The 27-year-old eastern Tennessee native’s rise to stardom has been anything but mundane. Just within the past year, Morgan Wallen has become one of the most recognized and beloved names in country music. 

Wallen’s career began after appearing on season six of The Voice in 2014 at the mere age of 20. Originally, Wallen planned to pursue professional baseball, but after suffering an elbow injury, his dreams were forced to shift in the direction of music. Some may say, everything really does happen for a reason. 

Surprisingly enough, Wallen was not #TeamBlake during his time on the singing competition, but #TeamUsher instead. Shakira however, was the first to turn her chair around, after the singer sang the first line of “Collide” by Howie Day. In the end, however, the 20-year-old chose Usher as his mentor. As for Blake Shelton, he is probably wondering, “what was I thinking…” following the release of Morgan Wallen’s deluxe album Dangerous: The Double Album. He truly missed out on the opportunity to guide a rising star who arguably may surpass Shelton in terms of popularity, especially amongst the younger crowd, in no time. 

Though Wallen did not win The Voice, that didn’t stop him from becoming a sensation after releasing his debut single “The Way I Talk” -- which most definitely remains as one of his best, most well known singles. Succeedingly, came the release of his 2018 album If I Know Me that included hit singles such as “Up Down (feat. Florida Georgia Line),” “Whiskey Glasses” -- an immediate fan favorite and the number one country song of 2019 -- and “Chasin’ You.” 

Since his first album, singles such as “More Than My Hometown,” “7 Summers,” “Cover Me Up” and his collaboration with Diplo, “Heartless” have not disappointed and even appear on the latest deluxe album. 

At the peak of his career, where every sorority girl at Alabama University loves him (literally), he couldn’t have chosen a better time to release his 30-song, hour and 37-minute deluxe album full of heartache, newfound love, drinking, trucks (specifically Silverados) and ultimately immaculate, good, fun-loving vibes -- every component needed to qualify as a country album. Paired with Wallen’s voice, the album has touched loyal country enthusiasts nationwide. 

Though there is truly not one mediocre song on the album, with so many tracks, it’s only right to rank the top ten to aid new listeners regarding where to begin, and to spark debate amongst those who love him most. The task is near impossible, but here’s the first-rate songs ranked: 

10. “Dangerous” 

The track “Dangerous” that the album is named after is one of the faster paced, more optimistic, upbeat tracks. Wallen quickly sings about all of the mistakes he could potentially make if he heads downtown to drink while his ex is on his mind. The possibilities are endless, so he convinces himself it’s just better to stay home. Essentially, she ruined going out for him, and he’s tired of hurting and not experiencing change, so he knows staying in is best. Boy, have we all been there, Wallen is a self-aware king. 

9. “Your Bartender” 

“Your Bartender” has a substantive country sound that is upbeat, yet more somber given Wallen sings about how if he was his former lovers’ car, he’d turn it around, if he was her radio, he’d play their song and ultimately if he was her bartender, he would talk her out of leaving him. The imagery is strong and has the capability of forcing listeners into a mood of wistfulness and nostalgia, an indicator of a strong, well-written track. 

8. “Only Thing That’s Gone (feat. Chris Stapleton) 

Immediately, when country music buffs saw that Chris Stapleton was featured on the track, there was no doubt they would even question whether it was a quality one, because the devotees know Stapleton has a timeless voice, smooth like fine wine, and is on top of that, one of the industry’s biggest idols. 

The two’s voices collaborate exquisitely and is easily the duet of the year we never knew we needed. The rawness in the syncing of the men singing “‘Cause buddy, my last drink / Ain’t the only thing that’s gone,” makes the song more than worthwhile. In addition, the backing of the guitar is well put, as producers were careful to not let it overpower both of their stunning vocals.

7. “Wasted on You” 

This country pop like song will assuredly resonate with all listeners and likely anger them as well, because let’s face it, we have all felt like we’ve wasted time, money, thoughts, days, prayers and apologies on those who ended up being no different than the ones who broke our heart before. 

“Wasted on You”  possesses more of a pop undertone similar to his hit “Heartless,” which doesn’t always sit well with authentic country fans, however, it is objectively an exceptional, relatable track that also could potentially draw in those who claim to despise country music. The track and honesty in Wallen’s voice will make you want to choose yourself everyday from here and never waste another tear on that boy or girl you’re still crying over. 

6. “Still Goin Down” 

It’s refreshing to hear Wallen showcase his humility when it comes to not succumbing to the glitz and glam that is Hollywood through lyrics like “And I’ll be damned if I sound like something I ain’t” and “For some folks a backroad gets old/ But for me it just can’t.” Though he undoubtedly deserves time in the spotlight, at the end of the day, Wallen’s home is sincerely where the heart is. In a lighthearted, unpretentious track, he expresses that he most definitely will still be spending time in the country with the people and at the places that make him feel most rooted. Ultimately, the track has the ability to draw listeners back to whatever it is that makes them feel most grounded as well, due to its alleviating essence. 

5. “Cover Me Up” 

“Cover Me Up” is actually not Wallen’s original track, but singer-songwriter Jason Isbell’s. However, Wallen’s rendition has surpassed the original in terms of recognition and likeability. It’s spot on the list is undeniably deserved as it is one of Wallens’ fans most beloved songs and genuinely sensual, serenading and beautifully sung by the artist. It is one of the tracks that best displays his vocal range and ability. Additionally, as Wallen sings about finding home within his lover, the sadness behind the lyrics, “And the old lovers sing / ‘I thought it’d be me who helped him get home’ / But home was a dream / One that I’d never seen til you came along” is openly tragic for those who aren’t with who they thought they’d end up with, but comforting for those who are the so-called “one.” It simply seems like the perfect fitting song to be cued up during a Nicholas Sparks movie intimacy scene. 

4. “This Bar” 

Easily the most lighthearted, country-like song, “This Bar,” released in 2019 and very much played, is all about making mistakes on a drunken night, feeling some regret, yet learning from those same mistakes and truly finding oneself above all. 

Amidst times of pandemic, lyrics like “Those nights, what I would give for one more,” just seem to hit differently. As a song that is designed to be listened to while dancing with friends, and ideally in a bar, it will sure to be overplayed once COVID-19 restrictions are finally lifted. The moment will be more than memorable as the beat forces one to soak up the living and experiencing life while being young and dumb. 

3. “More Than My Hometown” 

Another track that was previously released prior to the album’s dropping, “More Than My Hometown” is a summer playlist staple that’s incredibly well-written, especially the chorus which flows and rhymes perfectly. Wallen expresses his love for eastern Tennessee -- which he so commonly alludes to in several of his tracks -- by listing all of the things he loves his girl more than, however he then ends by saying, unfortunately, he cannot love anyone or anything more than his hometown, so when she decides to up and move, he sadly cannot follow. 

It’s the stereotypical hometown country pride that southerners like Wallen just seem to have. Additionally, it’s catchy, upbeat and can be any listener’s sliver of summer in the heart of winter. 

2. “Whiskey’d My Way” 

For those who are going through heartache, this song is for you. Disclaimer, we aren’t saying whiskey is the answer to getting over your ex-lover like Wallen suggests, but the song discloses that not even Wallen’s buddies, mom, self-help books, old records, old flames, new lovers, tequila or beer could help him move on, something every person attempting to heal from a breakup has experienced after feeling as if they have tried everything. 

Ultimately, one can take away that there is something out there that will help them in the long run, whether that be time, or finding themself. It’s a classic country heartbreak anthem that will have single girls screaming at the top of their lungs mid-summer with their car tops down, and hopefully soon enough at his concert. It’s one of those tunes you want to just listen to on repeat while having your arms around your friends and swaying. Trust us, just do it. 

1. “Sand in My Boots” 

Though deciding and debating the best tracks was anything but simple, selecting the number one pick was a no-brainer. Wallen was strategic to place “Sand in My Boots” as the opener, assuming listeners would press play and hear “Sand in My Boots” for the first time ever as the clock struck midnight and the album was out. 

Country music fans are likely to have “Sand in My Boots,” a song about meeting that special someone in the most perfect of circumstances -- on vacation -- on repeat. Wallen slowly sings about the heartache he felt after spending a night on the beach, talking about his hometown of Sneedville, Tennessee, drinking bottom-shelf whiskey and falling in love, only to return home with, well, no girl and sand in his boots. 

The track so perfectly tells a relatable, too common of stories, leaving listeners wondering how anyone could leave Wallen waiting and heartbroken. The last time Wallen repeats “Something ‘bout the way she kissed me / Tells me she’d love eastern Tennessee,” as his voice raises, is easily the best part of the whole album and his career.

@emmadollenmayer

ed569918@ohio.edu