Top 10 Country Breakup Songs
Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, relationships will be ending left and right. And nobody does breakups better than country artists, which is strange because most of them are happily married to each other. With our Top 10 Country Breakup Songs, Cadenza has you covered if you’re of the recently single set.
10. I Feel Bad – Rascal Flatts
Whenever I am in need of a song to rock out to with the windows down, cry over when I am missing someone or reminisce about the good old days, I can always turn to Rascal Flatts. The trio made up of Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus has released eight albums, each with better songs than the last. LeVox’s voice is so distinctive that as soon as he sings the first notes, you know it is going to be a great song. Unfortunately, the radio ruins most good music, and the constant overplaying of the band’s upbeat music has not inspired many people to dig deeper and find its truly incredible songs. “I Feel Bad,” from the fourth album, talks all about a breakup and the things the man should be doing—“be out in that driveway stopping you,” “falling apart like I usually do,” etc., but instead he “feel[s] bad that [he] don’t feel bad.” So next time you are in a relationship that ends and you find yourself feeling fine and ready to “turn the page,” turn on this tune and know that “it’s time to move on.”
- Elena Wandzilak
9. Pray for You – Jaron and the Long Road to Love
After that ugly breakup, you want nothing more than to punch in a wall or key his or her car. Jaron and the Long Road to Love, however, advocate a different school of thought: religion. In “Pray for you,” Jaron outlines just about everything he prays could happen to his ex. Although hoping that “[her] brakes go out running down a hill” or “[she’s] flying high when [her] engine stalls” is a little extreme, it is kind of uplifting to think of the one who broke your heart “[passing] out drunk” and “[waking] up with his-and-her tattoos.” This song is great for the passive-aggressive types who would love nothing more than to exact revenge for the way things ended. – Sahil Patel
8. Brand New Girlfriend – Steve Holy
This is a song about winning the breakup, as Steve Holy reminds his listeners that there’s more than just one fish in the sea. It takes him all of 40 seconds to describe his previous relationship before jumping straight into the chorus about all the awesome things he is doing with the new girl. From “lying on the beach wearing nothing but a smile” to “[flying] out to L.A. for the weekend,” Steve tells the world that a breakup is also a fresh start. So keep your chin up—the one who “makes [you] feel just like a kid again” is out there waiting.
– Sahil Patel
7. Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
I really miss the Dixie Chicks. Growing up, these girls were my Destiny’s Child. Natalie Maines’ twangy, country voice paired with real-life sisters Martie and Emily’s harmonies and impressive instrument-playing skills sang me through my childhood. I even supported them through the George W. Bush versus Dixie Chicks battle of 2003, even though I hardly knew what a war was at age nine. They had some really classic songs and did a great rendition of “Landslide,” but their best song is, of course, “Goodbye Earl.” Talk about friendship and breakups. Mary Anne and Wanda, the protagonists of this story, were best friends who went their separate ways after graduation: Mary Anne “looking for a bright new world” while all Wanda finds is Earl, who begins abusing her and puts “her in intensive care” when she tries to file for divorce. Wow. Then, in true best friend fashion, Mary Anne flies in and they decide one thing: “Earl had to die.” They literally kill Earl. They poison him and wrap him up in a tarp. And get away with it. Then they buy a roadside stand and sell strawberry jam. Goodbye, Earl, but that is some serious girl power.
- Elena Wandzilak
6. Better than Revenge – Taylor Swift
Wouldn’t you be pissed if you were dumped via a 27-second phone call? Sometimes you just need to get angry. And Swift unleashes the fury of a woman scorned on Joe Jonas and Camilla Belle in this public tongue-lashing. As far as Taylor was concerned, Belle “took him faster than you could say sabotage,” and 27 seconds isn’t very long. Poor Belle doesn’t stand a chance. Swift trashes her education (“they didn’t teach you that in prep school”), her demeanor (“her ever-present frown is a little troubling”) and her appearance (“no amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity”). I don’t recommend “[rhyming] her name with things” in public, but writing can be cleansing in the best way post-breakup, and nobody knows this better than Swift.
– Sahil Patel
5. How Do You Like Me Now?! – Toby Keith
Oh, Toby, what a true country boy. Known most recently for the hit single, “Red Solo Cup,” Keith is just all around fun, and honestly, he’s kind of sexy in an “I-have-a-deep-country-voice-and-wear-a-cowboy-hat” way. My favorite Keith break-up song, though, is without a doubt “How Do You Like Me Now?!” I guess, technically, he never dated the girl he is singing to. She was “the perfect one” and “overlooked [him] somehow.” He just “wanted to get [her] attention” and “played [his] guitar too loud.” Well, silly girl, who made fun of him when he moved to Tennessee and is now “always alone,” look at what you missed. Keith has released 16 studio albums, two Christmas albums and three compilation albums. He has charted 19 No. 1 hits and an additional 16 Top Ten hits. “I always dreamed about living in your radio,” he sings; well, “How do you like [him] now?”
- Elena Wandzilak
4. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
In Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” video—a prequel of sorts to “Before He Cheats”—a fictitious version of Underwood meets and marries a stranger in a whirlwind, tequila-driven Las Vegas courtship. Fast-forward three months, and her husband has moved on to “a bleach blonde tramp” despite Underwood’s 2005 “American Idol” win. While he’s carousing with his new fling, though, Underwood is busy getting even. As she imagines the pair in a bar together, Underwood exacts her revenge by going after “his pretty, little souped-up four-wheel drive.” From the smashing of his headlights to the traditional-but-effective slashing of his tires, Underwood spares no effort in wrecking his ride like he wrecked her heart. Singing about her revenge might seem like a poor idea, since it leaves her open to a lawsuit from her (now ex-, we assume) husband, but according to USA Today, the song has sold over 3 million copies. Underwood gets the fame, fortune and satisfaction of knowing that whomever this song is based on has been publicly humiliated. What’s one little out-of-court settlement next to that?
– Manvitha Marni
3. Consider Me Gone – Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire has reigned as the Queen of Country for more than thirty years, so it’s no surprise she has a few breakup songs in her catalog. I chose one of her more recent hits, “Consider Me Gone,” which was her 34th No. 1 on the country charts. An impressive achievement on its own, the song itself is an empowering, mid-tempo anthem to being too good for someone. Rather than continue in a relationship that isn’t working, just leave. McEntire is the Queen, and queens deserve the best, so “if you don’t get drunk off [her] kiss…consider [her] gone.” It’s hard to imagine someone wouldn’t get drunk off kissing her, but apparently that person exists, and McEntire dumped him. Good for her.
– Georgie Morvis
2. Best Days of Your Life – Kellie Pickler
It’s pretty easy to win a breakup when you are an “American Idol” alum and you collaborate with Taylor Swift to trash your former lover. Pickler lords over her ex in this upbeat hit about the lasting effects of “a fairytale love” on the one who threw it away. It doesn’t hurt that the music video opens with him watching her on TV. As it continues, the ex knocks up his new girl and proceeds to find Pickler and apologize, getting hit by a bus in the process. By the end it’s pretty clear that she will always “be there in the back of [his] mind” and that she’s going to make him sorry. The song is catchy, fun and uplifting, and the lyrics are perfect for describing the tone of a relationship and the way you want your ex to feel after one.
– Sahil Patel
1. Gunpowder and Lead, Miranda Lambert
While McEntire is the Queen of Country, Miranda Lambert is the Queen of the Breakup Song. It was difficult to choose just one, as “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Baggage Claim” and “Mama’s Broken Heart” are all worthy of this list. But no song is better than “Gunpowder and Lead” as a breakup song. The lyrics detail how the singer’s abusive ex-boyfriend just got out of jail and, rather than welcome him home with open arms, she will be welcoming him home with a loaded shotgun. It’s incredibly catchy and infinitely quotable. My personal favorite line is “His fist is big but my gun’s bigger.” Recently, she’s taken to dedicating the song at concerts to Chris Brown. I am sad that Rihanna chose to reconcile with him rather than take the Miranda Lambert route.
– Georgie Morvis