Dan + Shay, "All to Myself"
Where "Speechless" was tolerable on the back of a well-sung hook, "All to Myself" crashes and burns. It's grating, unoriginal, and not especially well-produced nor country. While not particularly offensive, it's a lazy record designed purely for mass consumption. Which, of course, means it was a hit. - Markus Meyer
Russell Dickerson, "Every Little Thing"
I'm not sure there's an artist that better encompasses the "generic bro-lite dude" subgenre on country radio than Russell Dickerson. "Yours" succeeded on its earnesty and melody, but everything since has been beyond forgettable. "Every Little Thing" is a jarring listen that says nothing of meaning or substance. The performance is nothing special and the production shows little nuance or thought. Textbook definition of filler, and not even the pleasant kind. - MM
Blanco Brown, "The Git Up"
Listen, it's a gimmick. I get it. This was not a song trying to be more than it is, and for that reason I don't want to be too critical. But the fact of the matter is it did top everyone's favorite ranking, the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, and it did garner some airplay. "The Git Up" is not pleasant to listen to and the fact that some executive tried to push it to country radio is patently absurd. - MM
Chase Rice, "Lonely If You Are"Sadly, this is Chase Rice’s idea of “depth” - a tacky, formless song that tries to make scoring with a hottie seem charming. Songs like this aren’t inherently bad, but Rice offers no character to his performance, and this is not the kind of song that should feature a dark, serious vibe. - Zackary Kephart
Dustin Lynch, "Ridin' Roads"
To give Dustin Lynch some credit, he can occasionally pick a song with a decent melody. Moreover, the electronic elements here are downplayed to subtly accentuate some vestige of atmosphere, but otherwise it’s the same old same from Lynch – tailgates, backroads, trips through the countryside … nothing interesting or memorable, which is an appropriate summary of Lynch’s career thus far. - ZK
Mitchell Tenpenny feat. Seaforth, "Anything She Says"
Oh good, Mitchell Tenpenny teaming up with bargain barrel Dan + Shay – just what we needed. I’m sorry, I just find it hard to believe that the same guy who sings “Bitches” is trying to jump on the “boyfriend country” bandwagon. And why do we even need more than voice for this kind of track? - ZK
Kane Brown, "Good As You"
My take has always been that Kane Brown garners too much hate relative to the quality of his music and his peers, but "Good As You" is just not good. The melody is grating and the production isn't much better. Usually an effective performer, Brown doesn't bring much life to an already uninteresting track. A poor effort that epitomizes a lot of the problems of coutnry music in 2019: rehashed love lyrics with boring pop-based production. - MM
Chris Janson, "Good Vibes"
It didn’t make sense until I heard Chris Janson’s Real Friends album, but “Good Vibes” in essence, is a textbook example of someone not knowing the difference between writing for their audience members and outright pandering to them. Between production that’s too flimsy and polished to amount to much, Janson’s horrible attempt at rapping, or his less-than-subtle refusal to care about anything else in the world other than his “good vibes,” this song made for one of the most obnoxious listens of 2019. - ZK
Chris Young, "Raised On Country"
Chris Young hasn't been interesting in a long time, and "Raised On Country" does nothing to change that. Namechecking legends doesn't make a song good. Not having electronic drums doesn't make a song good. The production is hamfisted, Young -- maybe the best technical vocalist in modern country music -- sounds ridiculous, and the melody gets worse with time. Nothing especially redeemable from an artist who seems hellbent on destroying any last shred of credibility he once has. - MM
Carrie Underwood, "Southbound"
"Southbound" is Carrie Underwood punching down in a big way. Love Wins boasted a number of compelling songs, and the fact that a sloppy, third-rate pop track has become the album's defining hit is a travesty. The performance is poor by her standards, the production is cheap and the songwriting is lightweight nonsense. Underwood knows much better than this commercial pandering. - MM
LANCO may still be trying to find their footing as a band, but they should never try “gritty” southern-rock like this ever again. “Confusing” is the most appropriate word for “Rival” - it’s angry without purpose, all over the place stylistically, and not a pleasant listen because of it. Really, the band tanked its momentum for this? - ZK
Dan + Shay feat. Justin Bieber, "10,000 Hours"
"10,000 Hours" may not be the most unlistenable single of the year, but it may be the one that irritates me the most. It sounds like every other Dan + Shay song, with Justin Bieber thrown on for cheap crossover points. The production? You guessed it, tailor-made for pop radio, ignoring any trace of country music's roots. It's clear that Dan + Shay are being groomed for mass crossover impact, and if that's the case, just get it over with and stop making a mockery of the genre with syrupy fluff bearing no lasting impact or deeper meaning. It's exhausting. - MM
Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before: a sincere gentleman wants to blow his “girl’s” mind by taking her on an exotic trip to stare at the moonlight, listen to the radio, and drive down a road no one knows. I’m just thankful that a guy who goes simply by “Filmore” hasn’t caught on yet, though mainstream country radio does love a good game of Mad Libs, so perhaps there will be more opportunities to groan in 2020. - ZK
Luke Bryan, "What She Wants Tonight"
It's like Luke Bryan making a mockery of Luke Bryan. Never has he sounded so uninterested and uncharming. No melody to speak of, a production that sounds like a mashup of every C-list bro-country effort from the past decade, and an obejctification of women that would make Luke Bryan circa 2011 blush. "She gets what she wants / And I get to be what she wants tonight". Wow, just poetry really. - MM
Billy Currington, "Details"
Billy Currington possesses one of the most naturally charismatic personalities in the current country format, so why this backfires as bad as it does is beyond me. “Details” tries to be smooth and sexy, but the production is too flimsy and lethargic to carry any sort of pulse. And of course, the only details Currington focuses on are related to his lover’s sexual bravado rather than, you know, her actual character. Currington is far better than this. - ZK
Sam Hunt, "Kinfolks"
If this is what Sam Hunt going traditional sounds like, then count me as very much out. This sounds like every other track from his debut album and isn't exactly the artistic masterpiece Hunt was hyping it to be. Pop music designed for people who don't even like country music. Weak hook, weak performance, weak effort. Influenced by Tyler Childers? Yeah, alright. - MM
Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins, "Hell Right"
Apparently this is Shelton and Adkins attempting to 'own the critics' or something? Well, props if that's the case, because "Hell Right" is just "Hillbilly Bone" but worse. There's no edge to this, no original thought, and is especially dissapointing coming off the compelling and unique "God's Country" from Blake. Seems pointless honestly, and adds zero insight or intelligence to an already bleak radio landscape. Embarrasing from two artists who know better but take great joy in pretending they don't. - MM
Satirical or not, there’s no excusing a line like “I piss where I want to.” But even if “REDNECKER” aims to be a fun jab at rural pride pandering, it horribly backfires by even existing. Like “Truck Yeah,” this is the kind of song that may have fun with country music stereotypes, but only makes the genre look worse instead. And judging that HARDY has gone from changing his look from “hipster dad” to “creepy guy hanging around 7-11 who’ll buy you beer,” I’m inclined to believe “REDNECKER” isn’t a joke after all, but rather the beginning of something much worse. - ZK