Bro-country is a subgenre of country music that is focused on raucous parties and good times. Though mostly confined to the middle of the 2010s, these party time country pop hits typify the care-free party attitude of that era. The moniker “Bro-Country” is sometimes used derisively by genre gatekeepers who claim that this popular subgenre is best left in the past. We turned to our sources to discover the top five best Bro-Country songs in the subgenre and let our readers decide if these best-selling radio hits are hot or not.
According to new research, lyrics to pop songs have grown darker and edgier over time. Researchers at Lawrence Technological University found a clear and statistically significant change in sentiments expressed through the lyrics of popular music, generally towards a more negative tone. The sudden popularity of Bro-Country music seems to directly refute this data as some audiences wanted easy listening “feel-good” music.
Another recent study of hip hop music fans has indicated that their favorite artists aren’t always ones who are signed to a major label or the ones rapping about vulgar, antisocial themes. In fact, it was positive, “pro-social” songs that found to be heavily favored, the study concluded. Overall, the researchers found that the Facebook users examined were more attracted to tunes with “pro-social” lyrics — ones that endorsed positive actions, such as feeling grateful, engaging in spiritual practices, valuing education, and supporting community building — over less positive songs. The popularity of Bro-Country music might be an indication that listeners of other music genres also want to hear more positive music that is less focused on violence and conflict.
Bro-Country might be a divisive subgenre of country music, but there’s no arguing that the hits on our list of the best Bro-Country songs were radio hits that brought their artists financial success. Let us know your favorite country pop songs in the comments below!
The List: Best Country Pop Hits, According to Experts
1. “Cruise” (2013)
It has been argued by many of our sources that Florida Georgia Line kicked off the bro-country trend with “Cruise” their 2013 radio hit. “This insanely catchy tune is the best-selling country digital song of all time in the US, and is generally considered the most famous example of the genre termed ‘bro-country.’ It spent 24 weeks at number one on the country chart, and was later remixed with R&B legend Nelly. Because why not,” explains Smooth Radio.
— The Country Lifers (@TheCountryLifer) July 19, 2017
Catchy lyrics and an upbeat tempo makes this track an absolute earworm. ‘“Cruise’ is the first single from Florida Georgia Line’s EP ‘It’z Just What We Do’ in 2012. Group members Brian Kelly, Chase Rice, Jesse Rice (No relation), and Tyler Hubbard with Joey Moi wrote the song,” writes CTD Country Thang Daily.
“Even though Florida Georgia Line once told news journalist Dan Rather they don’t even know what bro-country is, they are definitely one of the bands at the forefront of it. Their hit song ‘Cruise’ was just the first song from them that helped define this genre of music and mix a more southern ‘hip-hop’ sound to country music. The remix also features rapper Nelly,” according to Heavy.
2. “Drunk on a Plane” (2014)
The title sets the tone for this catchy tune which is about getting drunk while on a plane. “For its title alone, Dierks Bentley’s 2014 Riser hit ‘Drunk on a Plane’ deserves a spot in the Bro-Country Hall of Fame. Who hasn’t, after all, gotten a little tipsy at cruising altitude? While the song trades in many familiar tropes… Bentley manages to inject a bit of self-deprecating humor into the tune, too, when he admits to being ‘passed out in the baggage claim,’ making for a song that grounds a bit of reality into a bro’d-out fantasy,” states Rolling Stone
— People (@people) September 26, 2014
“Though Bentley has plenty of party starters and No. 1 Country Airplay hits in his two-decade catalog, ‘Drunk on a Plane’ is the most fun (and funniest) of them all. The song — about a man whose wedding didn’t go as planned, but who takes the honeymoon anyway — may seem depressing, but the way Bentley wrote it (with Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear) is hilarious. ‘Buyin’ drinks for everybody/ But the pilot, it’s a party’ is just one of the many amusing lines Bentley delivers in the track, which has a chant-along chorus and winding melody that makes it so fun to sing, you almost forget that it all started with someone left at the altar,” according to Billboard.
“‘The first reaction I got was, Man, rednecks don’t fly. No one’s gonna get that song. Airplanes? Country music? It’s like, really? I’ve been on a lot of Southwest flights with a lot of rednecks and we’ve all been pretty hammered. And the flying and drinking, you sure? Have you ever been on a flight down to Cancun?” says Dierks Bentley in an interview with CMT.
3. “Girl in a Country Song” (2014)
This Maddie & Tae track shows that even ladies can be bros. “At the height of bro-country’s dominance on country radio, up-and-coming duo Maddie & Tae skewered the genre’s sacred cows with ‘Girl In A Country Song.’ A direct criticism of songs that objectify and disrespect women, the catchy tune rocked to #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart after its July 2014 release,” raves Yard Barker.
— YouTube (@YouTube) July 29, 2014
“Maddie & Tae launched their career with this emboldened track, calling out country radio and the men on the airwaves for painting women as unnamed, cut-off jeans-wearing accessories to dudes driving their trucks down endless dirt roads. The tongue-in-cheek response to the bro-country movement helped land the duo a record deal as well as its first No. 1 and highest charted song to date — while helping to further the conversation on the lack of females at country radio,” states Billboard
“We like to remember Maddie & Tae’s ‘Girl in a Country Song’ as the song that took down bro-country, but that’s only partially true… It’s really hard to think of a more courageous debut single — Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye were unknown artists with everything to lose when they started throwing lyrical haymakers at several specific country songs. Most — but not all — artists enjoyed their sass, but it was the fans who took the song to No. 1 and made ‘Girl In a Country Song’ not only one of the best songs of the 2010s, but one of the most important,” posits Taste of Country.
4. “That’s My Kind of Night” (2013)
Here’s an example of a song where Luke Bryan takes the bro-country concept and runs with it. “If ‘Cruise’ opened up the bro-country floodgates, then Luke Bryan summed up the trend’s philosophy and ethos most succinctly when, one year later, he shouted: ‘Girl hand me another beer, yeah! … But what’s most remarkable about the Double Platinum behemoth is just how strange it was: the descending hard-rock riff, [and] the strangest country come-on in years (‘catch us up a little catfish dinner’),” offers Rolling Stone.
— Live Nation (@LiveNation) December 3, 2013
“‘That’s My Kind of Night’ is just another energetic, high-energy stadium song. It’s so hard to find those up-tempos that really move the needle for you. … And ‘That’s My Kind of Night’ just works for a good time and you gotta have those, in my opinion, in your career. And it did, it gave me another element of a big ol’ fun up-tempo,” offers Luke Bryan in an interview with CMT.
“It seems like Luke Bryan has found his way onto our list, with so many of his songs being loved by country music enthusiasts. This song is about how the perfect night would play out for him. It’s not some fancy dinner at the club. Instead, he’d like to get his pickup truck, take a pretty girl out for a few beers, go fishing, skinny dipping, get into a bit of trouble, and relax under the stars,” writes Music Industry How To.
5. “Body Like a Back Road” (2017)
This huge hit song topped the charts for nearly three years. “A sensuous track about exploring your lover’s body with the same joys of driving on a winding back road, Hunt’s crossover smash charmed listeners who were captivated by the song’s insinuating, sexy groove and the singer-songwriter’s laid-back, sung-spoken delivery. Fans were also pulled in by the handclaps and vibe that drew as much from DJ Mustard as from any country production. The song spent a record-setting 34 weeks atop Hot Country Songs (a record later broken by ‘Meant to Be’), earning the tune Billboard’s top Hot Country Song on the year-end charts, and Hunt top country artist. It also landed two Grammy nods,” according to Billboard.
— Sam Hunt (@SamHuntMusic) July 13, 2020
“It was written by Hunt and his producer Zach Crowell, Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally. Hunt said the song was written after his engagement to Hannah Lee Fowler. Hunt described it as ‘a lighthearted song,’ as he wanted to release something lighter than the ‘heavy direction’ his new album was taking. He said: ‘I connect music to the emotions that come from relationships, so most of the songs that I write are inspired by those circumstances, emotions, feelings, all that kind of stuff,'” writes Smooth Radio.
Stated briefly, “Sam Hunt’s ‘Body Like a Back Road’ was one of 2017’s biggest crossover hits. The song started climbing the pop charts as it was still ascending the country charts thanks to a major push on pop radio,” offers USA Today.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Female Country Songs
- Best Male Country Singers
- Best Female Country Singers
- Best Nashville Hotels
- Rolling Stone
- CTD Country Thang Daily
- Music Industry How To
- Smooth Radio
- Yard Barker
- USA Today
- Taste of Country
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