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10 Best Country Music Videos of 2017

From Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris’ explosive crime spree to Miranda Lambert’s stark solo performance

Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett went undercover as a pizza-delivering cop in his video for "Craving You."

Crime paid in 2017 – at least in country music videos, where some of the genre’s biggest and best indulged their lawbreakers fantasies. No less than four major country videos released during Donald Trump’s first year as president depicted a whole range of criminal acts and, amazingly, they were all guilty of being great.

Among them, Sam Outlaw was an easy mark for a beautiful and dangerous outlaw. Thomas Rhett played undercover cop to Maren Morris’ shotgun-wielding bank robber, taking down a crime boss in the process. Midland sold hooch on the sly and took a joy ride in a police cruiser. And Brothers Osborne issued some razor sharp political commentary with an epic Point Break-inspired robbing spree.

Meanwhile, the good times still looked as inviting as ever in offerings from Luke Combs, Paul Cauthen and the Band of Heathens, showing new and exciting ways to get over the one who left, or simply get on down.

From Miranda Lambert’s no-frills shower stall performance of “Tin Man” to Brothers Osborne’s adrenaline-packed “It Ain’t My Fault,” here are Rolling Stone Country‘s favorite videos of the year, in no particular order.

Thomas Rhett

Miranda Lambert, “Tin Man (Unplugged)”

Lambert headed to the showers for the unplugged video for “Tin Man,” which finds her sitting alone on the bathroom floor, singing to the tiled walls. Captured in herky-jerky, Blair Witch-worthy fashion with what appears to be an iPhone, this is lo-fi cinematography at best, with one YouTube viewer sarcastically commenting, “That three-year old did a great job videotaping this!” What this clip does better than most, though, is capture the raw impact of its source material. Lambert played “Tin Man” alone at the 2017 ACM Awards too, proving she didn’t need a backup band to pack a punch. The video accomplishes something similar, with a fraction of the budget that went into, say, Lambert’s “Something Bad” duet with Carrie Underwood.

Anderson East, “All on My Mind”

East doesn’t pull any punches with his kickoff video for Encore. Here, he’s a soul-singing narrator inside a boxing ring, providing the soundtrack for a plot line that unfolds in random flashes. The story is standard Rocky fare, filled with familiar characters – a tragic hero training for a big fight, a tired lover who worries about his safety – and plenty of gymnasium sweat. Even so, the strutting rhythm of East’s song suits the action onscreen, and “All on My Mind” fought its way to the top of Billboard‘s Triple A chart weeks before Encore‘s release. 

Old Dominion, “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart”

The boys in Old Dominion sure do love their retro videos. This time, they’re trading the Back to the Future references of “Break Up With Him” for the videogame-inspired visuals of “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart.” Those Mario Bros graphics! That Nintendo-worthy font! Looking like a cross between Duck Hunt and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart” never takes itself too seriously, which suits Old Dominion’s pop-influenced country just fine.

Brothers Osborne, “It Ain’t My Fault”

Equal parts political commentary and Point Break homage, “It Ain’t My Fault” follows a pack of pawn-shop burglars hiding behind rubber masks of American presidents. When a heist goes awry, the robbers find themselves running from the police. There are politically aware gags sprinkled throughout, such as the pissed-off gun owner who fires his shotgun at the “Obama” crook, or the way the “Bill Clinton” burglar can’t help checking out a female passerby. The video offers up a happy ending too, with “Trump” getting apprehended by police while the others escape. If only…

Paul Cauthen, “Saddle”

Filmed at the Broken Spoke in Austin, “Saddle” opens with a loosely filled dancehall. Cowboys are ordering burgers; cowgirls are shooting pool. Gradually, more and more patrons begin practicing a new dance move – let’s call it “the lasso” – until Cauthen arrives, kickstarting a Texas-sized boogie breakdown that’s as nostalgic and irresistibly fun as the song itself. Not only a showcase for Cauthen’s larger-than-life persona, the “Saddle” video also pays warm tribute to Austin, with hometown hero Shakey Graves making a cameo during the video’s first minute.

Thomas Rhett Featuring Maren Morris, “Craving You”

Like the trailer to a Michael Bay blockbuster, “Craving You” cycles its way through everything you hate to love about overblown action films from the Eighties. There are bank robberies, muscle cars, leather jackets, gunshots and wine-guzzling drug lords, all orchestrated by a pop-country score of pulsing synths and Stratocaster guitars. Morris, who lends her vocals to the song, stars as Rhett’s crime-world accomplice, while the man himself appears as an undercover cop. It’s 21 Jump Street meets Bad Boys, albeit with a better soundtrack.

Luke Combs, “When It Rains It Pours”

Some music videos seem to write themselves. A scene-by-scene rundown of Combs’ chart-topping hit, “When It Rains It Pours” details a successful rebound in simple strokes. Combs throws an all-night party, pisses off his girlfriend and weathers the resulting breakup in fine fashion, landing a date with his Hooters waitress and winning an expenses-paid trip to Panama before the song’s end. Stocked with footage of yachts and sandy beaches, the clip admittedly feels like the country-pop equivalent of an Entourage episode. But who cares? In a genre full of wax-chested heartthrobs, Combs is as hairy and gloriously untanned as the rest of us, making it hard not to root for him.

The Band of Heathens, “Sugar Queen”

In a decade’s time, after music videos have been replaced by some sort of interactive, holographic experience worthy of Star Trek, the Band of Heathens’ “Sugar Queen” might seem as dated as Def Leppard’s “Let’s Get Rocked.” In 2017, though, this 360-degree video is genuinely trippy and downright impressive. Like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, the story unfolds in different ways with different audiences, affording each viewer the opportunity to focus the camera on different members of the band. We recommend making a few good swirls around the perimeter, capturing the Heathens – as well as the women who dance around them – in their panoramic glory..

Midland, “Drinkin’ Problem”

Midland’s own Cameron Duddy directed this throwback video, which captures the same George Strait-influenced sheen as the song itself. In the clip, Midland’s three scruffy pinups distribute illegal moonshine to help pay for their own recording sessions. The cops finally wise up to the operation, but frontman Mark Wystrach gets the last laugh, hijacking a police car during the video’s final moments and taking his buddies for a pre-jail joyride.

Sam Outlaw, “Trouble”

Midway through this Western epic, our anti-heroine has already stolen one car and seduced two men, leaving a trail of crime and carnality across the California desert. She ultimately winds up at a Sam Outlaw show, where she finds her next victim – the dopily-grinning frontman himself – onstage. Equal parts Quentin Taratino and Thelma & Louise, “Trouble” is the dark, R-rated foil to Sam Outlaw’s boy-next-door demeanor, with gorgeous cinematography from director Chris Phelps.