The year 2020 has been an historic one, and not necessarily in good ways. At the mid-year point, the United States is still navigating life in a global pandemic, and people across the country are protesting racial injustice with a renewed fervor.
In tumultuous times, many of us search for comfort and understanding in music. Even in these times of turmoil, country music has supplied listeners with songs that can help us keep moving forward, question the status quo and shine a light on our truths, no matter how dark or scary they may be.
These five songs from the first half of the year have each made a huge impact on the genre: They've connected with fans and helped mark an important chapter in history that won't soon be forgotten.
For many of us, one of the hardest parts of dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic has been being kept away from our loved ones. Written by Luke Combs, Brent Cobb and Rob Snyder, "Six Feet Apart" thoughtfully vocalizes those frustrations while gently reminding us that these strange times won't last forever.
It took 14 years to get a new single from the Dixie Chicks, but it was worth the wait. "Gaslighter," produced and co-written with Jack Antonoff, is, like the Chicks themselves, unapologetically honest. Partially inspired by Natalie Maines' divorce and subsequent legal battle, the song also acts as a scathing commentary on today's political climate. In fact, Maines posted multiple videos of the track set to footage of President Trump following the song's release in March.
One of the most moving moments of February's 2020 Country Radio Seminar was Mickey Guyton's debut performance of "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?" The song directly addresses the inequality, injustices and stereotypes that women, people of color and others still face on a daily basis. Emotional, honest and powerful, "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?" will likely be noted as one of the most important country songs of both 2020 and the entire decade.
At almost seven minutes in length, Jason Isbell's "What've I Done to Help" examines what can happen when those in better circumstances choose to block out the challenges that those around them face on a daily basis. Reflective and timely, the song reminds us all that change won't happen unless we work to help people other than ourselves.
With all the curveballs life has thrown at us all over the past six months, it's essential to find those little moments from which we can pull joy and determination. Miranda Lambert's uplifting and anthemic single "Bluebird" taps into that feeling of hope, even when traveling through the toughest times.