While I listen to country music guiltlessly – albeit typically alone, – when people denounce the genre, the following songs are a few I present to call them out and remind them that sometimes, country just hits.
Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
This Carrie Underwood classic falls into my favorite genre of country music: Scorned Woman Country. She tells the story of revenge on a cheating lover, teaching him a lesson so he never repeats his mistake.
Red High Heels – Kellie Pickler
File this one under country girlboss party anthems. Ironic as it may sound, there is no way you won’t want to go buy yourself a pair of Red High Heels and head to the club after listening to this song. Just leave the gaslighting and gatekeeping at home.
I’m a Survivor – Reba McEntire
This one recently made my list with its revival in recent pop culture, courtesy of a Tik Tok trend. Every time I listen to this song, it brings me back to my living room couch watching reruns of “Reba” on ABC Family, now Freeform.
Love Story – Taylor Swift
You are lying if you say you don’t know every single word to this song and haven’t scream-sung it on a school bus or in a car with your friends. Swift perfectly perverts the cautionary tale into a romantic piece, and my Shakespeare-appreciative self can’t even fault her for it. It’s just that good.
It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere – Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffet
Throwing it back a little further, Jackson and Buffet come together to bring us a laid-back drinking anthem. While their take on drinking to cope with the stress of work may not be the healthiest perspective on alcohol consumption, it sure is catchy.
Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band
This song feels like home; even if you have never experienced the scene the Zac Brown Band paints. The song is sure to make you nostalgic for the experiences they describe, sans the second to last verse, in my own opinion.
The Climb – Miley Cyrus
If a self-help book was a song, Cyrus’s “The Climb” would be it. While its origins came from the Disney Channel Original “The Hannah Montana Movie,” the song has stood the test of time as a country must-listen.
Tequila – Dan + Shay
This is a newer addition to the list, and a concept many university students can relate to: Lost loves strongly linked in memory to the taste of alcohol. Dan + Shay lament on their inability to drink tequila without thinking of the Coloradan manic pixie dream girl they remember partying with on a dance floor in Colorado.
Stealing Cinderella – Chuck Wicks
Chivalry and tradition come together in this less popular pick as Wick sets the scene of asking for a man’s daughter’s hand in marriage. Seeing his soon-to-be spouse in childhood pictures, he finally realizes why her father has been so protective of him “stealing Cinderella.” After all, there’s never a better time to discover your significant other’s worth than right before you decide to propose!