Blake Shelton: 10 Prime Hits

"Honey Bee," "Austin," "Some Beach" Among Staff Favorites

What’s that buzzing noise? Must be the swarms of fans ready to buy Blake Shelton’s new album, Red River Blue, set for release Tuesday (July 12). Although he’s been having No. 1 hits for almost a decade, the Oklahoma native is currently riding a wave of newfound popularity. He’s a newlywed with a hit show on NBC (The Voice), as well as the reigning CMA male vocalist of the year.

Of course, the team has heard its share of pure B.S. over the years. And that’s OK with us. Here are 10 of our favorite singles by Blake Shelton.

“All About Tonight”
Blake Shelton shows off his fun-loving side in this song about getting a little crazy and living in the moment. Listening to it reminds me of all of the amazing times my friends have when we go out — but first trying to find each other in the huge crowds that swamp Pittsburgh’s South Side. Once we finally meet up and the music kicks in, any stress is quickly erased and all we focus on is having fun. Whether it’s a night on the town or just an afternoon in the backyard with a bunch of good friends, “All About Tonight” serves as the perfect summer anthem. — Amanda Hertzog

If you’d told me 10 years ago I was going to fall for a country song about an outgoing answering machine message, I’d have thought you were crazy. Then it happened when some guy I’d never heard of released “Austin” to country radio. When I heard that voice, I knew he wasn’t going to be just a one-hit wonder. You could hear his sincerity in the way he told this story: boy gets girl, girl moves to Austin, girl calls him a few years later. His recorded message says he’s out doing all kinds of great things. But if it’s her, he still loves her. Coming from anyone but Blake Shelton, this song might have been corny. But it wasn’t. And P.S.: I still love it. — Alison Bonaguro

“The Baby”
This ballad still makes me a little weepy. Shelton sings from the perspective of the youngest child who can get away with anything. He’s a wanderer, a hard worker and still sort of a mama’s boy. Suddenly the call arrives that he needs to come home immediately. And although he races home to see his ailing mother — this is the part that chokes me up — he doesn’t get there quite in time. Noooo!! Shelton’s voice glides from confidence to grief in just a few lines. With this performance, his early fans knew he had “the voice” way before The Voice. — Craig Shelburne

“Hillbilly Bone”
One of my pet peeves is when people say “I hate country music” or really any genre of music, for that matter. I guarantee if you’re open-minded enough to give various types of music a chance — without characterizing a genre by one singer or a specific sound — you can usually enjoy it. Shelton’s “Hillbilly Bone” always reminds me of that as he sings about showing a friend from New York City the honky-tonk scene. Teaming up with Trace Adkins doesn’t hurt either as the two convert a room full of stuffy socialites into fun-loving country fans in their hilarious video. And I can’t possibly be the only one that finds enjoyment in repeatedly singing, “bone-ba-bone-ba-bone-bone.” — Stephanie Pendergrass

For my money, “Home” is the best song Blake Shelton has recorded. So it’s no surprise that it came — not from the Music Row songwriting factories — but from a literate pop jazz singer and songwriter. The Canadian Michael Bublé co-wrote “Home” with his musical director Alan Chang and Amy Foster-Gilles (the producer David Foster’s daughter). Bublé recorded it on his 2005 album It’s Time, and the song went to No. 1 on the Billboard adult contemporary tracks chart. Shelton cut “Home” as a bonus track on the rereleased Pure BS album in 2008. As a single, “Home” became Shelton’s fourth No. 1 release. The song is deceptively simple in its lyrics, beginning with the opening lines, “Another summer day/Has come and gone away/In Paris and Rome/But I wanna go home.” But the sentiment is universal. Everyone at one time or another wants to go home. — Chet Flippo

“Honey Bee”
What country girl wouldn’t want to be the Loretta Lynn to his Conway Twitty? This feel-good song gives me butterflies from the get-go: “Girl, I been thinkin’ ’bout us/You know I ain’t good at this stuff/These feelings piling up won’t give me no rest.” I mean, mushy love poems may not be this guy’s forte, but the analogies in this song are flat-out adorable. Besides that, it’s the perfect blanket-under-the-stars, summertime kind of music. Bring on the heat! — Lacey Spears

“Ol’ Red”
It takes a special talent to pull off a charismatic song about honeybees or frisky, four-legged animals. Blake Shelton has managed to do both. In “Ol’ Red,” the singer is serving out a 99-year prison sentence after catching his wife with another man. After befriending the warden, bad-boy Shelton is given the special assignment of watching the guard dog — a ferocious, blue tick hound named Ol’ Red. Each night, Shelton takes Red for his evening run, and the two develop a unique friendship. After learning of Red’s lady-friend dog, Shelton devises a plan to use Red’s budding love to help spring himself from the pen. Waiting until the perfect moment, Shelton drops Red off for one last stroll. While Red heads south to meet his mate, Shelton heads north to Tennessee. The last line in the song brings it full-circle: “Love got me in here, and love got me out.” — Whitney Self

“She Wouldn’t Be Gone”
It really is true that hindsight is 20/20. This song by Jennifer Adan and Cory Batten isn’t the first ever written about the blinding realization that someone should have paid more attention to the needs and feelings of their significant other. It won’t be the last, either, because it’s an emotion that’s probably existed as long as humans have walked the Earth. In “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” Shelton’s No. 1 single from 2009, all indications are that it’s too damn late for him to make up for past transgressions and inadvertent slights. There’s a serious lesson to be learned here, of course, but most of us will probably remain too self-absorbed to truly grasp it. — Calvin Gilbert

“Some Beach”
Having “one of those days” is as certain as death and taxes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it. Just ask Shelton, who manages to take some of the suck out of a sucky day with his third No. 1 hit. Written by Rory Lee Feek (of Joey & Rory) and Paul Overstreet (“Forever and Ever, Amen,” “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” ), Shelton’s playful personality shines through, helping to set the stage for a sense of humor that would eventually become his defining trait. I love the clever play on words — “some beach” = “son of a b!%@#” — and Shelton’s relaxed delivery even as his bad day gets worse. As a bonus, check out the song’s producer, Bobby Braddock, playing Shelton’s creepy dentist in the video. — Chris Parton

“Who Are You When I’m Not Looking”
The first time I heard this song, I thought it was kind of funny with all of the different questions he asks. But the more I heard it, the more I liked the message. People are often curious about how other people act when they’re alone. That’s exactly what Shelton is wondering about his lover during this song. He sounds more mellow than usual, and he sings quietly, as if he’s just thinking these thoughts to himself. He wonders, “Do you pour a little something on the rocks? Slide down the hallway in your socks?” She may seem perfect on the outside as she “holds herself together like a pair of bookends,” yet everyone has imperfections they may try to hide. Originally recorded by Joe Nichols in 2007, Shelton took his version to No. 1 in 2010. — Michelle Ferullo