Top 10 Best Country Songs of 2023

2023 was a very good year for country music all across the board. The world of country music seemingly picked up right where 2022 left off. We had some outstanding songs from the heavy hitters such as Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, and Zach Bryan, as well as other up-and-coming artists.

It's really fascinating to see just how far country music has evolved over the last decade or so since its "bro country" era. If you're unfamiliar with what the term "bro country" refers to, it's the stereotypical country song about attractive girls, alcohol consumption, blue jeans, partying, trucks, and you should get the idea.

I, for one, am happy we have moved past that era into a bit more authentic era. I feel we're in the midst of country music's "Nirvana Moment," if you will. And Zach Bryan is one of the biggest catalysts behind it.

Just this year alone, there were three instances where the top three songs on the whole Billboard Top 100 were all country songs. This hasn't happened in like 30 years when Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks were big names in the genre. So, this is an exciting time for country music.
The Top Ten
1 I Remember Everything - Zach Bryan

To say Zach Bryan's self-titled album was highly anticipated would be a massive understatement. In many ways, he picked up right where he left off with his 2022 album "American Heartbreak." However, this album also feels like him being very open, almost "messy," to an extent. All his songs on this album are very poetic in their lyrics, which is not something new for Zach.

I think Zach and Kacey's vocals complement each other well, and the song really shines when the two of them sing together. 'I Remember Everything' finds Zach and Kacey looking wistfully back at their past relationship, admitting where things went wrong and paying tribute to the fleeting moments of joy they got to experience. Honestly, I consider this my personal favorite song of the year.

2 Watermelon Moonshine - Lainey Wilson

Lainey Wilson is yet another up-and-coming star in country music. Her song "Heart Like A Truck" was a smash hit last year, and her collaboration with HARDY on "Wait in the Truck," as well as her songs being featured on the hit television series "Yellowstone," both contributed to her rise to the spotlight. This song is seemingly her next big hit. It pays homage to Deanna Carter's iconic 90's country anthem, "Strawberry Wine". Both songs talk about very similar themes.

This song feels like looking through a rose-colored lens in retrospect on a country love fairytale. It's a story about two young lovers just after graduating high school. It has a heartwarming tone, talking about young lovers spending some "intimate moments" together but also adding bittersweet moments in there as well. It's like knowing this love wasn't meant to last because they're both "too young to know what love was." Yet, it's not in a sorrowful or regretful way, but rather looking back fondly on those first moments.

3 Fast Car - Luke Combs

If Luke wasn't already one of the superstars of the country music industry, this song definitely put him there. This song surprised a lot of people. I don't think even Luke and his team knew just how big this song would become. Over the years, he's been very consistent, even if his music started to have this sameness feel to it. This is easily his biggest song since "The Kind of Love We Make" from part 1 of this two-album project. This song isn't even original. It's a cover of Tracy Chapman's original song.

It's nice to see Luke hone in on these more introspective songs. This song feels like it's in the same crowd as "Better Together" and "Joe". It feels like the big sparkling Jewel in the crown of this album, "Gettin' Old." "Fast Car" describes two lovers trying to make it in life, assuming they are both in their mid to late 20s. He talks about the fast car as a way to escape from the situation and basically start from zero with nothing to lose and nothing to prove. The song has several themes present like hope and optimism as our protagonist starts to see and believe in the idea of a new life. We also get the recurring theme of alcoholism and the effects it can have on people and their own families.

Our protagonist is in this situation because the father is an alcoholic and the mother left him, so the protagonist has to quit school to take care of him, which really shows the theme of this album is about maturing in life. We can see this is quite the contrast between other hit songs from Combs like "Beer Never Broke My Heart" and "1,2 Many." We then learn our protagonist is female and the boyfriend still doesn't have a job. Nevertheless, she remains hopeful for the future, yet the song has a bit of a sad ending as our protagonist realizes she's still in the same position as she was before.

4 Tennessee Orange - Megan Moroney

We've seen a couple of takes on the whole football and romance thing before, such as "Tennessee Fan" by Morgan Wallen. "Tennessee Orange" is an easygoing and overall charming song that almost feels conversational. It starts with Megan calling her mom and telling her she's met this guy, but he's a Tennessee fan and they're Georgia fans. The way she playfully and innocently kind of dances around a direct confession to her mother makes it all the more charming.

This song feels like a direct correlation to Morgan Wallen's song, a similar ballad between two football fans of rival teams. I do like how this song turned out, though. You can tell she has that nervous/excited charm of telling her parents about her boyfriend for the first time.

5 White Horse - Chris Stapleton

I love Chris Stapleton's songs. The man is as solid as it gets with country music. This song is one of the big hits on his latest album, "Higher." This song, in particular, talks about love, passion, and patience. He starts by saying, "This love is getting dangerous," and comparing it to a "loaded gun." What gets me is when he's like, "If you want a cowboy on a white horse, riding off into the sunset, that's the kind of love he will wait for. Hold on tight, girl, I ain't there yet. No, I ain't there yet. No, I ain't there yet. White Horse."

It's a good reminder in a world where everyone is looking for instantaneous gratification that it's more about being true to yourself, and it's about the journey and how some things are worth waiting for and shouldn't be rushed. All in all, another great song by Chris Stapleton.

6 Last Night - Morgan Wallen

Was there a bigger song in 2023 than "Last Night"? Morgan Wallen had a big year with his 36-song album "One Thing At A Time". While almost all the songs on the album are solid, this one seemingly stands out from the rest and has had a dominant performance on the Billboard Top 100 basically all year long.

Even if it was a bit overplayed, the impact it had on the entire genre cannot be overlooked. "Last Night" really shows how Morgan can achieve this sort of "genre blending" style between country and hip hop, which may turn away some hardcore country fans. But at the same time, it's attracting so many new fans who might not be as familiar with country music. It's a great way to introduce them to the genre.

He does this with other tracks on this album as well, such as "You Proof", "Sunrise", and "Thinkin' Bout Me", and it's no surprise that they're all considered smash hits. This song follows suit with this whole alcoholism and heartbreak theme that Morgan is no stranger to. We see Morgan talk about a hard conversation he has with his lover, presumably "last night", but also uses that phrase to not let it be their "last night" together. We know things can't be in a great place between them when she says, "I wish you were somebody I never met". But then Morgan remains optimistic, like "something tells me this ain't over yet".

Overall, this song is a masterclass lyrically and paints a very relatable picture of a turbulent relationship. It highlights the struggles of passion, commitment, love, and regret between the two lovers and hints at the effects of alcohol on these kinds of conversations.

7 The Painter - Cody Johnson

Cody Johnson has always been solid and consistent in country music. His latest album "Leather" is no exception. On this album, probably the biggest hit has to be "The Painter," which is a love song but has a lot of painting metaphors. He starts off by explaining what makes her so special, like how she looks ahead to the future with the child-like wonder and jubilance of someone casually flicking through a magazine. This flippancy also implies a sense of laid-back assurance and belief that everything in the future will turn out the way it's meant to be.

He also mentions how she finds beauty in thrown away and broken things, hinting that he himself is one of those things she loves. He then jumps into the painting metaphors with lyrics such as "I don't remember life before she came into the picture. Brought the beauty I was missin' with her. Showed me colors I ain't ever seen. She took chances with every wall I built, she saw a canvas. I thank God every day for how He made her. My life was black and white but she's the painter." I really like these metaphors, and think it plays well. One that especially stands out to me is "With every wall I built, she saw a canvas."

8 Save Me - Jelly Roll

This song starts with Jelly Roll saying "Save me from myself" and then saying "my lifestyle is unhealthy but it's the only thing that helps." This basically hints at his troubled past and how most people going through that feel like that style of life is the only answer. I think it speaks to anyone going through a difficult time in their life, like they feel lost, broken, and hopeless.

It's a sad song, but it kind of encourages people to save themselves from their own self. It's a powerful song. Lainey Wilson does a good job, and I like how authentic and kind of "raw" it sounds. Definitely worth a listen.

9 Rich Men North of Richmond - Oliver Anthony Music

I'm not sure I've ever seen such a viral video in country music just explode overnight. Even Zach Bryan wasn't nearly as instantaneous as this. Oliver Anthony came out of virtually nowhere, and his song captivated everyone's attention. Mind you, this was during a time when Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, and Jason Aldean all had respective hits at the top of the charts. Within the first week after Oliver Anthony's viral video first surfaced, the song reached No. 1 on iTunes' all-genre streaming charts.

On August 21, after its full first week of tracking, the song debuted atop the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, making Anthony the first artist to debut at No. 1 with no prior chart history. This made 'Rich Men' the first song by a solo male artist to peak on both the Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs simultaneously in its debut week. Part of its success comes from the subjects it addresses: low wages, taxation, inflation, welfare abuse, food poverty, child trafficking, selfish politicians, and other hot-button issues and political talking points. It's become a bit of a rallying cry for Americans on both sides of the political spectrum who are fed up with the current state of our country.

You can immediately tell a difference. It's not as aggressive as a protest song like "Try That In A Small Town." The actual instrumentals are pretty stripped down, to literally just Oliver singing and his acoustic guitar playing in the middle of the woods, which is seemingly the trendy style of country music right now.


This song, to me, is a textbook Hardy song and kind of summarizes his style in a nutshell. It's funny how so much has happened this year in country music that I almost forgot Hardy's "Mockingbird and the Crow" album came out in 2023, now almost a year old, which is crazy to think. This song is a rock song that has country elements thrown into it, which surprisingly works well.

The theme of this song highlights the dark side of drinking and how it can ruin relationships. Hardy tells the story of a man who clearly had too much to drink, and his love interest literally kicked him to the curb because of his drinking problem. We know the man was having an unpleasant experience, using a corn bag as a pillow and a camo jacket as a blanket. The man even acknowledged that he got what he deserved. It's one of those songs that has really picked up steam throughout the year and emerged as the second big hit from that album, behind "Wait In The Truck."

The Contenders
11 Rodeo Queen - Jade Eagleson
12 Save Me the Trouble - Dan + Shay
13 I Run on Country - The Washboard Union
14 Need a Favor - Jelly Roll
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