The Best Singles of 2013, #19

band01Kacey Musgraves, “Follow Your Arrow”

A big reason for my genuine dislike of mainstream, Wal-Mart-pandering country music is the spineless way it always toes the line. And if you ever dare work against the system, whether stepping outside the establishment’s methods of making records (Shania Twain) or expressing left-wing political views (Dixie Chicks), you’ve got to be careful. That’s what makes Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park, and the single “Follow Your Arrow” so ingenious. It’s nice, it’s pleasant, but underneath it all is an earthiness all too rare in mainstream country, and this particular song is careful yet clever: “If you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a whor…rible person”, “Kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls…if that’s something you’re into”, “Roll up a joint…or don’t.” Musgraves gently rebels, singing a charming, old-timey country tune about skepticism and thinking for yourself, winning you over immediately with her upbeat, lilting hooks and friendly delivery. And as a kicker, she reprises the joint line and quickly quips with a smile, “I would.” And all this pinko girl from red state Texas did was score a number one album with the conservative Wal-Mart crowd.