We recently welcomed a team of writers to the NYCountry Swag Squad. With that, we’re excited to introduce a new monthly feature with our “What We’re Listening To” playlist, where we will highlight the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre. At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.
Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our August picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!
Pick: “Drunk Me” – Mitchell Tenpenny
Songwriters: Jordan Schmidt / Justin Wilson / Mitchell Tenpenny
“Mitchell Tenpenny’s “Drunk Me” is easily one of my favorite songs out there right now. We were fortunate enough to hear the song back in early February when Tenpenny performed it live at CRS. The song puts a unique twist on a typical heartbreak song. Where most associate heartbreaks with getting drunk, Tenpenny goes the opposite route with the idea that someone would need to get sober to stop thinking about the other person, because “Drunk Me” can’t stop thinking about you.
Pairing the powerful lyrics with Tenpenny’s voice is key in highlighting the emotions on this track. It’s catchy, it’s relatable, it’s emotional, it’s everything you need in a hit song.”
Pick: “Somebody’s Daughter” – Tenille Townes
Songwriters: Tenille Townes / Luke Laird / Barry Dean
“For my very first pick, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to choose Tenille Townes. I went back and forth between two of the songs she released on her Living Room Worktapes but finally landed on “Somebody’s Daughter”. In big cities like New York and Nashville, homelessness is an absolute epidemic and every person reading this piece or listening to music, in general, has experienced what Townes’ expresses in her latest single. Waiting for the light to change, to escape the awkward stares that the man or woman on the corner gives, while holding their cardboard sign. Instead of looking away, the songwriters tell the tale of curiosity, how did this person end up here when they were probably just like us growing up. Reminiscing on a made-up past for the woman in the shaggy clothes just wanting a couple of dollars, Townes’ brings light to a dark situation that we all encounter, but does it in a way that country music sorely needs right now.
“Bet she was somebody’s best friend, laughin’ / Back when she was somebody’s sister / Countin’ change at the lemonade stand / Probably somebody’s high school first kiss / Dancin’ in a gym where the kids all talk about someday plans / Now this light’ll turn green and I’ll hand her a couple dollars / And I’ll wonder how she felt when no one caught her / She’s somebody’s daughter”
I am always a fan of the drinking songs that we can enjoy at tailgates and raise a glass to, but when a song and a songwriter come along that really tugs at my heart, I will always choose the raw, real side of country music.”
Pick: “Tequila” – Dan + Shay
Songwriters: Dan Smyers / Jordan Reynolds / Nicolle Gaylon
“When I first heard “Tequila” by Dan + Shay I knew it was going to be a huge hit. I have been a fan of them since their Where It All Began days and to see the success and growth they have experienced is truly amazing. Being able to watch and listen to the duo take the CMA Fest stage for the first time ever was something I will never forget. To hear every single person in the stadium sing “Tequila”, the debut single off of their third studio album, was incredible and seeing their faces was priceless. “Tequila” is one of those songs that you just want to drive around with your friends, windows down, and sing at the top of your lungs. Songs like that are the reason I fell in love with country music. There is just something so special about a song that showcases so much talent and Shay’s vocals are truly incredible. “Tequila” is not just the song of the summer, it is the song that will be listened to year after year.”
Pick: “Home and a Hometown” – Hannah Ellis
Songwriters: Hannah Ellis / Mark Trussell / Nicholas Wayne
“”Home And A Hometown” by Hannah Ellis describes my life in a nutshell. Ellis coming out with this track was perfect timing for me.
“One I wanna make it, One I wanna make proud / No matter which one I’m leaving still wanna turn around”
These lyrics could not be more accurate in my life as it is right now. I’m constantly going back and forth from New York to Nashville. It’s comforting knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way. The story behind her lyrics and how she sings it with such emotion is why Ellis is going to be a game-changer in country music.”
Pick: “I Can’t Breathe” – Parker McCollum
Songwriters: Parker McCollum / Micky Braun
“Perhaps I’m biased, but the song I love in 2018 comes from Texas native, Parker McCollum. From the opening chords of the guitar to first keys of the piano there is a sound so welcoming and somewhat familiar. I couldn’t stop listening.
McCollum draws you in with his raspy voice making you believe in every word he sings. The song is his explanation of his love of being torn between two things – her and the road. But the road keeps calling. “I’m on the road missin’ home / missin’ the road while I’m home”
He sings about loving and leaving and hoping what he’s doing is enough to keep her. One of the lines sings “I can’t believe you think I’m lyin’ / what are you not buyin’” – take one listen to the soul and the pleading in McCollum’s voice and not only will you buy it, but you’ll have the song on repeat guaranteed!”
Pick: “Get Along” – Kenny Chesney
Songwriters: Josh Osborne / Ross Copperman / Shane L McAnally
“I love, love, love Kenny Chesney–his music, his vibe, his love of the sea and island life! It’s hard to pick a favorite song; “Get Along”, off of his latest album Songs for the Saints, really resonates with me. When I heard him say the song’s message is one of taking negative energy and turning it positive, I loved it even more! This is an intention I am always trying to practice; there’s good in any situation, experience, event or person. It’s said attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure, so why not make life one big, happy adventure of love and good energy?! That is what I hear in this song and in Chesney’s voice and why I love it so much!”
Pick: “Caught Up in the Country” – Rodney Atkins
Songwriters: Connie Rae Harrington / Jordan Mark Schmidt / Mike Walker
“Rodney Atkins’ infectious “Caught Up in the Country” roped me in at first listen. It is his first single in four years and features the Fisk Jubilee Singers who add their hand clapping and foot stomping to the song for a new kind of rhythm. “Caught Up in the Country” talks about the best parts of country living: being outdoors with endless dirt roads and surrounded by countless stars in the sky. The words hit me directly as it reminded me of my time living in the country and the beauty of it all. Between the dirt roads to the house, green fields surrounding me, and the clearest nights, this song captures it, making me feel as if I was there just by listening to the song.
Pick: “Why Can’t She” – Adam Craig
Songwriters: Adam Craig / Jon Nite / Matt Rogers
“It was nearly impossible for me to pick my favorite song of 2018 thus far, but as I scrolled through my Spotify playlist listening to some contenders, I kept going back to Adam Craig’s “Why Can’t She.” In my mind, this song is everything that a great country song should be. It tells a powerful story, it has a strong hook and music, and Craig’s vocals are among some of the best in the business. He seriously conveys all of the song’s emotions and sings the heck out of it. I was first introduced to country music by a Rascal Flatts concert in the early-2000’s, and that era of country music is definitely my favorite. This song wouldn’t sound out of place during that time period, which makes me love it all the more.”
Pick: “Downtown’s Dead” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Josh Osborne / Sam Hunt / Shane L McAnally / Zach Crowell
“Downtown’s Dead” by Sam Hunt is one of my favorite songs of the year so far. It’s one of those songs you can’t help but get stuck in your head and after waiting for what felt like years Hunt finally released a new hit single in May. I’ll admit when I first heard the song I thought it was interesting, but after playing it again I really started to love the vibe “Downtown’s Dead” gave off. The song is different from what plays on country radio and I could see the song branching off to a more pop-friendly radio station. “Downtown’s Dead” has a more modern take on country music than Hunt’s older music. I love when artists take risks to change up their sound and this song makes me excited to see what comes next.”
Pick: “Must’ve Never Met You” – Luke Combs
Songwriters: Jonathan Singleton / Luke Combs / Robert Williford
“There have been countless great songs released in 2018 so far, but there is one in particular that has stood out to me; “Must’ve Never Met You” by Luke Combs. This song was part of his deluxe version of his previous album This One’s for You, released in 2017. There is something about this song that gets me pumped up from the second it starts, from the initial drums to the mini guitar solo. I relate to this song on a personal level, the lyrics are so well written. The clichés he uses in this song are so accurate when you meet somebody that is so special to you, you just cannot seem to get over them. This song is just incredible overall and I hope Combs will add it to his concert setlist in the near future.”
Pick: “Most People Are Good” – Luke Bryan
Songwriters: David Fraiser / Ed Hill / Josh Kear
“When I listen to “Most People Are Good”, off Luke Bryan’s latest album What Makes You Country, the lyrics take me back to growing up without a care in the world. It is easy to get lost in our day to day busy life, where time can pass us by too quickly. This song creates a sense of simplicity in life, and an optimistic outlook in believing in others with every verse. It reminds us that even with all of the negative news going on around us, there are still people in this world with good intentions. I love this song because the lyrics are a breath of fresh air as it speaks to loving your mother and accepting everyone for who they are. It is the perfect reminder to put aside our differences and appreciate our time here on earth.”
Pick: “Leaving New Orleans” – Jordan Davis
Songwriters: David Fraiser / Jordan Davis / Lonnie Fowler
“I fell in love with the relatable stories and real-life feelings, at the heart of country music several years ago; however, Jordan Davis and his debut album, Home State recently reignited my passion for all things country music. One of my favorite songs off the album- and this year (so far) is “Leaving New Orleans”. It embodies the art of story-telling and incites emotions in the listener, all wrapped up in a feel-good melody with an unmatchable cool vibe. I have been lucky enough to witness Davis’ magic, as he acoustically played the song, for the first time, with less than 50 people present. These are the little moments I live for- bearing witness to country music magic from up and coming artists, who find a way to pull at your heartstrings and make you feel a part of their story. I encourage any music lover to give “Leaving New Orleans” a listen.”