In 2014, Maddie & Tae took the country music world by storm with their bro-country takedown "Girl in a Country Song." A novelty by nature, it was their playfulness, as much as the piercing honesty, that turned it into a bonafide smash. Co-written with Aaron Scherz, the cheeky tune set the tone for their debut record, Start Here, a 11-song collection that contained much more than meets the eye. Whether it was heartfelt balladry ("Fly," "Smoke") or raucous pop-inflected anthems ("Sierra"), their songwriting always rang true to country tradition.
With their second full-length, The Way It Feels (2020), the duo, who first met while taking vocal lessons in Dallas, continued etching out their own place in the modern format. They kept frisky, shrewd compositions a touchstone in their work but demonstrated marked growth in their songwriting. That is most evident with the hit single "Die from a Broken Heart," an earnest portrayal of heartbreak. Their career may still be quite young, but their catalog is already impressive.
Here are the 10 best Maddie & Tae songs, ranked.
10. "Shut Up and Fish"
"Shut Up and Fish" may have been too similar in tone and style to the duo's breakout hit "Girl in a Country Song" to become a hit of its own. Still possessing their signature wit and energy, the song leaned into empowerment, rather than a teardown of radio trends. Unfortunately, it peaked inside the Top 30 of both Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay.
"Trying on Rings"
Love songs can often be overly sentimental. But there's something in Maddie & Tae's "Trying on Rings" that speaks the truth without being trite. In fact, the second album deep cut perfectly captures the right balance between honest devotion and schmaltz.
8. "Downside of Growing Up"
A spiritual sequel to The Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces," "Downside of Growing Up" unearthed the growing pains of moving from adolescence to young adulthood. As the bookender to their debut LP, it's the lyrical maturity, as the duo reflect upon leaving home, falling in love and other firsts, that makes it among their best and most honest offerings.
7. "Girl in a Country Song"
"Girl in a Country Song" decimated the bro-country era. Playful gender-bending and lyrical quips made such an indelible impression that it was hard to imagine it wouldn't become a chart monster. It climbed to the summit on Billboard Country Airplay in 2014, as well as peaked at No. 3 on Hot Country Songs.
6. "Water in His Wine Glass"
A deep cut from The Way It Feels, "Water in His Wine Glass" is an aching plea for a loved one's recovery from alcoholism. "No, I don't hate him for it," the duo sings. Maddie and Tae take great care to get to the heart of the matter without judgment. Instead, they extend a bit of compassion in the form of stunning songwriting.
"Fly" proved early on that the rising duo were more than their breakout novelty song, "Girl in a Country Song." The tender ballad contained the hallmarks of typical inspirational songs (think Martina McBride and The Chicks), yet their delicate harmony work set it apart as wholly their own. Their second career single eventually hit the Top 10 on Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs.
4. "Friends Don't"
The lead single to their second album, "Friends Don't" pulses with the emotional uncertainty of potential romance. "I keep telling myself this might be nothing, but one look in your eyes and god there's something," Maddie wavers. As Pat Benetar once sang, love is a battlefield.
3. "One Heart to Another"
Maddie & Tae have a way of transferring their heartbreak into great songwriting. "One Heart to Another," a second album deep cut, is among their most honest, raw performances that has a timeless, intoxicating quality.
2. "Die from a Broken Heart"
Six years separated the duo's debut single (and first chart-topper) and "Die from a Broken Heart," the second offering from their second record. Through a conversational lens, the singer-songwriters explore the depths of unimaginable pain with an earnest desperation. It became a well-earned No. 1 hit on the airplay charts in August 2020.
1. "After the Storm Blows Through"
A deep cut on their debut LP, "After the Storm Blows Through" is a remarkable piece of music. Maddie and Tae intertwine their voices to evoke both a sense of tragedy and hope. "I'll be here for you after the storm blows through," they promise.
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