Throughout Nashville‘s fives seasons on television between ABC and CMT, the show churned out nearly 300 original songs. That’s a dang impressive clip — almost three per show. And even more impressive? You’d be hard pressed to find any of the songs from Nashville anything short of enjoyable, if not downright great.
One of the coolest things about the show is its ability to weave music into the plot effortlessly, but not make the music feel heavy-handed. When the show needs a change-up, just bring in a new character with a new musical style. The show has, by and large, explored most corners of country music.
And the majority of songs coming from real life writers in Nashville’s songwriting community. But hey, we have to give it up to the Nashville cast, who delivered the songs wonderfully.
So clearly, with so many good tunes, it’s impossible to pick the best, right? Wrong. Sit back and enjoy the 10 best songs from Nashville, ranked. (And no, it doesn’t include “Ho Hey,” because that’s cheating).
10. “Only Tennessee”
This gorgeous tune from season four episode nine finds Scarlett O’Connor coming home with a surprise break from her tour. It’s a beautifully optimistic tune, even if the chorus is, “Only Tennessee can save me now.” Clare Bowen‘s delivery is usually on point, but she really shines on this one.
9. “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet”
Hayden Panettiere’s fiery delivery of this country rocker definitely recalls a few Carrie Underwood songs. It was such a popular song thematically that it appeared in four episodes throughout the show. But the first appearance — season two, episode 13, is a searing kiss-off from Panettiere’s Juliette Barnes character. Fun fact: Caitlyn Smith co-wrote the song with Trent Dabbs.
8. “Black Roses”
Another Clare Bowen/Scarlett O’Connor gem, “Black Roses” is one of the many standout tracks from season two. In fact, it also came from episode 13 just like “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet.” The song came about after Liam goes through Scarlett’s journal without her permission. In a later episode, she sings it in front of the song’s muse, her mom (and that doesn’t go over particularly well).
The premise behind this tune (also a season two stunner) is that Deacon Claybourne (played by Charles Esten) is having a hard time writing songs. He sits down with Maddie Conrad (played by Lennon Stella) and the unusual combo comes out with this wonderful song of redemption. Little sister Daphne Conrad (played by Maisy Stella) jumps in for a few “ooh’s” too.
6. “A Life That’s Good”
Written by Sarah Siskind and Ashley Monroe, ” A Life That’s Good” takes on several different meanings throughout the show. But perhaps the most moving is when Deacon and the girls sing it to Rayna Jaymes before she dies.
If you didn’t tear up when you saw Maddie break down during the performance of this song, you might want to check your pulse. But the truth is, even outside of the context of the show, “Sanctuary” is an absolutely gorgeous song.
Written by Kacey Musgraves and Trent Dabbs, “Undermine” is one of the best songs from season one. Which is pretty dang impressive, since it first appears in the second episode of the show. There’s an interesting tension in the duet, but the song only gets more and more meaningful as the show progresses.
3. “When The Right One Comes Along”
This duet between Sam Palladio’s Gunnar Scott and Clare Bowen’s Scarlett O’Connor may just be the best duet in the entire show. And that’s saying something, considering how many amazing duets there are on the whole show. It first shows up in season one but reappears in season four with an entirely new meaning.
2. “Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again”
Sarah Buxton and Kate York wrote an absolute gut-punch of a song that’s made even more impactful by the episode it’s in, which is one of the most dramatic episodes of the first few seasons. And that’s saying a lot.
1. “This Is Real Life”
Here it is, the best of the many amazing songs from Nashville. And guess who wrote it? None other than Maren Morris, with Trey Bruce and Derek Cannavo. If there’s any one song that best encapsulates one of the best music tv shows ever, it’s this season three beauty. But who knows, maybe new episodes in the sixth and final season will change this list.
Apologies to Jonathan Jackson (Avery Barkley), Chris Carmack (Will Lexington) and Aubrey Peeples (Layla Grant) who all had excellent songs landing just outside the top 10.