ROUGHSTOCK - Mallary Hope Mid-Year Report: My 25 Favorite Singles
Mid-Year Report: My 25 Favorite Singles
By Matt Bjorke
July 4, 2010
Yes, other websites out there are releasing these kinds of lists so I decided to join the fray. These songs aren’t in any particular order other than how they came across my mind. The majority of these songs are ‘radio’ singles and not just ‘best songs.’ It was considerably harder to get up to 25 songs for this list than it probably should’ve been, but here’s what I came up with.
“Blossom In The Dust” – Mallary Hope
Mallary Hope has found two singles move near the Top 40 at country radio and “Blossom” is like “Love Lives On” in that it showcases Hope’s considerable talent. With a strong acumen for writing beautiful melodies and Martina-like messages, Mallary can certainly belt out a tune as she does here a-la Faith Hill. It seems to be very tough for any female artists to really breakthrough at radio but hopefully Mallary can be one of the few that do.
“Sunshine (Everybody Needs A Little)” – Steve Azar
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. The light, airy melody sets a mood and this one has quickly become a romantic favorite and is well on its way to becoming a wedding first dance kind of song.
“Macon” – Jamey Johnson
Not yet an official radio single, this song nonetheless is a strong contender for one of the top single releases of 2010.
“Pray For You” – Jaron and the Long Road to Love
This song is a brilliantly constructed and playful revenge tune. Instead of scratching a car a-la Carrie Underwood, Jaron is instead praying for things to happen. I don’t think he means much of what he’s singing here except to say that he hopes the girl gets hurt as bad as she made him feel after she left him.
“The Man I Want To Be” – Chris Young
The second straight #1 hit for the former Nashville Star winner, Chris Young’s strong baritone sells a song about a guy who is thankful for finding the woman who makes him ‘want to be a better man.’ It’s a play on an old theme and while lyrics like this have been said plenty of times, it sounds great here and it’s easy to see why fans requested this song over and over the last few months.
“Turning Home” – David Nail
David Nail is one of the best male vocalists to breakthrough Nashville’s long line of dreamers. He mixes a love of traditional country with that of a pop-leaning background to great effect and really helps bring this Kenny Chesney co-write to life. It’s a song about revisiting your hometown after years have gone on. As somebody who is doing just that as I write this article, I can certainly relate to the words of this song.
“Temporary Home” – Carrie Underwood
The vocals are spot-on as always. The lyrics tell a great story and the melody helps deliver a strong message. If Carrie sang more songs like this and less songs like “Undo It,” I’d readily sing her praises. Perhaps someday she will. Still, this is an undeniable highlight from Play On.
“Lover, Lover” – Jerrod Niemann
Brilliant. That’s what “Lover, Lover” is. Who’d have thought that Jerrod Niemann, a tradition-loving singer/songwriter, would break through with a cover song of a 9-10 year old alt/pop hit? It’s a stroke of genius because not only is “Lover, Lover” as catchy” as anything you’re likely to hear in any given year, it also is the exact kind of song that gets people to buy albums and singles. I have loved this tune since I first heard it on Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury last summer and I’m here to say that it’s far from Niemann’s only hit from the record.
The House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert
This is an easy one. Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin’s brilliantly written ode to a home from the past is eloquently written and brilliantly performed by Miranda. It is deserving of the distinction of being a signature hit for Miranda while also being 2010’s longest-running chart-topping hit with a month at the top of the charts.
“Guinivere” – Eli Young Band
This one failed to become a huge hit for EYB but that doesn’t mean the ballad is worthy of passing over as the song, which Mike Eli co-wrote, paints a story of a girl who’s running and stumbling in circles and doesn’t let many people into her life. It’s a song that probably paints too much of an accurate picture for many people and because it hurts so much, the song didn’t find the audience it should’ve. Still, it’s brilliantly played by the band and eloquently sung by Mike Eli.
“The Snow White Rows of Arlington” – Sammy Kershaw
This song was never going to be a huge hit at country radio but the fact that Sammy Kershaw released it as a single is a testament to how strong a song it is. It tells a heart wrenching story over an achingly beautiful and simple melody. Written by Hugh Prestwood, there is nothing not to like about the song except perhaps it is/was too close to home for folks, just like the EYB tune above.
“Little White Church” – Little Big Town
Ahh, this is the Little Big Town that I remember. From the groovy melody to the fantastic lead vocal from Karen Fairchild; from the hand-claps to the harmonies, the song has it all. What’s not to love?
“Till A Woman Comes Along” – Chris Janson
I’m still shocked that this one didn’t get at least inside the Top 40. It desverved at least that fate as Chris Janson has the talent to really break out as a star. The lyrics are not your everyday slice-of-life type of songs, the vocals are country and the melody is rockin’ without ever feeling like it’s cribbing on too many other artists. Go and check this tune out if you missed it. It’s worth paying attention to.
“If I Die Young” – The Band Perry
The melody is pretty, the lyrics are mystical, the songwriting is strong and damn if Kimberly Perry doesn’t really show off a strong vocal here. Add in some strong country instrumentation and harmony vocals from her brothers Reid and Neil Perry and we have the kind of song that feels like a break-out hit while also showcasing a band that is much more than the playful ‘Hip To My Heart’ single.
“Blue Sky” – Emily West (Featuring Keith Urban)
It barely made the Top 40 (like all of Emily’s songs) but that doesn’t mean this song isn’t a gem. Emily West is a treasure of an artist and hopefully we’ll get a full-length record that will bring her the stardom she deserves, particularly when she writes such brilliant songs like “Blue Sky.”
“Sweet September” – Williams Riley
It saddens me that the trio’s record label, Golden Music, folded before the band could break through in a big way at radio and retail. This song is the strongest one Williams Riley has released to date- right behind “I’m Still Me” from last year. Hopefully they will stick it out as a band and find another label to work with to get a physical CD out in stores.
“From A Table Away” – Sunny Sweeney
This song is an interesting tune that finds Sunny singing from the prospective of ‘the other woman’ who keeps waiting for the man to leave his wife until she realizes at a restaurant, watching the still in love couple, that he will never leave the wife for her. It’s a bittersweet kind of tune and with a traditional arrangement (but contemporary enough for radio) that hopefully will help Sunny breakthrough at radio.
“Daddy Phone” – Marty Raybon
One of the best vocalists ever to score a hit at country radio, Marty Raybon’s ‘comeback’ single “Daddy Phone” may have failed to chart on Billboard but it’d be a shame to not consider this traditional country ballad one of 2010’s best tunes. Anyone who’s a divorced father with a little one or a former little child of divorce will relate to the tune. It’s heartbreaking and I sure wish I had a Daddy Phone of my own back in the day, particularly as I lived thousands of miles away from him.
“Real” – James Wesley
Talk about clever lyrics. “Real” takes the titles of reality shows and turns them into something genuine and strong. It’s a song about how real life often doesn’t mirror what is shown on reality shows. Wesley’s vocal is strong and the production serves as a great device in getting the message across. It’s country without ever losing the contemporary edge. It should be Wesley’s break-out hit.
“I Will Not Say Goodbye” – Danny Gokey
Wow. Where do I start with this one? It’s a passionate lyric with a passionate vocal by a supremely talented singer who really has connected to the material presented here. It’s a 180 from the ‘workman-like’ vocal of “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me” and this one is a strong contender to sit next to Miranda’s “House That Built Me” as the best singles of 2010.
“Rain Is A Good Thing” – Luke Bryan
Talk about a song that had to overcome it’s title. After the Nashville floods of May 1-2, this one actually served as a reminder of the good things rain does instead of the negative stuff. It’s a ‘aw-shucks’ kind of song from an artist who knows exactly who he is and who he isn’t.
“In Your Arms Again” – George Canyon & Crystal Shawanda
Brilliantly written by Canyon and his producer Richard Marx, “In Your Arms Again” is a monster Canadian hit that finds Canyon singing to his wife as he’s off fighting in Afghanistan and while it’s hard for him lose anther brother, he’s still hopeful in the power of freedom and longs to return the arms of his wife, who is portrayed by Shawanda here. Their chemistry is strong and while I wish the song was released in the USA by these two artists, I can picture Reba picking up this ballad and turning it into a gigantic hit on her next album with one of the top male vocalists in country music.
“Free” – Zac Brown Band
The fifth single from The Foundation, Free is still one of my favorite tunes from the album. It is a beautifully melodic ballad with sterling performances from the whole band and the harmonies are just spotless.
“This Ain’t No Love Song” – Trace Adkins
When Trace does songs like this one, it serves as a strong reminder of what kind of singer he can be when given great material (this one’s a Marcel co-write). The video may be a paint-by-numbers track but this song certainly isn’t and it looks like it will be one of Trace’s biggest hits, as it should be.
“Ain’t Much Left Of Lovin’ You” – Randy Montana
Written by Randy with the late Joshua Ragsdale, “Ain’t Much Left of Lovin’ You” is a particularly strong and moody debut single. It’s a song that has an interesting lyric that isn’t a paint-by-numbers affair and perhaps that’s why the finle finally managed to hit the Top 40 of Billboard after 15 weeks of trying. Hopefully it will move on up the charts a-la Lee Brice’s “Love Like Crazy” or at least enough to get a full-length project out on the airwaves.
There ya have it folks, my 25 favorite singles of the year so far. Some are big hits, some aren’t but all are quality radio tunes that certainly deserve your attention too. What do you think? Do you agree with what I’ve selected here? Do you think I left out anybody? I want to hear your thoughts too! Please leave a comment or two!