As the 99.5 WYCD Music Director, I hear every piece of music that comes into the radio station, then our Program Director, Tim Roberts, and I meet on a weekly basis to discuss what songs we’re going to play on the station, what new artists we will take chances on, and what makes the most sense to play more based on sales, research, and listener demand.  Now, we play hundreds of songs on WYCD, and no radio station in America breaks more NEW country music than this one, and I’m quite proud of that.  When I sat down to reflect on the year and what my PERSONAL Top 10 country singles of 2014 are, I narrowed it down to this list, and I explain in great detail below, how I came to this.

Jack’s Top Ten Country Singles of 2014.

10.) Meanwhile Back At Mama’s by Tim McGraw f. Faith Hill

9.) Look At You by Big & Rich

8.) Automatic by Miranda Lambert

7.) A Guy Walks Into A Bar by Tyler Farr

6.) Neon Light by Blake Shelton

5.) Girl In A Country Song by Maddie & Tae

4.) All Alright by Zac Brown Band

3.) Leave The Night On by Sam Hunt

2.) Give Me Back My Hometown by Eric Church

1.) Shotgun Rider by Tim McGraw

(honorable mention Drunk On A Plane by Dierks Bentley)

Now, if you’ll allow me…

Tim McGraw’s the winner this year. His album, Sundown Heaven Town, proves that middle age hasn’t hurt this artist, and he still releases rock-solid ear candy that fits right in the mold of what young and old want to hear on country radio.  Other notes, Big & Rich released an independent single, and had a top ten with “Look At You”, and it’s a GREAT single, their best in almost a decade, and WYCD played the hell out of it. Now that Taylor Swift has taken Manhattan, Miranda Lambert is the undisputed queen of modern country and her wistful tune about simpler times is fun and reflective, even though a Polaroid picture, “the kind you had to shake”, was in and of itself “Automatic” in it’s day. Tyler Farr is an artist to watch who writes and performs real, gritty music, and “Guy” is real, clever, and funny… true country music. Blake Shelton is the most underrated vocalist in country music today and he sings his tail off in “Neon Light”, and even adds his own lyrical twist with “it’s about time… DAMN time.” Pure BS. The young singer/songwriter duo, Maddie & Tae, burst on the scene with a bro country lampoon that is clever, catchy, well written, and just plain fun. I play these songs twenty to thirty times a week during my midday show, and have not tired of this one, and look forward to spinning more of their terrific music on the radio. I’ve also met and spent time with these two young ladies, they are amazing talents and really funny. “All Alright” from Zac Brown Band was produced by Dave Grohl. Need I say more? It’s four minutes of bliss, and I would normally use the restroom during a song of such length, but not in this case… it was a regular studio crank-up, and deserved much more national airplay than it received.  Sam Hunt, who is a crossover artist, released perhaps the catchiest song of the year. “Girl, you got the beat right, killin’ in your Levis, high on your lovin’s got me buzzin’ like a streetlight.” is a pure, melodic sing-along which sounds great on the radio and just feels good. As strong as Sam’s debut album Montevallo is, the jury’s still out on his long-term country appeal.  Eric Church‘s wistful song about how heartbreak made him hate his hometown is a song I personally related to, having left Peoria, Illinois for good when I was twenty to pursue my radio career elsewhere, and having my heart broken by a girl whose memory at the time was attached to everything in a city I once loved. I’m over it now almost twenty years later, but “Hometown” made me remember the pain of how the simple act of going anywhere in public following our breakup continually broke my heart. Heartache is still the king of country, and Eric’s a great artist. Want proof? Buy his last two albums, and thank me later.  I still have a love/hate affair with Peoria, by the way.  And my winner this year is Tim McGraw’s catchy “Shotgun Rider”. Beautiful love song, sung passionately by McGraw, with great lyrics which just roll off the tongue, and it just might reflect how I feel about my own wife “I don’t ever want to wake up, lookin’ into someone else’s eyes”. It’s nice to play on the radio, it sounds good, sounds like country music much like his other big hit off Sundown Heaven Town, “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s.” No doubt about it, McGraw’s still GOT it. Dierks Bentley‘s blissful, and fun “Drunk On A Plane” missed the list only because it was soooo overplayed and even I tune it out now, but damn, was it good and a game-changer for the country music veteran, who is incidentally one of the greatest humans I’ve ever met in country music.

So, that’s MY top ten.  What’s yours?  List ’em below, or shoot me an e-mail anytime



Follow Jack on Twitter: @JackShellWYCD

“Like” Jack on Facebook here.



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