Top 10 Country Music Songs of 2017
The year 2017 has brought with it its fair share of hits, from love songs to party songs to feel-good family songs. Throughout the year, established artists such as Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean have taken their turn at the top of the charts, as have new, emerging acts, such as Brett Young and Carly Pearce.
It's a tall task to narrow down all of the songs and singles released in 2017 into one list of the year's 10 best, but The Boot's staff gave it a go. Below are The Boot's picks for country music's Top 10 songs of 2017.
Lynch's fifth consecutive No. 1 hit, "Small Town Boy" was written by Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip and Kyle Fishman; the song also became Lynch's biggest hit so far, staying at the top of the charts for four weeks. The second single from Lynch's Current Mood album, "Small Town Boy" is a song that Lynch says he knew early on would be a hit for him.
"I remember hearing it and then getting to my hunting lease, and the whole time I’m sitting in the tree stand, I’m like, 'Man, I can’t wait to get back and listen to that song again,'" recalls Lynch. "On the way home, I was playing it over and over, and I was like, 'Man, this is really special and cool.'"
The second single from Rhett's No. 1 sophomore album, Life Changes, "Unforgettable" was written by Rhett, along with Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure and Shane McAnally. Its lyrics talk about remembering all of the small, seemingly forgettable details about the night you met the person you love.
"I think, a lot of the time, us guys get a bad rap for not remembering a lot of the small things," Rhett shares. "But if you can remember details of the night you fell in love with somebody, I think a girl would really like to hear that, and so that’s where the idea of the song came from."
"Every Little Thing" is the song Pearce used to introduce herself to country music, and what an introduction it was. The No. 1 tune, written by Pearce along with her producer, busbee, and Emily Shackleton, was a healing balm for the singer-songwriter, who used it to bid a final farewell to a guy who broke her heart.
"We wrote that song in 45 minutes," Pearce says. "I remember that was one of the fastest writes I’ve ever had, and I cried on the way home, because it was almost the final stamp of the nail in the coffin on that relationship."
Young co-wrote "In Case You Didn't Know," as he did all 12 of his songs on his eponymous freshman album. A tender ballad -- lyrics include "In case you didn't know / Baby I'm crazy bout you / And I would be lying if I said / That I could live this life without you / Even though I don't tell you all the time / You had my heart a long long time ago /In case you didn't know" -- the song expresses an emotion that is universally felt.
"We wanted everybody to be able to make it their love story," Young explains, "so we just kept it really simple and said what we would like to say the person that we love, or we would like to hear back from the person that we love."
Young succeeded with his quest for the song, and then some: It not only became a No. 1 single, it also became Young's first multi-platinum hit.
The debut single from the Flatts' newest album, Back to Us, "Yours If You Want It" became the trio's 14th No. 1 hit. Written by Jonathan Singleton and the late Andrew Dorff, the took on new meaning after Dorff's death in late 2016.
"Andrew was so just 100-percent in -- loved it," band member Joe Don Rooney shares of the single. "He was so warm and sweet with his words about us recording that song. And from there, we just felt like that was the song to go with for the first single ... Amazingly enough, I think everything Rascal Flatts is about is written inside that song."
The first single from Ballerini's sophomore album, Unapologetically, "Legends" was written by Ballerini, Forest Glen Whitehead and Jason Massey. The song was originally a breakup song, but after Ballerini fell in love with Morgan Evans, it began to mean something entirely different.
"It changed meanings for me," says Ballerini. "It’s a love song to me now, and it’s about a love that you’re nostalgic about, that doesn’t necessarily have to end. So it’s the last song on the record because, to me, it’s kind of like that forever, which I think will open up to start the next chapter of whatever that looks like."
The final single released from Urban's 2016 album Ripcord, "The Fighter" soared on the charts, thanks in part to Underwood's guest vocals. Written by Urban and busbee, the song -- which includes lyrics such as "Look in the mirror / You're beautiful, so beautiful / I'm here to remind you / You're my only one, let me be the one / To heal all the pain that he put you through / It's a love like you never knew / Just let me show you" -- was inspired by Urban's relationship with his movie star wife, Nicole Kidman.
"It was just a very quick, quick song to write," Urban shares. "I literally thought about Nic and I and our relationship in the beginning, and some of the things we had said all went into that song."
"Body Like a Back Road" is a crossover country hit for the ages. Written by Hunt, along with Zach Crowell, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, the song set all kinds of records: It stayed at the top of the country charts for 34 weeks and became a Top 10 hit on the pop charts as well.
"I have been amazed," Hunt says of the success of "Body Like a Back Road. "I think I’ve been impressed with the fans of mine, and the loyalty they show. Because a lot of the momentum early on came from the anticipation from the fans in the first place ..."
Taylor Swift penned "Better Man," then sent it to Jimi Westbrook in an email and asked if Little Big Town would consider recording it. Thankfully, they did. The song won a CMA for Song of the Year (and is nominated for Best Country Song at the 2018 Grammy Awards).
"She sent us this song, and it was one that was really special to her," Fairchild says. "She thought of us because of the harmonies. She’s never pitched a song to anyone before, and the moment that we heard it, we were like, ‘Man, that is a song that we’re going to cut.’"
Swift may have written "Better Man" about one of her breakups, but it seems tailor-made for the country quartet.
Lambert co-wrote this Grammy Awards-nominated song with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, in part as an ode to Kenny Chesney's song of the same name. The single, which references the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, who doesn't have a heart, says in part "You ain't missing nothing / 'Cause love is so damn hard / Take it from me, darling / You don't want a heart."
“Everyone knows what the Tin Man represents: cold and empty and loneliness and heartless,” Lambert shares. “And it just opened my eyes to it even more going through pain myself, you know, sort of an epiphany.”