Editor’s Note: CMT Hot 20 Countdown takes a look back on 10 years of incredible music with Decade, a weekly segment that features a modern country classic that made its greatest impact between 2010 and 2019. This week, Little Big Town talk about their 2015 hit, “Girl Crush.”
CMT Hot 20 Countdown airs at 9/8c Saturday and Sunday mornings. Here’s Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook, in their own words:
Jimi: It’s one of those moments that, when you hear a song and the hook turns like that one does, you go… “Wow! I didn’t see that coming.” And it’s hard to do that writing a song, so, they nailed it and we absolutely fell in love with it.
Phillip: We were lucky enough to be the first people to hear it. So it wasn’t like played all over town before it got cut. We got to hear it days after it was written. [Karen and Kimberly] were writing with the Love Junkies and said, “Play us something you guys have been writing.” And they were like, “Well…”
Kimberly: “We have this song. Mmmm, we wrote it yesterday. You won’t cut it but we’ll play it for you.” We were like, “Don’t play it for anybody else!” [all laugh] “We want it!” Soon as we heard it. When you figured out what it was about, it took my breath away. So special.
Karen: I love so much that it’s [written by] Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey, who are three of the most prolific female songwriters in the business — and that in itself is a task. But to do something so profound! And it had such an impact on pop culture. Like, it really took us to a different level. It took us to the Grammy stage, singing that, and it elevated us in a way that we couldn’t have dreamt up in a million years.
Phillip: I think musically we wanted to pay homage to that classic feel. And that really open-space breath you feel in that drag, because it allows that feeling of what the song portrays and what the lyric portrays to stand together. It gives that same feeling and that’s what we wanted. Not to water that down in any way. It didn’t need a whole lot of flash and shimmer. It needed purity. And to tell that story and to sell that lyric, it needed electric guitar and very minimal instrumentation.
Karen: There was a little bit of controversy when it first started. Not everybody in the morning time, like on their drive to school, wants to hear provocative lyrics, and the girls wrote it in a provocative way on purpose, so it says, “Taste your lips.” It’s about jealousy. It was like a modern version of “Jolene” in a way.
Phillip: I think a lot of people weren’t listening closely enough to the lyrics so they might have heard something else.
Karen: Well, they just want to hear little tiny things and then make something big of it. We got a little bit of pushback and then our artists friends came to the rescue and started posting, and the positive way outweighed the negative. … When Reba wears a “Girl Crush” hat, then we’re like, “We’re good.”