Country music’s independent phenomenon Mike Ryan is the kind of guy who doesn’t get bothered by much. But as he stepped on stage at Globe Life Field in October as an opener for Morgan Wallen on his recent Dangerous Tour, the Texas native admits he was a bit of a mess.

“I think they ended up with 40,000 people in there,” remembers Ryan with a good bit of leftover excitement during an interview with Taste of Country. “They weren't all in the building yet by the time we played, but most of them were. And I'm telling you…that stadium energy is just different. You can't describe it when you have that much space and you have that many people all on the same wavelength. It's a massive adrenaline boost.”

It's a boost that Ryan may also feel again real soon, as he preps for his Grand Ole Opry debut on Nov. 8.

“The history of country music is just so rich, and being a part of the Opry in any way is a massive honor for me,” explains Ryan, who earned a Top 20 hit as a co-writer on Brad Paisley’s “Last Time for Everything” in 2017. “I can't tell you how many people I grew up with that are saying that they already have their tickets.”

It’s not all that surprising though, as Ryan’s star within the country music genre has certainly been climbing at a rapid pace in recent years, with his music catalog thus far garnering more than 275 million streams. Currently celebrating the release of his fourth studio album, Longcut, Ryan says this steady rise in stardom had a direct effect on the making of the new album.

“This has been the first time we've had a chance to spend this much time with a record, as far as being in the studio and working with it and going back and forth and just really dialing it in,” says Ryan of the album, which features a dream team of songwriters including Phil Vassar, Josh Thompson and Hillary Lindsey. “I mean, I listened to these songs probably more than I've listened to any other of my records combined.”

Ryan’s patience certainly paid off, as Longcut features a bevy of radio-ready songs, including the ultra-addictive "Die Runnin’," written by Barrett Baber, Korey Hunt, and Dan Martin Alley.

“There's obviously been an end to something in the relationship, but he's just letting her know that if she ever thinks about changing her mind, he will do anything to get back to her,” explains Ryan of his current single, the follow-up to "Jacket On."

“The energy behind that and the emotion of that really stuck out to me.”

Top 10 Country Songs of 2022 So Far, Ranked

There are plenty of feel-good country jams on this list of the top country songs of 2022, but the No. 1 song is a gut punch. These 10 songs are ranked by critical acclaim, radio and sales success, and importance to the genre.

Five of the 10 artists made our Top Country Songs list from 2021 as well, but there are no repeats. If a song made a previous list or didn't spend most of its time on the charts in 2022, it's not eligible. So, before you ask where your favorite song is, be sure the miss isn't just a technicality.

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