Maddie & Tae
Sounds Like: A light dusting of sugar and spice and everything nice over country hooks sharp enough to draw at least a few drops of blood
For Fans Of: Dixie Chicks, the Wreckers, Taylor Swift
Why You Should Pay Attention: No country single has been a hotter topic this year than Maddie & Tae's "Girl in a Country Song," the first major response to the "bro country" trend. Country radio made its majorly macho turn while Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye were finishing high school and cultivating a long-distance songwriting relationship through Skype sessions and road trips (Marlow was in Texas, Dye in Oklahoma). Less than a year after they moved to Nashville together, diplomas in hand, they and a co-writer dreamed up a riposte to a trend that was, by then, wearing out its welcome. Rushed to radio at the right moment, "Girl In a Country Song" cracked the Top 20 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and the music video — which makes an outrageous show of flipping the gendered script — is closing in on five million views. Timing's one thing, but the song wouldn't have turned nearly as many heads without the pair's savvy songcraft.
They Say: "When we get up onstage," says Marlow, "people are like, 'OK, we've seen this before: two blond girls. Probably gonna sing about love and boys and all this kind of stuff.' And we do get inspired by that and write about it. But there's a lot more to be said. The cool thing is, we're coming from a real place in everything. So no matter what we're discussing, it's definitely real." Adds Dye: "I think it makes all the difference in the world that we met and bonded so naturally. If someone were to put [a duo] together, you never know; the personalities could be too much alike, could be too different, and it just might not blend. But the cool thing with us is we were such good friends first. And then it turned into the songwriting, and then it turned into the singing."
Hear for Yourself: The artful sass of "Girl In a Country Song" has lyrics laced with clever call-outs, punchy vocal phrasing and loops that toy with the male-identified hick-hop sound. By Jewly Hight