Top Songs of 2015
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This Top 10 Songs of 2015 list represents a group of artists who defined country music in 2015: underdogs. It’s likely you hadn’t heard of four of these newcomers prior to January. A fifth might be the all-time underdog theme song.
Lyrically, all 10 songs on this list make a heavy impact. Crushing heartbreak songs from Cam and Pat Green rank high, but playful party hits like Chris Janson‘s “Buy Me a Boat” are too good to ignore. Keith Urban found critical and commercial success more than once in 2015, but only one of his songs makes the ToC Top 10 list this year.
Of course, there is going to be some controversy … Sam Hunt‘s “Take Your Time” makes this Top 10 of 2015. It’s consistently been at the top of country’s sales charts and twice topped the monthly Top 40 list. Not included are a few end-of-year releases, as we decided they’d make better candidates for 2016, per the guidelines below.
The Taste of Country Top Songs of 2015 list is determined using sales and radio airplay data, reader feedback and staff opinion. Any song that spent the majority of its chart life in 2015 is eligible.
“Take Your Time”
Call him country or don’t call him country, Sam Hunt is a huge success on country radio. “Take Your Time” makes the year’s top songs list because of its originality and sales success.
“One Hell of an Amen”
Gilbert’s No. 1 hit took nine months to get there, but it made a massive impact along the way. Every spin on radio stations and streaming sites was a tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. “One Hell of an Amen” will forever find room on Memorial Day playlists.
“Die a Happy Man”
“Crash and Burn,” the lead single from Rhett’s Tangled Up album, held a spot on this list for much of the year, but his followup is too pure to dismiss. “Die a Happy Man” may still be his biggest hit in five years. Rhett’s performance is personal, and the sound is timeless. There’s the slightest taste of R&B on this Top 10 Songs of 2015 entry, but few will deny it as a pure country love song.
“Raise ‘Em Up”
“Raise ‘Em Up” proves the depth of Keith Urban’s Fuse album. The collaboration with Eric Church is his fifth from the project. Sonically, the mid-tempo country rocker is catchy, but it’s the simple lyrics that really hook you. “Raise em’ up, trophy high / Raise em’ up to the sky / Raise em’ up, show everybody that newborn smile / Raise ‘em up tall and strong / Raise ‘em up right from wrong / Raise em’ up so damn high they can hear God singing along,” they sing at the final chorus. This song is built to last.
“While I Was Away”
Pat Green’s tender ballad from Home will put a tear in your eye, or several on the floor. It’s the perfect song for parents, describing exactly how so many millions of people feel every single day. Green is the right voice for this entry on the Top 10 Songs of 2015 list. His subtle delivery keeps the focus on the story.
“Buy Me a Boat”
Chris Janson’s “Buy Me a Boat” is the catchiest song of 2015, and the chart-topper earns a place on this Top 10 Songs list for its sustained success and because we just haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Maybe by spring it’ll happen, but for now … “I could buy me a boat …”
“Stay a Little Longer”
Brothers Osborne leaned into risk at every chance on this song from the upcoming Pawn Shop album. It’s a long song with a long guitar solo. Jay Joyce’s production runs counter to everything you hear on the radio. And if that wasn’t enough, the newcomers released a music video that proudly featured two men kissing. The result is a breakthrough jam that sells concert tickets.
“Mr. Misunderstood” is the theme song for underdogs. Church dropped it without so much as a tease during the 2015 CMA Awards, and it was a win. Vivid color and imagery accompany five-plus minutes of snarling country-rock music. No other artist could sing this song so perfect. It defines Church and our year in country music.
“Burning House” is Cam’s seconds single of 2015, giving her a strong argument for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. The singer owns this shattered love story. “Burning House” gives new definition to the world “fragile.” Continued airplay and strong sales catapult “Burning House” toward the top of this Top 10 Songs of 2015 list.
There hasn’t been a more talked-about song in country music in 2015. Little Big Town‘s “Girl Crush” was the song from Pain Killer that everyone who bought the album was talking about long before that phony gay controversy began and ended. It’s a beautifully painful ballad, and an absolute original.