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There’s Not a Bad Modern Day Country Artist

I was recently asked what my favorite genre of music is, and when I responded county, I was questioned who my favorite artist was. Thinking of my answer, I came to the conclusion I don’t have a favorite. My conclusion got me thinking, and my thinking turned into me sitting down at my desk and writing this piece.

I started listening to country music in 2012. The first song that hooked me on the genre was “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line. The line, “baby you a song, you make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise” hit musical peace in my brain.

For the longest time, I really only listened to FGL. I was still naive and young, and I had the inability to listen to anything else. I can be stubborn, and I didn’t want to spend extra effort in finding new artists with my busy schedule.

Then, college happened, and I lived on my own in the dorms, and it was in college that I began to broaden my horizons, which included expanding my music tastes. Now, I have heard other genres of music before. My mom is the biggest fan of Prince on the planet, and my dad listened to mid-2000s rap (Ludacris, Mike Jones, Enimem, etc.) I just never went out of my way to find new country artists outside of FGL.

Eventually, FGL wasn’t making as many songs, so I decided to venture out and find more country artists. I stumbled across Luke Combs’ “One Number Away”, and I was instantly hooked. 

Once I found out my hometown — Cleveland, Ohio, — had a local country station (99.5 WGAR), I started listening to it, specifically on Sundays when the station does its Top 30 countdown in country music for the week. The countdown begins at 8 a.m. and since I’m not up that early, I usually tune into the last hour, which is usually the final 10 songs of the countdown. It was through there I learned of all these new country artists/songs. Once I heard a song I liked, I would type the song into YouTube, listen to it again, and YouTube’s algorithm would present me with new songs/artists to try.

Within a period of two years, I went from just listening to FGL to listening to a boatload of country artists, including Combs, Dirks Bentley, Thomas Rhett, Blake Sheldon, Chris Jansen, Tim McGraw, Kelsea Ballerini, Danielle Bradbery and so many more, and I loved all of them.

Over the last few years, my playlist has expanded exponentially. I do have my favorite songs I listen to daily, but it’s more about the lyrics and the beat of the song rather than the artist themselves.

My Top 10 songs change from month-to-month, but here are my Top 10 in my playlist so far for the month of June:

Yes, there are repeat artists on there, but it mostly has to do with the song and not the artist itself. I’ve learned some artists only have one good song. Formally of FGL, Tyler Hubbard’s “Dancing in the Country” is a phenomenal tune. On the contrary, “5 Foot 9” is not a good song at all, in my humble opinion.

A lot of the songs in my June playlist are recent releases within the last few months or years. However, Swindell released  “You Should Be Here” in 2016.

Chris Jansen’s “Done”, Teniale Art’s “Somebody Like That”, Carly Pearce’s “I Hope You’re Happy Now” and “What He Didn’t Do”, Ingrid Andress’  “More Hearts Than Mine”, and Chris Lane’s “Big, Big Plans” have made their way into my playlist over the month of May, putting the total number of country artists I’ve listened to within the last month at 29. 

I had a lot of events going on over the last few months, and country music has helped me cope, and the lyrics have been super relatable.  A great song almost always has lyrics people can relate to at different points in their lives. There are songs I won’t listen to for months, sometimes even years, yet when I hear it, all the good memories come back to me. A lot of the songs off FGL’s first album, Here’s to the Good Times, fall into that category for me.

Listening to approximately an artist per day each month is why I say there is no bad country artist. There are bad songs but not bad artists in general. Country music is the greatest healing tool in the world, and I can’t wait to see what the second half of 2023 brings for the genre.

Let me know if there are any artists/songs I’m currently not listening to that I should be!


  • Brandon Lewis

    Brandon Lewis is the host of Brandon's World -- a sports podcast dedicated to figuring out the truth behind the hottest topics in the sports world. Brandon also contributes to Voltage Live as a writer. Brandon graduated from Kent State University in May 2021 with a Bachelor's in journalism and is passionate about giving individuals a platform to express themselves.

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