Carrie Underwood, “Cry Pretty"

Songwriter: Liz Rose
Co-writers: Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Underwood
Country Airplay peak: No. 9 (Sept. 1, 2018)

“Carrie came out to my house, talking about how hard it is to always be strong and have to show the happy side of everything. I think Lori had the idea of ‘cry pretty.’ It connected with Carrie and was really easy to write. A few months later, she called to tell us it was going to be the first single.”

Liz Rose
Jaya Nicely

Blake Shelton, “Turnin’ Me On"

Songwriter: Jessi Lee Alexander
Co-writers: Josh Osborne, Shelton
Country Airplay peak: No. 10 (Nov. 17, 2018)

“Blake had a simple little melody and hook -- the money line. I called Josh Osborne, because it reminded me of ‘Sangria,’ which he wrote. A couple of days later, we got together and wrote it. I thought it was cool to give this girl power over the guy: ‘She must get off on turning me on.’ I love that line.”

Jessi Lee Alexander
Jaya Nicely

Maren Morris, "Rich"

Songwriter: Laura Veltz
Co-writers: Jessie Jo Dillion, Morris
Country Airplay peak: No. 4 (Nov. 17, 2018)

“I laugh every time I play the song at a [writers] round, [singing], ‘Sitting on a big-ass pile of dimes.’ We were just goofing off, having a fun time. It was accidentally put on hold for Little Big Town. That doesn’t typically happen unless the song has legs. Maren had to call and say, ‘Hey, do you mind if I take the song back?’ ”

Laura Veltz
Jaya Nicely

Russell Dickerson, "Yours"

Songwriter: Parker Welling
Co-writers: Casey Brown, Dickerson
Country Airplay peak: No. 1 (Jan. 27, 2018)

“Even when we were writing the verses, it felt like one of those rare kinds of things songwriters hope happen. We really liked this idea of what [Russell] would’ve been before he had this person in his life. Casey had built a track, and I messed around with lyrics. It took a couple of days, but we knew we had something special.”

Parker Welling
Jaya Nicely

Brett Eldredge, "Love Someone"

Songwriter: Heather Morgan
Co-writers: Ross Copperman, Eldredge
Country Airplay peak: No. 8 and rising (May 25)

“The original idea Brett, Ross and I had was about wondering what [being in love] might be like. In the middle of the session we decided to switch directions and make the song about truly being in love and how that feels. The words, melody and upbeat spirit all fell into place after that.”

Heather Morgan
Jaya Nicely

Dan + Shay, "Tequila"

Songwriter: Nicolle Galyon
Co-writers: Jordan Reynolds, Dan Smyers
Country Airplay peak: No. 1 (July 7, 2018)

“I remember us going, ‘This should be nostalgic -- a sensory thing about something that takes you back.’ Funnily enough, I drink everything but tequila. We knew we loved it, though it was really just a piano [and] vocal. But after we all lived with it for a year, it didn’t burn out on any of us.”

Nicolle Galyon
Jaya Nicely

Walker Hayes, "You Broke Up With Me"

Songwriter: Kylie Sackley
Co-writers: Thomas Archer, Hayes
Country Airplay peak: No. 10 (Jan. 20, 2018)

“The goal was to write something people could groove to. Walker had the title, and the minute he said it, we knew we had to write it. We wanted to lean into how relatable that is -- who doesn’t have an ex or three who crosses their mind when you hear that song?”

Kylie Sackley
Jaya Nicely

A version of this article originally appeared in the June 1 issue of Billboard.


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