25 Best Country Songs of 2016
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Jon Pardi, Brandy Clark and Dierks Bentley recorded some of the best songs of 2016. Rick Diamond/Getty (2), John Shearer/Getty

The song has always been the cornerstone of country music, but in recent years some have felt as sturdy as a straw house. That changed in 2016, with mainstream artists in particular sidestepping the formulaic to find or write songs with real weight behind them. Jon Pardi reinvented the country-boy love song; Chris Janson praised his wife and kids; and Kelsea Ballerini called out guys who have failed to launch into adulthood. Here are the best songs of the year.