It was a pinch me-worthy moment when up-and-coming country artist Ashley Cooke got the call to perform on the ABC show The Bachelorette with Brett Young — but it didn't turn out quite like she expected.

“I was so pumped and shocked,” she shares with Taste of Country. “I used to have The Bachelorette watch parties with my sorority in school — I had no clue what to expect.”

With a string quartet, chandeliers and fabric hanging from the ceiling, Cooke and Young began to sing their love song duet, “Never Til Now."

For Cooke, this moment wasn’t like singing at one of her stage shows. It was different.

“It was so full of emotion and a very intentional, specific moment,” she shares. “Really cool experience.”

However, as the episode unfolded, fans would soon find out Cooke’s performance on the reality television show didn’t go as planned. Originally, the pair were to perform a private concert for bachelorette Rachel Recchia and her date, Jordan Vandergriff. Sadly, earlier in the evening, Recchia didn’t feel the spark of chemistry, and she sent Vandergriff home.

So there the singers were, without a couple to sing to. Their performance plan had been derailed, and that’s when Cooke says that the realness of life outside of a TV show set in.

“It reminded me that these are real people on real dates trying to find real connection — not characters on a show,” she says.

The singers still performed on the show, but rather than playing to a couple, they played just for Recchia.

“My initial thoughts were, 'Wow I feel for this girl. Love is so hard,' but through the performance and getting to connect with her, it gave me hope,” Cooke shares. “So many of us are searching for our 'Never Til Now,' and it was inspiring to see her be so intentional with knowing when it wasn’t right.”

Although the performance still went forward, there was a moment the singer posted on social media of her having a pep talk with Young. It wasn’t until after the show aired that the singer gave us a little more backstory on the moment.

“That fist bump video was right after the producers came and told Brett and I that she sent him home and we would now be serenading her alone,” she recalls. “So, my initial thought was, 'Oh wow, we’re going to sing a love song to a girl by herself after sending someone home ... how awkward!' But it ended up being really special. I wrote this song not from a place of having my person, but from a place of manifestation for my future person, and it ended up beautifully being that way for Rachel’s story as well.”

To celebrate her debut on national television, Cooke hosted a watch party with some of her fans as a sweet moment to give back to those who have supported her through her career.

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There are plenty of feel-good country jams on this list of the top country songs of 2022, but the No. 1 song is a gut punch. These 10 songs are ranked by critical acclaim, radio and sales success, and importance to the genre.

Five of the 10 artists made our Top Country Songs list from 2021 as well, but there are no repeats. If a song made a previous list or didn't spend most of its time on the charts in 2022, it's not eligible. So, before you ask where your favorite song is, be sure the miss isn't just a technicality.

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