'A Little Bit Stronger'
Sara Evans grabbed a little magic from Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum and scored her first number one since 2005 with 'A Little Bit Stronger.' Scott was one of the co-writers and sang harmony on the record. The lyrics told of a woman's ability to move on after a long relationship and it resonated with country fans who gave Evans a standing ovation when she played it at the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 3. On May 24, at the songs' peak, Sara performed it on the finale of 'Dancing with the Stars.'
'Colder Weather' was a Christmas gift from the Zac Brown Band and one of the more poignant songs of the year. The lyrics speak of a trucker on the road separated from his lover due to the weather and the band delivers it with old school country loneliness and longing. As winter proceeded into spring, 'Colder Weather' continued delivering its message from early 2011 right to its peak at number one in mid-April.
'Just a Kiss''
Everything Lady Antebellum sings has turned to Platinum so the anticipation for album number three, 'Own the Night,' was running high in May when the first single was released. They delivered 'Just a Kiss' and it was loved around the world charting in Canada, Japan, Australia and Slovakia while topping the U.S. Country chart for two weeks in August and, of course, was certified Platinum. The sweet message and gorgeous video will keep it a young lover's anthem for some time.
'Take a Back Road'
The "back road" took Rodney Atkins to the superhighway. The first single and title cut from his new album, 'Take a Back Road' hit number one before the album was even released. The lyrics cite "George Strait 1982" wafting over the radio for a mood change and longing for getting off the beaten track on a "dusty road to nowhere."
'Don't You Wanna Stay?' Feat. Kelly Clarkson
The song exploded after Aldean and Clarkson performed it on the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards on November 20, 2010. Listeners demanded more and radio took the keys and started driving the song up the chart. It was so unexpected the record company had to use footage from that performance to comprise a music video for the song. The power vocals perfectly matched the emotional impact of the lyrics dealing with the difficulties of finding and keeping love. Country fans loved it to the top of the chart in March and welcomed Kelly Clarkson to the fold with her first number one Country single and Aldeans fifth.
'God Gave Me You'
This cover song is Blake Shelton's fifth consecutive number one single and might be a personal number one for the man. He heard the original Dave Barnes version on a Christian radio station and said it inspired him to propose to then-girlfriend Miranda Lambert. His vocal is so heartfelt and honest there is no doubt you're listening to a grateful man in awe of this turn of fate. We lift a toast to your ups, Mr. Shelton, and predict a couple more number ones on 'Red River Blue' based on the buzz your tracks are getting on AOL's New Country First.
'Felt Good on My Lips'
2011 started with Tim McGraw at the top of the country charts once again. The true sign of a superstar is when you release an album called 'Number One Hits' with one new track, 'Felt Good on My Lips,' and that song becomes another number one hit. McGraw's 'Emotional Traffic' tour was announced on January 2 and featured opening acts like The Band Perry and Luke Bryan. McGraw is one of the top three best-selling country singers of the modern age and this was his 23rd number one song.
'Old Alabama' Feat. Alabama
While writing this song, Brad Paisley thought that the 1982 hit by Alabama 'Mountain Music' would fit well in the song. So instead of sampling it, he just invited the band to the studio to sing it and they did. This mash note to Alabama weaves many of their titles into the lyrics like 'Love in the First Degree,' 'Feels So Good' and more plus Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry singing the bridge of 'Mountain Music.' The collaboration drove the song to the top of the charts for three weeks fueled by nostalgia and star power just as summer started to heat up. It counts as a number one for Alabama too, their first since 'Reckless' in 1993.
'Somewhere with You'
Kenny Chesney's first song to sell over 1 million copies, "Somewhere with You," hit number one in country music in late January and stayed there for three weeks. The sexy dark vibe of the narrators tortured soul caught everyone's ears and left its Platinum shine on his latest album, 'Hemingway's Whiskey.'
It was a great year to be Blake Shelton. He was again named CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and kept himself in the sweet spotlight starring in 'The Voice' on NBC. He tied the knot with another country superstar, Miranda Lambert, in May and also released his hotly anticipated album, 'Red River Blue.' The first single, 'Honey Bee,' buzzed up the Billboard Hot 100 to debut at number 13, the highest debut for a male country artist since Garth Brooks. On November 30th 'Honey Bee' received a Grammy Nomination for Best Country Solo Performance. You can see how Blake does at the Grammy' and on season two of 'The Voice' in early February, 2012.