This wasn’t quite a tradition I expected to carry over from last year, but as it turned out, I had enough to work with here. Remember, it’s all presented in good fun and isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Whether or not it’s actually funny is up to you. I don’t think I had as much to work with this year as I did last year, though. Still, if you have an album you want to see represented here, or have a blurb for one, either comment below, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on Twitter, @ musicaldivide.
Oh yeah, language warning.
Florida Georgia Line – Life Rolls On: You were a huge fan of this duo’s first two albums and somehow wound up in a coma around the time Anything Goes came out, at the height of the bro-country era. Upon reawakening this year, you ask someone to play you the duo’s newest album, and are thankful that it’s still 2014 and you didn’t miss much.
Morgan Wallen – Dangerous: The Double Album: Your expectations for quality vocals don’t extend beyond D-grade karaoke stars, and yet, even with that said, you still can’t appreciate the greater depths of alt-country for some reason. You’re a total dick, but you get away with it because you’re living that “complicated sad boi” life, even though you absolutely deserve to be judged. If Kid Rock had released an album this year, it’d be a stiff competition for you.
Carly Pearce – 29: Written in Stone: You can’t in good faith say the Pistol Annies made your favorite album this year, given that they only released a Christmas project. But you still wanted something incendiary, and this, like, kind of fit that bill. You’re wondering why she couldn’t have killed her ex-husband at some point on the record, though. Well, in another way, that is.
Lainey Wilson – Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’: You’ve been a soul-searching, free-spirited wanderer since at least the start of the pandemic, but you’re still a little young in your journey. That’s OK. I just wish you’d stop trying to be hip and actually use complete words when you talk, know what I’m sayin’?
Morgan Wade – Reckless: You’ve been a soul-searching wanderer all your life for wildly different reasons, and you’ve got the scars and possible buried bodies to prove it, dammit. Even the cops are afraid.
Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and Jon Randall – The Marfa Tapes: You’re a soul-searching wanderer who found other soul-searching wanderers on your path, and now you’re kind of like besties but still chronically depressed together, too.
Chapel Hart – The Girls Are Back in Town: You and your soul-searching besties found the meaning of life together, and I’m proud of you for that! No, really, I actually am.
Eric Church – Heart & Soul: When people ask what kind of music you listen to, you say, “all kinds,” aware that it’s as much a musical choice as it is a lifestyle one, for better and worse. Often for worse, given that you’re a damn mess caught somewhere between finishing that dad-rock essay while breaking into air guitar and pounding on air drums and being a careful and considerate – but still idiosyncratic – dad.
Thomas Rhett – Country Again (Side A): You got into country music because of guys like Thomas Rhett, and now you’re stunned to find out you actually like country music … well, so long as it’s only, like, 20 percent twangy. You got a lot of mileage out of posting sunset pictures to Instagram with #backtomyroots, though.
Walker Hayes – Country Stuff: You claim that “Fancy Like” is your resonant anthem and ode to being poor, but everyone knows you just like Applebee’s because you’re a basic bitch.
ChrisYoungFamousFriendsNikoMoongGoodTimeDan+ShayGoodThingsBrettYoungWeekendsLookaLittleDifferentTheseDaysOldDominionTimeTequila&Therapy: Oh, like you can tell the difference anyway.
NOW! That’s What I Call Country, Vol. 14: You don’t exist.
Travis Tritt – Set in Stone: Rah-rah, country music dead. Rah-rah, vaccine bad. Rah-rah-rah-rah…
Blake Shelton – Body Language: You’re Gwen Stefani.
Adeem the Artist – Cast Iron Pansexual: You’re not Toby Keith.
Alan Jackson – Where Have You Gone: You’re something of a wise old sage, and if you lived atop a mountain, people would be flocking to you for life advice all the time. Still, you think country music has been dead for a long time and are several years away from even understanding what a Tik-Tok is.
James McMurtry – The Horses and the Hounds: You’re something of a wise old sage, and if you lived atop a mountain, people would be flocking to you for life advice all the time. You’re too old to give a shit about anything and yet simultaneously care too much about everything, and that, surprisingly enough, makes you more of a badass than anything else.
Toby Keith – Peso In My Pocket: You believe you’re something of a wise old sage, but no one ever really comes to visit you for advice. Or for anything, really.
Cole Chaney – Mercy: Hell yeah, a dude singing about Kentucky and coal mines. This new Tyler Chil… er, wait, uh, Cole Chaney bah-God Laurel Cove something.
Gary Allan – Ruthless: You somehow haven’t heard any of Gary Allan’s first nine albums, and shame on you for that.
Yola – Stand for Myself: You … somehow thrived in 2021? Like, oh my God, good for you, but at the same time, how???
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Georgia Blue: You still find Jason Isbell’s Twitter feed tolerable, and are convinced that any activism there – like roasting a random person by quote-tweeting them for likes – is more than enough work required to make the world a better place.
Sturgill Simpson – The Ballad of Dood & Juanita: You think this is the best Sturgill Simpson album ever since whatever that last one was and probably watched a few episodes of Bonanza to “get it.” You’re already thinking of a potential sequel, should he ever make another solo album – The Ballad of Dood, Where’s My Steed?
Kacey Musgraves – Star-Crossed: You’re still using that cowboy emoji in everything you text or post on social media, but it’s now the sad one with a tear. Still worthy of a yee-haw, though, just as long as it isn’t twangy. Still, after getting into country with Kacey’s debut, Golden Hour, you’re amazed at how much you love her sophomore effort.
Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name: Legend has it that if you say Mickey Guyton’s name three times in front of a mirror, a verified music journalist will appear to make sure this album is on your year-end list. Or else.
Jameson Rodgers – Bet You’re From a Small Town: You’re one of only, like, six or so people who knows who Jameson Rodgers even is, despite him having two No. 1 country radio hits thus far.
Billy Strings – Renewal: Every time this comes on, you’re just, like, “woah, the colors, man.” You spend most of your days getting baked, playing Nintendo, and questioning the deeper meaning of our nihilistic existence when all we have to look forward to is an endless pit of despair, and that none of our accomplishments are eternal, so why even bother, all before lunch.
Zac Brown Band – The Comeback: You forgave them for The Owl, but man, if they ever pull that shit again…
(They probably will)
Pistol Annies – Hell of a Holiday: Santa Claus is about to enter your house like that one Donald Glover scene from Community, ain’t he?
Carrie Underwood – My Savior: You continuously found Jesus with every listen like it was a game of Where’s Waldo? or something.
Emily Scott Robinson – American Siren: You didn’t need to find Jesus, because you went full scorched-earth and lost your religion, all while finding a different strand of faith that’s open to questionable interpretation.
Jason Aldean – Macon: You’ve settled for mediocre songs from him since 2008 or so – why stop now? And as for anyone who objects, just cuss them out on social media with questionable grammar. You know, like you do anyway.
Cody Johnson – Human: The Double Album: You just love Texas country music because Texas. And Texas. Also Texas.
Turnpike Troubadours: They didn’t release an album in 2021, but damn, ain’t ya glad they’re back?