Not to brag, but we’ve been pretty damn good this year, and that means that Santa’s going to come along on Christmas Day and make all our holiday wishes come true. That’s probably not going to happen — I don’t think Santa can fit a new take on the Bob Wills concept album in his sack — but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t dream. After all, country music fans have taken a real beating over the past few years and we deserve nice things, damn it.
As such, should those elves in Nashville be feeling generous on this holiest of days, we’ve assembled a list of top-notch wishes that will turn our (currently) hard candy Christmas into a holiday that’s actually worth a full year of good behavior.
10: A NEW DIXIE CHICKS ALBUM
It’s been ten long years since Natalie, Martie, and Emily joined together in the studio, and that is approximately ten years too long. The news that the Chicks were heading out on tour next year was pretty damn exciting, but it would be so much more exciting if it meant a full album of new tracks for the Chicks to play out there on the road.
9: BLAKE SHELTON RECORDS A POP ALBUM; LEAVES COUNTRY FOREVER
For whatever reason, we’ve entirely lost the Blake Shelton that rocked a sick-ass curly mullet well into the early 2000s and released really great songs like “Austin.” Now, three years after “chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit,” Shelton is shacking up with Gwen Stefani and hopefully that means he’s going to go be B-A-N-A-N-A-S on the pop charts from now on. One can hope.
8. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE RECORDS A COUNTRY ALBUM; LEAVES POP FOREVER
Country purists may not agree, but Justin Timberlake coming to country music would be a good thing. As long as we can keep Young Blue Eyes away from the bass machines and too many high notes, there’s no disputing that Justin Timberlake could produce a quality country record. After that appearance at the CMAs with Stapleton, who could argue that it wouldn’t at least possibly be better than whatever Sam Hunt is doing.
7: EDM SAMPLES IN COUNTRY SONGS BECOME ILLEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES
Adding in faux club beats should be considered a crime against humanity, and Zac Brown should be held accountable for that travesty he recorded with Avicii earlier this year. In 2016, we can only hope that the courts will recognize this and sentence Jake Owen and Florida-Georgia Line and anyone else into the deepest depths of country music’s dungeon.
6: MORE TEXAS COUNTRY COLLABORATIONS
After the release of Hold My Beer Vol. 1, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen proved that good chemistry makes for good music. The folks in the Texas music scene are a tight-knit bunch, and more collaboration albums should definitely be part of Texas Country’s future.
5: MORGANE STAPLETON RECORDS A SOLO ALBUM
We’ve heard Morgane Stapleton back up her husband Chris all year long, and it would sure be nice to hear an album that is entirely focused on her powerhouse vocals. Whether or not Morgane Stapleton has any desire for the spotlight, she’s certainly got a worthy talent. Imagine a full record of smoldering, slow-burning, blues-tinged country, and you’ve imagined what would easily be the best record of the next year.
4: STURGILL SIMPSON'S NEXT EVOLUTION
Not to rush Sturgill Simpson, but it’s about damn time for a new record. The 2014 release of Metamodern Sounds certainly shot Simpson into the spotlight, and it’s time to see whether or not he’ll return to his hard country roots or continue his exploration of a more experimental sound. A mixture of the both would really be ideal. Get back in the studio, Sturg.
3: DAVE COBB MOVES TO TEXAS
This would probably never happen in a million years, but considering what Dave Cobb has been able to do in Nashville, his presence in Texas would be truly transformational. Imagine what he and Wade Bowen would be able to do together? Or some wicked combination of Cobb and Hayes Carll? Either way, if Cobb’s into the idea, we’ll start the GoFundMe to build his Texas-based studio tomorrow.
2: LUKE BRYAN MAKES A GOOD RECORD
Millions of people love Luke Bryan, so clearly he’s a talented guy, as much as we hate to admit that. Bryan was so close with “Kill The Lights,” and what a Christmas miracle it would truly be for Bryan to come out with this stripped down, sexy troubadour aesthetic that doesn’t involve tailgates or creek beds.
1: FOR ONCE, THE TOP 10 BILLBOARD HOT COUNTRY CHART SPOTS ARE FILLED UP BY WOMENScrew binders full of women – in 2016, we want country charts filled up with Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Maddie & Tae. If Nashville grants us one of these outrageous wishes this year, please let it be that women in country music finally start to get a little damn respect. We’ll let the boys keep their songs about fishing and boats and beer forever if that happens.