Miranda Lambert’s double album,The Weight of These Wings, might be one of the most important collections of this era, if not of all-time. Carrying the damage and vulnerability only experience and pain can bring, the bold, raw and intimate set features some of Lambert’s finest storytelling. From the tear of “Tin Man” to the garbled mistakes of “Vice” and the plucky ode “Pushin’ Time,” the singer-songwriter pours her heart out in ways she never has before. Shockingly– but to no surprise to anyone– the LP has not spawned a single No. 1 hit (yet). But she has, however, snagged a platinum certification from the RIAA for one million units shifted between the album’s two discs. It is a tremendous accomplishment and further proves the disconnect between radio airplay and sales. As Rolling Stone recently dissected, the problem is rooted in systemic sexism that stretches back decades since the music business began. It is a tragedy on par with the Dixie Chicks being banned by radio.
We got to thinking– if songs like “Vice” and “Tin Man” can’t hit the summit, what can? Well, we’ve collected six recent hits that have. Get ready to weep.
1. “Body Like a Back Road” // Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell, Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally
Body like a back road, drivin’ with my eyes closed
I know every curve like the back of my hand
Doin’ 15 in a 30, I ain’t in no hurry
I’mma take it slow just as fast as I can
Coming off a blockbuster debut era with Montevallo and a slew of hits, including “Take Your Time” and “Break Up in a Small Town,” Hunt pushes the envelope even further. This time his use of such imagery as a back road to reflect upon a lover is disconcerting. It’s fine to be compared to a bumpy, gravelly side road, if that’s your allotment in life. But, shouldn’t we aspire to be better? Surely, we can do better.
2. “A Guy with a Girl” // Blake Shelton
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley and Bryan Simpson
And I’m just the guy with the girl everybody wants to know
Wishin’ you were there alone
Wonderin’ how I ever got your little hand in mine
Lookin’ over at ya like “ain’t she beautiful?
This might be one of Shelton’s least offensive singles, but should that qualify as being good? In the past, he has claimed to be the purveyor what modern country should be, and he has demonstrated quite the knack for historical facts and figures. So, you’d think he would uphold his claims. And he has. Austin says hello.
3. “My Girl” by Dylan Scott
Songwriters: Dylan Scott and Josh Kerr
She looks so pretty with no makeup on
You should hear her talking to her mama on the phone
I love it when she raps to an Eminem song
That’s my girl
Why is name dropping rappers a thing? It makes you question why the artist got into country music in the first place; forget the overly-pop arrangement. What happened to the likes of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or Loretta Lynn being artistic muses? Scott has potential. He really does. But this comes across as a sad knock-off of Sam Hunt, and no one wants that.
4. “Craving You” // Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
Songwriters: Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta
I never had something that I can’t walk away from
But, girl, my self-control’s so paralyzed
When it comes to you, no, I ain’t got no patience
There’s something ’bout you girl I just can’t fight
To say the boundaries of country are becoming nonexistent is a understatement. This is a straight-up R&B cliche, and the ever-talented Morris is relegated to background vocals. I’m not a purist by any standard, but country should be county– and not b-sides even Katy Perry wouldn’t record.
5. “Seein’ Red” by Dustin Lynch
Songwriters: Kurt Allison, Steve Bogard, Tully Kennedy and Jason Sever
I’m talking red hot, red kiss
Falling off your lips
I’m talking red hot, red dress
Hanging off your hips
Hanging on your hips
Oh, he was so full of promise with “Cowboys & Angels.” In the chase to move from outlier to bona fide star, Lynch lost what made him so special. At least, it’s not nearly as atrocious as “She Cranks My Tractor.” So, there is that.
6. “God, Your Mama & Me” // Florida Georgia Line featuring Backstreet Boys
Songwriters: Josh Kear, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson
Never gonna run dry, never gonna come up empty
Now until the day I die, unconditionally
You know I’m always gonna be here for ya
No one’s ever gonna love you more than
God, your mama, and me
Again, this is a case of not-overly-offensive. It kind of seems beneath BSB to perform such a saccharine and milktoast tune– and their songbook is packed with them (but executed in much better terms), but money talks. FLG attempted to show how deep and romantic they are, but in truth, it comes across as flat and uninspired.