The Shotgun Seat’s Top 20 Singles of 2014

 

#20
Brett Eldredge
“Mean to Me”
Individual Rankings: #3 – Annie

I’m particularly partial to this song because it’s a Scooter Carusoe co-write and his subtle imagery is what dreams are made of. Here, Eldredge paints every girl’s dream with that charismatic croon of his, offering up a gorgeous and totally romantic love ballad that is neither misogynistic, nor cheesy. *prayer hands* – Annie Dineen

(Check out: Brett Eldredge’s Video for “Mean to Me” is Sweet, Sultry and Scooter Carusoe – Songs You’ll Love Based on the Hits)

 

#19
Eli Young Band
“Dust”
Individual Rankings: #3 – Markus

Country arena-rock done very, very right. The pulsing melody and invigorating production is only half of what makes “Dust” such an excellent single. What really makes “Dust” shine is the way the lyrics convey enough of a story to make it interesting, but are vague enough to make it an anthem, while Mike Eli’s rough-but-warm vocal only adds to the intrigue. “Dust” is the complete package, and is the best single to date for the Eli Young Band. – Markus Meyer

 

#18
Tim Hicks
“She Don’t Drink Whiskey Anymore”
Individual Rankings: #2 – Markus

For those of you who thought Tim Hicks was a one dimensional party-rocker, think again. “She Don’t Drink Whiskey Anymore” is a heartbreaking tale of a narrator who is saddened by the fact that his ex may not be thinking about him any longer, and thus not consuming the same quantity of alcoholic beverages such as whiskey. Paired with a balanced production and a strong vocal, “She Don’t Drink Whiskey Anymore” is a sterling effort that recalls some of Jason Isbell’s finest work. – MM

(Check out: Canadian Country Spotlight: Tim Hicks and Tim Hicks Chats New Sound, That 5:01 Feeling, and Touring with Dierks)

 

#17
Dierks Bentley
“Drunk on a Plane”
Individual Rankings: #9 – Markus; #14 – Annie

YES. Dierks has everyone listening non-closely convinced they’re listening to another bro-country anthem about getting hammered, when actually it’s a rather melancholy tale of honeymoon heartbreak. Bonus, the upbeat production coupled with the darker lyric is so “Semi-Charmed Kind of Life”, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree 90’s music was all sorts of genius. – AD

 

#16
Kacey Musgraves
“Follow Your Arrow”
Individual Rankings: #1 – Chris

Break-out artist Kacey Musgraves made a huge statement with the release of “Follow Your Arrow”. The song’s progressive lyrics nod in support of gay rights and marijuana, which didn’t sit well with the country radio format but yielded her second Billboard top ten hit and a Gold certification. – Chris Rollins

 

#15
Brantley Gilbert
“One Hell of an Amen”
Individual Rankings: #1 – Markus

Near perfection. A gut-punching lyric combined with a fittingly gritty vocal and rough edged production makes “One Hell of an Amen” nothing short of a masterpiece. If there’s any justice in this world, this song will be a huge smash hit and will garner multiple award nominations. Thankfully, Gilbert’s at the point in his career where he’s big enough to make it happen. – MM

(Check out: Brantley Gilbert’s ‘Just As I Am’ Offers More Than Typical Radio Fare)

 

#14
Kenny Chesney
“American Kids”
Individual Rankings: #9 – Laura; #13 – Chris

In a Billboard Interview earlier this year, Kenny Chesney explained that he swore off Bro-Country themes and aimed to tackle deeper topics on The Big Revival. “American Kids” perfectly illustrates Chesney’s ability to explore uncharted musical territory, while staying true to his laid back spirit.  The lyrics clasp together in dynamic, attention-grabbing manner and earned the track a nomination for Best Country Song at the Grammy’s. – Laura Spinelli

(Check out: First Cut: Hear The Original Demo of Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids”)

 

#13
Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
“Somethin’ Bad”
Individual Rankings: #4 – Chris; #18 – Laura

The two reigning queens of country music teamed up for an in-your-face anthem with an Aerosmith-like rock edge. The summer release of “Somethin’ Bad” was well-timed, because the song is well suited for rolling down the windows and belting out the all of the “ooohhs” at the top of your lungs. – LS

#12
Eric Church
“Talladega”
Individual Rankings: #8 – Markus; #12 – Laura

Eric Church: Master of Nostalgia. This guy can take a simple story, and turn it into an epic sing-a-long anthem. He did with “Springsteen”, and he’s done it again here with “Talladega”. “Talladega” is a heartfelt lyric about a summer road trip with friends to go see a race, and how it’s moments like that that you’ll look back on. When Church is on his game, he’s pretty damn hard to top.
– MM

(Check out: ‘Eric Church Debuts Reflective “Talladega” Video’)

 

#11
Lee Brice
“I Don’t Dance”
Individual Rankings: #6 – Annie; #17 – Markus, Chris

Lee Brice may be the most underrated artist in mainstream country music. He consistently puts out good, sincere music from the heart, and “I Don’t Dance” is no different. Brice pours his heart and soul into a moving, relatable lyric about a man who claims he is incapable of dancing, but tries anyways for the woman he loves. Paired with a gorgeous melody and a spot-on production, you have a home run of a single. – MM

(Check out: ‘Lee Brice Comes in Strong With ‘I Don’t Dance’)

 

#10
Sam Hunt
“Leave the Night On”
Individual Rankings: #8 – Chris; #14 – Laura; #16 – Annie

Sam Hunt made his debut this year with Montevallo which included this Billboard number one hit. “Leave The Night On” also performed to considerable success as a Top 40 crossover hit due to Hunt’s musical styling infuses rap and spoken lyric, which have deemed him a stand-out amongst many other new artists. – CR

 

#9
Thomas Rhett
“Make Me Wanna”
Individual Rankings: #3 – Chris; #11 – Annie

There’s nothing super groundbreaking about this song – guy’s into girl, guy’s driving a truck, and lyrics like “slide on over” and “drunk on you with you no alcohol” are pretty much straight from Mad Libs Country Edition – but “Make Me Wanna” just feels good. Melodically, instrumentally, vocally, and that little riff of high notes in the hook make for a great record. – AD

 

#8
Maddie & Tae
“Girl In a Country Song”
Individual Rankings: #7 – Laura; #10 – Chris; #15 – Annie

Female duo Maddie & Tae broke out this year with their brave and sassy “Girl In A Country Song”, which served as a middle finger to bro country and the typically male-dominated radio format alike. The song went number one on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, proving that country girls have a name other than just “pretty little thing”. – CR

(Check out: Maddie & Tae Don’t Want To Be That “Girl in a Country Song”)

 

#7
Keith Urban
“Somewhere In My Car”
Individual Rankings: #2 – Laura; #14 – Markus; #15 – Chris

As Fuse, the title of Urban’s 2013 release, suggests, “Somewhere in My Car” is a well-crafted blend of pop and country sensibilities. The bouncy banjo lick at the beginning of this tune immediately fills the song with an upbeat energy that is carried throughout the rest of the track.  Urban’s vocals smoothly sail alongside the electric-guitar infused melody and are delivered with remarkable clarity given “Somewhere in My Car’s” lyrical density. – LS 

 

#6
Carrie Underwood
“Something in the Water”
Individual Rankings: #3 – Laura; #5 – Chris

Even with Underwood’s track record of success in releasing songs with deeply Christian messages, this single was bold given the dominance of party-hard hits on the radio.  She has the powerful vocals to back up the message though, and her range reaches an impressively new height on this track.  The Amazing Grace chorus at the end of the song, sung by Hillary Lindsey, Brett James, Chris DeStefano, Underwood, and two trained gospel singers, truly elevates the song to a heavenly height.  – LS

#5
Keith Urban
“Cop Car”
Individual Rankings: #5 – Annie; #6 – Markus; #13 – Laura

“Cop Car” is Keith Urban’s best single since “I Told You So”, and here’s why: because Urban is one of the finest vocalists to ever grace the airwaves. The attention to detail in his articulation, and his raw emotional power makes what was a solid song in the first place, a top-tier effort. Fantastic. – MM

(Check out: ‘Here’s the Track Listing (and a Little Preview) for Sam Hunt’s Debut Album’)

 

#4
Kacey Musgraves
“Keep It To Yourself”
Individual Rankings: #1 – Annie; #7 – Chris; #11 – Markus

I love love love this song. It’s a subtle sassy: “when it’s late, and you’re drunk, and you’re missing me like hell… keep it to yourself.” We’ve all been there – sometimes it’s bitter, sometimes it’s hurt, sometimes it’s just done – and the fact that it’s so multi-faceted-ally relatable is one of the many reasons this song is just a gem. – AD

 

#3
Dierks Bentley
“Say You Do”
Individual Rankings: #4 – Markus; #6 – Chris; #7 – Annie

Dierks Bentley has always been a capable romantic and “Say You Do” proves nothing less than that. An emotive lyric paired with a pretty female harmony makes this love song a potentially popular option for slow dances at wedding receptions in the future. – CR

 

#2
Miranda Lambert
“Automatic”
Individual Rankings: #4 – Annie, Laura; #9 – Chris

All of Platinum was awesome, and lead single “Automatic” served as the perfect introduction. This nostalgic ode to the way things used to be is an anthem to hard work, issuing a subtly critical preference for the good old days. – AD

 

#1
Eric Church
“Give Me Back My Hometown”
Individual Rankings: #1 – Laura; #2 – Annie; #14 – Chris

In many ways, “Give Me Back My Hometown” epitomizes Eric Church’s brilliance as an artist and songwriter.  It brings the pain associated with loss to life with incredibly vivid imagery in lines such as, All the colors of my youth/The red, the green, the hope, the truth/Are beatin’ me black and blue cause you’re in every scene.  The song reads like the chapter of an autobiography, which is no surprise given Church’s reverence for the album as a cohesive piece of art. – AD