2015 will go down in the country music history books as the year that women took back their power in country music.
As has been widely documented, the last three years have been very difficult for women in country music, as even those with a guaranteed audience have struggled to find a foothold at country radio with their latest efforts. But the tide seemed to finally turn this year, with female artists releasing new songs that resonated with audiences and even at country radio.
You'll see familiar names like Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Trisha Yearwood on this list of the top songs by female artists that left a mark in 2015, but perhaps most heartening is the fact that newer artists like Cam, Mickey Guyton and Kelsea Ballerini scored significant successes. Female solo performers and duos notched hits this year, and one of country's most awarded vocal groups scored an all-time career single that was driven by a female point of view.
Take a look at the top songs by female country artists in 2015 below, and make sure to subscribe to Taste of Country’s YouTube channel to keep up with all of the latest country music news.
Cassadee Pope is one of country music's most powerful young female vocalists, and she certainly made an impact with "I Am Invincible." The song has an overall theme of empowerment, and Pope has said she was thinking in part of the struggle woman have had at country radio when she recorded it.
Miranda Lambert is not only one of the most consistent female hit makers of the past decade, she's also one of the prime advocates for women in country music. The star scored a sexy, sassy hit in 2015 with "Little Red Wagon," which also bears the distinction of being one of the most unusual songs to play at country radio in recent years.
Trisha Yearwood released one of the most emotionally charged songs of 2015 with "I Remember You." It was dedicated to her mother, Gwen, who passed away in 2011, and her sister, Beth, accompanied her on harmony vocals. Though "I Remember You" didn't enjoy the kind of chart success of Yearwood's commercial peak, it made up for it in sheer musicality and emotional impact.
Mickey Guyton was one of the genuine breakthrough female artists of 2015. Her debut single, "Better Than You Left Me," scored a Top 40 hit at country radio. The soaring ballad was an anthem for women everywhere who find the strength to leave an unhealthy relationship behind, featuring Guyton's impressive voice front and center.
Carrie Underwood has been one of country music's most successful females for a decade now, but she revealed a new side to her music with the release of "Smoke Break," the lead single from her new album, Storyteller. The song serves as Underwood's first true blue-collar anthem, connecting with both women and men who simply need a break from the stresses of life for a while — and reaching No. 1 in the process.
Maddie & Tae scored one of the breakthrough singles of 2014 with "Girl in a Country Song," but they gave fans a look at a very different side of their talents with their second single, "Fly." The vocal harmony duo exhorted fans to live the best life that they could in the uplifting, acoustic-based song, notching another Top 10 hit in the process.
Cam's first single, "My Mistake," was unjustly ignored, but she broke through at country radio in a major way with "Burning House." Inspired by a dream about a boyfriend whom she had wronged, the emotionally searing ballad mushroomed into a Top 5 hit at country radio, marking Cam as one of the most important young female artists in country music.
Reba McEntire is one of the most successful female artists in the history of country music, but she had been absent from radio airwaves since 2011 when she released "Going Out Like That." The first single from her most recent album, Love Somebody, it emphasized McEntire's feisty side, and though it just missed the Top 20, it still served to announce her return to country fans everywhere.
Kelsea Ballerini was unknown a year ago, but she became the breakout artist of 2015 with her debut single, "Love Me Like You Mean It," which reached No. 1 in July. The feat marked the first time a debut single by a solo female artist hit the top spot since Carrie Underwood did it in 2006, putting Ballerini at the head of the female Class of 2015 in country music.
Well, obviously ... what other song would be No. 1 on a list with this title? Little Big Town have been one of country music's favorite vocal groups for years, but they hit a new career high with "Girl Crush," which shattered the existing record for the most weeks spent at No. 1. Though it's ostensibly a group performance, it's really Karen Fairchild's aching lead vocal on the song — written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose, three of the top female writers in Nashville — that turned it into an instant classic.