In 2017, Carly Pearce released her first single to country radio — and it went to No. 1. Since then, the singer has quickly become a beloved member of the country music family, even performing on the Grand Ole Opry stage more than 50 times.
Pearce comes from humble beginnings in Kentucky: She dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to perform at Dollywood before moving to Nashville, then struggled to make a name for herself for a couple of years before "Every Little Thing" took off.
In 2018, Pearce won a CMT Music Award for her "Every Little Thing" music video -- a highlight of her breakout year. The artist has toured with Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum, and she and husband Michael Ray, who makes a cameo on this list, are simply adorable.
Taste of Country's list of Pearce's top songs takes into account chart position, single sales, staff opinions and reader feedback.
The first song on our list is, to use a Miranda Lambert phrase, “for when husbands piss you off.” "Doin’ It Right" doesn’t give you a bitter vibe, but is an honest track about when the person you’re dating isn’t giving you what you need, or what you deserve. Pearce has some incredible break-up songs that explore the crumbling of a relationship in fresh new ways, and this one is one of our favorites.
This song is a hard song to sing (try it next time you’re in the shower -- it’s tough!), but Pearce makes it look effortless. The chorus is catchy, the song uses her wide range, and the lyrics are surprisingly empowering. It's a song for when you’re finally done with the person who did you wrong and need to let some of your anger out in a healthy way.
"When You Say Nothing at All” (with Michael Ray)
Sure, this one's a cover, but Pearce and Ray have breathed new life into this Keith Whitley song. If you ever get the chance to see them perform it live at the Opry, you are in for a treat: Their harmonies are beautiful, and the time Ricky Skaggs surprised them onstage added another level of joy to this classic love ballad.
Some songs are simply made for spring and summertime, and “Color” is one of them. Pearce uses the country songwriting trick of “You do X, I do Y,” (like in Blake Shelton’s “I’ll Name The Dogs”) in a polished, professional way. One of her greatest assets is being able to reinvent country songs in a unique way, and this sweet track about finally admitting feelings for someone is truly original.
If you feel a little homesick and could use a good cry, get the tissues at the ready: This much-loved song should do the trick. It's an emotional gut punch, and Pearce truly pays attention to the little details about home that are so missed as you go out into the world to chase your dreams.
"Wasn’t That Drunk” (with Josh Abbott Band)
Appearing on this Josh Abbott Band song was arguably one of the most important steps in Pearce’s career. Her voice blends with Abbott's seamlessly, and the track will get stuck in your head immediately. “Wasn’t That Drunk” captures that feeling we all know too well: shrugging off a romantic encounter with an "It wasn’t a big deal” -- but, secretly, it was.
“Closer to You” is a blast-in-your-car track, and Pearce’s newest single. A taste of her sophomore album, it features more pop elements that her previous work, and its “I need you now” tone celebrates the honeymoon phase of a relationship. The song's music video features Michael Ray, and is fans' first taste of Pearce's songs written about her soon-to-be husband.
The list of country songs featuring whiskey is endless, but this song isn’t about dive bars and dancing girls. A truly heartbreaking tale that explores substance abuse, “If My Name Was Whiskey” finds Pearce coming to grips with the realization that she'll never be the first thing on a certain someone's mind. Pearce shows her strengths when singing about tough subjects.
If you follow Pearce on Instagram, you know she loves her some red wine, so it’s only natural that one of her best-performing songs is “Hide the Wine”. Carefree, hilariously relatable and so much fun, this addictive melody is all about trying to stop those bad decisions and “Guess what I did last night?!” moments.
Pearce has been a huge part of changing the game for women getting airplay on country radio alongside trailblazers and friends Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris, and is part of an astoundingly talented generation of country artists. Nostalgia isn’t always a good thing, and this track embodies how hard it is to get over an ex. It’s the song that made us fall in love with Pearce, and she’s only gone up from here.