There was no escaping one song this year – Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’. It sold 10 million copies in the US and it stayed in the top 40 in the UK for so long the Home Office threatened to deport it.
With its chorus of “take my horse to the old town road!” most folk assumed the song was inspired by country music. Which it was – but that country was England! I’ve discovered, by checking Google Maps, that Old Town Road is not in Utah but Stoke-on-Trent, just round the corner from Premier Electrical Wholesales and a ceramic tile pottery. It’s as authentically western as John Wayne’s name.
If you want proper country music there was only one place to take your horse – and that place was Nashville. And there was no better country song, and, in fact, no better song this year, than Luke Bryan’s ‘Knockin’ Boots’.
Most people would say it’s awful. That it makes ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. But they would be wrong. It’s BRILLIANT.
Listen to that guitar solo, the way it’s a NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK SAY NO MORE of the fretboard.
Listen to the lyrics. It’s not just a list of cliches that rhyme. It’s more complicated than that. It’s a list of cliches that rhyme that tells a story of a night: a night that begins with getting across town to meet someone; taking her out to get some drinks, then moving to the dance floor, followed by calling her a cab, then starting getting friendly in a backseat, before, eventually, she’s won over by Luke Bryan’s charming ways or suggestive guitar licks or, possibly, rhohypnol and they’re soon ‘knockin boots’! It’s a tale as old as time. If that time was before the #metoo movement rightly suggested getting her drunk was not the height of seduction. But that doesn’t stop this being my song of the year. Even if it doesn’t mention Stoke.
Miley Cyrus – Party Up The Street
For when you can’t afford the taxi to the party at Luke Bryan’s house.
Grimes – We Appreciate Power
Best lead single with the word ‘Power’ in the title since Kanye West’s Power. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that Grimes will follow Kanye into the light and become Sister Grimes the nun in 10 years time.
DC Fontaines – Big
One of my favourite albums of the year. I think they’re gonna be… big! (Did you see what I did there?)
The Slow Show – Eye to Eye
From my favourite album of the year.
Honeyblood – A Kiss From The Devil
Best Scottish album. I’m pretty sure there’s a hint of Gary Glitter’s Rock & Roll Part 1 to this one. You can definitely imagine the Joker dancing on the New York stairs to this song.
Foals – In Degrees
Would have been best album of the year if they’d released one ‘best of’ album instead of splitting it into two parts.
Fat White Family – Feet
A Spotify discovery, which is getting rarer as my wife shares my account and listens to One Direction and The Greatest Showman and my new discovery’s tend to be Louis Tomlinson singing Les Miserable.
Blake Shelton – God’s Country
Someone’s been listening very closely to Bon Jovi’s Young Guns 2 soundtrack.
Miley Cyrus – The Most
Final song on her album. Final song on this list. If you get the chance, watch her Glastonbury set. But not in front of your granny, unless your granny was a trooper and swears just like one.