Never one for in-your-face political declarations, country music took several strides toward subtly addressing the seismic changes and tragedies around us in 2017, while their more Americana-inclined counterparts fired off some direct shots. Performers also declared space for pleasure, whether it was of the carnal variety or simply enjoying one’s good fortunes while they last. Jason Aldean and Tyler Childers offered defiant snapshots of living in red state America, while Will Hoge unleashed torrents of anger over mass shootings in “Thoughts & Prayers.”
Sam Hunt enjoyed the year’s biggest hit with a danceable tune about the familiar curves of a woman’s body, while Carly Pearce tried to shake off the memory of a traumatic breakup in “Every Little Thing.” Cam and Chris Janson took stands for women, writing bold songs about solidarity and consent, and exciting newcomer Ashley McBryde reminded us that even our wrong turns can offer moments of healing. Here are our 25 favorite country songs of the year.