Music

Girl Crush: Here's What Little Big Town's Hit is Really About

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"Girl Crush" is a misleading song title. If you pay attention to the gossip, Little Big Town's most recent single, "Girl Crush" is a pro-lesbian song, an anti-lesbian song, inspiring, defeating, it has horns or a halo... and just about everything in between. So what's really going on with "Girl Crush?" And how does country music feel about the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) community?

Well, here ya go, we're going to help you out.

First the facts. "Girl Crush" is one of the most popular country songs in recent years. It was released in December 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 reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, spending 13 weeks in the top position of the country chart. It currently has more than 72 million 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 from Miranda Lambert to YouTube starlets Julia Sheer and Karla Davis to Harry Styles, who covered the song at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

But what's the appeal?

Girl Crush
Girl Crush crew: Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild and Phillip Sweet. Matthew Welch/Sandbox Entertainment

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

What it is not about is lesbianism, bisexuality, or any manner of pro or anti or whatever LGBT. When Karen Fairchild sings "I want to taste her lips/Because they taste like you" and her "long blond hair" it is important to realize that this desire stems from an obsession, not sexuality. The singer is fantasizing about being the other woman so she can be with the man.

In this way, the title "Girl Crush" is a little misleading. So are some of the band's comments about the song, which are meant, no doubt, to stir the rumor mill. For example, Fairchild's quotation in Rolling Stone: "There are not many women on the radio and not many ballads with that kind of lyrical content."

Lyrically, the song is great. Musically, the song is great. But to claim it has controversial content is to stir the rumor mill.

"Girl Crush" is essentially a grown-up, slightly more psychologically disturbed, version of Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on my Guitar."

Pro-gay country songs.

But if you're looking for pro-gay songs, you'll have to look elsewhere. Start with Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow," although the song's pro-gay lyrics have been blown way out of proportion. "Follow Your Arrow" is pro-gay because of one line that encourages the listener to be happy with who they are and do what makes them happy.

Next, let's look at Steve Grand's self-financed "All-American Boy," which has been both praised and criticised (notably by Slate for presenting a reductionist take on the achievements of LGBT progress).

Rascal Flatt's 2009 song "Love Who You Love" has been seen by many as being pro-gay.

Ok, so it's not like there is a bevy of pro-gay songs in American country music. But it's making progress. Consider that in 2014 both singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gillman both came out as gay. Meanwhile, Brandy Clark is a huge force in the country songwriting world.

Looking further back, Chely Wright was one of the first country singers to come out as gay in 2010. Before her k.d. Lang came out in 1992. If you don't know k.d. Lang, she released a string of incredible country albums in the late 80s before turning to pop. She won just about every award imaginable in the 80s, including a string of four consecutive years as the Canadian Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year and a Grammy for Best Female Vocal Performance.

So, country culture is slowly (slowly) welcoming and championing their LGBT brothers and sisters. But if you're looking to Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" for pro or anti-gay sentiment, you're looking in the wrong place.

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

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Girl Crush: Here's What Little Big Town's Hit is Really About