Country music’s hottest stars have more than one reason to raise a glass of bubbly this year.
Hitmakers such as Maren Morris, Cole Swindell, Carly Pearce, Tyler Hubbard and more dominated country radio and became mainstays on prestigious charts.
The tracks listed below received well-deserved praise from the country community and world-renowned critics. Artists brought the heat in 2022 with rich storytelling and producing, creating hits that will live on for decades to come.
See if your favorite 2022 track made CMT’s long-running list:
Maren Morris – “Circles Around This Town”
Country powerhouse Maren Morris made waves with her reflective hit “Circles Around This Town” in 2022. lyrically it conveys Morris’ rise to fame and the grind that went into becoming a namesake in the highly competitive music industry. The grungy guitar-stacked melody that compliments her infectious sound, served as the first preview to her record-breaking album “Humble Quest.” The hitmaker co-wrote “Circles Around This Town” with esteemed songwriters Julia Michaels, Jimmy Robbins, and her husband, Ryan Hurd. “Circles Around This Town” was released in January and became the most added single to country radio in the first month of 2022, broke into the top 30 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, and was the most-streamed “country song debut by a female artist” on Amazon Music.
Kane Brown – “Like I Love Country Music”
Kane Brown’s sound may lean pop, but fan favorite hit “Like I Love Country Music” proves he’s a true country cowboy. Not only does the ’90s country-soaked track pay homage to icons like Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson, but it also features legends Brooks and Dunn. The upbeat song lives on his latest album, “Different Man” and was released shortly after his chart-topping single “One Mississippi.” Upon release, the dance-worthy melody became his most added song on country radio. It wasn’t long until “Like I Love Country Music” scored Brown his eighth No.1 single. Brown penned the tongue-in-cheek song alongside Jordan Mark Schmidt, Matt McGinn, and Taylor Phillips. The platinum-selling artist delivered a high-energy performance of “Like I Love Country Music” at the 2022 Artists of The Year ceremony, where he was recognized for his generous contributions to the genre.
Cole Swindell – “She Had Me at Heads Carolina”
Single “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” turned Cole Swindell’s year into a whirlwind. The powerhouse vocalist placed his signature flair on Jo Dee Messina’s 1996 debut track “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” Swindell joined forces with critically acclaimed songwriters Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure, Mark D, Sanders, Tim Nichols, and country sensation Thomas Rhett to curate the mainstream radio hit. The ’90s-country ditty came on the heels of his multi-week No.1 “Never Say Never” featuring Lainey Wilson and “Single Saturday Night.” The refreshing rendition lives on his 13-song album, “Stereotype.” “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” became Swindell’s fastest-rising single to date and secured a spot on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart for four consecutive weeks. The playlist-worthy tune is Swindell’s 12th career No.1.
Carly Pearce – “What He Didn’t Do”
CMT Artists of The Year honoree Carly Pearce made 2022 her year. On the heels of “29: Written In Stone,” the vocalist sent her diary-like anthem “What He Didn’t Do” to country radio. Pearce co-wrote the breakup banger inspired by her divorce from Michael Ray alongside Ashley Gorley and Emily Shackelton. “What He Didn’t Do” follows her No.1 duet “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” with Ashley McBryde.
Tyler Hubbard – “5 Foot 9”
“5 Foot 9” serves as Tyler Hubbard’s solo debut, since breaking away from award-winning duo Florida Georgia Line. The platinum-selling artist penned the track alongside Chase McGill and The Cadillac Three member Jaren Johnston. The witty anthem was inspired by Hubbard’s wife, Hayley, and reached No.1 on country radio. Right before his solo Grand Ole Opry debut, “5 Foot 9” was certified gold by the RIAA.
“Reaching No.1 with my first single as a solo artist is an incredible feeling,” shared Hubbard. “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of everyone who has supported and stood behind me. I’m thankful to the fans, country radio, my team, and everyone at EMI Records and UMG Nashville for believing in me and working so hard to make this dream become a reality.”
“5 Foot 9” serves as a preview to his forthcoming self-titled album set to drop in May of 2023.
Kelsea Ballerini – “HEARTFIRST”
Country-popstar Kelsea Ballerini turned 2022 into a memorable year and made it clear that she’s “Subject To Change.” In early April the songstress released “HEARTFIRST,” a breezy love song that served as a teaser to her fifth studio album. The powerhouse penned the anthem alongside Alysa Vanderheym and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild. The upbeat and vibrant hit peaked at No.19 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and scored a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Solo Performance. “HEARTFIRST” made its TV debut at the 2022 CMT Music Awards, as Ballerini delivered the track from her Tennessee home after falling ill with COVID-19.
Luke Combs – “The Kind of Love We Make”
Luke Combs left country music fans in disbelief when he dropped spicey single, “The Kind of Love We Make.” The passionate track lives on Combs’ third studio album, “Growin’ Up.” Combs co-wrote the smoldering hit alongside frequent collaborators Jamie Davis, Dan Isbell, and Reid Isbell. Through imagery, they cultivated a narrative about two lovers that value alone time. “The Kind of Love We Make” graced the top of the US Hot Country Songs Chart.
Lainey Wilson – “Heart Like A Truck”
CMT’s 2022 Breakout Artist of The Year, Lainey Wilson, is a force to be reckoned with. On the heels of her No.1 track “Things A Man Oughta Know” and the duet “Never Say Never” with Cole Swindell, the country mainstay released “Heart Like A Truck.” The empowering anthem that displays her recognizable twang, conveys an eye-opening story about an individual conquering hard times and finding the strength to preserver forward. The autobiographical ballad is currently climbing the charts and is featured on her latest record, “Bell Bottom Country.” The 16-song collection also includes “Watermelon Moonshine,” “Smell Like Smoke,” “New Friends,” and more. Wilson will embark on her headlining Country With A Flare Tour in early January, which marks her first-ever headlining run.
“This past year has been such a roller coaster – it’s truly been one of the most rewarding and challenging of my career. We’ve worked so hard on this album, and I’m so proud of it,” shared Wilson. “I can’t wait to headline my first tour next year and play all my new music across the country.”
ERNEST – “Flower Shops”
Songwriter-turned-hitmaker ERNEST proved that musicians could transform social recognition into an adoring fan base. The must-watch artist released “Flower Shops,” a heartbreak ballad that displays his traditional country sound and impressive wordplay. The Joey Moi-produced track also features country sensation Morgan Wallen and became ERNEST’s first entry into the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The platinum-selling single lives on his first full-length album, “Flower Shops (The Album). The CMA Triple Play Award-winner is slated to release his second installment in February, “Flower Shops (The Album): Two Dozen Roses.”
“I can’t wait for everyone to hear the new music,” said ERNEST. “It’s even more of the real, honest storytelling that the album was built on, and continues the character’s love story right where it left off with ‘Some Other Bar.’ It’s very reflective, I think everyone will be able to relate to a part of the story in some way. I’m really proud of it!”
Zach Bryan – “Something In The Orange”
Zach Bryan is a powerhouse vocalist with a storytelling soul. The military veteran had a whirlwind of a year, as he embarked on his first headlining run and shared stages with country phenomenon Willie Nelson and Luke Combs. “Something In The Orange” became a standout track on his whopping 34-song album “American Heartbreak.” Upon release, the poetic anthem peaked at No.3 on the US Hot Country Songs chart and became his first entry into the Billboard Hot 100 list. The acoustic-driven melody that displays his ear-grabbing grit, was recently certified platinum and scored a GRAMMY nomination for Best Solo Country Performance. The promising artist will go head-to-head with Willie Nelson, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, and Maren Morris.
Scotty McCreery – “Damn Strait”
2022 became the year Scotty McCreery became a father and scored his fifth No.1 single with “Damn Strait.” The tribute track to country legend George Strait spent nearly 41 weeks on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, making it one of his biggest and most successful hits yet. The Jim Collins & Trent Tomlinson-penned single is one of many on his critically acclaimed record, “Same Truck (Deluxe).”
“This has been the most fun I’ve ever had w/a song on the radio. Not even close. An ode to the King and classic country heartbreak song,” explained McCreery. “C’mon Man! As much fun as it is to sing, it’s even more fun hearing your fans scream it back to me every night!”