Toby Keith, "Wacky Tobaccy"
I mean, at least "Red Solo Cup" could be fun in the correct setting. This is just immature and lazy. We get it, you're being a "bad boy". Don't worry Toby, I won't tell your parents. I could see the argument for how one would think this is fun, but really, to me it just seems like a cry for relevancy. - Zackary Kephart
Bebe Rexha feat. Florida Georgia Line, "Meant To Be"
Bebe Rexha is a pop music artist and in a partnership with Big Machine Label Group, sang a song with Florida Georgia Line that was released as a late 2017 country radio single.
The song uses repetition in its chorus, with a driving pop-influenced backbeat to make the track catchy…but in reality, it comes off as uncreative and downright annoying. The song is a pop song; there’s no way around it. It’s fine if a song is pop but it’s a problem if it’s played on the country radio format, that’s false advertising, and to be honest, this song isn’t good, no matter what genre it is. - Chris Baggs
Dylan Scott, "Hooked"
Why? Who? What? When the hell did Dylan Scott actually become a thing? I remember pointing and laughing at this guy when songs like “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm” couldn’t even chart. I guess radio really IS in need of Sam Hunt clones. As for this song, I don’t know what to say. It’s a ripoff of Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” (which in itself is a rip-off of “Thinking Out Loud”) with sleazier language and generic production. Oh well, this guy won’t survive a few more years in this business anyway. - ZK
Little Big Town, "Happy People"
Little Big Town is one of the best groups in Country music. Their vocals are unmatched in the format...but even they can swing and miss too. “Happy People” was the second single off their album The Breaker and it was absolutely the wrong choice, as evidence by its inability to crack the top 40 at country radio. The song uses the repeated phrase, “happy people” throughout its verses and the song’s theme while fine, comes off preachy and ends up laundry-listing everything happy people aren’t, when in reality, it’s possible to be happy while having many imperfections along the way. There are worse songs on our worst list but this is easily one of LBT’s lesser offerings. - CB
Morgan Wallen feat. Florida Georgia Line, "Up Down"
It's almost as if we counted some long lost single from 2014 just for kicks. I know it's tiring to rag on bro-country at this point, but dear God people, you have to work with what you have. You know things are bad in the Florida Georgia Line when they're on more featured singles than Tyler Childers is on year end lists. - ZK
Shania Twain, "Life's About To Get Good"
I'm as disappointed in anyone that Shania Twain's comeback amounted to...this. Really, we don't need to drag this out. The problems with rhyme with production. Oh wait, it is the production. Well, you get the point, right? - ZK
Todd O' Neill, "Love Again"
Todd O’Neill was Cumulus’ NASH NEXT’s singing talent competition winner in 2017 and his Cumulus played single, “Love Again”, made a sizable chart appearance. But “Love Again” is 2015 trend-chasing sound at its worst. The song reminds me of Waterloo Revival’s “Bad For You”, which isn’t a favorable comparison. The track’s production is all over the place and sounds like a cheesy pop song. The vocal arrangement is repetitive and annoying after just one listen.
It would be easy to drop in a “this song makes me want to fall asleep” crack, but honestly, this song might qualify for such a hyperbole. Chris Young, who once sang well-written, traditional minded singles such as “Drinkin’ Me Lonely”, “You’re Gonna Love Me” and “Voices”, has now been releasing questionable material for a few years, with “Losing Sleep’ the latest release. The track offers little in the way of substance. Its instrumentation and production is boring. Its melody is nothing to write home about and its lyrics…what in the world does the hook line even mean?
“Yeah we're winning, we're losing, when we're losing sleep”
Even if you can rationale what its meaning is, it’s a sloppy lyric and “Losing Sleep” is a waste of a lead single.- CB
Cole Swindell feat. Dierks Bentley, "Flatliner"
An obnoxious song about literally nothing. The writing thinks it's way more clever than it is, and the production pounds you over the head. There's no melody, and the performance does nothing to elevate the rest of the record. Well below both the talent of both artists (and Swindell has his fair share of mediocre tunes). - Markus Meyer
Lady Antebellum, "You Look Good"
Well I was actually kind of looking forward to Lady A's comeback, and came out thoroughly disappointed. In one of the most obnoxious records of the year, the vocal falls flat, the melody goes nowhere and lyrically it says... Well, not really anything. It's thoroughly grating, and is a let down coming from a group who has shown capable of so much more. - MM
Jordan Davis, "Singles You Up"
You know, for a guy who cites Jason Isbell among his influences, I would expect Jordan Davis' music to not...well, suck. "Singles You Up" is the biggest travesty that you (thankfully) likely didn't hear this year though. The song takes the premise of Old Dominion's "Break Up With Him" right down to the creepy insistence for the girl in question to break up with this guy just so she can be with the "narrator". It's overproduced, it's badly written...need I say more? - ZK
Chris Janson, "Fix A Drink"
Listen, Chris Janson has some serious upside. Listen to "Holdin' Her". Listen to "Drunk Girl". Those are some top-shelf efforts. This.. Well, sucks. There aren't really any redeeming qualities. Janson, who can be a decent technical vocalist at times, comes off as grating, while the production lacks nuance and simply hammers electric guitars. It goes nowhere and simply screams 'Buy Me a Boat 2.0', but without the charm. - MM
Luke Bryan, "Light It Up"
Imagine writing a song about a guy wanting a girl to blow up his phone and that literally being the entire song. That’s what the lead single off Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country was about and if the theme wasn’t bad enough, it also sounds like a watered-down repeated instrumentation and production of his previous work. Luke Bryan can sing good material but “Light It Up” was easily one of the year’s worst ideas and executed songs. - CB
Keith Urban feat. Carrie Underwood, "The Fighter"
This had serious potential. Two of the most potent vocalists, and strongest talents in the genre teaming up? Man, this could have been good. Instead we got ultra-pop fluff. Like seriously, this is beyond Sam Hunt-level pop. Nothing about this even remotely resembles country music, and quite frankly, it's borderline insulting to even try and peddle it as such. Such a shame. - MM
Florida Georgia Line, "Smooth"
Okay, listen. I've been a Florida Georgia Line apologist before. I'll admit that, despite their lyrical downfalls, I enjoy their upbeat melodies and hooky choruses. But honestly, this is quite poor. It's lyrical cliches wrapped in a grating production and a jarring melody. An unfortunate effort that rightfully fell short of the top ten. - MM
Dustin Lynch, "I'd Be Jealous Too"
Dustin’s been a case example of an artist that decided to follow the trendy, chart-success chasing sound of mainstream Country radio. “I’d Be Jealous Too” might be the best (worst?) case of that. The song sounds more like a pop-dance track than a Country one. Starting with finger clicks that lead into a loud and obnoxious chorus production that drowns out Dustin’s (computerized) vocals.
Lynch does have a good voice – maybe one of the best male vocals in the genre – but his musical output has been nothing more than an over-produced, mishmash of pop sounds beneath a backbeat that resembles little in the way of country music. His music has been catchy but that doesn’t mean the rest of it is good. - CB
Dustin Lynch, "Small Town Boy"
The worst rural cliches from the early 2010's smothered in ceaseless autotune. There's no charm, no personality, and no resemblance of depth in the songwriting. Lynch showed early in his career, or even with passable efforts like "Mind Reader", that he's better than this. What he's doing now is taking the worst of the country-boy phase, with the worst of the pop/R&B phase, and blending them together into one terrible effort. - MM
Canaan Smith, "Like You That Way"
We chose NOT to link to the single cover featuring the butt because...well, do we really have to explain why? Anyway, Canaan Smith tried to draw up controversy by mentioning Miranda Lambert in a questionable fashion on his latest single. After all, it was the only way this guy was ever going to get another hit now that the bro-country well has run dry. Instead, it thankfully did nothing, and now all that's left is a song that's creepy, repetitive, boring, and honestly, completely representative of Canaan Smith's career. - ZK
Sam Hunt, "Body Like A Backroad"
Personally, this is my far and away my pick for the worst single of the year, and this is coming from someone who would easily put Walker Hayes at #1 on any other year. What is there to say that hasn't been said already, though? This song makes your mouth drop each time you hear it, not because it’s breathtaking, but because it’s one of the biggest misogynistic pieces of crap you’ll ever hear in your life. The title really says it all, but even the comparisons he makes are downright creepy. I get that they were probably trying to go for a lightweight, breezy sex song, but in order to make that actually work, beyond good writing you need some personality and charisma. Sam Hunt doesn’t have that. Hell, he doesn’t even sing half of the time. He’s just there. Thankfully aside from that turd by Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt didn't completely resurrect bro-country. - ZK
Walker Hayes, "You Broke Up With Me"
I honestly can't think of a single good thing to say about this song. Even if you want to ignore the blatant lack of country influence, there are still no redeeming qualities. The melody is jarring. The vocal is choppy and drenched in autotune, drowning out any chance Hayes had at redeeming it with vocal talent. The lyric is immature, and lacking in any sort of storytelling, or substance. It's genuinely hard to make it through this song. The fact that this has found a home on country radio is a travesty. Does Hayes have a good backstory to tell? Absolutely, but you sure wouldn't know it after listening to this trainwreck. - MM