Miranda Lambert is one of the most impactful voices in modern country music. Put simply, she's a legend in her own time, and we're all just along for the ride. If you ever wondered what it's like to watch somebody like Loretta Lynn or Johnny Cash in their heyday, well, it'd look a lot like watching Lambert do her thing right now.
The fiery blonde from small-town Texas has always done things 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 and thoughtful songs with 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 nine major-label records under her belt (not counting her output with the Pistol Annies or collaborative project The Marfa Tapes), 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. Here are the 14 best songs Lambert's released to date.
14. "It All Comes Out in the Wash" (Wildcard, 2019)
Lambert co-wrote this fun song from Wildcard with Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose. Inspired by something her mom and grandmother used to say, essentially "it will come out in the wash," the end result is this cheeky and lighthearted country tune that earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.
13. "Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)" with Elle King (King's Come Get Your Wife, 2021)
This collaboration with King was one of the best country songs to come from 2021. It was the first time a female duet topped the charts in decades, literally since Reba McEntire's Linda Davis collaboration "Does He Love You" was released in 1993. King co-wrote the song with Martin Johnson, and she and Lambert memorably performed it together at the 2021 ACM Awards.
12. "If I Was a Cowboy" (Palomino, 2022)
This western-inspired track from Lambert's latest album Palomino is reminiscent of Beyoncé's hit song "If I Were a Boy." But in the best country way. It's one of the standout songs from the album and has one heck of a music video.
11. "Bluebird" (Wildcard, 2019)
Another standout track from Wildcard, "Bluebird" was nominated for pretty much every award under the sun after its release, earning the CMA Award for Video of the Year. Lambert co-wrote this song just days after she married her current husband, Brendan McLoughlin. Also inspired by the Charles Bukowski poem, the song is full of hope, fitting as Lambert embarked on a new chapter in her personal life.
10. "Only Prettier" (Revolution, 2009)
Off her 2009 studio album Revolution, "Only Prettier" sums up Miranda Lambert's fiery side to a T. Indeed, if there were only one song to summarize her snarky side, this would be it. The Natalie Hemby co-write perfectly captures the backhanded Southern politeness many grew up knowing all too well.
9. "Gunpowder & Lead" (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 2007)
"Gunpowder & Lead" became Lambert's highest-charting single to that point 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. Over a decade later, "Gunpowder & Lead" remains a huge fan favorite and one of country's best "stand up for yourself" songs.
8. "Kerosene" (Kerosene, 2005)
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" (Four the Record, 2011)
Lambert and ex-husband Blake Shelton met in 2006 and ended up writing together a lot. 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 leaves 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 make this song so great.
6. "Little Red Wagon" (Platinum, 2014)
This tune 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 with her several times. Eventually, she asked Mae if she could record it herself and brought her in to sing background vocals, too. The song became a surprise fan favorite and a Top 10 single.
5. "Bathroom Sink" (Platinum, 2014)
Lambert wrote "Bathroom Sink" by herself and never released it as a single, but she still chose to perform it at the 2015 CMA Awards. Every good writer strives to take something commonplace and make it a greater metaphor for life, and on this tune, Lambert proves to be the master of such a difficult task. It also hits hard when one of the biggest stars in country music sing lines like, "It's amazing the amount of rejection that I see in my reflection."
4. "Vice" (The Weight of These Wings, 2016)
Written alongside Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, "Vice" was Lambert's first new song since her divorce from Shelton and the first song released from her career-defining album 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. The video is 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" (The Weight of These Wings, 2016)
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 connected with producer Frank Liddell thanks to his work on Ingram's album Electric.
2. "Mama's Broken Heart" (Four the Record, 2011)
"Mama's Broken Heart" went to country radio in 2013 and, for a while, 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, 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" (Revolution, 2009)
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 21st century country music, period. And the way Lambert captured it and made it her own (they wrote it with a man singing it in mind) 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 Lambert as country's new queen.
This article from 2018 previously ran on Aug. 1, 2022.
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