If there's one thing that deserves to be celebrated in the country music world, it's the song.
It's safe to say there have been plenty of good ones this year - whether smash hit singles or deep-cut album favourites, the 20 songs here have given us great joy throughout 2022.
This is Holler's Songs of the Year List for 2022:
No record in 2022 had better lyrics than those of Florida; the debut album from Nicolette Hayford's potty-mouthed gangsta country alter ego, Pillbox Patti.
“Jesus, Reese’s Pieces and a brown bag of none of your business / Flea market boiled peanuts / Styrofoam cup for the shells between us”, she drawls in the opening lines to ‘Eat, Pray, Drugs’; a warts-and-all account of what really goes down in a small town after Sunday service that felt as bold and zeitgeisty as Prince’s ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’ did when it came out.
- Jof Owen
Newcomer David Morris dropped 'Dutton Ranch Freestyle' earlier this year, and it quickly became one of the most-played country songs on TikTok. Blending hip hop, trap and country, it's an unavoidably catchy tune based on references to the hit TV series Yellowstone.
Jof's been obsessing about it ever since he first heard it (it makes sense that it landed the no.1 song spot on his Spotify Wrapped)...
- Ciara Bains
"Under Charley Russel skies like a blue and purple sea", Colter Wall notions, painting a stunning image of escape and quiet on the big ranch in the mountains.
Wall has always had a way of evoking the scent, the view and the touch of his narratives through his music, and 'Cypress Hills...' beautifully continues that tradition.
- Ross Jones
As strange and brilliant as Terry Allen or Kinky Friedman, for years to come people will look back on this record as being as important for country music as albums like Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger was.
‘Bonfire At Tina’s’, meanwhile, will be ringing out from every hen do or divorce party all across Nashville. Light it up!
Here at Holler, we're all suckers for a night at the Karaoke bar. Turns out, Cole Swindell isn't much different.
Modern country isn’t afraid to make reference to the classics of the genre, and ‘She Had Me At Heads Carolina’ pays homage to Jo Dee Messina’s 90s smash while sinking every shot of patron in sight.
Country music’s a funny thing. One minute you’re making fun of it for its silly outfits and outdated production, the next thing you know you’re wearing a cowboy hat at work and booking flights to Tortuga.
Jordan Davis followed up ‘Buy Dirt’ and ‘What My World Spins Around’ with this cheek-squishingly sweet song about the way life never stops surprising you. There could be another CMA award for Song of the Year on his mantelpiece next year.
Adeem the Artist tells of an encounter with the devil, at the very same crossroads where Robert Johnson made his mythical deal.
The deal between the devil and Johnson turns out to be apocryphal; “white men would rather give the devil praise than acknowledge a black man’s worth”, jokes the devil pointedly, but everything else about hell is true.
The single featured on Adeem's dazzling sophomore album White Trash Revelry.
Ah, country sure does love a good duet.
For this heart-warming waltz, cross-genre favourite Angel Olsen pulled on her cowgirl boots and teamed up with Sturg to muse on the heady rush of falling in love - and their voices work simply perfect together.
“I loved the song already", she said, "but hearing Sturgill’s take on ‘Big Time’ made me smile ear to ear, he made it come alive on a different level.”
It’s a little surprising that it’s taken Luke this long to release a duet with a female country singer - but it sure was worth the wait. His vocals provide a warm, rugged outline to Miranda’s comparatively polished croons.
It’s the perfect pairing, the duo trading doses of nostalgia and heartbreak between them to produce an irresistible tear-in-my-beer, honky tonk-friendly infusion.
- Maxim Mower
"Now the time is coming to reap what I have sown / Lord I feel like going home", sings Miko Marks, bringing together southern rock and gospel on a soulful track that shows that, wherever Marks finds home, country music is all the better for being invited on the journey.
- Holly Smith
Zimmerman has enjoyed a breakout year, with ‘Fall in Love’ recently skyrocketing to the top of the Mediabase Country charts. His gruff, raspy vocals are underpinned by a slight quiver, betraying a fragility that has helped to fuel the Louisville native’s ascent.
His sound is best described as ‘Morgan Wallen meets Post Malone’, so perhaps it’s no wonder he’s already accumulated such a massive fanbase.
If we had to name some of country music’s favourite topics, we might start off with the triumvirate of alcohol, trucks and murder - often in that order. On ‘wait in the truck’, HARDY & Lainey Wilson offer us all three.
The Mississippi songwriter flexes his storytelling muscles to produce an enthralling, nightmarish track that’s best enjoyed alongside its eerie, cinematic music video.
At dusk and at dawn, the world is drenched in light; it’s both stunning and blinding, exposing and all-encompassing. We search far and wide for the ultimate view, hoping to bask in its warmth and beauty.
We also look to find answers in its unwavering silence, just as Zach Bryan does on the heartbreaking ‘Something In The Orange’. In the light of day, Bryan realises his love’s not returning; allowing his despair to flood the purity of his safe place.
The War and Treaty are a unanimous Holler team favourite - and we're certainly not the only ones. The husband-and-wife duo were awarded the Duo/Group of the Year award at the 2022 Americana Honors and Awards, receiving rich applause throughout the Ryman Auditorium.
'That's How Love is Made' taps into the sheer musical passion the couple share; a delightful mix of gospel, R&B and Americana that perfectly declares them as one of modern Americana's finest new acts.
These two acts have made a habit of transforming the cold ashes of heartache into kindling for a blazing dancefloor fire.
‘Longneck Way to Go’ deservedly received two CMA nominations for Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year, but (not-so-deservedly) lost out on both counts.
Proof that time is the best healer, this crowdpleaser fast forwards from Block’s breakout single ‘Just About Over You’. This time round there’s no ‘just about’ in the mix and the message is clear: whether it’s a bar or a stage, it really does belong to Priscilla Block.
On this singalong, feel-good track, Hailey finally got let loose on country radio, with those itchingly catchy claps leaving even the most stony-faced curmudgeon unable to resist.
We challenge you to find another song that sticks in your head quite like ‘Party Mode’.
In the Holler office, we’ve not been able to stop playing the dang thing. With each new event or annual tradition that’s arrived, Baylen and Jof have created a new version of it, emerging with adapted lyrics to fit the required theme.
Sometimes, in amongst all the depression of the world falling apart, we just need a hit. It’s quite simply the country earworm of 2022 - a year where we could all do with dreaming of being totally shitfaced on a beach in Cancun, having an absolute wild one. Ciara and I won’t have it any other way.
Listen and subscribe to Holler's Songs of the Year 2022 playlist below: