We counted down the 40 best country singles of 2010 over at Country Universethis 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)
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.