Holler Country Music

Holler's Songs of the Year 2023

December 7, 2023 4:33 pm GMT

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It’s been another incredible year for new music. Every week we fill up our Best New Country playlist with only the very finest releases in country and Americana, and it brings us so much joy.

This year we had so many songs to choose from, but we’ve managed to whittle it down to just 25 of our favourites.

So, here are the long ones, the right ones and wrong ones, the silly, the serious and the sad. Here are the songs that got stuck in our heads for days on end - even when we didn’t want them to – and the songs that slowly found their way onto our playlists and into our hearts.

We don’t always get to choose what we fall in love with. Sometimes the songs we love choose us. So along with the obvious, we’ve got the unlikely. Songs that we found ourselves singing merrily along to even when the odds were against them. Songs that we’re not embarrassed to love, because you should never be embarrassed to love something.

We’ll probably end up listening to these 25 songs for many years to come, but they will always take us back to 2023. Because that’s just what songs do.

Here are Holler's Songs of the Year 2023.

- Jof Owen
Warner Music Nashville / Elektra | 2023

Religiously - Bailey Zimmerman

The title-track from his debut album, ‘Religiously’ showcases why Bailey Zimmerman has earned his ‘next-big-thing’ status.

Zimmerman flexes his lyrical muscles in the hook with a clever, spiritually-minded turn-of-phrase - “Praying hard just to stop the hurt / 'Cause I don't have the only woman who was there for me, religiously” - as he wraps his signature vibrato around the melody, injecting an additional sense of fragility to this forlorn anthem.

- Maxim Mower

Warner Nashville | 2023

No. 7 Road - The Castellows

The debut single from the viral trio set an exciting marker for what's to come.

Weaving their highly melodic pop sensibilities into homegrown neo-traditional sounds, Ellie, Powell and Lily paint a vivid picture of heaven and home in the Georgia pines.

- Ross Jones

MCA Nashville | 2023

Walmart - Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt bumps into his ex-girlfriend’s mum in a grocery aisle carrying the daughter his ex-girlfriend had, and as he stands there holding a bag of potato chips, the existential emptiness of his own bachelor life is thrown into painful juxtaposition with the adult life his ex-girlfriend is obviously leading without him.

The poet laureate of country started off the year with this poignant break up ballad, before releasing a string of near perfect pop country singles throughout 2023. A bag of potato chips has never held so much pain.

- Jof Owen

Columbia | 2023

See You in Church - Tanner Adell

“I’m like Grace Kelly in a cowboy hat,” Tanner Adell announced in her sultry country twang on ‘See You in Church’. A breezy dancehall beat bobbed beneath her throughout the song, which sounded like Miranda Lambert working with Chaka Demus & Pliers.

Mixing a love for 90s and early 2000s country with trappy hip-hop beats, Tanner Adell served up something truly unique on her debut long player, Buckle Bunny.

- JO

2023 | BMG

Mama He's Crazy - Lainey Wilson, Dolly Parton

One of the standout tracks from 2023's A Tribute To The Judds, the new version of 'Mama He's Crazy' sees a country legend, Dolly Parton, and a legend-in-the-making, Lainey Wilson, join forces to produce one of the best collaborations of the year.

When either of these two icons are involved, magic happens. And now we know that when they combine their talents, stars collide.

- Lydia Farthing

Black Powder Soul Records / Thirty Tigers | 2023

Mellow War - Taylor McCall

An ode to his late grandpa who fought in Vietnam, Taylor McCall digs deep into the learnings and feelings of hope that can still find a way through such terror in ‘Mellow War’.

From the slow instrumental lead to Taylor McCall’s husky baritone voice, we’ve been swaying and humming along to this track, keeping us warm with comfort on these dark, long winter nights.

- Gemma Donahoe

Big Loud | 2023

Everything I Love - Morgan Wallen

Although ‘Everything I Love’ stood in the shadow of the sultry, record-shattering ‘Last Night’ upon its release, this unabashedly twangy and retro toe-tapper has since emerged as one of the hidden gems on Morgan Wallen’s One Thing At A Time.

‘Everything I Love’ finds him coasting breezily along a lively, steel-drenched interpolation of The Allman Brothers Band’s ‘Midnight Rider’, with country music’s biggest star again flexing the eclectic sonic palette he draws from.

- MM

Dylan Gossett | 2023

Coal - Dylan Gossett

A storyteller beyond his years, Texan singer-songwriter Dylan Gossett introduced himself with immediacy with the release of his second single, 'Coal'.

Dog-tired but still yearning for a better life, Gossett converses with God and the devil as demons surround him, despairing at how life can keep testing him this way.

- RJ

Self-Released | Holler

Glory Days - Chapel Hart

The lead single and title track of Chapel Hart's 2023 album, 'Glory Days' boasts the honeyed harmonies, powerhouse vocals, wide-eyed energy and Southern sass the trio are adored for.

“This single is so exciting for us because we are currently living in our ‘Glory Days!’”, Chapel Hart told Holler back in January. “It’s an instant jump in the car and go for a ride anthem!”

- CB

2023 | Black River

Penthouse - Kelsea Ballerini

‘Penthouse’ served as the keystone to Kelsea Ballerini’s momentous post-divorce opus, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat.

As well as having a sinuous hook and a sleek, R&B-driven instrumental, the true beauty of the track is captured in the titular metaphor. The sparse composition and Kelsea’s vulnerable lyricism transport the listener to the soulless, clear-cut countertops and inhospitable ambience of their marital home, which so evocatively symbolises a love gone cold.

- MM

Atlantic | 2023

68 - Nolan Taylor

A candid and harrowing depiction of familial relationships, '68' was a stark example of Nolan Taylor's deeply vulnerable songwriting.

Like a lightning storm heard around the world, Taylor's voice brews from a gentle temper to a uncompromising growl, channelling years of hurt and trauma into one of the most moving songs you'll hear all year.

- RJ


Pickup Man - Hixtape, Joe Diffie, Post Malone

When Post Malone first started teasing potential new country collabs, nothing could prepare us for this. Produced by HIXTAPE, 'Pickup Man' is an indulgent, buzzy rendition of Joe Diffie’s original country bop, marking Posty’s first country airplay.

After a successful performance of the song at the CMAs, alongside Morgan Wallen and HARDY, we hope this is just the beginning of Posty’s country career.

- GD

OEG / UMG | 2023

West of Tulsa - Wyatt Flores

If there's an artist who seemingly came out of nowhere this year and became a household name, it's Wyatt Flores.

Included on his Life Lessons EP, 'West of Tulsa' sees the alt-country prodigy at his very best as he wrestles with the weight of following your dreams while also tackling life's obstacles. With his heartfelt delivery and masterful lyricism, Flores is on the fast track to stardom.

- LF