markus; #8 – Lydia

Confession: I did not understand this song at first. I thought it was simply a sarcastic jab at an ex, like “ha, yeah thanks, I’m really having a record year,” when the subject’s life is actually a mess. The countless album and song title references went straight over my head. (I have since wracked my brain for a possible explanation for my stupidity, to no avail.) But THEN, one day I was listening in the car and the second verse started, and I got it! And it is GENIUS. It’s smart and catchy, honest and universal, and manages to drive home a “music can save the world” message without an ounce of cheesiness. And I will never stop singing its praises, in hopes of making up for my embarrassing initial lack of perception. – NS