Top 10 Music Videos of 2011
One of the best ways to summarize the music of any given year is through music videos, and it seems 2011 was quite a successful year for country music. The year brought new videos from several of Nashville's favorite stars, namely Martina McBride, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Taylor Swift and more, who each used their respective treatments to tell stories about life in the year 2011.
We dug through piles of the year's greatest music videos to find just a handful that speak volumes about where country music stands today, and vowed to bring you our favorites: the Top 10 Country Music Videos of 2011. These clips hit all over the board, inspiring silly and funny moments as well as sad and tear-inducing moments. Together, they click like puzzle pieces to truly embody the most memorable videos of 2011.
No one can deny that Urban's early 2011 single is a really sweet song -- and the only thing that could make this chart-topper any sweeter is the music video, which features clips of the singer's own two little girls, Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret, as well as footage from his wedding to A-lister wife Nicole Kidman. The images play muddied in the background while Urban sings the tune, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and Urban seems to have the perfect words to explain how he feels about his family in this video.
No. 9 on our list of the Top 10 Country Music Videos of 2011 is Kevin Fowler's star-studded video shot for 'Hell Yeah, I Like Beer.' We hope you have a quick eye, because the celebrity faces are a dime a dozen in this clip. You can spot Eli Young Band, Dierks Bentley, Sunny Sweeney, Pat Green, Colt Ford, Jack Ingram, Josh Abbott, ‘The Voice’ contestant Curtis Grimes and many more in just three-and-a-half minutes time, not to mention dozens of Fowler's most devoted fans, who were the guiding light behind the treatment. It's even better if you like beer, because there's lots of that, too.
LBT's black-and-white feed for 'Shut Up Train' didn't make waves on music TV, nor was it a single on radio, but the video for the song is powerful enough to move mountains and bring even the toughest of country cowboys to tears. There's not much to look at, but that's what makes it speak so loud. Karen Fairchild is just inches from the camera lens, laying down the lines softly and sweetly, but the look on her face is heavy; the words, painful. She's at the end of her line, and despite having her fellow Towners there to help her sing, she's aching for a little relief. We'd argue that this video is perhaps the most underrated video of the year.
Every now and then, a country star will take a break from the usual music video blueprint to make a serious statement rather than to conjure laughs or roll in the mud. That's why Martina McBride's powerful 'I'm Gonna Love You Through It' clip is on our Top 10 Country Music Videos of 2011 list -- because it sends a powerful message about how cancer affects real people. The treatment was modeled around true cancer survivors -- famous faces included -- and their family members, who in the clip share how cancer has been a pitfall in their lives. Rather than keep the focus on herself, McBride lets the women do the talking; she's shown only in between clips singing the heavy song in a candlelit room.
Trace Adkins is nothing if not original. Like a true country cowboy, the singer's main concern is tending to the creatures on his farm, but like a true man, his mind can't help but wander. To keep those traveling thoughts as PC as possible, Adkins brought in some Muppets, including a puppeted verison of the long-haired singer, a lookalike down to his signature stash and leather attire. Throughout the video, the puppet Adkins and his lady friend take frequent breaks from their work, only to find themselves cut loose from their ties and rolling around in the hay, so to speak. Bow chicka wow wow? Nah, this is 'Brown Chicken, Brown Cow.' Warning: Video contains pigs with way too much personality, chickens in a strip club and a couple of sexy singing cows -- oh, and naked puppets. Probably NSFW.
Paisley's 2011 'Old Alabama' is not only epic, as it brings Alabama back to the screen, but it's hilarious, too. Really, who knew Paisley was a member of the four piece (err, five piece) band back in the day? As his friend so casually points out at the beginning of the video, Mr. 'This Is Country Music' would have been a youngin' when the classic country rockers were in their heyday, but pay no mind to that little detail. There he is, plain as day on your computer screen, and you can't argue with video evidence.
Toby Keith is always the life of the party -- at least, that's what it seems like. While we don't recall spotting him at any of our own college house parties (though our memories are hazy), his drink-heavy video gives a clear indication that where there's music and red plastic cups, there's Mr. Keith, ready to have a good time. While we're sure the whole 'Red Solo Cup' ordeal was intended to be a light joke -- as the singer called it "stupid and adorable" -- it has caught on like wildfire. It's been so successful that even a few celebrities, like Jeff Dunham, Larry Bird, Ted Nugent and Craig Ferguson, couldn't wait to get involved. Grab yourself a loaded Solo cup and see who else you can spot!
You'd be hard pressed to find a music video as beautiful as this one, and we aren't just referring to Grace Potter. The rock goddess transcends the country genre to find love in Kenny Chesney in this 2011 music video, and together, they find themselves wanting a little bit more and more of one another until the poison they've created is too addictive to resist. As a couple, they glow as they make their way through Los Angeles city scenes, looking sun-kissed on the beach in the dusk lighting ... not to mention the few seductively sexy scenes that have us wishing the pair of lyrical geniuses would actually be a real-life item. Now, who misses summer?
Like the man who sings it, 'Tattoos on This Town' is sure to leave a lasting impression. The music video gives a visual interpretation of how a town can leave as much of an mark on you as you can on it, and the heartfelt moments shared by the characters create a lifelike sequence that many country music fans can easily relate to. From a marriage proposal to a new house and family, as well as a venture into the military, a young couple learns what it's like to take a life journey together. Aldean's video tells a sweet love story -- not just between people, but between where they come from. Unfortunately, the video lends a sad ending about the life that didn't get to see its greatest potential, but in the end, we feel a little bit better knowing that it all comes full circle.
This video speaks volumes about why Taylor Swift was voted a two-time Entertainer of the Year (and let's not forget the AMAs!), making our decision to vote 'Mean' as the top music video of 2011 an impossibly easy one. 'Mean' is as artistic as it is profound; it's a poetic anti-bullying anthem that's Swift's way of telling haters to step down because she's always going the bigger person. From a banjo-pickin' railroad singer to a damsel tied down by a villain, Swift finds herself in many scenes in this video as she speaks for the 'little guys' getting picked on for being different. In the end, it's the songstress' name in lights, and she smiles proudly knowing she overcame her demons to become one of the most looked-up to stars in the world. Swift is the voice of every underdog everywhere who's ever been pushed around by mean-spirited folks, and if that's not a No. 1, we don't know what is.