25 Best Country Songs of 2017 - Rolling Stone
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25 Best Country Songs of 2017

Sam Hunt had the biggest song of the year, Ashley McBryde celebrated wrong turns and Carly Pearce persevered through heartache

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.

25 Best Country Songs of 2017

Jason Isbell, “If We Were Vampires”

The stunning “If We Were Vampires” makes a ruse of its unusual title. If we were vampires and death was a joke … I wouldn’t feel the need to hold your hand,” sings Jason Isbell on the most emotionally wrenching song from The Nashville Sound, his Grammy-nominated album with his band the 400 Unit. But death is no laughing matter here, as Isbell grapples with the impermanence of our physical bodies and the inevitable pain of separation from our loved ones. It’s a bold move toward embracing vulnerability and, with it, the fragility of life and love. Beautiful in its sparseness and breathless – practically urgent – in its delivery, “If We Were Vampires” delivers a knockout punch with the brittle harmonizing of Isbell and wife Amanda Shires, as they tell one another, Maybe we’ll get 40 years together, but one day I’ll be gone, or one day you’ll be gone.” If there was ever a year we needed an eloquent reminder to celebrate and love one another in the moment, 2017 was it – and Jason Isbell gave a perfect summation in this tidy three-and-a-half minutes. J.G.

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