Grading the Charts in … HOT COUNTRY!

1. Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly, “Cruise”

YEAH OF COURSE IT’S THE REMIX. I still don’t have very much love for this song, although I obviously love Nelly, and his classically sing-songy verse and cameo in the video makes it about 200 percent better. I may be responsible for most of the YouTube views for “Hey Porsche.” Get that country-rap crossover money, Nelly! You look much better in double denim than the Florida Georgia Line dudes.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “I’m sure nelly’s having more fun in this lane than he is in hip-hop” —ThePostTube


2. Blake Shelton ft. Pistol Annies & Friends, “Boys ‘Round Here”

The Pistol Annies are Blake’s wife’s supergroup side project, kind of in the mold of the Dolly Parton–Emmylou Harris–Linda Ronstandt tight harmonizing collaboration Trio. The “and friends” are surprise guests Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan (who does the Dougie). This is a summer anthem for sure, but the lyrics are totally questionable. They don’t listen to the Beatles because they’re … British? Because they only listen to country music? The Beatles love country music! They are Buck Owens fans! You can love Bocephus and Brit-pop and rap AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. They’re not diametrically opposed, especially in 2013. Just look at the hit above, y’all! Blake still sells the shit outta this.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “I wonder if Luke Bryan had to learn to Dougie just for this???” —OohYayPink24


3. Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”

Darius Rucker is still best know as the lead singer of South Carolina jam band Hootie & the Blowfish, but he has established himself as a successful solo country act. Here he covers the Bob Dylan Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid–era bootleg snippet “Rock Me Mama,” known best as the Old Crow Medicine Show’s decade-old full version titled “Wagon Wheel,” using Lady Antebellum as his backing group and the cast of Duck Dynasty for the video. This tastes like bluegrass soaked in beer pong.

Grade: A-

Best YouTube Comment: “Darius Rucker. Man … Respect. Respect. That’s all I can say.” —MammaJuicy


4. Luke Bryan, “Crash My Party”


Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “AHHHH he’s so romantic. :( why is he marries, and like twenty years older than me? :((” —TheBestBeeb


5. Tim McGraw ft. Taylor Swift & Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”

That T. Swifty reign just won’t let up! Honey badger don’t care! The honey badger was Paul! I wish this were better, but Tim McGraw sounds strained from singing too high and Taylor may or may not be playing a ghost. Wasn’t she a ghost in “Safe & Sound,” too? IS TAYLOR A GHOST? IS SHE THE GHOST OF SHARON TATE? This video is also a Red Asphalt–level-of-horrific PSA about the hazards of texting and driving? She’s not exactly texting, but she is looking for her phone with her hand. This goes for “November Rain” but it’s somehow much less effective and about a billion times tackier? Oh, well.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “I wish boys wouldn’t brake up with u! Ut makes me so mad and then they promise they would never brake up with u but the next day I’m braking up with u like come on peeps ;(” —JuliaThigpen


6. Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”

Be careful what you wish for, Hunter Hayes! Bonus points for paying tribute to your zydeco roots! This is like zydeco early John Mayer, and I mean that as a compliment.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “WHO COULD DISLIKE THIS. HE IS PERFECTION.” —CarolineFleetwood


7. Jake Owen, “Anywhere With You”

I like when songs just list the names of places. This guy will go anywhere with you, as along as it’s in Mexico, West Virginia, California, Idaho, or a ghost town.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “I mainly listen to dance and electronic but this is amazing” —halflifemasta


8. Randy Houser, “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight”

Randy Houser co-wrote “Honky Tonky Badonkadonk,” so he’s good in my book.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “Boss” —ColtinMorrison

9. Carrie Underwood, “See You Again”

Everything Carrie Underwood touches turns to gold, so it barely matters that this power ballad bored me to tears.

Grade: F

Best YouTube Comment: “I think she sooo beautiful WHO’S WITH ME??” —gracieburke

10. Brad Paisley, “Beat This Summer”

Spot the Jean-Michel Basquiat “EVIL THOUGHTS ‘REVENGE'” shirt in the first minute! Do you know how many videos have been filmed on the Santa Monica pier? Me neither. Like a billion, I bet. This video is fucking adorable. A little manipulative? Perhaps, but it WORKS. Now I want a funnel cake.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “makes me think of the mid 70s and Cindy Wilkins … ” —josephMACE

Filed Under: Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Country Music, Grading the Charts, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert