The Judds’ arrival checked off plenty of boxes when it came to ideal country music success stories. A teenage mother from Ashland, Kentucky raised herself a duet partner, and together they dominated the charts and awards shows between 1983 and 1991. Songs of faith (“When King Jesus Calls His Children Home”) and family (“Guardian Angel”) made the Judds appealing to traditional country fans, while their occasional nod to more rocking and modern influences (see their cover of the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “Tuff Enuff”) suited the changing times’ new standards for country music showmanship.
This roundup of some of their greatest hits tries to cover the range of material in the duo’s songbook, ranging from fun, pop-accessible songs to saccharine-coated longings for the good old days.
10. “Cadillac Red”
Naomi and Wynonna show a little extra honky tonk swagger while telling an old-school rock ‘n’ roll story-song from a woman’s perspective on this River of Time deep cut. It gets the nod here over a more obvious stomper in “Turn It Loose.”
9. “Maybe Your Baby’s Got the Blues”
This classic single, deep cut “Cow Cow Boogie” and other songs with minimal arrangement place how the Judds’ voices suit both harmonies and call-and-response style duets at the forefront.
8. “Mama He’s Crazy”
Some of the best Judds lyrics explore mother and daughter relationships. This cut and others, such as “John Deere Tractor,” give fans a listen in on the sorts of interactions fans reckon Naomi Judd might’ve had with her famous daughters.
7. “Girls Night Out”
This Judds song was way ahead of its time, considering lyrics about a night out with the gals seems more like a Taylor Swift trope than something you’d expect from ’80s superstars.
6. “Give a Little Love”
Some of Nashville’s finest backup singers and guitar pickers pitch in to craft a Grammy Award winning cut that previews Wynonna’s future as a pop-accessible solo artist.
5. “Why Not Me”
One of the great love songs in an arsenal that also included standout tracks “Love is Alive” and “Young Love (Strong Love),” this defining single was an anthem for love-crossed girls next door.
4. “One Man Woman”
The stubborn independence of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette gets the Judds treatment here, with the duo telling cheating men to kiss their grits in one of their most fun songs to date.
3. “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain”
Pop-accessible country gets pushed forward with this boot-scooting love song that would’ve rocked the honky tonks a decade prior and stadiums a ten years later.
2. “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)”
Nothing’s as country as a longing for simpler times. Well, nothing beyond a young person’s bond with a grandparent raised during those halcyon days.
1. “Love Can Build a Bridge”
No other Judds song better captures what all two distinct and brilliant voices can do with a well-written country hit. Plus, it’s hard to argue against the chorus most likely to be stuck in your head for days to come.