The year was 2012 when a previously-unknown duo called Florida Georgia Line, made up of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, took over country radio waves with their feel-good, debut single, "Cruise." The song and the duo soon caught fire, and it's a flame that has yet to run out. Not only did "Cruise" reach the No. 1 spot on the Country Airplay chart, but it spent 24 weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, an accomplishment that has only been surpassed by Sam Hunt's "Body Like A Back Road."
The original song and the remix with rapper Nelly have sold 7 million copies in the US, leading to "Cruise" becoming the best-selling country digital song of all time and earning Diamond status (11x Platinum). This one song shot Florida Georgia Line into instant country fame, and it also ushered in a brand new sound to the genre and launched the country music trend which would later be dubbed "bro-country." While the song brought countless accolades to the group, the origins of the smash hit single are really quite simple.
The Birth of 'Cruise' and Bro-Country
"Cruise" was written by Kelley, Hubbard, Joey Moi, Chase Rice and Jesse Rice, and the tune was born out of a writing session with Kelley, Chase and Jesse. The three singer-songwriters were reportedly writing a different, slower song when the song's famous opening line, "Baby, you a song," suddenly came to Kelley. He then began strumming some chords and came up with a melody and "Cruise" was created.
"All of a sudden Brian [Kelley] pops up and strums a chord and starts humming this melody," Chase Rice told Radio.com. "That ended up being the 'Cruise' melody, and we looked at each other, all of us three, and we were like, 'What the hell is that?' He was like, 'I don't know, but we should write it.' As we got more into it, we completely dropped the other song we were writing that day, and I'm glad we did."
The songwriters finished the song 45 minutes after Kelley came up with the initial idea, and it went through various edits in the studio with producer Joey Moi, who came up with the tune's signature sound. Florida Georgia Line recorded the song for their 2012 EP, It'z Just What We Do, which also included "Get Your Shine On" and three other songs. "Cruise" was released to iTunes in April 2012 and then was shipped to radio in August of that year. The group included the song on their debut album, Here's To The Good Times, which also featured the "Cruise (Remix)" ft. Nelly as well as hit songs "Round Here," "Stay," and "This Is How We Roll" featuring Luke Bryan.
The "Cruise (Remix)" was released to iTunes on April 2, 2013 and then to pop radio later. Two music videos exist for the song -- one with Hubbard and Kelley for the original version and one with Nelly for the remix. The original version's official music video boasts over 140 million views. FGL and Nelly collaborated again on Nelly's "Walk Away" and "Lil Bit."
"Cruise" kicked off the country career of Florida Georgia Line in a way that is rarely seen in country music -- with a worldwide hit. The song led to Florida Georgia Line becoming one of the biggest country acts to come out of Nashville. The tune was followed by countless more hits, including "H.O.L.Y.," "Meant To Be" with Bebe Rexha and many more. Today, FGL continues to reign among the top male country acts such as Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and more.