Recently, I was at my job and my boss had a local, country radio station playing in the background. As I was working, after 10 songs or so, I noticed I had only heard one female-led song out of the bunch. After this realization, I started paying attention for the remainder of my shift, about an hour or so. Since I started paying attention, only one more female-led track played in the restaurant. I thought this could have been a fluke, considering the many successful women in country music. Then I took to Google and realized my realization was not something new to the country music scene. I looked at the top Billboard country songs of 2019, and out of the 100, only 15 featured or were led by women. Considering the 15%, I looked for an explanation. I could not find an exact explanation, but from what I read, radio DJs seem to think there are only a limited amount of spots for women in their airtime. This whole concept seems rather bizarre to me, considering 2018’s album of the year at the Grammys was won by a female country singer, Kacey Musgraves. I decided to put together an eight-song playlist to prove that women not only deserve more space on country radio, but also that they have the potential to dominate it.
1. Bluebird- Miranda Lambert
“Bluebird” is a track from Miranda Lambert’s seventh and newest studio album, Wildcard. The track offers easy listening for her fans. This track is one of my favorites to listen to on the road, as it comes across as reflective, but also peaceful. It’s no surprise the album has received critical success, considering Miranda Lambert’s lengthy time in the country scene. I absolutely adore some of Lamberts’ older work, “Mama’s Broken Heart” used to be on repeat for me, but “Bluebird” offers us something we haven’t heard from the country powerhouse, which makes it so special and a must listen.
2. Die from a Broken Heart- Maddie & Tae
Maddie & Tae are a harmonizing duo that are newer to the country scene, who first came around in 2015 with their album, Start Here. Their next album, The Way It Feels, is to be released April 10th, and is much anticipated after fans heard the lead single, “Die from a Broken Heart.” The contemporary country track speaks of a heartache that seems almost unbearable. The duos’ vocals allow the listener to feel the pain of the artists, but also offers a sense of comfort. The song is perfectly delicate with the singers’ harmonizing seeming effortless. There’s no telling where this duo will go with this album, considering they are still making waves from their first album.
3. Redesigning Women- The Highwomen
The 80s country scene offered an iconic collaboration amongst some of the biggest country artists of the time, The HighwayMen. Fast forward many years later, some of country’s most successful women have come together to make an unstoppable supergroup, The Highwomen. Consisting of Maren Morris, Brandie Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires, the group offered an album the world didn’t know it needed. It’s quite amazing that four singers can harmonize the way the group does, and this is displayed on their track “Crowded Table.” However, “Redesigning Women,” is the female powered track that the world needs, as it is an ode to the women out there going against the stereotypical women roles in society, but also nods to the women who must carry out the “womanly duties.” The first line has the biggest impact on explaining the pressure of women as it says, “Full time livin’ on a half time schedule…” From the first line, this song immediately registered with me, and is an anthem that I won’t stop playing.
4. Biscuits- Kacey Musgraves
Considering how much I have talked about Kacey Musgraves’ latest album, Golden Hour, in my articles I thought I would shine light on a song that came before it. “Biscuits” comes from Musgraves’ also critically successful album, Pageant Material. The song is a catchy, witty tune about minding your business and keeping your opinion to yourself. The main line of the song says, “…Mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy…” Her clever play on words continues through the rest of the banjo heavy track and reminds the listener of the country twang the singer offered before her euphoric Golden Hour. I must offer a warming, listening to this track will have it stuck in your head for hours to come.
5. America’s Sweetheart- Elle King
Who knew the singer of the vastly popular, “Ex’s & Oh’s,” can also do country rock? Well that’s exactly what Elle King did on “America’s Sweetheart,” as her, at times, raspy vocals are accompanied by a traditional twangy background tune. She belts in the track, “What do you want from me? I’m not America’s sweetheart…” She kicks all her haters in the mouth and goes so far to tell them to “go to hell.” I’m not saying Elle King is a mood, but that’s exactly what I’m saying. I discovered this song a few years too late, as it was off her 2015 album, but I won’t make the mistake of not playing it enough.
6. Goodbye Earl- Dixie Chicks
Although this track first emerged the year I was born, and I obviously discovered it years later, this song is just one I can’t stop playing and refuse to ever skip if it comes on shuffle. You can read about the Dixie Chicks’ latest single here, but I wanted to shine light on a song that defined them in the late 90s/early 2000s. The song tells of a sad story of two best friends dealing with one experiencing abuse from her husband Earl, but quickly adds the wit by the duo killing the abuser in their own vigilantly justice. Although the song discusses heavy topics, the trio manages to offer a track that can make you chuckle upon listening to the lyrics. The song was super popular during the time and has been featured on lists calling for classic country hits.
7. It Must Be You- Dolly Parton
You can’t have a women in country playlist without the queen herself, Dolly Parton. This song comes from her mega successful album, Jolene, and shares space with iconic songs “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You.” Although the song is only shy of two minutes, Parton manages to tell a whole story of finding one’s love and wanting them by your side always. The upbeat track is the last song on the album and is the perfect way to finish off the masterpiece. “So when you find yourself alone, just think of me and I’ll be there…” sings Parton as she sings of the beauty of love.
8. Our Song- Taylor Swift
Remember that time when Taylor Swift was country’s princess? If not, I do because that era of the now mega popstar offers a look into the singer’s wholesome beginnings as a young artist. Now, the Red album is my absolute favorite album by the artist, as it was her first crossover to the pop world, but remained country at heart, but the singer’s first self-titled album is the best teen country has to offer. In “Our Song,” she sings of the beauty of young love from a teenage girl’s perspective, but the song itself offers a sense of maturity. Although many songs on the album are equally massively successful, “Our Song” is the perfect sing along that’ll take you back right to your hopeful desires as a high school youth. Although released in 2006, the track remains relevant to me 14 years later.
Although there is a plethora of female powered tracks and was hard to narrow down, these tracks offer some of the best of women in country. From heartbreak to empowerment, these ladies are storytellers in their own right, and they deserve to tell their stories on the air.