NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MAY 01: Carly Pearce performs onstage for the class of 2021 medallion ceremony at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on May 01, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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8 Songs That Made Carly Pearce a Bonafide Country Superstar


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Whether your personal taste favors Reba McEntire classics or Luke Combs' latest country radio hit, there's something for you in the catalog of one of today's most gifted stars, Carly Pearce.

The former Dollywood performer and bluegrass vocalist's best songs so far, from punchy banjo tune "Honeysuckle" to the more pop-friendly "Closer to You," have made her a regular on the Grand Ole Opry stage (she officially became a member in 2021) and a welcome reinforcement in Jon Pardi, Kelsea Ballerini, Mickey Guyton and others' push to bring fresh voices to radio playlists and awards show broadcasts.

For a small taste of what makes the defending ACM Female Artist of the Year so special, check out this rundown of her eight best songs.

8. "29" (29, 2021)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Musician Carly Pearce performs live in concert during her "29 Tour" at the Gramercy Theater in New York City on November 18, 2021 in New York City.

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Pearce's 29, a seven-song EP released in Feb. 2021 by Big Machine Records (and expanded since to 29: Written in Stone), tells a warts-and-all account of the final year of her 20s-- namely her eight-month marriage to fellow country singer Michael Ray. Beyond that context, its title track should be relatable to a lot of 20 and 30-somethings who've found that graduating from college in six years or less didn't equal a smooth transition to the adult life they expected because of our parents or popular culture.

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7. "Should've Known Better" (29, 2021)

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 30: Carly Pearce performs at the daytime stage during the 2021 iHeartCountry Festival at Frank Irwin Center on October 30, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

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Another song perceived as autobiographical, this acoustic-propelled Pearce co-write with Emily Shackelton and Jordan Reynolds tells an ex-lover that they should've fully weighed the consequences of their actions.

Along with other tracks on the 29 EP, "Should've Known Better" signaled Pearce's rededication to her traditional country storytelling roots.

Listen here.

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6. "I Hope You're Happy Now" (with Lee Brice) (Carly Pearce, 2020)

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Carly Pearce and Lee Brice perform during the 2021 iHeartCountry Festival Presented By Capital One at Frank Erwin Center on October 30, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

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?One of the most heartfelt big league duets in recent years teamed Pearce with fellow vocal powerhouse Lee Brice.

The No. 1 country airplay hit and Top 30 pop single appears on both Pearce's self-titled 2020 album and Brice's Hey World.

For the 2020 CMA Awards, which Brice missed due to a positive COVID-19 test, Lady A's Charles Kelley joined Pearce to tell both sides of a breakup.

"I Hope You're Happy Now" was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2020 CMA Awards. Though that accolade went to Maren Morris for "The Bones," Pearce and Brice did take home the award for Musical Event of the Year.

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It's still Pearce's most-streamed hit on Spotify.

Listen here.

5. "Every Little Thing" (Every Little Thing, 2017)

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 30: Carly Pearce performs during the 2021 iHeartCountry Festival at Frank Irwin Center on October 30, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

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Pearce, Shackelton and the song's producer, busbee, co-wrote one of the strongest opening statements by any 21st century country artist. The Billboard chart-topping tale of heartbreak became the title track of the Nashville star's debut album, which also brought us another pace-setting single, "Hide the Wine."

Listen here.

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4. "It Won't Always Be Like This" (Carly Pearce, 2020)

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 12: Carly Pearce performs during the 99.5 WYCD Ten Man Jam at The Fillmore on February 12, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.

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Pearce's finest hour so far as a ballad-singing vocal powerhouse came in 2020 with these words of encouragement for others amid a transitional phase in their life. In that lies part of the magic of Pearce-- by sharing her truth in song, she tells stories that are deeply relatable to a new generation of country fans.

Listen here.

3. "Never Wanted to Be That Girl" (Feat. Ashley McBryde) (29: Written in Stone, 2021)

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 10: Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde speak on stage during the 55th annual Country Music Association awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 10, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Pearce and close friend McBryde's first collaboration addresses an unfortunate yet hardly uncommon scenario. Like Bobby Bare, Liz Anderson and Norma Jean's "Game of Triangles" before it, this one considers both women who've been romantically involved with a two-timing man.

As a bonus, it brought us Pearce's best music video to date.

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2. "Next Girl" (29, 2021)

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: (EDITORS NOTE: A special effects camera filter was used for this image.) Carly Pearce performs onstage during the 2021 iHeartCountry Festival Presented By Capital One at The Frank Erwin Center on October 30, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Editorial Use Only.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

More than the Dobro accompaniment on "Next Girl" points back to '90s country. Its story-driven lyrics also find Pearce filling the shoes of Kathy Mattea, fellow Kentucky native (and "Dear Miss Loretta" collaborator") Patty Loveless and other country music greats from her childhood.

Pearce co-wrote it with fellow '90s aficionados Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.

Listen here.

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1. "Show Me Around" (29, 2021)

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MAY 01: Carly Pearce performs onstage for the class of 2021 medallion ceremony at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on May 01, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Busbee, a go-to producer and songwriter for Pearce, Morris, Keith Urban and other Nashville stars, died from brain cancer in 2019. Pearce honored the 43 year old's memory with this, the saddest country song since Brice's "I Drive Your Truck." It's built on the Christian belief that we'll see loved ones again on the other side of eternity.

Listen here.

This article previously ran in February of 2021. 

READ MORE: 'Dear Miss Loretta': The Story Behind Carly Pearce's Musical Love Letter for Loretta Lynn

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