Miranda Lambert is one of the most important voices in country music. Put simply, she's a legend in the making. If you ever wondered what it's like to watch somebody like Loretta Lynn or Johnny Cash in their heyday, well, it looks a lot like watching Miranda Lambert do her thing right now.
In April, she won her eighth straight ACM Award for Female Vocalist of the Year, surpassing Reba McEntire for the most wins in the category. She owns 25 ACMs all in all, plus 13 CMA Awards (and many more to come this year during The Weight Of These Wings' eligibility) and two Grammy Awards.
Oh, and she's 35 years young.
The fiery blonde from small-town Texas has always done it her way. Her first trip to Nashville brought her to tears, but she returned with a vengeance and made the music she wanted to make. A brief stint on Nashville Star gave her a minor platform, but Lambert built everything on the back of interesting, thoughtful songs and out-of-the-box production. She's one of country music's true rock stars.
From her breakout hit "Me and Charlie Talking," the fierce "White Liar," or the cutting "Baggage Claim," she's never shied away from being real. Whether she's living like a hippie ("Highway Vagabond"), rocking some cheap "Pink Sunglasses," or doing "Somethin' Bad" with Carrie Underwood, her fans are always taking the journey right alongside her.
With six major label records under her belt (each one arguably better than the last), she's got a wealth of material to choose from. Picking the best country songs from one of the best country singers and writers of our day ain't easy. But we did it so you don't have to. Here are the 10 best Miranda Lambert songs.
10. "Only Prettier"
Off her 2009 studio album Revolution, "Only Prettier" is Miranda Lambert's fiery side to a T. If there were only one song to summarize her snarky side, this would be it. The song, co-written with Natalie Hemby, perfectly captures the backhanded southern politeness so many of us grew up knowing all too well.
9. "Gunpowder & Lead"
"Gunpowder & Lead" became Lambert's highest charting single to date in 2008 and the first top 10 of her career. Considering it's the album opener on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it certainly suits the title. Nearly 10 years later, "Gunpowder & Lead" remains a huge fan favorite and one of country's best "stand up for yourself" songs.
The title track off her debut album, "Kerosene" was a "co-write" with Steve Earle. Well, not really. But Lambert gave him credit for unconsciously inspiring her in the melody and structure. Which is really quite unconventional, especially for a young artist on her debut record. The song certainly sparked a bit of the "fire starter" persona around a then 20-year-old Lambert.
7. "Over You"
Lambery and ex-husband Blake Shelton met in 2006 and eventually wrote a lot together. He had several co-writes on Revolution, but hands down their best came on 2011's Four The Record. It's framed as a love song, but a closer listen leave you with the impression that it's not a romantic love song. In the last verse, Lambert mentions seeing it "set in stone," which is the most on-the-nose she gets about this being the loss of a loved one. It's just one of the many little nuances that makes this song so great.
6. "Little Red Wagon"
This tune actually comes courtesy of Audra Mae, who wrote and recorded "Little Red Wagon" for her own project in 2012. After Lambert heard the song, she struck up a friendship with Mae, even writing together several times. Eventually, she asked Mae if she could record it herself and brought her in to sing backgrounds too. The song became a surprise fan favorite and a top 10 single. It's also a great example of Lambert doing the type of thing nobody else in mainstream country has the balls to do.
5. "Bathroom Sink"
Lambert wrote "Bathroom Sink" by herself and never released it as a single, but still chose to perform it at the CMA Awards in 2015. Every good writer strives to take something commonplace and make it a greater metaphor for life, and on this tune, Lambert basically writes the book. It also helps to hear one of the biggest stars in country music sing lines like, "It's amazing the amount of rejection that I see in my reflection."
Written alongside Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, "Vice" was Lambert's first new song since her divorce from Blake Shelton and the first song released from her career-defining The Weight Of These Wings. The music video features a shell-shocked Lambert crawling out of a car accident to a small town in Texas. It's full of all kinds of symbolism, just like the song, and again perfectly toys with expectations of what the country world "expects" from the singer. The track is standout on an album filled with gems like "Smoking Jacket," "Ugly Lights" and "Pink Sunglasses."
3. "Tin Man"
When Lambert performed "Tin Man" at the ACM Awards with nothing but a guitar, she brought the entire crowd to its knees (before ultimately bringing them to their feet). It's among the best moments in country award show history. She wrote the song with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, which probably felt like a bit of a full-circle moment for Lambert, who originally wanted to work with producer Frank Liddell thanks to his work on Ingram's album Electric.
2. "Mama's Broken Heart"
"Mama's Broken Heart" went to country radio in 2013 and, for awhile, felt like the only interesting or unique song on all of mainstream radio (that was the height of the bro country era, after all). Amazingly, the song never hit No. 1 (despite being one of the most awarded and critically lauded artists in modern country, Lambert only has four No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts-- go figure). But it became a defining song for a long while and also helped drastically raise the profile of Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark, who wrote it alongside Shane McAnally.
1. "The House That Built Me"
Apparently, the way Lambert heard the song is embellished a bit, but Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin's "The House That Built Me" is one of the best songs in country music, period. And the way Lambert captured it and made it her own (they originally heard it as a guy's song) just goes to show the magic she can add to something. The song eventually earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and, on her third record, cemented Miranda Lambert as country's new queen.
This post was originally published on August 14, 2018.