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A TICKING HITS LIST
Surely you have the time to take a look. (8/7a)
THE GREAT CATALOG GOLD RUSH
Is mining the past the future? (8/10a)
TIKTOK RESPONDS TO TRUMP'S BAN
The kids are not alright with Trump. (8/7a)
POP SMOKE GAINS, DABABY LEADS OUR SONG CHART
And the streams just keep on coming. (8/7a)
THE BABE & THE MULE
Interscope's co-MVPs (8/7a)
BTS BRINGS IT
They're so dreamy.
VOTE BY MAIL
It's a conspiracy, because everyone does it.
IS IT CHRISTMAS?
No, but we're thinking about cookies.
WOKE MUSIC
Protest songs that sound like now.
Music City
INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: HAILEY WHITTERS
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

Whitters never cared about fitting in, preferring to use honesty like a flamethrower. “Ten Year Town” offers the grueling truth of Nashville without flinching or backing down, while “Janice at the Hotel Bar” paints a picture of a grown woman making the best of a less-than-2% life; so much wisdom is strung into her small talk that it holds the song together.

Especially affecting is “All the Cool Girls,” which uses a creeping rhythm track underneath a song that expresses the real truth inside what so many girls who could be the heroine of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” are feeling.

A realist, the girl from Iowa who co-wrote Little Big Town’s “Happy People” delivers The Dream on her own Pigasus Records. This strong blast of ’80s Steve Earle/Rosanne Cash/Patty Loveless-style credibility-country inspired The Washington Post’s Chris Richards to call it “the year’s deepest country album.”

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: CAYLEE HAMMACK
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

Larger than life, glowing with punk-rock energy, an electric technicolor persona and a life that informs her songwriting more than any six tabloids, three seasons of Shonda Rhimes shows and a month of Presidential briefings, Hammack is her own Roman candle of talent.

Having surrendered a full music scholarship to Belmont University for a guy who eventually left her—for an older woman who had three kids and lived in a double-wide—she escaped Georgia and summoned the grit to sleep in her car in a Walmart parking lot when a motel seemed too seedy. Later, she survived a devastating fire that destroyed her home.

The songwriter/producer/full-throttle vocalist’s positivity-seeking If It Wasn’t for You drops in August; its many highlights include the quirky, down-home “Family Tree” (where the kids “get high school high” for Sunday dinner), the Kacey Musgraves-feeling “Small Town Hypocrite” and the clever Southern-charm kiss-off “Preciatcha.”

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: LAINE HARDY
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

The 20-year-old Hardy possesses a voice that sounds like a best friend from back home. But last year’s American Idol winner is more than just a kid who sings. He’s also a guitar player of the first order, having honed his musicianship since the age of eight, and that’s something producer Michael Knox (Jason Aldean) understands.

With “Tiny Town” shipping to Country radio after “Ground I Grew Up On” established Hardy as a voice for young America, the guy with over 29m streams is connecting across DSPs, video channels, social media, Radio Disney Country and iHeart’s national morning show hosted by Bobby Bones.

“Tiny Town” is a scroll of all the things that make up life in Livingston, La., and thousands of towns just like it. A source of comfort and joy and a reminder of the best part of who we are, the dark-haired tenor arrived just when we needed him most.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: MICKEY GUYTON
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

If the only standing ovation at UMG Nashville’s 2020 Country Radio Seminar showcase at the Ryman—for her femme-empowering “What Are You Gonna Her”—weren’t enough, Guyton returns on the crest of Black Lives Matter with the equally of-the-moment vital truth that is “Black Like Me.”

A powerhouse vocalist of the Carrie Underwood school, the Texas-born and -raised songwriter embraced her personal reality in an industry logjammed for women and struck a powerful chord in this time of reckoning. No surprise, then, that there’s early Grammy buzz for her brand of classic power country.

This 10-year overnight sensation is invested with a singular, real-world perspective of the sort America is clamoring for.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: CADY GROVES
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

The mixes for Bless My Heart were done. Groves was waiting out COVID quarantining for the photo/video piece that would wrap up a years-long chapter. The emo-pop star, who’d opened The Bamboozle Road Show with LMFAO, Good Charlotte, Boys Like Girls and Third Eye Blind, had returned to her heartland roots—and found allies in the SMACKSongs creative trust.

With a cover of James Blunt’s “Bartender” and her own life-cataloguing “Bless My Heart,” the impossibly musical songwriter managed to pull sunshine from dark moments and disappointment. Which made it doubly ironic when, on 5/2, the irrepressible Groves passed away.

This release, fulfilling a promise her team made to realize her musical legacy, shows the kind of joy amid darkness that made her music such a passion point for kids seeking someone who understood.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: SHY CARTER
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

With the humanity-affirming “Good Love,” Carter takes his place in Nashville’s mainstream with an ease that reminds people how to be their best selves.

Having written career-defining hits for Jason Derulo, Charlie Puth, Rob Thomas and Sugarland, as well as Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s “Speak to a Girl,” Carter has Memphis soul and disarming Southern charm to burn.

These attributes enable him to smear genres and create the same kind of expansive country as Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Kane Brown (whose “Worldwide Beautiful” he co-wrote). “Good Love” may be the song America needs; given Carter’s ability to transcend genres, it could also find its way onto multiple charts without much effort.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: AVENUE BEAT
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

4.5m views in 12 hours can’t be wrong. Even when TikTok took it down, Sami Bearden, Savana Santos and Sama Backoff surreptitiously reposted the heavenly middle digit that is “F 2020,” and the views just kept on coming.

A whopping 7m streams ensued in 40 hours; even the postus interruptus couldn’t stop the theater-nerd songwriter/programmers from Quincy, Ill., from striking a nerve in the worst year any of us can remember.

With Techwire “calling it for Song of the Year now,” and Vice coming to the party, look for the genre-fluid trio to explode globally with their deadpan vixen video set in front of protest footage of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, President Trump, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, COVID-19, murder hornets and their own extended middle fingers.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: INGRID ANDRESS
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

With her platinum-certified “More Hearts Than Mine,” Ingrid Andress toppled country radio’s woman problem—and took the ripple effect of love’s fallout to #1.

The Colorado-raised, Berklee-educated songwriter furnished material for Alicia Keys, Charlie XCX and Sam Hunt before embarking on a solo career that’s equal parts Carole King, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Faith Hill. “The Stranger,” meanwhile, establishes an important new voice that’s invested in our deeper humanity.

The classically trained pianist and drummer, who started the year doing select dates with Keith Urban, awaits an opportunity to return to the road, where she will finish Dan + Shay’s The Arena Tour, followed by the entirety of Tim McGraw’s Here on Earth Tour.