We’re officially halfway through the year and one thing is certain: there has been no shortage of hit songs released to country radio. While 2018 isn’t quite over, we take a look back at some of the most memorable songs released so far. From Jordan Davis’ infectious debut with “Singles You Up” to Carrie Underwood’s powerful return with “Cry Pretty,” there are plenty of songs to choose from.
Here are our favorite 18 songs of 2018 so far (in alphabetical order):
Abby Anderson – “Make Him Wait”
Texas native Abby Anderson made her introduction into country music earlier this year with her standout debut single, “Make Him Wait.” A soaring piano ballad that urges women to take it slow when it comes to love, her lyrics strike a chord. “Before that first kiss, he’s gotta hold your hand,” she croons. “You can’t get it back when you give yourself away / Yeah, a boy’s gonna run but a real man’s gonna stay / Girl, make him wait.”
Blake Shelton –”I Lived It”
A nostalgic track on Texoma Shore, “I Lived It” takes the listener back in time. On the song, Shelton sings of memories from long ago: days spent with his grandfather, nights out with his friends, and making money by mowing the lawn. “I don’t know at the end of the day if this song is going to make it or not, but I wanted to put this thing out because it reminded me of what it was like growing up as a kid back in the ’80s,” Shelton said ahead of performing the song at CMA Fest 2018. Currently in the Top 10 on the country charts, “I Lived It” is doing fine.
Brandon Ray –”Bring Your Love Back”
Brandon Ray easily has the song of the summer with the infectious “Bring Your Love Back.” Penned by Ray with Kelly Archer and Nathan Spicer, the song features the singer’s sultry falsetto and a pounding beat that begs to be blasted on repeat while driving around.
Cam – “Diane”
The California native released her latest single, “Diane,” late last year and the song has a woman apologizing to her boyfriend’s wife after discovering that he’s married. Cam says it’s the response song to Dolly Parton’s 1973 hit, “Jolene,” and has struck a chord with many listeners — especially women. A twist on a cheating song, “Diane” provides the apology so many people don’t get in real life, and with a thumping beat that almost makes you forget the song’s darker subject matter.
Carly Pearce –”Hide the Wine”
Carly Pearce shows her happy side on second radio single, “Hide the Wine.” The swampy track blends country with elements of bluegrass for a sentiment Pearce can get behind as she loves wine. With a sing-along chorus and ear-grabbing beat, “Hide the Wine” continues Pearce’s rein on the country charts. “I’m really, really excited to be happy on the radio, and show a completely different side of me,” she previously told Sounds Like Nashville.
Carrie Underwood –”Cry Pretty”
Carrie Underwood made her triumphant return to radio earlier this year with the spellbinding single, “Cry Pretty.” The touching ballad has the singer in a vulnerable state as she explains that no one — not even her — can cry pretty. With notes that showcase her ability at vocal gymnastics, this is the best we’ve heard Underwood sound on a single.
Chris Stapleton –”Broken Halos”
There is no denying Chris Stapleton’s ability as a vocalist and on “Broken Halos” he leaves a lasting impression on the listener. A song about those who have passed on before us, the emotion Stapleton delivers within the song’s lyrics is striking. “Don’t go looking for the reasons / Don’t go asking Jesus why / We’re not meant to know the answers,” Stapleton sings on the powerful ballad.
Dan + Shay –”Tequila”
A song that has country fans and artists alike praising, Dan + Shay’s “Tequila” pulls on the heartstrings. “Tequila” has a man admitting that he can’t taste the alcoholic drink without thinking of a former lover. Soaring harmonies from Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney further impress and showcase the duo’s evident staying power.
Florida Georgia Line –”Meant to Be”
Still holding strong at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, making it the second-longest reign on the chart, “Meant to Be” is a crossover smash for Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha. The infectious lyrics and hand-snapped beat is an immediate ear-worm. Meanwhile, FGL’s party vibe combined with Rexha’s memorable vocals make “Meant to Be” a bonafide pop-country hit.
Jordan Davis –”Singles You Up”
“Singles You Up” launched Davis onto the country music scene late last year and his debut single also became his first chart topper in April. The catchy track showcases Davis’ ability to combine vivid lyrics with slick beats for a memorable song but don’t let this feel-good track fool you as there’s also plenty of depth on his album, Home State.
Kacey Musgraves –”Space Cowboy”
One of the best written songs released this year, Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy” paints the picture of a relationship that’s on the rocks. Instead of staying bitter, the country starlet urges her man to leave if he wants his space with colorful imagery. “Sunsets fade and love does too / Yeah, we had our day in the sun / When a horse wants to run ain’t no sense in closing the gate / So you can have your space, cowboy,” she sings on the chorus.
Kelsea Ballerini –”I Hate Love Songs”
Ballerini may be hopelessly in love with her husband, Morgan Evans, but that doesn’t mean she likes love songs. In this clever throwback track, Ballerini channels the days of doo-wop as she sings of all the cheesy aspects of romance she can’t stand. While “I Hate Love Songs” is a tongue-in-cheek track, it allows Ballerini’s vocals to shine.
Lindsay Ell –”Criminal”
On “Criminal,” Ell’s guitar prowess is showcased throughout. The bluesy track has her singing of a boy that makes her feel a rush and willing to run stop lights and from the cops. Her unique metaphors coupled with ear-grabbing guitar features further accent the song’s theme and make her a welcomed female on country radio.
Little Big Town –”Summer Fever”
Little Big Town are well known for their feel-good summer songs and “Summer Fever” continues the tradition. The laid-back track highlights the quartet’s four-part harmonies with Karen Fairchild’s smooth vocals at the forefront. It’s hard to listen along and not tap your feet thanks to the song’s throwback ’70s vibe. The perfect soundtrack for a day at the beach or the lake, on “Summer Fever” Little Big Town prove to have the season’s jam.
Luke Bryan –”Most People Are Good”
While Bryan is well known for his party songs, his sentimental ballads sometimes get overlooked. His three-week No. 1 hit “Most People Are Good” was a welcomed addition to his catalog as the song has Bryan singing of how he believes kids should stay kids as long as they can and the importance of working hard for what you want in life. “I believe you love who you love, ain’t nothin’ you should ever be ashamed of / I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks,” he sings on the uplifting chorus.
Scotty McCreery –”Five More Minutes”
McCreery knew he had a hit on his hands with the nostalgic “Five More Minutes.” In fact, he bought back the publishing rights of the song after losing his first record deal and decided to release it independently. The heartfelt song strikes a chord and listeners felt strongly for the track, which became the singer’s first No. 1 hit earlier this year. “Out of every song that I was willing to bet my career on, ‘Five More Minutes’ was that,” McCreery told Sounds Like Nashville at his No. 1 party. “This one was special from the moment we wrote it.
Sugarland – “Babe”
For the first time in their career, Sugarland recorded an outside song with “Babe,” penned by Taylor Swift and Train’s Pat Monahan. One listen to the song and it’s easy to see why as “Babe” includes slick production and a storyline that keeps listeners intrigued as it details a woman who learns her boyfriend has been cheating. While Swift assists on background vocals, Nettles’ delivery on the song is powerful. “Your secret has its consequence and that’s on you, babe,” Nettles asserts.
Thomas Rhett –”Marry Me”
On this heartbreaking piano ballad, Rhett sings of a girl who has her whole wedding planned out. At first it seems like he’s the groom, but as the story develops there’s a twist. Rhett has said he wrote the song from the perspective of what would have happened if he never told his wife, Lauren, how he felt about her years ago. The heart-wrenching song leaves a lasting mark on the listener and urges them to think twice as to not wind up like the man in the story.