What We’re Listening To: May Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights 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 May picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!




Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Tell Me How” – Teddy Robb
Songwriters: Aaron Eshuis, Blake Chaffin, Teddy Robb

“This month I easily chose Teddy Robb’s “Tell Me How” as the track I’ve got on repeat. I first heard the song nearly six months ago when one of our writers covering his Nashville show sent me a video clip of the song. I immediately was hooked on the lyrics.

“Tell me you’re okay / Tell me you made it through / Tell me you’re over me / You don’t think about me and you / Tell me you can sleep at night / Tell me your happy now / Tell me you’ve moved on / Then tell me how”

The first time I heard that ending on the chorus, “Then tell me how”, it blew me away. Keep in mind, I didn’t know the name of the song at the time I was sent the clip and totally did not see that coming! It’s definitely one of those songs that tugs at the heartstrings. I’m pumped that it has finally been released and the world can hear more of this talented rising star, Teddy Robb!”


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Graduation Day” – Madison Kozak
Songwriters: Chris Stapleton, Jesse Frasure

“Who knew that two dudes could write a song that is so relatable for females, however, I guess songwriting geniuses Chris Stapleton and Jesse Frasure can write about pretty much anything. Madison Kozak is a newcomer to the genre but the second I heard this song, I knew I would have it on repeat for a long time. A senior at Belmont University in Nashville, Kozak dropped this song on her graduation day about being done with a loser.

“Boy, you wrote the book on heartbreak school /  had a Ph.D. in making me your fool  / now you’re callin’ me crying /  I wanted to say ‘Congratulations, boy, it’s graduation day’.”

If the killer lyrics and beat don’t make you fall in love with the song, the ‘shoop sha doops’ certainly will.”


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Rival” – LANCO
Songwriters: Brandon Lancaster, Tripp Howell

“I liked this song the first time I heard it On The Horizon on Sirius XM but I fell in love with it when the band released the music video. The video brought the song to life and helped me understand what it was really about.

Being an athlete my whole life, I was always one for appreciating underdog stories and songs. The video displays a group of individuals bashing through a wall with negative phrases written on it to show that anyone could overcome hate, discouragement, and doubt. At the start of my junior year, I was taken off the 4×400 meter relay team; the head coach thought his new recruits were faster than I was. Being taken off the relay was the motivation I needed to push myself harder. By the end of the season, I had the second fastest 400 time on the team and was the lead-off leg on the relay that set the school record. I recently added “Rival” to my workout playlist and I suggest y’all do the same.”


Nicole Bochinis, Contributing Writer

Pick: “That Old Truck” – Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Julian Bunetta, Kamron Kimbro, Ryan Tedder, Thomas Rhett

“I have been a fan of Thomas Rhett since the beginning. From It Goes Like This to Tangled Up to Life Changes and now to Center Point Road, I am so proud to call myself a fan and supporter of such a talented artist. Rhett has really changed the style of music that he has been putting out throughout the years but after hearing “That Old Truck,” his roots are showing more and more for his forthcoming album. As the month is coming to an end, my excitement for Center Point Road is growing especially because I get to attend a special album release event during CMA Fest.”


Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Her World or Mine” – Michael Ray
Songwriters: Brett Beavers, Travis Denning, Jamie Paulin

“A story that some, if not many of us, have resonated with at some point, “Her World Or Mine” is Michael Ray’s 3rd single following the No. 1 “One That Got Away,” off his sophomore record, Amos. I remember going through something similar just about when clips of Ray performing this song live went online. I heard it and thought to myself, “this is my story man.” It narrates the story of what goes on after a breakup, and how completely opposite both parties feel.

“One of us moved on, one of us got stuck / One of us is drinkin’ just for fun, one of us drinkin’ to get drunk / One of us sleeps good, and one of us hates to face the night / Just depends if you’re talkin’ about her world or mine”

Following the success it’s seen on Spotify and Sirius XM’s The Highway, I sure am glad the label and his team are moving forward with this ballad as the next radio single. It is a bold move to choose it over an uptempo, but this song, one of the sophomore album highlights if you ask me, certainly showcases the vulnerable, more emotional side of Ray both as a performer and individual. If anything it should, and I hope it does, get him his 4th career #1.


Kelly Cunningham, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Backseat Driver” – Robert Counts
Songwriters: Matt Willis, Nicolette Hayford, Robert Counts

This track was cut by William Michael Morgan back in 2016, but Counts’ own version is tough to beat. I just heard this track on The Highway Sirius XM and it caught my attention right away. Counts’ voice is a perfect mixture of country-soulful that gets you attached. It’s about leaving home and moving onto something new but never forgetting where you came from. It has a freedom feeling. It’s definitely a perfect summer road trip song.
“Drive like the devil / When you see an open highway / And let off that pedal / When a good view steals your breath away / Take a left if it feels right / Roll your windows down at night / You may get lost but you’ll be alright / There’s a bible on the dash / And a map tucked in the door / I can’t be your backseat driver anymore”
He was just recently signed by Sony Music Nashville in January and only released two songs. I can’t wait for what’s to come for Counts.


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “No Saint” – Lauren Jenkins
Songwriters: Ingrid Andress, Lauren Jenkins

“Ever since I heard this song when Lauren Jenksins opened for The Wild Feathers, I’ve been listening to it nonstop. The gravelly texture of the opening line catches your ear, and the strong lyrics pull you in. She tells the story of needing to forgive someone who wronged her, and the Bible tells her to, but she just can’t do it yet. You can tell she’s wringing herself, not knowing what else to do.

“I fell from grace, I can’t be saved, it’s a long way up from here / I fell from grace, I ain’t no saint, it’s a long way up from here”

With a somber tone and a little bit of resentment still present, this problem was never resolved. The other person walked away as if by saying sorry, they were free of all guilt. She knows it’s not that simple, and can’t get out of this dark place. Her vocals come from a genuine place that everyone listening along can feel the pain and most likely relate. This is a great song to sing along to and to pull at the heartstrings.”


Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Some People Do” – Old Dominion
Songwriters: Jesse Frasure, Matthew Ramsey, Shane McAnally, Thomas Rhett

“Well, the band has outdone themselves yet again, putting out yet another hit song “Some People Do.” I am always a sucker for a slow ballad but this one really struck a chord. “Most wouldn’t forgive what I put you through, but I’m here tonight hoping some people do.” It sings about a situation very similar to one my best friend was in a couple of months ago with her boyfriend, so naturally, I felt this song deep down.

I believe the vulnerability of the lyrics and the simplicity of the instrumentals really speak to the volume of this track. The whole band has amazing talent as songwriters and if their past is any foreshadowing of the future, don’t be surprised when you see “Some People Do” on the top of the charts. This was definitely an easy pick for this month and I cannot wait to see what the guys do with this song.”


Abby Kaye-Phillips, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Drinking Alone” – Carrie Underwood
Songwriters: Brett James, Carrie Underwood, David Garcia

“One of the reasons I was most excited for Carrie Underwood’s new album, “Cry Pretty” last fall was because she always includes at least one track that is out of the box. This time it was “Drinking Alone”, and I’m obsessed!! It’s rare that a country track crosses into the bluesy, sultry, jazzy territory, but this one does it in the best way. It tells a story, it pulls you in, and it sounds nothing like anything else she’s ever done. It’s definitely the song I’m most looking forward to seeing later this year on the Cry Pretty Tour 360.”
Pick: “Beer Never Broke My Heart” – Luke Combs
Songwriters: Jonathan Singleton, Randy Montana and Luke Combs

Tricia Murdy, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home – Justin Moore
Songwriters: Justin Moore, Paul DiGiovanni, Chase McGill, Jeremy Stover

“This is the latest single from Justin Moore and one that resonates so strongly with anyone who has lost someone. The first few times I heard it I had to turn it off because I couldn’t handle the emotions it was invoking in me.

Several years ago I lost a good friend – he was killed in Afghanistan while fighting in the US Army Special Forces just 2 months after his 30th birthday. He was a locally known and respected hero and was loved by everyone that knew him.

The whole town shut down, the whole town showed up, sang Amazing Grace and watched a slideshow of his 22 years. There was laughs and there was tears. And that preacher talked about sacrifice and traffic stopped for them Cadillac lights.”

Those lyrics took me back to the day his body was brought home and a parade was held through town. People lined the streets waving American flags and showing their respect and admiration for one that didn’t make it back home. This song is a ballad, a tribute and pays homage to those heroes near and far that paid the ultimate sacrifice. If you haven’t heard it yet, you must check it out. But maybe grab a tissue first.”


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Wallflowers & Weeds” – Blake Shelton
Songwriters: Ivy Walker, Jason Gantt, Scott Stepakoff, Sophie Walker

After seeing tons of previews for the animated film, Ugly Dolls, I decided to check out the movie’s star-studded soundtrack. With the voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae, and Blake Shelton featured in the flick, I had high hopes for the music and was not disappointed. While there’s the expected powerful pop from Clarkson and Jonas, there’s a hidden country gem on the soundtrack by Shelton.

Entitled “Wallflowers and Weeds,” the track is dedicated to embracing what makes you just a little weird, as “wallflowers and weeds are beautiful, too.” On the song, Shelton admits that “sometimes the hardest work is loving what you’re working with.” Although the song is from a children’s movie, the theme of embracing your imperfections is truly universal and carries through to the songs on the soundtrack.

Although Shelton has been getting praised for his recent single, the dark and brooding “God’s Country,” “Wallflowers and Weeds” is a much lighter tune that you’re sure to be singing along with after one listen. After all, “Roses are red/ Violets are blue/ Nothing out there as rare as you / Throwing caution to the wind/ Like a dandelion wish blowing wild and free/ Roses are red/ Violets are blue/ Wallflowers and weeds are beautiful, too.”


Olivia Reese, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Good Vibes” – Chris Janson
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Chris Janson, Zach Crowell

Summer is right around the corner and “Good Vibes” by Chris Janson is the quintessential feel-good summer song. Lyrically it focuses on living life to the fullest, enjoying the moment, and appreciating what you have; to see the bright side in everything and not let anything bad or roadblock get in your way. “I ain’t tryna hear the negative (nope) / I’m just tryna change the narrative / Hell, it’s simply imperative / And we all have a damn good time.” To me, it is the perfect driving with the windows down and beach song, with a wonderful positive message, which will definitely top my summer playlist this year.


Danielle Tornatore, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Good and Gone” – Seaforth
Songwriters: Gordie Sampson, Josh Miller, Mitchell Thompson, Thomas Jordan

“My pick this month was hands down the easiest and quickest decision I’ve made thus far as part of the NYCS team. Seaforth’s debut EP Love That has been on literal repeat for me since the initial release. The second I heard this particular track, I replayed it about twenty times that night and could not get enough. It contains the two things I love most in a song; heartbreaking lyrics masked by an upbeat tune, essentially making it a breakup jam. I’m still listening to it at least five times a day and I hope to hear it live when I see my new favorite duo at CMA Fest next month.”


Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Heaven Bound Balloons” – Granger Smith
Songwriters: Granger Smith, Andy Albert, Jordan Schmidt

“If anyone is looking for a good cry, give Granger Smith’s new song “Heaven Bound Balloons” a listen. The first time I heard it I had chills, as Smith sings about his kids writing messages on balloons to their grandparents that have passed away.

In the chorus Granger sings, “We wrote we miss you and we love you’/ Told him things are great down here / We spelled it out and sent it up / And we watched it disappear / Sometimes I guess you gotta see it to believe it / ‘Cause right then I knew those blue sky prayers were getting through / When we let go of those heaven bound balloons.”

“Heaven Bound Balloons” is an emotional and easily relatable track, one that speaks right to the heart of losing someone you love. Smith has an incredible way of writing lyrics that really pull you in and hit home.”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Leave Her Wild” – Tyler Rich
Songwriters: Chris DeStefano, Jon Nite, Tyler Rich

This month my song pick came so easily to me. The second Tyler Rich released “Leave Her Wild,” I fell in love with the song- not to mention the “first look” video elevates it completely. The message of the song is what I love so much. It’s about not trying to change the person you fell in love with because they should always be authentic to themselves.

The title “Leave Her Wild,” is such a beautiful sentiment that I relate to on a deep level. I sometimes feel that I am a free spirit that has to conform to meet society’s standards, and I appreciate that though a love song, I am able to connect with Rich’s song in a different way.

“Don’t tame her, try to chain her / The second you do, you’ll break her / Don’t dull that shine that caught your eye / ‘Cause you’re afraid somebody will take her / She ain’t a dial you just turn on and off / She ain’t found, but she ain’t all that lost / If you’re gonna love her, if you’re gonna love her / If you’re gonna love, leave her wild”


Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.



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