Grading the Top 10 … COUNTRY SONGS!

1. Taylor Swift, “Ours”


Taylor Swift is so fucking smart. Even if her whole country affect is kind of a put-on, it’s a brilliant put-on. She’s hardly the first artist to make a video that specifically panders to military families (see no. 8), but she’s almost certainly the first to cast Friday Night LightsMatt Saracen (Zach Gilford) as her army beau.
Grade: B+
Best YouTube Comment: “<3 I met this boy in grade primary and I like him sooo much but my bff (girl) is dating him since grade 3 (now in grade 5) the school year is almost over I go over his house sometimes but we are pretty good friends and his gf is never over his house & he is into sports she isn’t only soccer I am mainly into all the sports lol I am girly girl too he is the love of my life Only if I could tell him :( and I deff hate valentines day (my uncle died that day) And I Love My Crush!” —Morgan6457

2. Jake Owen, “Alone With You”


Somebody called this the “friend zone song.” It’s really a nice guy booty call anthem for those on the sexy outer limits of the friend zone, similar to “Self Esteem” by The Offspring; a girl who only wants you when she’s wasted and then denies it meant anything the next day. “Your body’s like a pill I shouldn’t take” is a hell of a country lyric.
Grade: A-
Best YouTube Comment: “I always end up falling for the girls who treat me like this, and the ones who I treat like that fall for me … funny” —JCPinDrock

3. George Strait, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”


George Strait is from Poteet, Texas (he is a Spurs fan). He managed a cattle ranch when first trying to make it in the music business. He starred in 1992 cult musical western Pure Country with Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor!) and X’s John Doe (John Doe!), and its soundtrack somehow became his best-selling album. He drives Chevrolets and looks like the Marlboro man. He’s had 59 number ones. You think this won’t be no. 60?
Grade: B+
Best YouTube Comment: “I love this man he is the all time man” —rstoner82

4. Dierks Bentley, “Home”


Every time I tried to form a critical opinion about this country pastiche video my brain went “ooooo fake fireworks.” Boy, is there some scary ignorant shit in the comments though. Jason Isbell — formerly of the Drive-By Truckers — went in on Bentley over Twitter for this song, claiming it’s a ripoff of his “In a Razor Town.” Bentley struck back with a tweet laughing off the accusations, hashtagged #fantasyworld #getoveryourself.
Grade: C
Best YouTube Comment: “I’ve got nothing against Dierks or this country, but this song sounds like it was fabricated by some suit in Nashville purely to make it popular or a single. I don’t feel the true emotion that is put into this song” —skuzzlebutt13

5. Lee Brice, “A Woman Like You”


A very romantic song about telling your girlfriend/wife that if she didn’t exist, you would have been gay.
Grade: B-
Best YouTube Comment: “yep she’s country hot.” —motoblur6

6. Blake Shelton, “Drink On It”


One long shot of a woman who slightly resembles Eastbound & Down’s April sitting at a bar (Nashville’s Tin Roof) by herself with bright sunlight filtering in hazily though the window, occasionally sipping her drink and stroking her hair. This is very close to being a GIF. I’ve seen much lamer video art in galleries. We have no idea if she’s waiting for somebody or on a break from work, but when she finally turns toward the camera at the end we realize that we are the creep that’s been watching her across the bar. Avant-garde!
Grade: A
Best YouTube Comment: “That girl made me feel awkward. I didn’t like when she looked at me” —dobaleedo

7. Lady Antebellum, “Dancin’ Away With My Heart”


“I remember my first dance was to Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” in seventh grade.” says the bowl-cutted one in Lady Antebellum during the backstage montage. “What might have been?” Songs about high school lovers leaving for college in the fall (see: Aaliyah’s “I Miss You”) appeal across demographics. Lady Antebellum are right at the black-and-white concert-tour video point in their career. Next up, concept album.
Grade: B+
Best YouTube Comment: “Well those that have had their dance is awesome! But for me I haven’t. I wanted it to be with my best guy friend but it didn’t turn out that way because he asked out my best friend! People were telling me that he was going to ask me out. But nope! It was my best friend. And I’m not beautiful I guess!” —purplefreak954

8. Montgomery Gentry, “Where I Come From”


Unintentionally hilarious video, juxtaposing the lyrics about small-town life with fake military footage. Trying to combine the genres of military pride and small-town pride, the lyrics have nothing to do with war whatsoever. The combination of country clichés, Montgomery’s signature mic stand spinning, and the super half-assed narrative makes these dudes candidates for the Insane Clown Posse of country (unless ICP, who made a Western called Big Money Rustlas, are the ICP of country).
Grade: D
Best YouTube Comment: “What does this song have to do with war? Anyone ever think about those Iraqis and where they come from? “Don’t you dare go runnin’ down, my little town, where I grew up” Afraid of a few developers putting up a Wal Mart in town? Try bullets whizzing by your face. The fear of an IED blowing your legs off while doing a grocery run. Being labeled a terrorist because of your ethnicity. Having people from a different country occupy your neighborhood with APCs, Choppers & Hummers. Food for thought.” —Brraaaappp

9. Rascal Flatts, “Banjo”


The intro and verse to this Rascal Flatts song sound like a straight-up rip-off of “Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers. Okay, fine, maybe it’s an interpolation. Makes a good argument for “drop the banjo” as a country motto equivalent to dubstep’s “drop the bass.” The banjo-playing babe is Ashley Campbell, daughter of Glen (and yes, she really plays the banjo).
Grade: B
Best YouTube Comment: “Once again Rascal Flatts puts out a great song, But there’s more (and better) banjo playing on Toby Keith’s song Red Solo Cup. I was a little disappointed with a song titled banjo that is mostly drums and screaming guitars” —The GoosefootGrove

10. Miranda Lambert, “Over You”


Miranda is taking a lot of flak in the comments for this video’s resemblance to Taylor Swift’s bluegrassy contribution to the Hunger Games soundtrack, “Safe and Sound.” The visual similarities are there; both girls are blonde Nashville queens doing ethereal solo walks through haunted forests in old-timey Child Ballad chic outfits. “Over You” was written by Lambert’s husband, Blake Shelton, about the death of his brother Richie. Shelton gifted the song to his wife, whose classic country voice makes the chorus soar.
Grade: A
Best YouTube Comment: “FOOLS, IM HERE FOR THE HORSE” —ffshadaez

Filed Under: Blake Shelton, Country Music, Friday Night Lights, Grading the Charts, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Top Ten

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert