Country Universe: Best singles of 2010
We counted down the 40 best country singles of 2010 over at Country Universe this week, ending with the rare critically-acclaimed radio smash, “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert. That an understated, acoustic song like this one not only cracked country radio but perpetuated Lambert to long overdue stardom is something worth celebrating.
Unlike Lambert’s hit, my two personal favorite singles this year are a little harder to fit in a box – which is why I love them. Neither is decidedly country, but both bottle emotion as skillfully as the best country songs. Check ‘em out below, along with my write-ups from the countdown.
“Drop On By,” Laura Bell Bundy (#8)
Unlike the year’s other booze-induced lover’s call, “Drop On By” isn’t rooted in emotional dependency; it’s fueled by Bundy’s earthy physical longing – and what a longing that is. Proving her masterful interpretative skills, Bundy churns out a slow-burning performance that’s both deftly controlled and achingly sensual, with just a tinge of playful warmth woven through. The song’s kicker, though, is the smoky throwback arrangement – a delicious mix of blues, jazz and country – that not only fits Bundy like a glove, but pushes the boundaries of what constitutes a great country record.
“What Do You Want,” Jerrod Niemann (#19)
A contemporary spin on the standard country theme of heartache, “What Do You Want” owes its brilliance to its perfect storm of elements: The raw honesty of Niemann’s plea (“I get so tired of living like this/I don’t have the time/Neither do my friends”). The hollow, pulsing arrangement that mirrors his cycle of pain. The killer vocal performance, soaked in emotional fatigue. Each element draws out the potency of the next, culminating in one of the most captivating releases of the year.