I like it.
The thing is that country music has always gone through cycles.
Hardcore honky tonk and traditional.
Pop and sleek production.
And through all that time there have been trends. And those trends have often found names.
Nashville Sound. Outlaw. Neo-Traditional.
And somewhere in the late 2000s and early 2010s things shifted toward something called Bro Country.
The themes in Bro Country are often:
- Small Towns
- Beer & Liquor
- Hard Work
- Hard Living
It’s just a theme. But the thing is that people relate to it. And when something clicks with fans in Nashville all the labels take notice and work to fill the new void.
Bro Country has really just about run out of gas. We still have a few songs coming out, but we’ve probably seen the peak. But it was a good run. I liked much of the music including what I consider the top songs of the era.
Here they are…
50. Ready Set Roll – Chase Rice
We’ll get to Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise later on the list, but we have to mention that Chase Rice was one of the five co-writers on the song. In a big way, Chase was one of the biggest names in Bro Country.
And his is kind of a cool story. He was a reality TV star and funded his early country career himself. He felt that Ready Set Roll had potential and he partnered with a major label and together they took the song all the way to #5 on the chart in 2014.
49. Am I The Only One – Dierks Bentley
Dierks was around long before Bro Country came into fashion, but he fit in pretty nice when things really got heated up for the sub-genre.
This song came out in 2011. It was an interesting time for Dierks. He was coming off his bluegrass album and was looking for a hit and this one hit #1 and got things right back on track for him with mainstream country.
48. Small Town Throwdown – Brantley Gilbert, Thomas Rhett, Justin Moore
Brantley Gilbert has become one of the kings of Bro Country. And for this track he brought along a couple of his buddies (and label mates). They turned this party song into something fans loved.
This one covers many of the themes from Bro Country including outdoor parties, small towns and plenty of booze.
Thomas’s dad, Rhett and his Peach Pickers buddies Ben Hayslip and Dallas Davidson co-wrote the song with Gilbert. The Peach Pickers are found throughout this list. Their influence on Bro Country can’t be ignored.
47. Crushin’ It – Brad Paisley
Brad has obviously been around for a lot longer than the Bro Country Era. But he kind of got in on the act in 2015 with this song about having a good time and drinking some beers.
Not only are you crushing the cans and having a good time, but you’re really nailing it. Thus, the hook of the song.
46. Ain’t Worth The Whiskey – Cole Swindell
We have Cole a couple times here on the Bro Country list. Cole, like many artists on the list, have expanded beyond the Bro Country Era in recent years, but he certainly found his niche when the trend took hold.
And that’s totally fine. That’s what many artists have to do when they’re starting out. I think Cole was actually selling t-shirts for Luke Bryan and writing songs when he created a couple good ones including this one that speaks about getting over a breakup with buddies by having a few whiskies and beers.
45. That’s How Country Boys Roll – Billy Currington
I think Bro Country was first coined around 2013. Crusie was really heating up.
But there had been precursor songs and this might have been one of the earliest.
Billy Currington put the song out in 2009. His career had been really solid up through this point and this was kind of just another hit for a reliable country hitmaker.
All the themes are there. Blue collar guys having a good time and just living life. Billy co-wrote the song with Brett Jones and Bro Country stalwart, Dallas Davidson.
44. Lettin’ The Night Roll, Justin Moore
Justin Moore shows up again on our list. This was the second release off his third album and it hit #1. It continues our “roll” trend with the Bro Country songs.
The theme is just chilling with your girl on a night. No plans other than being with each other and having a good time. But I wouldn’t call this one just a party song. It’s got a different kind of groove.
43. Young & Crazy – Frankie Ballard
Frankie Ballard wouldn’t normally be lumped in with the Bro Country guys, but this song kind of hangs out on the edge. And it’s a number one for him so that’s definitely a good thing.
The theme here is kind of coming of age. It’s about enjoying the fact that you’re young or young and heart. You can’t become old and wise if you aren’t young and crazy.
42. This Is How We Roll – Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line sometimes get called the Kings of Bro Country. They weren’t the first. They won’t be the last.
But they really pushed things to new levels with their version of country music. This song is also one of those “roll” songs that you’ll find throughout the list.
It’s a song about living the Bro Country life, but another interesting thing about this one is that they brought in their buddy Luke Bryan for a verse that kind of reminds you of a cameo on a pop song. It was cool.
41. Yeah – Joe Nichols
Joe was looking for some hits later in his career and he found some momentum and kept it going with this one. The song reached number one on the charts and remains one of his best.
Joe is more of a Neo-Traditional kind of guy, but he’s found sustained success for a long time. This one would be kind of on the edge of Bro Country, but it fits in well and it was a big hit for Joe.
40. Aw Naw – Chris Young
This one gets called out as a Bro Country song. Party themed. Uptempo. Guys having a good time.
You know…this is just a fun song. It’s not meant to cure cancer or make you feel deep feelings. There are great country songs like that, but we also need some fun songs and this was a great one for Chris Young.
39. Friday Night – Eric Paslay
The party theme continues with this one.
Eric had been looking for a hit and he got it with this one. It was kind of interesting because Eric wrote the song, Lady Antebellum recorded it, but never released it as a single.
When Lady A moved on from that album Eric jumped at the chance, put the song out and had a major hit. Still his biggest one, but you never know.
38. Somewhere On A Beach – Dierks Bentley
Dierks shows up again on the list. This time it’s the sequel to a song that came first and comes later on our countdown.
This one went from the plane to the beach destination. It finds the narrator moving on from a woman and letting loose and having a good time.
Catchy. Fun. This song is ear candy in country music form.
37. House Party – Sam Hunt
By 2015, Sam Hunt was had quickly become one of the biggest and most unlikely stars in country music. He had his own thing and didn’t entirely fit into the Bro Country theme, but this song fit pretty well.
The song is kind of cool. It’s about a guy and a girl that just want to hang out at the house for the night. They’re night interested in hitting the town or anything like that.
Nothing wrong with having a good time at the house with just the person you love the most.
36. Let Me See Ya Girl – Cole Swindell
Some might say that Cole Swindell fully embraced the Bro Country Era with his debut album. And that album was incredibly successful.
The final single off that record was this one. Just a fun song about a guy’s appreciation for a girl. Nothing too crazy or deep. Just a fun song that made you want to dance and have a good time.
35. All About Tonight – Blake Shelton
2010 was an interesting time for Blake Shelton.
He started experimenting with some EPs. He would release six songs with one single and that would be it. And he released two of those in 2010.
The second one included this big hit that was kind of at the beginning of the Bro Country Era. It was a fun party song and I remember seeing Blake in concert and he used this one to kick things off.
34. Drunk On You – Luke Bryan
This one is a little different. I guess this is the first appearance on a solo single on this list for Luke Bryan. He’s probably known as one of the kings of Bro Country.
I wouldn’t be ashamed of that or anything. He fits in well with this style, but he’s proven that he can do a lot of different songs. This is one of the more ballad-y Bro Country songs, but it still kind of fits the theme.
You’ll find that drinking and drunk are fairly common through this era just like the words “round” and “roll”.
33. Close Your Eyes – Parmalee
Parmalee had a huge hit with Carolina and this was the important followup single. This one made it into the top five and kind of established Parmalee as a band to take seriously in country music.
Lots of people are pulling for them to keep up the momentum. They have a unique sound that does fit pretty well in the Bro Country world and hopefully beyond.
32. Country Girl (Shake It For Me) – Luke Bryan
This song caught Luke quite a bit of flak when it came out.
Luke’s breakout album was really Tailgates & Tanlines and this was the first single. It reached #4 on the chart, but has sold incredibly well. That obviously means people loved it.
When asked about the song, Luke said he was simply trying to create something that would make country girls want to dance and have a good time.
What’s wrong with that?
31. Barefoot Blue Jean Night – Jake Owen
Jake Owen had a solid career going after two albums. But he was looking for more.
He found it with this song in 2011. It raced up the chart and hit #1. Fans loved it. Jake had kind of found his little niche in the country world.
This was right in the middle of Bro Country, but this one had a little more of a beach theme and vibe that fit well with the Florida native.
30. Runnin’ Outta Moonlight – Randy Houser
My wife loved this album from Randy Houser. And there were a few Bro Country songs on there. So women seem to love Bro Country just as much as the guys in a lot of cases. It seems that way anyway.
This was a second bit hit for Randy off this record. We’ll get to the first later, but this was really a career changing time for Randy and hopefully he keeps things rolling with new music in the future.
29. Don’t Ya – Brett Eldredge
This was Brett’s third single and he was looking for a big hit to kick off his career. Not every new artist gets the chance to have three things before things take off.
This one shot to #1 on the charts, though, and Brett hasn’t looked back. He dipped his toe in Bro Country with this one, but the’s shown that he has his own style. He kind of has that fun aspect about him that people seem to love.
28. Hell Of A Night – Dustin Lynch
Dustin Lynch started out strong with his first album, but it was his second that took him to new heights in country music. This song was the second single and it reached #1 on the charts and continued a run that Dustin is still on right now.
Bro Country has been good to Dustin, but he still brings a little traditional style to his music. He fits in this category, but also shows the potential to adapt as country tastes change in the coming years.
27. All Over The Road – Easton Corbin
I thought about this one for a little bit before adding it to the list. Easton is kind of a modern day country traditionalist in the vein of George Strait and Randy Travis.
He seems to like simple country songs with good melodies and good performances. This song still fits in line with what he does well, but borrowed on a couple of the themes from Bro Country including having a good time in the car with the person you love most. Just riding around enjoying life.
26. I Can Take It From There – Chris Young
Things were looking questionable for Chris Young after his first album. But he really came on with this second and he has continued to be one of country’s most reliable hitmakers.
In 2011, Chris released his Neon album and fell right in line with the Bro Country Era. The last release off that record was I Can Take It From There and became a big hit. Not a #1, but a solid top five.
25. Hey Girl – Billy Currington
You know, Billy Currington doesn’t really fit the Bro Country kind of mold. He’s more of his own type of guy. Beach guy. Workout guy. Really laid back, but also is known to have a temper and some demons.
Billy has also show the ability to be sincere to his music while also being able to find success with different type of songs. This song was pretty straight ahead Bro Country with a guy picking up a girl and it worked really well. It’s super catchy and fun.
24. Backwoods – Justin Moore
Justin Moore shows up again on our list and this one was pretty blue collar and redneck. And country fans loved it. This was a song off Justin’s first album and reached #6 on the chart. A pretty solid song for a guy that’s put together a really nice career.
23. Kick It In The Sticks – Brantley Gilbert
Brantley Gilbert was one of the guys that brought Bro Country to the forefront. He did it with his early writing for Jason Aldean and a few others. He then brought it with his own music.
Brantley was part of Average Joes for a few years and this sone was released on that independent label. It didn’t make the charts, but a couple years later it was released via Big Machine and this song became a legit hit.
It’s definitely one that will get your boots stomping.
22. Boots On – Randy Houser
Randy Houser kind of floundered for a couple years there in 2010-2011, but before that he had a really big hit with this one that reached #2. That’s pretty impressive.
This was just a fun song with a great beat and there was some really funny video of kids singing along with this one. Randy can do many different kinds of songs and do them well, but his fans love when he throws down on a song like this one.
21. Parking Lot Party – Lee Brice
Lee Brice shows up for the first time on our Bro Country list. Lee has kind of found his niche outside of Bro Country. He has been able to have some big success with really deep songs about important things in life.
But he also threw this one in and fans loved it. If you grew up in small town America you know what this song is about. We all spent plenty of time chilling in the parking lots on a Saturday night.
20. Confession – Florida Georgia Line
This was a little bit of a serious turn for Florida Georgia Line. Say what you want about these guys, but they do seem to make music that reflects exactly what they’re feeling and where they are in their lives.
This song is a Bro Country reflection song. It’s about a guy or guys sitting down and having a beer and thinking about life. Where they’ve been. Where they are and where they’re going.
This was a really good one.
19. Don’t It – Billy Currington
This was pretty Bro Country for Billy Currington. A guy picking up a girl and a somewhat infamous line about not having any ring on a finger.
This song is ear candy. It’s nothing too deep or anything like that, but it’s incredibly catchy and fun. I love it.
18. Drunk On A Plane – Dierks Bentley
When this came out it was interesting. You just don’t see crazy titles like this all the time in country music. I wasn’t sure if Dierks was going to have snakes in the song either, but it turned out to be a really catchy song that people loved.
It’s about a guy that goes on his honeymoon alone because his woman left him just before the wedding. Funny, but real and Dierks did great with this one.
17. Gimmie That Girl – Joe Nichols
It had been four years since Joe Nichols had a #1 hit when this one came out. You could say that this one kind of came out of nowhere.
It reached the top and continues to be played often at radio. Joe has kind of bounced around labels since then, but it still having success.
16. The Weekend – Brantley Gilbert
Brantley didn’t venture out too far with the first single from his most recent album. That can be risky, but this song really works. It’s fun. It’s blue collar. It’s definitely Bro Country and this was still in 2016.
But Brantley can really make it work. He can create a song that people love and his fans really love his stuff. I’m a fan and I wasn’t sure about this one, but it really works well.
15. Bait A Hook – Justin Moore
We’re getting into the heart of the list now and we again find our buddy Justin Moore. This song was one of those that really made you smile. It’s about a guy whose girl leaves him for someone else.
The blue collar guy is kind of rolling his eyes and thinking to himself that she’ll never be happy with someone that doesn’t really know how to live the country life.
14. Where It’s At – Dustin Lynch
Huge song for Dustin Lynch. This really turned the tides for him and took him to a new level. And he’s really continued the momentum since this song hit #1.
Dustin, as we’ve seen, can do traditional country, but he’s found a footing in Bro Country. We’ll have to see if he can adapt when things swing in another direction in country music.
13. Neon Light – Blake Shelton
Fun song here. It’s about a guy that goes through a breakup, but he sees a light at the end of the tunnel…a neon light where he can drink and party and forget about life for awhile with his buddies.
My wife and I were driving once when this song was a hit. It was like a three hour drive and we had heard this song like 3-4 times.
We just kept coming up with words that rhymed with tunnel:
For some reason the songwriters didn’t put all those in there…
12. Get Me Some Of That – Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett broke out in 2013 with a hit and this was the followup and it also reached #1 on the charts. Two guys prominent in the Bro Country world co-wrote this one.
Cole Swindell and Rhett Akins, Thomas’s dad.
Michael Carter was also a co-writer and he’s known for his work with Swindell and Luke Bryan among others.
Just a fun song that made you want to have a good time.
11. Chillin’ It – Cole Swindell
Here we go. This was the one that launched Cole Swindell into the big time. It was his first single although I think he briefly had another song out.
But this one slowly caught on with country fans and established Cole as a player in the music industry. He still loves his Bro Country, but with his success he’s also been able to branch out into other types of country.
10. Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck – Kip Moore
Kip Moore had a solid first single out, but it didn’t even crack the top 40 on the radio charts. But his followup became a #1 smash hit and had country fans singing along like crazy.
This one has all the Bro Country themes: girls, trucks, small towns and more.
It’s just a fun song. I can see this one getting played over and over for many years. It captured a place and time for many country fans.
9. Dirt Road Anthem – Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean doesn’t like to be lumped in with the Bro Country genre I don’t think. But again, I don’t think this era in country was a bad thing. It was just a swing on the pendulum and it allowed artists like Jason to have some really great success with great songs.
I remember when this one came out I would play it on repeat for hours while working at my computer. It’s just something really different and really good.
Brantley Gilbert and his label boss at the time, Colt Ford, co-wrote this one, but it’s become a signature for Jason.
8. Round Here – Florida Georgia Line
These guys are back and they’ll be back again, but this song was one that stood out. Thomas Rhett was a writer on this one and I think he’s said in interviews that it’s one of his wife’s favorites and that she wishes that Thomas would have recorded it.
But it still worked out really well for all involved. FGL were a great fit and did a great job. I don’t know if this song will be remembered over the years, but it was a really good one.
7. How Country Feels – Randy Houser
After four singles that really didn’t do anything it was a crossroads for Randy Houser. Then he put this single out and people really too notice.
This one was all about the Bro Country and people loved it. It’s one of those songs that you feel really captures a period in time and in music. It was uptempo, rocking and all the things that can define this era in country music.
That’s gotta be pretty cool for a country artist.
6. All Summer Long – Kid Rock
This one might surprise you a little.
By 2008, Kid Rock really hadn’t had a hit in six years. He was still putting out music and doing his thing, but he’s a driven man and you know he wanted to come back big.
But it was an interesting time in his life. I think he had broken off things with Pamela Anderson. I don’t think Kid was necessarily in a happy go lucky mood.
And this wasn’t even the first single from his Rock & Roll Jesus album. This was the third, but in the Summer of 2008 this one really took everybody by surprise.
It shot up various charts including the country charts. This is probably the oldest song on this list and was a precursor maybe to the rock-edged world of Bro Country that was to come in the next decade.
5. That’s My Kind Of Night – Luke Bryan
For many, this song kind of marked “Peak Bro Country”. It came out in 2013 when the term first appeared in the press. Luke became kind of a poster boy for Bro Country.
But for me that was totally fine. A downside was that Luke genuinely seems like a good guy. He makes music that he loves and believes in and sometimes the labels can hurt.
But this was just a fun song. Different kind of groove for country. Very dance oriented, but fans loved it even if critics and even other artists (cough, Zac Brown, cough) tried to give Luke heat.
He keeps doing his thing and it’s working.
4. Boys ‘Round Here – Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton appeared a couple times on this list. He’s certainly proven that he can do all kinds of country music, but he found a nice little niche in Bro Country.
This song was co-written by Bro Country big timers Rhett Akins and Dallas Davidson along with Craig Wiseman. I remember reading an interview with Akins when he said they just had fun writing this song.
And that captures a lot of what Bro Country was about: fun.
Country music can tell stories most of the time, but this was a time in the world when fans wanted fun. Uncomplicated fun so they could let go of all the seriousness in life for a few minutes.
3. Bottoms Up – Brantley Gilbert
Brantley had finally broken into the mainstream with four great singles.
But after those singles and that successful album the pressure was on to deliver a followup.
I can’t imagine that kind of pressure especially for someone that seems to pretty hard on themselves like Brantley.
But he really delivered with this song in 2013. It became what is still his biggest single to date. When this one comes on you feel like something big is about to happen.
It’s different and fans really love it even today.
2. My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean was just below superstar level in the Summer of 2010. I remember my wife and I saw him in concert that July and a couple weeks later he released this single.
I remember thinking that at the show we saw that Jason must have known that he had something special on his hands. He didn’t play a single song from the upcoming album so we missed out, but the album was worth the wait.
This song and this entire album were full of Bro Country mega hits. The album went something like four times platinum and became one of the biggest country albums of all time.
Just a rocking song that makes you want to party and have a good time.
A little nod to Brantley Gilbert again for writing this one.
1. Cruise – Florida Georgia Line
Could there be any other song at the top of the Bro Country list?
I think this is one of the best selling digital songs of all time. This was played nonstop for weeks and weeks in 2012 and 2013. I think even into 2014 it was still getting all kinds of play and they even did a remix with Nelly.
I remember when it first came out that Taylor Swift tweeted how much she loved the song. It was just fun and made you feel like you were having a great time.
The FGL guys have proven to be more than a one-hit wonder and that wasn’t an easy task. This song was big, like Billy Ray Cyrus big, and that’s never easy to followup.
We’ll be listening to this one for a long time.
Where is Chris Janson my man?
Damon Lander says
I’m going to help clarify your list….
Bro Country Artists….
1. Florida Georgia Line
2. Chase Rice
3. Brantley Gilbert: current music
4. Cole Swindell
5. Joe Nichols
6. Sam Hunt
7. Blake Shelton
9. Luke Bryan
10. Jake Owen…. not everything
11. Dustin Lynch
12. Luke Combs
13. Brett Young
14. Kane Brown
15. Dan and Shay
16. Chris Lane
17. Matt Stell
18. Riley Green
19. Morgan Wallen
20. Jordan Davis
21. Rayne Johnson
22. Jimmie Allen
23. Chris Janson
24. Garth Brooks
Not Bro Country…..
1. Dierks Bentley – Am I the only one. This song was out before FGL polluted country radio
2. Small Town Throwdown- Don’t agree with your assessment of this song.
3. Brad Paisley-Crushin’ It
4. Bill Currington
5. Justin Moore
6. Frankie Ballard
7. Chris Young
9. Runnin’ Outta Moonlight – Randy Houser
10. Brett Eldredge
11. Easton Corbin
12. Brantley Gilbert – Kick It In the Sticks, I mean come on, this is Southern Rock…
13. Randy Houser – Boots On
14. Lee Brice
15. Thomas Rhett
16. Kip Moore
17. Jason Aldean
18. Kid Rock
Brad Paisley has never been Bro Country. Chris Young….Seriously? Frankie Ballard? Randy Houser has more talent than everyone of those Bro Country artists I listed combined. I guess the saving grace in this article is that Eric Church didn’t make it onto your list.