Top 10 Country Music Choruses
A good chorus is what makes a song memorable. A song’s chorus is the part listeners sing along with … the part they always remember … the part that can take a song from good to great.
Country music is full of great choruses, too. From decades-old classics to newer earworms, the songs on The Boot’s list of the Top 10 Country Music Choruses are united by their impossibly good refrains. Read on to learn more about the genre’s most memorable (and most singable!) choruses.
“Fancy” — originally written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry but made famous by Reba McEntire — is a perfect example of a story song that’s bolstered by a memorable chorus. The verses take care of telling the tale of a woman named Fancy, who’s reflecting on the difficult steps she took out of poverty, but it’s the song’s chorus that’s so memorable: “Here’s your one chance, Fancy, don’t let me down.”
“Chicken Fried” is a perfect example of a memorable, easily learn-able chorus: It’s a country boy proudly listing off the things he likes. In the case of this Zac Brown Band song, those things include “Cold beer on a Friday night / A pair of jeans that fit just right / And the radio up” — and, of course, “a little bit of chicken fried.” ZBB clearly knew they were working with something catchy, too, because rather than following the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, the song kicks off with its refrain.
One sign that you’ve written an unforgettable chorus? Nearly 40 years later, it’s being spoofed in commercials. Kenny Rogers is the artist featured in said commercial, even though several musicians recorded this Don Schlitz-penned song before him, because it was Rogers who made the song a No. 1, cross-genre hit. The chorus — instantly recognizable by its “You gotta know when to hold ‘em / Know when to fold ‘em” refrain — also doubles as excellent poker advice.
“I Like It, I Love It” was Tim McGraw’s third No. 1 single. It’s one of those songs with a chorus so catchy that the verses almost feel as though they’re getting in the way of belting out “I like it / I love it / I want some more of it” at the top of your lungs. Slightly edited versions of the uptempo song have also made their way onto Monday Night Football and into the Nashville Predators goal celebrations.
We all know Carrie Underwood can sing a good revenge song, and “Before He Cheats” is a perfect example. The song’s slow-building verses detail the exploits of a cheating partner (“Right now, he’s probably slow dancing with a bleached-blond tramp / And she’s probably getting frisky”) before absolutely exploding into a chorus that is pure catharsis. Underwood’s destructive sing-a-long was universally popular upon its release, earning her over a dozen awards nominations, several Grammys wins and a five-times-platinum single.
This list is full of songs that get stuck in your head, but “Wagon Wheel” may be the best example of a true earworm. It’s also a song with serious staying power: Bob Dylan penned its chorus, and, 25 years later, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor wrote its verses. OCMS released the song first, but Darius Rucker’s 2013 version is the one that really took country radio by storm. A week from now, we’re betting you’ll still be humming to yourself, “So, rock me, momma, like a wagon wheel / Rock me, momma, any way you feel / Hey, momma, rock me.”
Wordplay, empowerment, instant-classic catchiness: Shania Twain packed all of that into one single line in “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” The chorus is catchy enough on its own, as Twain winds up to the song’s peak with lines such as “Go totally crazy / Forget I’m a lady / Men’s shirts, short skirts” and that memorable “Whoa-oh-oh.” But everything in this Grammys-winning song is simply leading up to that perfect moment when the instruments drop out and Twin declares, “Man! I feel like a woman!”
When “Friends in Low Places” was written in 1989, Garth Brooks wasn’t yet Garth Brooks. Actually, its this song — and its catchy chorus, which showcases his signature baritone — that helped make him Garth Brooks. Brooks recorded the song’s demo, then released the official version as the first single off his album No Fences. That chorus — we don’t even need to repeat it; you’re probably already singing it — make “Friends in Low Places” the ultimate drinking song: the perfect mix of sadness, hopefulness and alcohol name-dropping.
Although Whitney Houston can be credited with this power ballad’s ubiquity, Dolly Parton is its writer, and the voice that first brought the song (and its unforgettable chorus) to listeners. Her version hit No. 1 on the charts in two different decades (the original single in 1974, and the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas re-recording in 1982). Whether you prefer Parton’s version or Houston’s, the staying power of this song is due to its refrain. Who among us hasn’t tried (and failed miserably) to nail that infamous chorus key change?
If someone sings, “Take me home …,” chances are good that someone listening will finish the line by singing, “… country roads.” Perhaps John Denver’s most memorable song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is one of those standards that everyone seems to know; it’s also one of those songs that’s so classic it’s hard to believe it didn’t exist at some point. The song was certified gold in 1971 and platinum in 2017 — proof that it ain’t goin’ anywhere.