Four Country Songs Make New York Times List

Newspaper Names Its Best of 2015

There are not a lot of country songs on The New York Times’ list of the best songs of 2015.

I don’t know why that is, because I think our genre was packed with worthy artistic merit from January through December. But I’m biased.

The four songs that did make the cut, though, were some of our best best.

Jon Caramanica placed two big radio hits on his list. Jana Kramer’s “I Got the Boy” and Chris Janson’s “Buy Me a Boat.”

He called the Kramer tune “a song about watching your old love grow up and move on that manages to sound neither regretful nor nostalgic.” That is great news for not only for Kramer, but also for Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney’s little sister, who co-wrote the song. “Thanks to @JonCaramanica for picking ’I Got the Boy’ as one of @nytimes 2015’s Best Songs! It’s near to my heart,” she tweeted.

Caramanica called Janson’s song an anthem about the pleasures of “working-class daydreaming, full of sly humor and even more sly politics.”
Another critic, Nate Chinen, chose two lesser-known country songs that really never had much support from radio but were well-loved regardless.

First he had Chris Stapleton’s cover of “Tennessee Whiskey” on his list, saying it was the definitive vehicle for Stapleton’s rugged, soulful cry and “a pledge of seen-it-all survival and tender devotion that doubles as a breezy nod to country traditionalism.” Chinen doesn’t mention Stapleton’s performance of the song with Justin Timberlake on this year’s CMA Awards, but I have a feeling that’s what made fans and critics fall for this song all over again.

Chinen also put “The Blade” on his list. “The title track of Ashley Monroe’s exquisite third album wields a timeless metaphor at a new angle of incision,” he wrote, “clear-eyed about the cruel asymmetries of heartbreak.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.