Nashville Soundtrack: Best Of Season 2

As ABC's Nashville just concluded its second season a few weeks ago, here's my picks for the best songs of the season.

"Trouble Is" (Episode 3: I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now)

"Trouble Is" could serve as the theme song for one of Nashville's main characters, Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere). A song you could easily imagine being sung by Miranda Lambert, with its sly winks to hell-raising and pictures painted of smoky bars, taxi rides to unknown destinations, and one more drink then you'd planned on. By far my favorite song of the season.

Ain't going home till I check a few more sins off of my list
If you're looking for me I'm gonna see, I'm gonna be where trouble is

Trouble is a guy with the guitar in the next bar
Trouble is I don't even have to know his name

"What If I Was Willing" (Episode 3: I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now)

The song that is Will's (Chris Carmack) first hit single when he is signed to a major record label deal. An upbeat, cheery song that calls to mind the first rush of summer love, flowers, and flirtatious winks from the passenger seat. Yet in the context of the show, the song takes on a deeper meaning as Will struggles with his sexual preference in the conservative world of country music. He isn't willing to admit to himself, his girlfriend, and the world at large that he is gay; looking at it through that lens, the song takes on a more poignant and sad tone.

What if you wanted to feel alive, make something of the time you're killing,
What if you wanted somebody to love you right, what if I was willing?
What if you wanted to ride with the windows down?
Bare feet banging on the dash to Dylan,
What if you wanted somebody to love you right, what if I was willing?

"Crazy Tonight" (Episode 13: It's All Wrong But It's All Right)

Scarlett takes on a persona in this song that is wildly different from her true self - an overarching theme in the season when she works with Rayna's former lover and record producer, who encourages her to tap into her most painful, truthful memories to inform her songwriting. He derides this song as fluffy nonsense, full of typical country songwriting tropes. But outside of the context of the show and Scarlett's character, "Crazy Tonight" is a rockabilly midtempo about nights on the town with an edge of menace. It's sung with the slightest promise of a threat and a roll of the eyes which lends it an extra layer of weight.

Well I paid way too much for these jeans
And they look too damn good not to be seen
So if you don't want to play, baby, I'll go meet up with the ladies.
And you know exactly what that means.

"Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet" (Episode 13: It's All Wrong But It's All Right)

This song became a major theme song over the season and a perfect song for Juliette's character arc. It's a triumphant burst of defiance in times when repentance would be appropriate or expected. The song begins with the sound of a slap to symbolize the proverbial "slap in the face" this song is to Juliette's detractors. The song is about survival, power - and how when you have nothing left, you still have yourself.

I'll give you something to believe
Nothing on me says defeat
No I'll never look back 

So you better think fast 
If you think you can cut me deep

"Can't Say No To You" (Episode 14: Too Far Gone)

A song that was so quickly featured on the show, it didn't get a chance to resonate with me, until I purchased one of the digital exclusive character albums (Juliette Barnes, Season 2) and this song was a clear standout. An absolutely perfect country song somewhere in the middle of the lane between country and rock. So sweet it will give you a toothache and a rare duet between Juliette and Will's characters.

Darling, stars shine whenever you're with me
I melt like the ice in your sweet tea
I'm bulletproof, I just can't say no to you, girl.
I'm loving you without trying
Whatever you got I'm buying
So try me, I ain't no one's fool
I just can't say no to you

"He Ain't Gonna Change" (Episode 17: We've Got Things To Do)

A duet between Rayna (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) as Juliette tries to seek acceptance back into the country music community. Eventually Juliette learns that no matter what she does, change has to be arrived at gradually, not overnight. An instantly catchy refrain and an all-too-true sentiment.

He ain't gonna change, he ain't gonna change
I love that boy, but he ain't gonna change
He can tell a lie like no other man
And he'll turn it all around on you
If he thinks he can

All music from Nashville Seasons 1 & 2 can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, or in physical CD format in 4 albums. The show was just renewed for Season 3 and will premiere this fall 2014 on ABC.