Remember when you used to burn CDs with cutesy themes like “Breakup” or “Girls’ Night” to suit your mood? Well, we do. (Our iPods may or may not still be organized this way.) So, we took the initiative to go ahead and sort out this year’s CMA-nominated songs to save you a step.
When you want to recapture your youth
No matter your age — whether you are sliding into the second half of your 20s; examining your oversized, 30-something pores in the five-times magnification side of your makeup mirror; or what have you — “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly is sure to take you back to those carefree days when you were headed to the beach with your tan legs propped on the dash of your boyfriend’s truck. If you feel froggy, grab a pack of sunflower seeds and a bottle of Yoo-hoo for the road.
During an epic vacay with your BFFs
Listen to Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” on a weekend getaway with your besties, preferably during the winter and ideally in a little log cabin nestled in the mountains where you can hole up all night schmoozing, boozing (if that’s your thing) and playing cards. With a fire crackling in the background, Rucker’s rich baritone will create the kind of memory that — every time you hear the song — will make you want to haul a** back to that place with those people to re-create your crazy game of poker.
When you need a minute with your thoughts
“Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw’s collaboration with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, is ideal for those moments when you’re going through something that you need a breather from. Get in the car with, just like the first line says, your window rolled down and your hair pulled back. Can’t burn up the highway until you’ve dried up all your tears? Just get in the car and go — to the end of the block, to the edge of town or whatever. Put the song on loop and let Tim, Taylor and Keith anesthetize your stress.
When small town life gets you down
Listen to “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves when your mama’s co-worker’s cousin’s boss tells your boyfriend’s best friend’s sister that she saw you giving your number to some guy… again. If you’re too annoyed to explain for the umpteenth time that (1) your business isn’t her business and (2) you were signing for a FedEx package, you can listen to this song instead and mentally kick your nosy small-town neighbors all over the place.
When a breakup makes you go a little postal
Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” is that song… the song you listen to during a breakup when you’re feeling a little makeup-running-down-the-face depressed but want to err more toward Lauren Conrad in The Hills than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Knowing that Lambert understands what it’s like to go mental over a guy will make you feel immensely better. Now, step away from the rusty kitchen scissors — your bangs will thank us later.
When you need a good ol’ cathartic cry sesh
Only listen to “I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice if you are prepared to cry. Seriously — ’cause this song is beautiful and poignant and will have you sobbing by the time it’s over. But hey, we all need a good therapeutic cry every now and then, so we won’t judge. You can even wipe your face with your shirtsleeve… we promise not to look.
When you want to stretch summer out forever
Listen to “Pontoon” by Little Big Town all summer long (once summer rolls around again). Listen to it at the start of summer to get you psyched about wasting your days drifting around aimlessly (both literally and figuratively). Listen to it in the thick of summer when you are, in fact, on a pontoon — motorboatin’ or otherwise. And listen to it at summer’s end, when you’re trying to squeeze in those last few moments of hedonism before the doldrums of winter hit.
When you’re barbecuing out back
“Boys ‘Round Here” by Blake Shelton is that song you listen to when you’re grilling out in the backyard, gathered around a fire pit or gathered around a burn barrel — depending on just how rural your “’round here” is. Or you could just listen to it when you want to sing an insanely catchy refrain: “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco — spit!”
When you want to stay in bed all day
Listen to “Don’t Rush” by Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill on a lazy Sunday afternoon when — let’s be real — you just want to stay in bed with your significant other all day doing anything but rushing. Venture out if you must, but restrict your exertion to activities not work related and wholly pleasurable. But always remember to do the Sunday-paper crossword puzzle — it’ll make your brain hurt, but trying to fill in the blanks will buy you a few extra hours in bed next to the warm body beside you.
When you want to party… in your PJs
Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Eric Church understand what it means to hustle for a living. Listen to their version of Aldean’s hit “The Only Way I Know” while sitting at home on a Saturday night after a brutally long week at work, when you still want to feel cool even though all you want to do is hang out with your cats. (As in felines, not beatnik friends.) It’ll make you feel like a bada** for busting your hump all week long — even if doing so makes you lamely tired come Friday.