In 2015, Cam, Sam Hunt and Kelsea Ballerini, among others, were country music newcomers making waves, while Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood were established artists pulling in star collaborators. Little Big Town, meanwhile, were capturing headlines with a gorgeous tale of jealousy that got a bit misconstrued -- but all that buzz worked in their favor, for sure.
It's a bit hard to believe these 10 stellar songs are five years old as of 2020, as many of them still show up regularly in playlists and on country radio today. Keep reading for a look back at the best of 2015:
Thomas Rhett released a sweet song for his wife Lauren in 2015 (in fact, it makes this list ... Keep reading!), but Bryan took a bolder approach, co-penning the ultra-sexy "Strip It Down" with his wife Caroline in mind. Lines such as, "Let it out, tell me right now / Everything I need in them white cotton sheets / Dirty dance me slow in the summertime heat / Feel my belt turn loose from these old blue jeans" really make the flames fly high in "Strip It Down," and fans liked it so much that it nabbed the 2015 CMA Entertainer of the Year his 14th No. 1 hit.
Though Underwood is known for having a voice that can shake rooftops, she doesn't depend on it in "Heartbeat." The song, released in November of 2015, is slower and soulful, and fellow country artist Sam Hunt helps out on background vocals. "Heartbeat" is different than most of the songs we've heard from Underwood -- and we really, really like it.
There's a whole lot to love about Maddie & Tae's debut album, Start Here, including its second single, "Fly." The lyrics are absolutely perfect for the inspirational tune: “So keep on climbing, though the ground might shake / Just keep on reaching, though the limb might break,” Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye sing together during the chorus. “We’ve come this far, don’t you be scared now / ‘Cause you can learn to fly on the way down.” It's sweet but not saccharine, wise without being condescending ... and pitch-perfect in every way.
"Raise 'Em Up"Keith Urban feat. Eric Church
The combination of Keith Urban and Eric Church is always a good idea -- especially on "Raise 'Em Up." The song won Musical Event of the Year at the 2015 CMA Awards and, to no one's surprise, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Urban believes that Church's collaboration on the song brought it to a new place, and we think so, too.
Hunt's fourth single from Montevallo, "Break Up in a Small Town," became his fourth consecutive Top 3 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart. With every single he releases, Hunt shows he's a genre-bending artist in the best sense of the phrase; his R&B-meets-country style is so perfectly him. Anyone who's watched a former flame with his or her new love can relate to this track.
Sparkly eyed, curly haired, highly talented newcomer Cam captured a whole lot of hearts in 2015 with "Burning House." The song comes from her debut EP, Welcome to Cam Country, and beat out songs by Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and other seasoned singers to be the most-added song on country radio when it was first released. Additionally, "Burning House" earned the most adds on impact day for a debut song from a female country artist since Carrie Underwood's debut in 2007.
"One Hell of an Amen" became Gilbert's fourth No. 1 song, but out of all of his hits, this one is the most personal. He co-wrote the song, which speaks to anyone who's lost a loved one, whether through serving our country or a battle with cancer, and it's incredibly relatable. The especially touching line "This is our last goodbye / But it's a hell of an amen" makes the song, though sad, a triumph.
There are so many reasons to love Rhett, one of them being his heart-melting "Die a Happy Man." Written for his wife Lauren, the song speaks of the deep love Rhett has for her -- a love that's so fulfilling that, even if he only had her, he'd die a happy man. The No. 1 hit is "100 percent autobiographical," which makes it even better, and Rhett calls it his favorite song he's ever written.
"Love Me Like You Mean It" was Ballerini's first single to country radio, first gold-certified single and first No. 1 hit ... Oh, and did we mention it even broke a record? The singer is talented, and the single is catchy -- so catchy, in fact, that Taylor Swift invited Ballerini to sing it in front of thousands of fans.
LBT's "Girl Crush" was a no-brainer for the top of this list: It racked up three 2016 Grammy nods and won Single of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2015 CMA Awards. The song became the longest-running No. 1 by a group of three or more members since 1959 -- and, oh, did we mention that it's beautiful? Even with a little controversy, "Girl Crush" is the song everyone had a crush on during 2015.