By Sam Wilson.
Year in review? I know what you're thinking...it's only September! While 2019 is far from over, this week marks a special occasion for our Saturday morning program, Cross Country USA. It was one year ago that I started up the program on my own online station, SAM-FM, later rebranded as Country Radio USA. This past June, the show was moved over to TNN, and its creative approach to country music was an instant hit among listeners.
In commemoration of the show's first anniversary, I will be live on the airwaves this Saturday morning for a special 2-hour program, beginning just after 11:00 AM Eastern Time. We'll be taking a look at all of the hit country songs to top the Billboard Country Airplay chart in the past 365 days, along with a few of my favorite throwbacks thrown in for good measure. From the artists that saw their career turn around - Eli Young Band, Lee Brice, and Blake Shelton - to the artists that just can't stop reaching the top - Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, and, of course, Luke Combs - you'll hear 'em all! It's Cross Country USA - The Anniversary Year-In-Review Edition...this Saturday from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM on TNN Radio!
By Sam Wilson
August was a busy month for country radio. It saw some fantastc material from Maren Morris, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, and Jason Aldean climb to the #1 spot on the charts. While songs like “Beer Never Broke My Heart” were ruling the airwaves, programmers were busy selecting the next group of songs to put on their playlists for rotation in the coming months. Here are a few of my favorite new releases:
Luke Combs - Even Though I’m Leaving
Listen Here: https://youtu.be/8bjo95QKD3c
Can we all agree now that anything Mr. Combs releases to country radio is going to shoot straight up to #1? While his latest single from his sophomore project, “The Prequel,” couldn’t be any more different from “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” it still does what Combs’s music does best time and again - the ability to connect with country listeners with powerful vocals and none of the store brand hip-hop elements prevalent in the genre today. The first comment I read on YouTube when I pulled up the video read, “This is the kind of stuff that makes even the most tough men cry.” I couldn’t agree more.
Joe Diffie - As Long As There’s A Bar
Listen Here: https://youtu.be/H3H_V4I61GI
This song proves that Joe Diffie may just have what it takes to become the next David Lee Murphy. Both artists were prominent hitmakers in the mid-late 1990’s, but saw their fortunes change as the new century approached. Then, low and behold, Murphy seemingly came out of nowhere last year to release the feel-good summer hit “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” which hit #1 in July of 2018. Here’s to hoping this old-fashioned honky-tonk anthem will follow the same fate.
Kane Brown - Homesick
Listen Here: https://youtu.be/ukHikH_10CA
If Kane Brown’s latest “Experiment” is traditional-leaning, country-pop ballads like this one, then count me in as a fan. While I enjoyed Kane’s early-career singles, the hip-hop and pop influences in songs like “What Ifs” and “Heaven” proved to be too polarizing for some of the genre’s purists. (I’m looking at you, Trigger.) This, right here, is where he bridges the gap. “Homesick” has all of the modern production that you’d expect from a Kane Brown single, while also giving traditional country fans their fair share with a classic instrumentalization that includes a fiddle and steel combo. Oh, and that Strait-esque baritone. Definitely give this one a listen.
Eric Church - Monsters
Listen Here: https://youtu.be/PrYUK1vzCfY
The latest single from the “Some Of It” hitmaker is the most-added song at country radio this week, and for good reason. Addressing fears that humans encounter at every stage in life, this one’s going to resonate well with a lot of people, including his son Boone, whom the song was inspired by. “Monsters” takes on the same acoustic foundation you heard in “Some Of It.” It’s an all-around fantastic song by one of Nashville’s best.
Maren Morris - The Bones
Listen Here: https://youtu.be/gvPMVKUI9go
Much like the relationships the song portrays, Maren Morris continues to show that she’s one of the sturdiest hitmakers in Nashville. I could even see this soulful love song becoming her signature hit.
BONUS: Zac Brown Band - Leaving Love Behind
Listen Here: https://youtu.be/jmLy5xFIjkM
It’s hard to predict the sound of a Zac Brown Band song. I mean, really hard. One day, “Beautiful Drug” hits #1, the next, their team was promoting “My Old Man.” While their current single, “Someone I Used To Know,” could easily be viewed by some as “Beautiful Drug 2.0,” (although with a lot more depth and substance), you’d have to go back at least five years to find something in their catalog that this one easily parallels. In fact, I think this one even rivals “Colder Weather” in terms of its effectivity. After all, Zac Brown did once say that “good music should make you feel something,” and that’s exactly what this song does. Here’s to hoping that “Leaving Love Behind,” and not “God Given,” will be the band’s next release to radio.
So, what do you think? Which of these do you feel deserves the most radio airplay?