Another year has flown by and once again, country music has been a huge part of the soundtrack. As many of you do, I listen to all kinds of music. With three teenagers in our house, I get exposed to many different types of music. Some I like, others I could do without. But that's music. There is something out there for everyone. I've often said that about country music. There are many different kinds of country music that if you listen, you'll find something to love. So what did I love this year?

I listened to a lot of country, as you might imagine. There was a lot to like. Songs like 'Whiskey on You' by Nate Smith and 'Handle on You' by Parker McCollum rank high on my list. I love Lainey Wilson, especially her collaboration with Hardy, 'Wait in the Truck'. But my two favorite country tracks of the year are from arguably the hottest star in the format, and the Iowa girl who is continuing to hit it big in Nashville.

The Morgan Wallen comeback continues. Some may not forgive him for his past sins, but a comeback story is a lot sweeter when the artist's music reflects lessons learned. Wallen's two best songs this year were 'Don't Think Jesus' and his current radio single 'Thought You Should Know', a song in which he thanks his mom for all her prayers for him growing up. The song is heartfelt, vulnerable, and self-aware in the best possible way. Songs like 'You Proof' have made Morgan a cross-over star. But songs like 'Thought You Should Know' prove that he is first and foremost a country star.

When Shueyville, Iowa native Hailey Whitters released her album 'Raised' earlier this year, it immediately became my most-played country album of the year. It has also topped lists from publications like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and more. It is a love letter to Whitters' home state. And while I could have picked several songs from this project as a favorite, I went with the one that hit me after the first play. That song is 'Middle of America', and it is my favorite country song of 2022. It is a song about growing up and living in Iowa. It is about "homecoming crowns on average Joes" and a group of people trying to "hold onto the only life they know." The song is a jam. An anthem about life in the state I live in. It doesn't get any more country than that. Thank you, Hailey.

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