We are VERY excited about The Big BKR Smackdown coming your way Friday here on WBKR.  So, to get ready for the big countdown, Jaclyn, Dave Spencer and I decided that we should come up with our own Top Ten lists.  So, here goes.  My Top Ten Country Songs of 2011 . . . and, for good measure, I tacked on what I consider to be the 5 Worst Country Songs of the Year too!


#10-  "Tonight" by Sugarland

When it's all said and done, 2011 won't be a year for the ages for Sugarland.  Not only were they the focal point of that horrific Indiana State Fair stage collapse, but they didn't have any hits either.  By my estimation, this song should have been one.  "Tonight" is the quintessential Sugarland song.  It's jam-packed full of emotion and longing, swells into a powerful chorus and showcases Jennifer Nettles' pitch-perfect voice.  Take a look back at their performance from the 2011 ACM Awards!

#9-  "Mr. Bartender" by  Bradley Gaskin

Earlier this year, I visited the Grand Ole Opry for the Opry debuts of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina.  The crowd was full of American Idol fans who watched this year's crop of TV show talent get schooled by a honky-tonker!   Also making his debut that night was Bradley Gaskin, who completely stole the show.  He laid out Keith Whitley's "Don't Close Your Eyes" and performed his hit "Mr. Bartender," a soaring throwback to old country that'll make you cry a tear into your beer.  Check out this acoustic version . . .

#8- "Take A Back Road"-  Rodney Atkins

It's a shame Rodney's year has ended with allegations of attempted murder and Nancy Grace screaming his name and pointing fingers at him.  The early part of 2011 gave us this #1 hit . . . that kind of country hit that makes you want to throw on a baseball cap, get in the truck, roll down the windows and aim for the nearest corn field.

#7-  "Over You"- Miranda Lambert

When I got my copy of Miranda Lambert's latest release Four the Record, I found myself hitting the repeat button everytime I got to Track #10.  "Over You" was cowritten by Miranda and Blake Shelton and was inspired by the unexpected passing of Blake's brother, Richie.  Richie was tragically killed in a car accident back in 1990.  The song is equal parts heartbreak and anger and the cracks in Miranda's voice give it just the punch it needs.  Here it is.  There's no official video, so you'll just have to stare at this You Tube entry, admire her album cover and hum along!

#6-  "You & Tequila"-  Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter

If you know me, you know I'm not the biggest Kenny Chesney fan.  I think he's a helluva showman and his concerts are a blast, but I'm not really a fan of him musically.  I think Kenny has pretty much become a master of recording the same song over and over and over.  But, THIS song made me shut my big old lips.  It's not the best duet of the year . . . but it's easily the second best (thank you, Grace Potter) and I've hummed "You and tequila make me crazy" more than any line from any other song released this year!  Here's their live performance from the 2011 CMA awards . . .

#5-  "Voices" and "Tomorrow" by Chris Young

Chris Young is proof that hard work pays off.  He will flat out tell you that Nashville Star didn't really do anything to make him a star . . . so, he set out to make himself one.  And he has.  And, in 2011, he shed all those cowboy hat cliches and laid his huge baritone into these two soaring hits.  I couldn't possibly choose between the two . . . so "Voices" and "Tomorrow" share the five spot on my Top Ten list!  Here he is performing both songs at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

#4-  "Dirt Road Anthem"-  Jason Aldean

It amuses me that some folks in the radio industry (and they know who they are) were skeptical about this song and its place in country music.  I suppose it's a slight risk to blend country music with rap (of all things).  But Jason Aldean has become a huge country star and can pretty much turn anything into gold.  Now, make no mistake.  Aldean is a country artist.  But I love the way he blurs the line between musical genres, pushes envelopes and reinvents the wheel.  This song is genius, was one of the biggest hits of the year, and, in the future, will be one of those songs credited with changing the face of country music.  Here's Aldean performing it live at the 2011 CMA Music Fest!

#3-  "Tattoos on this Town"-  Jason Aldean

Yep!  There is a theme emerging here.  Aldean rocked the house in 2011.  Pardon the pun, but he really left his mark on us!  And this song put him in top spot again.  "Tattoos on this Town" is everything I love about a song.  It's a rollicking anthem of self-expression that builds, pulls the drums back to tease you, then just knocks your socks off in the final chorus.  I love this song and can't wait to lay it out at karaoke!  Club 300, here I come!  LOL!  Here's the official video . . .

#2-  Don't You Wanna Stay-  Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson

THIS is the best duet of the 2011.  Not only is this power ballad one of the best country songs of the year, it's one of the best pop songs of 2011 too (in fact, Kelly Clarkson put it on her CD, Stronger!)  Jason seems dedicated to blending musical styles and he knew, heading into this project, he needed the best female voice in the business alongside him.  And he got it.  No one can lay open a song like Kelly Clarkson and we knew, when the two performed this song at the 2010 CMA Awards (video below), it was going to be a HUGE hit.  And, as expected, it delivered.

#1-  Colder Weather-  Zac Brown Band

All but one of Zac Brown's songs have reached #1 on the charts.  And most have been catchy novelty songs like "Toes" and "Chicken Fried."  I am not discounting those songs (because I happen to like them both), but neither shows off the extent of Zac's full talents.  "Colder Weather" fires on all cylinders and, for the first time, we get to hear Zac really "sing" a song.  And he's got mad pipes and captures all the emotional levels in this wrenching tune about a lover and leaver.  Here's the Zac Brown Band performing the song live at Red Rocks.

Now that we've discussed the Best Songs of 2011 . . . let's chat about stinkers!  Let's chat about the five worst songs of the year.  And here they are (in my oh so humble opinion).

The Worst Five Songs of 2011

#5-  "Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton

If this is the kind of music "married" Blake is going to give us, I am ready for him to ask Miranda for a D-I-V-O-R-C-E.  Blake!  Dude!  You have established yourself as country music's wise-cracking bad ass.  I don't think a wise-cracking country music bad ass should be calling himself a "honey bee."  I love ya, Man!  But this made me want to take a can of Black Flag to the hive.

#4-  "Today is Your Day"-  Shania Twain

Bless her heart.  I always feared that Mutt Lange was the brains behind this operation.  And, well, this lame attempt at a comeback tune just turned that theory into fact.  Today was NOT your day, Shania.  This song sounded like something Gloria Estefan threw up.

#3-  "Somebody's Chelsea"-  Reba McEntire

WTH?  First of all, this song has one of the worst titles in the history of recorded music and, quite frankly, unless she was singing about Chelsea Handler, there was no way I was going to be on board with this.  "Somebody's Chelsea" lays on the syrup like a Cracker Barrel waitress standing over a stack of pancakes.  Come on, Reba.  You surely have better taste than this.

#2-  Anything released in 2011 by Darius Rucker

Totally over it.  For me, it's back to the Blowfish, Hootie.  PLEASE!

#1-  'Cost of Livin'-  Ronnie Dunn

You know all those cliches about country music?  Your dog died, you lost your trailer, your wife cheated on you with your brother!  Look, Ronnie.  We get it.  We are still "bleeding red" in a recession.  But we don't need you reminding everyone how much the life of the workin' man sucks.  Yes, country music is supposed to pull at our heartstrings, but it truly is not supposed to turn us into cutters.  And, everytime I heard this exercise is depression and repitition, I want to open a vein.  It's time to reunite with Kix . . . quickly!

So, what do YOU think?  Feel free to comment below using our Facebook feedback feature!