This is shaping up to be a year Luke Bryan will never forget. The Leesburg, Ga., native scored his second No. 1 album when Spring Break … Here to Party hit the country summit in March. The next month, he took home the Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year honor. In June, Bryan, Eric Church and Jason Aldean shared a CMT Music Award for collaborative video of the year for “The Only Way I Know,” a performance of Aldean’s hit captured at the 2012 CMA Awards.
As fans await the Aug. 13 arrival of his fourth studio album, Crash My Party, here’s a look at 10 tunes that have helped shape his soaring career.
“All My Friends Say”
Prior to making his debut as an artist, Bryan first tasted success as a songwriter. He penned the title track of Travis Tritt’s My Honky Tonk History album and also co-wrote Billy Currington’s No. 1 hit “Good Directions.” He signed a deal with Capitol Records and released his 2007 debut single “All My Friends Say,” which he co-wrote with producer Jeff Stevens. The party anthem about a guy cutting loose and getting drunk when he sees his ex after a breakup climbed all the way to No. 5 on Billboard’s country songs chart in September 2007 — and a star was born.
In this catchy up-tempo tune, Bryan extols all the virtues a girl can expect from a guy with a rural upbringing. In the chorus he proclaims, “Hey, I’m a country man, a city boy can’t do the things I can/I can grow my own groceries and salt-cure a ham/Hey, baby, I’m a country man.” This was the third single from Bryan’s debut album, I’ll Stay Me, which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s country albums chart. “Country Man” hit No. 10 on the singles list in October of 2008.
The first single from Bryan’s sophomore album, Doin’ My Thing, is a plaintive ballad that finds a man questioning if he still makes his woman happy and if she’s as invested in the relationship as he still is. Bryan co-wrote this hit with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, and those distinctive background vocals on the song are Lady A’s Hillary Scott. Bryan edged closer to the top of the chart, yet a No. 1 single still eluded him as the song peaked at No. 2 on Dec. 5, 2009.
“Rain Is a Good Thing”
Finally, on the second single from his second album, Bryan scored a No. 1 hit as “Rain Is a Good Thing” hits its peak in July 2010 and remained at the summit for two weeks. He continued to have success with the country boy/farm life theme that made “Country Man” a hit. In the chorus, he shares a little about the circle of life as he sings, “Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey/Whiskey makes my baby, feel a little frisky.”
“Someone Else Calling You Baby”
Bryan scored his second No. 1 single with this tune he co-wrote with Stevens. It’s a sad song about a guy seeing another man’s truck backing out of his girlfriend’s driveway and she’s in the passenger seat. Ouch! It seems the whole town has been talking, and he’s the last one to know it’s over. The song is just a plea for honesty and some closure.
“Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”
This song was the first single from Bryan’s third studio album, Tailgates & Tanlines. Though it only peaked at No. 4 on the country songs chart, the single was a game changer for the rising artist. When he performed the song on the 2011 CMT Awards, it marked Bryan’s very first awards show performance, and his high-energy, personality-packed delivery was the most talked-about performance of the night. Even though the song was somewhat polarizing with its sexist theme, young country fans couldn’t get enough of the thumping beat and suggestive lyrics, and it helped propel the album to No. 1 on the country albums chart and No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard 200.
“I Don’t Want This Night to End”
The second single from Tailgates & Tanlines returned Bryan to the top of the chart, hitting No. 1 in February 2012. He wrote the song with Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip, a successful trio of songwriters who are known as the Peach Pickers because, like Bryan, they all hail from Georgia. Directed by Shaun Silva, the video shows Bryan as a country singer who falls for a girl and has a memorable night before she vanishes by morning. It was billed as a “prequel” to his next video for “Drunk on You.”
“Drunk on You”
Written by Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear, this tune paints a picture of a romantic rendezvous by the river. Often referred to by fans as the “boom boom song,” it includes the line, “Girl, you make my speakers go boom boom/Dancin’ on the tailgate in a full moon.” The song spent two weeks at No. 1 on the country chart in July 2012 and became Bryan’s first song to hit the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 when it peaked at No. 16.
“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”
The fourth and final single from Tailgates & Tanlines, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” is a quintessential break-up song. Penned by Bryan, Stevens and Shane McAnally, it’s an up-tempo anthem about a couple who knows it’s over and opens with the sad but honest statement, “All we do right is make love/We both know now, that ain’t enough.” The guy proposes they have one last good time before they end it. Remember the Ray Price classic “For the Good Times”? Well, this tune might be this generation’s equivalent, perhaps less lush and poetic, but just as heartbreaking. “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” peaked at No. 3.
“Crash My Party”
Bryan scored his 10th Top 10 single with the title track of his new album, set to arrive in August. In a recent Billboard cover story, Bryan described the song as “a love song, and the whole thing is ’baby, you can crash my party anytime whenever you’re needing me.’ It’s almost like a mixture of ’Drunk on You’ and [Lady Antebellum’s] ’Need You Now’ wrapped all into one.” Fans can hear Bryan’s latest hit live on his Dirt Road Diaries tour which has been selling out venues all over North America.