"Merry Go Round"

Kacey Musgraves looks like a perfect country music ingenue – until you notice her nose-ring and the punky peroxide streak in her chestnut hair. The 24-year-old Texan's debut single is similar. It comes on gently – a banjo and a fingerpicked acoustic nudging a lovely singsong tune – but the story it tells is fierce and unblinking: a tale  of small town America, where bleak prospects, bad marriages, and boredom are a young woman's birthright. "Mary, Mary, quite contrary/We're so bored until we're buried," Musgrave sings. It's as poetic and potent as any song released in 2012 – an instant classic, a "My Hometown" for millennials.

Listen to "Merry Go Round":