Do you even listen, bro? Without question, the dominant country music sound of the 2010s was that tatted-up, Monster Energy-fueled party barge of good times, tailgates, and hot chicks — the much-maligned bro-country. Sprouting in the early portion of the decade with Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, and others who rocked baseball hats, sleeveless Ts, and wallet chains with reckless abandon, it ended up dying a painful, but glacially slow death at the hands of Chris Stapleton and other new traditionalists.
People hated bro country. But even more people — the ones who actually buy records — loved it. Artists brokered collaborations with rappers and others working outside country to make their hits even bigger (see Nelly’s cameo on FGL’s “Cruise”). Radio played the subgenre to the point of excluding almost everything else. Like hair metal before, bro-country was all party and no consequence: No one puked in their mom’s closet or rushed off to Walgreen’s to buy a morning-after pill. It was modern country’s most awkward phase.
Still, the recordings had their charms. Nashville’s songwriters worked some serious voodoo to graft this narrow bunch of themes (girls, booze, and trucks) onto their airtight hooks, but when it worked, it really worked. There were even subtle variations in sound and approach that gave bro-country an illusion of depth. Yet it was also overwhelmingly white, male, and hetero-normative, and it got to manspread and make itself comfortable way longer than anyone would have preferred.
As we bid farewell to this very strange decade in country music, we decided to embrace our inner bro and compile this ranked list of the 30 biggest bro-country bangers. They’re ridiculous and they’re great. They sound incredible blasting out of jacked-up trucks and arena speaker systems alike. Yes, we’ve got bigger problems to address and more important conversations that need to be had in country music, but sometimes you just need to roll the windows down and, well, cruise.