This week we take a look at 10 recent or soon-to-be-released country chart singles and it’s a mix of fresh names, established names and artists who are on labels big and small. This week’s best new single is Aaron Lewis’ “Endless Summer.” It’s a song we fully believe will become his first Top 40 country radio hit and should have a solid chance of becoming his second Gold single. The best song from a new artist is Rachel Holder’s “In Your Arms.” It’s going to have a tough road to chart success but we’re certainly hoping for the best for the song. Levi Riggs’ “My Best Friend’s A Girl” was our other contender with Rachel’s song this week. The most surprising comeback comes to the re-formed The Lost Trailers with their superb “Underdog.”
Toby Keith – Beer Ago
Toby showcased that he still is very much a radio star with the cultural phenomenon that became “Red Solo Cup.” Toby follows this song up with an equally appealing earworm. While, “Beers Ago” is much more a ‘conventional’ tune than ‘cup,’ it retains enough of a progressive rootsy vibe and it really has a heartland country rockin’, sing-a-long summer vibe to the whole thing. Which means it was the perfect and right choice as a single release to be a big part of summer 2012.
Listen to “beers ago” here
The Lost Trailers – “The Underdog”
A single from last fall, The Lost Trailers “The Underdog” has proven to be just that, an underdog, with radio as it has managed to get near the Top 40 at radio. The song is the type of well-written and performed song that could’ve been a hit for just about anyone and It’s funny it took all of the drama that Stokes Nielsen went through with the near dissolution of the band for him to come to write the song. He really has become the guy in this song. Hopefully it gets higher on the charts now that it’s gaining momentum yet again.
Bucky Covington – “I Wanna Be That Feeling”
Bucky Covington may not have had a Top 10 hit in quite a while but he’s still got a strong fanbase thanks to his time on American Idol and is able to tour and bring fans out to see his shows. Now signed to eOne Entertainment, Bucky’s looking to score with fans and radio again and with this tune, I hope he can as it’s a well-made single. The only issue he’s going to run into is if eOne can make it happen as they’ve re-launched their Nashville operations (the company owns assets of the old Audium label which had a few hits last decade).
Kix Brooks (Feat. Joe Walsh) – “New To This Town”
Kix Brooks has immediately had his highest charting hit with this song when it hit the top 60 of Billboard’s chart a few weeks before it officially gets an ‘add date’ at radio (the day that promoters will allow a song to get into radio station rotation). While part of Brooks & Dunn, Kix was able to secure a few hits as the vocalist but none of them were as compelling as Ronnie Dunn’s own stuff, until this single. Featuring some great slide guitar, “New To This Town” speaks of an emotion that anyone who has lived in the same town for a long time can relate to, that feeling of freshness and exploration that comes with moving to a new location and getting to know it better.
Levi Riggs – “My Best Friend’s A Girl”
This newcomer is signed to Flying Island Entertainment, a new label also working with Ty Herndon, Bucky Covington and Shooter Jennings among others. The hook is strong and something that hasn’t hasn’t been heard of yet (an obvious line that I’m surprised hasn’t been tried before now). It’s a song that should serve well as an introduction for a talented newcomer worthy of getting to know.
JB and the Moonshine Band – “Beer For Breakfast”
The title track to their just released album, this single is scoring with Texas radio audiences already and it’s easy to see why. While a texas-styled honky tonker, it has a lyric that any 20-something person has experienced a time or two in their life and that is something that’s very universal. It’s unique enough to stand out, JB’s strong voice shines and the rest of the Moonshine Band’s musicality is highlighted as well.
Martina McBride & Pat Monahan – “Marry Me”
An interesting choice to follow-up Martina McBride’s Top 4 return “I’m Gonna Love You Through It,” this song was originally a duet through CMT’s Crossroads program where stars from country team up to sing songs with a star from another genre. It’s a risk to release a song like this to country radio but it seems like a smart choice as the spring/summer wedding season can likely help the song get to the Top 20 at least. If all things break right for Martina and Pat, the song will hit the Top 10. The song is also risky because Martina sings it in Pat Monahan’s vocal key and not her slightly deeper tone. The last risk here is that “Marry Me” was already a hit for Monahan’s band Train (the follow up to “Hey Soul Sister,” a song that failed to catch on at country radio). If country radio bristles at having a good song like this just because it was once a pop hit – they eventually did that with Reba’s cover of Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy”
Rachel Holder – “In Your Arms”
The singer of a mild secondary radio hit released while she was still an independent artist, Rachel Holder returns with “In Your Arms,” her proper big label debut (for Curb Records). She sounds great, looks great and quite honestly, the song feels like a hit, an AC pop hit or a 90s Shania Twain hit. And that’s the problem. While it’s a very, very good song, Rachel seems like she’s set up to fail in big radio markets like Chicago and Boston while succeeding in smaller markets like Chattanooga and Savannah. I hope that I’m wrong here but when’s the last time that her record label broke a relatively unknown new female artist? They have tried with Amy Dalley, Star DeAzlan, Ashley Gearing and more and somehow failed. Perhaps Rachel will break that trend.
Aaron Lewis – “Endless Summer”
Last year Aaron Lewis dipped his toes into the country market with “Country Boy” and saw the single go Gold and sold well over 250,000 copies of the Town Line ep. The songs present on the album were what Aaron Lewis has always done so it was mildly surprising to see him come out with a straight-up mainstream country single that “Endless Summer” clearly is. The song may be different for long time Aaron Lewis fans but a good song is still a good song and that’s clearly what “Endless Summer” is and with a good portion of 90s alt rock fans now listening to the family friendly country radio format, he’ll be another familiar voice that is clearly appealing. All of this has me thinking that “Endless Summer” will be a hit.
Easton Corbin – “Lovin’ You Is Fun”
Written by Jim Beavers and Bob DiPiero, “Lovin’ You Is Fun” is set to a bluesy shufflin’ groove and features production from Carson Chamberlain that keeps Easton Corbin grounded in that neotraditionalist sound that we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from. While not as immediate sounding a first single as “A Little More Country Than That,” “Lovin’ You Is Fun” is still a strong, melodic and memorable single.
Bonus Single from recent weeks:
Kip Moore – “Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck”
It’s always hard to break through with your first hit at country radio and after the strong single “Mary Was The Marrying Kind” failed to ignite at radio, this more conventional lyric was released and while not as strong a song as “Marry,” Kip Moore nonetheless brings a unique sensibility to mainstream country music that is two parts Springsteen, one part Garth, one part singer/songwriter troubadour. It all adds up to an artist very much worth paying attention to as this single not only breaks into the Top 20 but is Top 10 at digital retail(a trend which no doubt is helping radio programmers pay attention more). The song is a hit and while not everyone will agree about the sincerity of lyrics that talk about wild, youthful times out in the country, it still is a lifestyle that many people of various stripes can relate to.
Other Weekly Single Recaps: