The song at #11 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the poignant “Need You Now” by Nashville-based Country band Lady Antebellum, who changed their name to Lady A this past summer in response to nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd. (That name change subsequently led to further controversy, as there was already another artist, Seattle-based African American activist and blues, soul, funk, and gospel singer Anita White, who’d been using the moniker “Lady A” for over 20 years. She and the band have sued each other over the use of the name; both cases have yet to be resolved.) Formed in 2006, the band is comprised of Hillary Scott on lead vocals, Charles Kelley on guitar and co-lead vocals, and Dave Harwood on guitar, piano, mandolin and backing vocals.
I haven’t cared for very many country songs in recent years, however, I love “Need You Now” and it was my favorite song of 2010. The song contains strong pop elements, so it can be argued it’s more pop than country, which might explain why I like it so much. The stunning and bittersweet song was first released as a single and title track from their second studio album Need You Now in August 2009, and went to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart that December. It became so popular that it crossed over to the pop charts in early 2010, going all the way to #1 on the Adult Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts, and #2 on the Hot 100. “Need You Now” won four Grammys in 2011, including for Record and Song of the Year.
The song’s arrangement and instrumentation are exquisite, especially the somber piano keys and mournful slide guitar that really tug at our heartstrings. The highly relatable lyrics, beautifully sung by vocalists Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, describe making a phone call to a former lover in the middle of the night out of loneliness and longing for companionship: “And I wonder if I ever cross your mind / For me it happens all the time / It’s a quarter after one / I’m a little drunk and I need you now / Said I wouldn’t call, but I lost all control and I need you now.” The line “Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothin’ at all” really sums up the sometimes painful conundrum of love, relationships and life.