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First Country: Little Big Town, Bill Anderson, Dolly Parton, Cody Jinks & More



First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.

Little Big Town, “Rich Man”

“I’m a rich man/ Without a lick of money,” LBT sings in this solo write from group member Jimi Westbrook. This heartfelt ballad pays homage to the quartet’s families, love and the simple things in life, bolstered by the group’s signature smooth harmonies.

Bill Anderson and Dolly Parton, “Someday It’ll All Make Sense” (video)


These two icons team up for a black-and-white, retro-tinged video to accompany this tender ballad about the hope that one day, all of life’s ups and downs will be reconciled. The camaraderie between these two illustrious singer-songwriters is a sound to behold, and a perfect match for this straightforward, country-gospel track.

Kat & Alex, “We Bought a House”

This duo reflects on young love and the urge to settle down when the relationship is right, even if society is saying otherwise. This easygoing track is another winner from this duo.

Southerland, “Down The Road”

This rollicking track — penned by Matt Chase, Chris Rogers, Jim Beavers and Derek George — is an ode to wanderlust and adventure. The duo’s powerful harmonies are front and center and elevated by churning percussion, making for a radio-worthy song.

Billy Dean, The Rest of It’s Mine

Billy Dean, known for ’90s country hits such as “If There Hadn’t Been You” and “Billy the Kid,” returns with his first album in a decade, The Rest of It’s Mine, released today (July 22) via BFD/Audium Nashville. On the title track, he teams with songwriter Paul Overstreet for a tropical treat. The album also includes a 30th anniversary re-recording of his signature hit “Somewhere in my Broken Heart,” backed by a symphony orchestra.

Ben Burgess, “Tears the Size of Texas”

Burgess is known for writing hits including Morgan Wallen’s “Whiskey Glasses” and Tyler Rich’s “The Difference,” but here, he proves his artistic mettle as an artist in his own right. This cinematic track is a warning to a fictional love interest, a blunt statement that his wild ways can’t be tamed by any relationship. Burgess’s earnest, weathered vocal lends authenticity to the song, which is a promising first outing in his journey from songwriter to artist. Burgess wrote the song with Josh Kerr, with production from Joey Moi.

Cody Jinks, “Loud & Heavy”

“Loud & Heavy,” a seven-year-old song from Jinks’ 2015 album Adobe Sessions, is already an RIAA Platinum-certified song and a longtime fan favorite. In a unique business move for Jinks and his team, they are betting that country radio programmers will jump on board when the song finally gets its official radio push in the coming weeks. The track follows Jinks’ one-two punch release of albums from last year, the country album Mercy and the metal album None the Wiser. With dark instrumentation underpinning allegorical use of lightning and rain imagery, “Loud & Heavy” synthesizes his penchants for both country and metal.

Jon Pardi, “Mr. Saturday Night”

The title track to Pardi’s forthcoming album (out Sept. 2) is a clever play on words, as he uses his party-guy persona to mask a lonely, broken heart. This Benjy Davis, Reid Isbell and Joe Ragosta-penned track continues with Pardi’s signature neo-traditional country bent, soaked in fiddle and steel. His friends think he loves the late nights and neon lights, but Pardi lets the listeners in on his secret when he sings, “I smoke and drink/ Smile and wink and make ’em think I’m fine/ They don’t know how much I missed her Saturday night.”

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Adele Adds 34 Dates to Las Vegas Residency, Sets June Return



What happens in Vegas is staying in Vegas. Adele has announced that she has extended her Caesars Palace residency, with performances planned through November.

The singer made the announcement Saturday evening during what was originally set to be the final performance of the series. The residency will face a hiatus for three months, returning in the summer on the date of June 16. From there, nearly five months of dates will follow, with a final performance slated for Nov. 4. Registration is currently open for ticket sales.

“Playing to 4,000 people for 34 nights is not enough. I know that, so I am coming back,” Adele told the Caesars Palace audience on Saturday.

The singer also announced that upcoming performances in June will be filmed, with footage being released to the public later on.

“I’ll be back for a few weeks in June, and I’m going to film it,” the singer continued. “I’m going to release it to make sure that anyone who wants to see the show [can].”

The second round of performances comes as a welcome surprise following the residency’s turbulent journey to Caesars Palace. Originally slated to kick off in January 2021, the series was delayed nine months, amid reports that the singer was dissatisfied with the project’s original staging and complications due to COVID-19. Rumors circulated that the residency would shift venues or even be canceled altogether. But after strong reviews and a series of sold-out performances, the singer is ready to double-down on her residency.

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BTS’ Jimin Snags U.K. Top 40 Hit With ‘Set Me Free Pt 2’



First J-Hope, now BTS’s Jimin has a U.K. top 40 hit as “Set Me Free Pt 2” (via BigHit Entertainment) blasts to No. 30 on the national chart.

The South Korean singer is now the standard-bearer of BTS’s solo members – on the U.K. chart, at least.

As the K-pop superstars’ seven members explore their respective solo careers, he’s the fifth to snag a U.K. top 100 solo hit. Previously, Jungkook’s “Stay Alive” (No. 89), Jin’s “The Astronaut” (No. 61), and RM’s “Indigo” (No. 45) impacted the Official U.K. Singles Chart, while J-Hope’s “On The Street,” a collaboration with J. Cole, recently hit No. 37, until now the high point for a solo single from a BTS band member.

“Set Me Free Pt 2” is lifted from Jimin solo album FACE, which dropped last Friday (March 24).

As a group, BTS has scored nine top 40s, including four U.K. top 10 singles: “Dynamite,” “Butter” and Coldplay collaboration “My Universe” all going to No. 3, and “Life Goes On” hitting No. 10.

On the U.K. albums chart, J-Hope, Jin, Suga, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook have together landed eight top 40s, including two Official U.K. Albums Chart leaders, with 2019’s Map of the Soul – Persona and 2020’s Map of the Soul – 7.

“Set Me Free Pt 2” is the among the highest debuts on the current chart, published last Friday (March 24). Honors go to Taylor Swift, whose Lover era song “All of the Girls You Loved Before” bows at No. 11. At the top of the survey, Miley Cyrus rides a 10-week streak with “Flowers”.

ARMY will no doubt keenly watch for the debut chart position of Jimin’s FACE. All will be revealed when the national singles and albums charts are published this Friday, March 31.

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Lana Del Rey’s Albums, Ranked



“Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” Lana Del Rey’s just-released eighth studio album, is a captivating addition to one of music’s most iconic discographies. And, like the seven records that came before it, it’s a beautiful, occasionally confounding mystery that promises to unfurl slowly over the next couple of years.

So, how do you decipher a body of work as multi-layered and mercurial as Del Rey’s — let alone rank it? The short answer is: with great difficulty and a boulder-sized grain of salt.

With a catalog as consistently great as Del Rey’s, it’s not so much about picking the best album. Rather, the goal is measuring ambition, impact on pop culture and influence on peers. As such, the freshly minted “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” is at a distinct disadvantage. Time will tell if it spawns a whole generation of clones a la 2012’s “Born to Die” or feels as integral to the musical landscape as 2019’s “Norman Fucking Rockwell.” (For a separate Variety review of the new album, click here.)

In the meantime, here’s a best attempt at ranking Del Rey’s studio albums, excluding pre-fame releases such as the semi-official “Lana Del Ray aka Lizzy Grant” and extended plays like 2012’s “Paradise.”

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this list had an incorrect ranking for the albums.]

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