Country music is known for its record-setting duos. From classic musical partnerships like George Jones and Tammy Wynette to chart-topping bro country royalty like Florida Georgia Line, duos play a vital role in the history of the genre, and Brooks & Dunn very well may be the kings of them all.
Formed in 1991 by Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks, the duo owned the country songs chart throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. They also owned their categories in the CMA Awards, ACM Awards and Grammy Awards.
And not only that, but both Brooks and Dunn earned their start as talented songwriters. So a significant portion of their catalog came straight from one or both of their pens, including nine of the 10 Brooks and Dunn songs on this list.
With 50 radio singles and plenty of solid deep cuts, it’s pretty difficult to make a list of the best. Some songs that didn’t make the cut include “Red Dirt Road,” “How Long Gone,” “Rock My World Little Country Girl,” “Little Miss Honky Tonk,” “The Long Goodbye,” “Building Bridges,” “White Line Casanova,” “Cowboy Town” and plenty more.
Let’s take a look at the 10 best Brooks and Dunn songs.
The title track off their second album, “Hard Workin’ Man” is a solo write from Texas native Ronnie Dunn that praises the virtues of blue collar work. It’s the kind of song that solidified the pair as men of the people. The song earned the group one of their two Grammy awards.
This one is a little bittersweet, because it’s one of the last hits from the band before they went on hiatus. It was their 49th overall single and an exclusive to their third greatest hits album. The 2009 single about small-town young love peaked at No. 16.
Another one of the solo Ronnie Dunn songs, this tune actually has quite the story behind it. Though it may not be one of the most magical Brooks and Dunn songs when it comes to lyrics, there’s no denying its cultural impact in America. At the end of the day, this song is one of the duo’s most famous for a reason. Dunn’s energy mixed with that little falsetto vocal turn when he says “boogie” are unmistakable Brooks & Dunn greatness.
“Play Something Country” holds the auspicious title of being the band’s last No. 1 radio hit, but it’s as memorable as the first. Amazingly, this single from 2005’s Hillbilly Deluxe became their first Gold single, meaning it sold at least 500,000 units.
This tune from 2001 was one of their more rocking songs and signaled a bit of a change in their style from that early 1990s boot scootin’ sound. The gamble on the change paid off, because the song topped the charts for the first time in three years and stayed there for six weeks. It crossed over into the Billboard Hot 100 too, peaking at No. 25. It became the biggest country hit of the year.
One of the few songs that features Kix Brooks as the primary vocalist, “Lost And Found” is the fifth single from the band’s debut album Brand New Man. Brooks co-wrote the tune, and though it didn’t quite make to No. 1 on the radio charts (it peaked at No. 6), the song remains a big fan favorite and one of their most successful mid-tempo ballads.
The song that officially kicked off the duo’s career, “Brand New Man” is a great example of what the duo does best. Great harmonies, heartfelt lyrics, Ronnie Dunn doing what Ronnie Dunn does best and ear worm melodies that pretty much defined the 1990s. When it comes to Brooks and Dunn songs, this one may best sum them up to a new fan.
Brooks & Dunn had a great relationship with Reba McEntire, and they cemented it with this 2008 single, which they re-released featuring the country legend singing on the final verse. It’s an interesting story, but basically the duo performed the song with Reba at the CMA Award show and it was received so well McEntire added her vocals and they released the single again — only a month after it first charted. It’s a truly touching song and fitting for country music’s most famous cowgirl. No doubt when they perform the song together in Las Vegas it pulls a few tears.
Back to the duo’s first album and their third straight No. 1 single, “Neon Moon” remains one of the band’s most popular songs, probably thanks to slow dance DJs across the country. Oddly enough, the heartbreak ballad is pretty popular at weddings, despite the words singing the sad tune of a man who drowns the sorrow of his lost love beneath the neon lighting of a bar sign.
The only one of the Brooks and Dunn songs on the list that neither Brooks nor Dunn wrote, “My Maria” is the 1996 smash hit from their album Borderline. B.W. Stevenson first released the song in 1973 to pretty decent success. But Brooks & Dunn’s remake more than 20 years later dominated radio and remains one of their most popular tunes. It also notched the band their second Grammy Award.