Recording artists Philip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook of Little Big Town arrive at the 2015 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

'Girl Crush': The Story Behind Little Big Town's Captivating Song

Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" is a bit of a misleading song title, which is just part of the reason the gorgeous, stirring song has captivated listeners since its release in 2015. So what's the story behind "Girl Crush"?

First the facts. "Girl Crush" is one of the most popular country songs in recent years. It was released as Little Big Town's second single off their studio album Pain Killer. It was one of 2015's most popular songs on country radio. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, spending 13 weeks in the top position of the country chart. It racked up millions of plays on Spotify. The song won Song of the Year and Single of the Year at the 2015 CMA Awards, and its music video, a top-notch piece by director Matthew Welch, was nominated. It also picked up Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards. It has also spawned covers — Miranda Lambert, YouTube stars Julia Sheer and Karla Davis, Kelly Clarkson and Harry Styles, who covered the song at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, have all put their spin on the tune.

What's the Song About?

Written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and writer Liz Rose, "Girl Crush" is a beautiful song. It's catchy, haunting, sparse and direct. "Girl Crush" is a song about crushing jealousy. It is about the ache of desire. It is, ultimately, about fantasizing.

When Karen Fairchild sings, "I want to taste her lips/Because they taste like you" and her "long blonde hair," this desire stems from an obsession. The singer is fantasizing about being the other woman so she can be with the man.

Though the song's lyrics reflect fantasy, desire, jealousy and heartache rather than the narrator's sexuality, the song made headlines when it was pulled from some country radio stations after listeners said  it "promotes a gay agenda."

And while those close-minded listeners missed the point of the song, the reaction to "Girl Crush" did reflect the state of country radio. A country song referencing a same-sex relationship in any way was considered taboo in the eyes of some listeners and programmers.

In 2015, Karen Fairchild commented on the backlash the ballad received.

"That's just shocking to me, the close-mindedness of that, when that's just not what the song was about," Fairchild told The Washington Post. "But what if it were? It's just a greater issue of listening to a song for what it is."

Still, despite its slow start on the charts, "Girl Crush" proved to be a hit, reaching the top of the Hot Country Songs chart and No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also stands out as one of the best country ballads of the last decade, beloved by scores of country fans.

 "There are not many women on the radio and not many ballads with that kind of lyrical content," Fairchild told Rolling Stone in 2015.

Gay Country Songs

To say country radio still has a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation is an understatement. However, there are plenty of outstanding country songs by both queer artists and allies that celebrate same-sex relationships.

Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" encourages the listener to be happy with who they are and do what makes them happy. ("Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into," Musgraves sings.) Rascal Flatt's 2009 song "Love Who You Love" has also been championed by many for having a message of supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Luke Bryan sings "I believe you love who you love/ Ain't nothing you should ever be ashamed of" in his 2017 song "Most People Are Good." And back in the '90s, Garth Brooks shared his own message of love, singing "When we're free to love anyone we choose/ When this world's big enough for all different views/ When we all can worship from our own kind of pew/ Then we shall be free."

More importantly, LGBTQ+ country artists such as Brooke Eden ("Got No Choice"), Paisley Fields ("Stay Away From My Man"), Cameron Hawthorn ("Nothing Like a Cowboy"), T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne ("Younger Me"), Crys Matthews ("Exactly Where We Are"),  Jaime Wyatt ("Rattlesnake Girl"), Jessye DeSilva ("Family Tree") and more are telling their own stories.

Looking for more LGBTQ+ country songs? Check out our list of 20 country songs to celebrate Pride Month.

Editor's Note: This story previously ran on April 11, 2020. It was updated and edited by Bobbie Jean Sawyer on June 13, 2022. 

Girl Crush Lyrics:

I got a girl crush, hate to admit it but
I got a heart rush, ain't slowin' down
I got it real bad, want everything she has
That smile and the midnight laugh she's givin' you now

I wanna taste her lips, yeah, 'cause they taste like you
I wanna drown myself in a bottle of her perfume
I want her long blonde hair, I want her magic touch
Yeah, 'cause maybe then you'd want me just as much
I got a girl crush, I got a girl crush

I don't get no sleep, I don't get no peace
Thinkin' about her under your bed sheets
The way that she's whisperin', the way that she's pullin' you in
Lord knows I've tried, I can't get her off my mind

I wanna taste her lips, yeah, 'cause they taste like you
I wanna drown myself in a bottle of her perfume
I want her long blonde hair, I want her magic touch
Yeah, 'cause maybe then you'd want me just as much
I got a girl crush

I got a girl crush, hate to admit it but
I got a heart rush, it ain't slowin' down

READ MORE: The 10 Best Little Big Town Songs, Ranked