Grading the Top 10 Country Songs in … CANADA!

1. Jake Owen, “The One That Got Away”

Jake Owen brings John Mellencamp-style heartland rock to Cocoa Beach, Florida. This video had a Proustian meta-effect, where the more times I watched it, the more nostalgic I felt for the first time I watched it an hour ago.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “this song is so sad I felt this way once” — dariandozier

2. Florida-Georgia Line, “Cruise”

Just like the fashion world has “resort wear” season and the art market holds Art Basel in December, there’s always a couple of summer-themed music videos that blow up in the winter right when it starts to get deadly cold. This is probably the first country music video to feature what looks like a Holi celebration, the Hindu spring festival of colors in which throwing brightly pigmented powder is traditional. But it seems tasteless that the crowd is entirely white and performing the ritual completely divorced from any outside context. Also, this song is fucking horrible.

Grade: F

Best YouTube Comment: “anyone else notice they’re playing HOLI (where they throw all the colors on the each other) at the end of the video haha” — brownguy222

3. Luke Bryan, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”

“It’s like the martini bar yuppie redone waterfront exposed brick condo in some big city in the Midwest.”

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “straight as hell i swear but i’m kinda horny for him. looks, money, hell of a singer. must snap out of my trance. oh shit heyyyyyyy.” — loseyourwings

4. Kip Moore, “Beer Money”

What’s the deal with all these interchangeable metrosexual white male country stars? This is no “Somethin’ Bout A Truck.”

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “country music+hotties with big tits=best music videos period.” — badkelly259

5. Brad Paisley, “Southern Comfort Zone”

This video has it all: disembodied quotes from corn-pone television shows, a choir singing “Dixie,” and the phrase “when your wheelhouse is the land of cotton.” Paisley explores the foreign world of people who don’t own guns, wear ball caps, or keep up with NASCAR. This is not country music, like at all? There is pedal steel and a fiddle, but this is just MOR pop-rock. In a misguided nod to multiculturalism (is this the theme of the week?), Paisley sings, “I know what it’s like to be the only one like me, to take a good hard look around and be in the minority.” Uh, really, Brad? Were you aware that confederate anthem “Dixie” is “probably the best-known song to have come out of blackface minstrelsy”? Look away, look away.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “this song is clearly about moving away from those comfortable spaces” — BobLarry

6. Zac Brown Band, “Goodbye in Her Eyes”

Another trope in music videos is old-timey dustbowl traveling circuses. There’s The Band Perry’s “All Your Life” video, Britney’s “Circus,” Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt,” and the claymation Alice in Chains video for “I Stay Away” that gave me nightmares as a kid and is actually still freaking me out right now. If you take off Zac Brown’s beanie, his head falls off.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “Even tho there was a camel in this video that circus looked a little skimpy” — ChristineSanders

7. Dean Brody ft. Great Big Sea, “It’s Friday”

Finally, a Canadian country song! Dean Brody is from British Columbia. Great Big Sea are a Canadian folk-rock band who specialize in traditional Newfoundland sea shanties and jigs. Here, they collaborate and fasten an Irish jig to a country tune. I’m so happy to hear something that sounds specific after all the soundalike songs on the chart so far. Also, I’m Irish, so anything with Irish folk music in it reduces me to a blubbering selkie.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Newfoundlanders Love Country Music :D” — MikeMacDonald

8. Eric Church, “Creepin'”

Steampunk! Eric Church apparently got a great deal on the set and costumes from Wild Wild West. Listeners in the comments variously misheard the chorus as “grapevine,” “creekbank” and “rape van.” This song is pretty weird by Eric Church standards and reminds me of “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” by Primus. Commenter “burgelikesdick” says “this videos is what I imagine a car ride on acid would be like tho.” No need to just imagine!

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “It’s about him getting high to get away from the past of his ex, and that he then thinks she’s still there but she’s just a hallucination from him getting high remembering her and how she felt as she starts to slowly come back to his mind fully CREEPING up on him. Thus his hallucination and getting him high is making on edge then making him start creeping around from his own mind. There now go on with your lives.” — Wolfbitten14

9. Taylor Swift, “Begin Again”

Every time it’s Wednesday or I’m in a cafe, I find myself loudly thinking, “BUT ON A WEDNESDAY IN A CAFE” on a loop. This happens constantly.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “if she breaks harrys heart shes dead x_x” — crystalnj77

10. Lee Brice, “Hard To Love”

Lee Brice had a football scholarship to Clemson but after an arm injury turned to country music singing full-time. He has a hit with a song called “Upper Middle Class White Trash.” This is the title song from his second album Hard 2 Love.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “I’m hard to love but found my love and still strong for 9 months and in middle school! <3" — 33100justinbieber

Filed Under: Charts, Grading the Charts

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert