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, Maddie & Tae talk about their 2015 single, “Girl in a Country Song.” CMT Hot 20 Countdown airs at 9/8c Saturday and Sunday mornings. Here’s Maddie Marlow and Tye Dye, in their own words:
Maddie Marlow: We had a literal checklist of things that we were so frustrated with, [about] how women were being portrayed in the genre that we love. Because we are country music fans and we felt that the woman in every single song was not portrayed realistically at all. And didn’t have a voice, didn’t have anything to say. It was just a bit bizarre and we wanted to shake things up a little bit. But at the time we didn’t have a record deal, we had none of that. No ability to get the song out, so we just wrote in hopes of someone liking it and hearing it.
Tae Dye: I remember the week after we wrote it, we knew it was special and we thought, OK, if this is the song we put out first, if this is our introduction to the world, to this genre, to country music…that would be amazing. This is everything we’re about. Obviously we have deeper side but this is exactly what we want to say. So we played it for someone a week later and they actually said to us, face to face, “I don’t think this is going to work, I don’t think any label is going to sign you, keep writing, but nice try,” basically. And we were heartbroken because we were convinced that this was going to be the song for us. God works in funny ways and a month later we had a record deal and we were on radio tour.
MM: I wasn’t afraid at the time, I was just ready to bust all the doors down. But now, I look back and I’m like, “What in the world? Two 18-year-old girls with something to…” I can’t believe we were that ballsy. Very ballsy, very bold. Like, that was a lot of sass in there. [laughs] I think we were so naïve that we didn’t realize what we were doing. We were just telling our truth and “Girl in a Country Song” is still our truth. But we’ve never filtered ourselves with interviews or songwriting, with anything. We just don’t feel that’s our thing. We want to be authentic and real and talk about things that we feel passionate about.
TD: A few people were a little hurt by it. Understandably, looking back now I totally get it. But it was all fun and games and now they know us and we know them, it’s just something that we all talk and laugh about. Tyler Farr, for example. “Redneck Crazy” is a line that we mention in the second verse and it wasn’t anything against him or that song, it just [rhymed] in that song. Tyler is one of our buddies and thinks it’s hilarious and fun, so I think it’s awesome that the guys welcomed us and thought it was funny. They liked that two girls came in and they said what they needed to say and I think they respected that.
MM: I don’t remember much from the video [shoot], everything happened so fast with that song. But I do remember seeing the video in places, like random websites, and I’m like how is this even correlating? There was just something so powerful about that video, role-reversing and all of that. I just didn’t realize that we were making as big a statement as we were. We were just so naïve that we thought, “This is cool, this is the story,” and then it was this huge thing. I’m proud of it though, and I’m really proud of us and I’m really proud of that song and that video and not backing down and telling our truth.
TD: “Girl in a Country Song” was the start of our career. It was the very first song we ever released. It was the song that got us our record deal. It was the first song and only song of ours that has gone No. 1, so it did everything. It was a whirlwind. Everything happened so fast. We felt we were on top of a mountain. We had a really wrong impression of what the industry is like because it’s not always flying to New York and playing a show, then doing this and having a No. 1 song. That’s not normal and we didn’t know that. So coming back down, we’ve learned a lot about the business and a lot about ourselves. “Girl in a Country Song” was the song that allowed us to put our foot in the door and then continued to show people the different layers and the deeper sides of us to create records that continue to tell our story.
MM: I love when I see men singing it. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Especially on this Carrie [Underwood] tour, there are grown men that are like jamming, hands in the air. I’m like dude I love you, thank you so much for singing this, this makes my heart so happy. If we had a record deal when we wrote “Girl in a Country Song,” we wouldn’t have had the courage. We would have had someone say, “Don’t write songs like that, don’t say that.” But we still don’t roll like that. We write our truth. We write music for our fans and that’s what they want from us.