The quick success of her viral hit “Villain” let country newcomer Lily Rose know she had struck a chord and found what her fans enjoy listening to: music that's relatable to all.

Riding that wave of success, she got to work crafting a new, seven-track project, Stronger Than I Am, released on Oct. 1 and, on Friday (Oct. 29), expanded to include three additional songs. The singer hopes the project not only gives a glimpse of who she is in its lyrics, but allows fans to see glimmers of themselves in the words as well.

“Watching a song … the instant gratification of it going viral on TikTok multiple times, that is one of the things that I’m carrying over with "Villain," is the relatability of all seven of these stories I’m getting to tell," Rose shares. She poured her vulnerable storytelling style into her new project, which includes four songs (five on the expanded version) she co-wrote.

"All seven of them are very sonically different," Rose reflects of the projects's tracks, "but all have this cohesive thing that Joey Moi nailed with the bright acoustic guitar, wall-of-sound choruses."

When it came to decide the title for the project, “Stronger Than I Am” had a magnetic pull. The feeling stemmed from when Rose first signed her record deal with Big Loud Records: Her new label sent her "outside songs" -- that is, songs written by others -- something Rose had never recorded before, and the hook of “Stronger Than I Am,” written by Griffen Palmer and Geoff Warburton, captivated her.

“I was like, 'Holy cow, that's one of the best country songs I’ve ever heard... ever,'” Rose recalls.

Rose sat on the song for a while, but during a run of headline shows over the summer, she tested it out on crowds. It was a hit.

“The thing that I noticed about that song -- take away all of the selfish stuff about how much I love it just personally and how much 'we' in this industry love songs like that,” Rose says. “The crowd was singing a song they’d never heard -- the entire chorus -- back to me by the end of the song.”

Fans felt "Stronger Than I Am" on a deeper level. For Rose, the song embodies a melodic story that surpasses the track itself: “It is everything that I love about country music, which is a little bit of sadness, drinking and an incredible hook on the end of it,” she states.

Among Stronger Than I Am's songs are two tracks -- "Whole Lotta Hometowns" and "Breakin' In" -- that weren't released before the project arrived. Of those two, Rose was most eager to have fans hear “Whole Lotta Hometowns," co-written by Andy Albert and Kyle Clark.

“A lot of things are super-tailored to me in that song: We talk about my mechanic run, we talk about being on the Chattahoochee [River] and Waffle House,” Rose shares. “But I think we just did it fine-line enough that people who aren’t from Atlanta still feel like you’re talking about their hometown.”

Now that Stronger Than I Am is out, Rose is ready to take its songs on the road. “I’m really excited to see what putting out more music is going to do for my shows,” the singer shares.

“Right now, it’s cool to watch them sing every single song that I have out, which is only seven," Rose adds. "So adding another two ... I’m excited to watch that grow -- to watch my live set and the crowds sing more and more.”

Top Country Songs of 2021, Ranked

You'll find much more than just the Top 10 Country Songs of 2021 on this list. Enjoy the 21 best country songs of the year, based on Taste of Country staff and country music fan opinion, plus commercial data (sales, streaming, airplay).

To be considered, the song must have been released in 2021 or have actively charted for a portion of the year (see "Wine, Beer, Whiskey"). New artists including Lainey Wilson, Larry Fleet and Morgan Wade crack the top songs list, while hitmakers including Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Luke Combs make the Top 10.

Let us know your favorite song of 2021 on Twitter, or email us at

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