Brooks & Dunn's 15 Best Songs: Critic's Picks

AP Photo/John Russell, file
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn photographed on Sept. 12, 2007. 

For close to twenty years, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn made vocal magic as Brooks and Dunn. Between Brooks’ undeniable stage swagger and Dunn’s piercing and soaring vocal approach, the duo recorded hit after hit from 1991 to 2010 before both men embarked on solo careers.

Thankfully, their paths still cross as a duo on stage every now and then, such as their Caesar’s run with Reba McEntire. Though both men have had their moments as solo artists - Dunn definitely belongs in the conversation among Country’s greatest voices of all time - the old saying about the sum being greater than the parts definitely comes to mind when looking at the extensive and impressive Brooks and Dunn song catalog. Here are fifteen - we couldn’t limit ourselves to ten - of those selections that remain career highlights!

Best Songs: Alabama | Alan Jackson | Alison KraussBilly Currington | Blake Shelton | Brad Paisley | Brett Eldredge | Brett Young | Carrie Underwood | Chris Stapleton | Clint BlackConway Twitty | Cole Swindell | Darius Rucker | David Allen CoeDierks Bentley | Dixie Chicks | Dolly Parton | Dwight Yoakam | Eric Church | Faith Hill | Garth Brooks | Gary AllanGeorge Jones | George Strait | Glen Campbell | Hank Williams Jr. | Jason Aldean | Johnny Cash | John Denver | Justin Moore | Keith Urban | Keith WhitleyKelsea Ballerini | Kenny Chesney | Kenny Rogers | Lady Antebellum | Little Big TownMartina McBride | Merle Haggard | Miranda Lambert | Patsy Cline | Randy Travis | Rascal Flatts | Reba McEntire | Sam Hunt | Shania Twain | Sheryl Crow | Thomas Rhett | Tim McGraw | Toby Keith | Travis Tritt | Vince Gill | Waylon Jennings | Willie Nelson | Zac Brown Band

15. Brooks and Dunn -"Lost and Found" 

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For their fifth and final single from their debut album Brand New Man, the duo turned to Kix Brooks for lead vocals on this mid-tempo number--written by Brooks and co-producer Don Cook--that served as the worthy follow-up to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” The track--a No. 6 hit--proved to be one of the biggest Brooks & Dunn song hits featuring Brooks on lead.

14. Brooks and Dunn -"Cowgirls Don’t Cry"

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There’s something special about the chemistry that happens between Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire. Proof of that can be found in their current Vegas residency--or songs such as this story about a woman who looks her trials and tribulations in the face with grit and determination. In the fall of 2008, this became the duo’s final entry into the top ten.

13. Brooks and Dunn - "Husbands and Wives"

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Covering a Roger Miller classic in 1998 might not have been the safest career move--given the red hot streak of the duo at Country Radio at the time. However, fans gravitated toward this powerful ballad about how pride gets in the way of a relationship. Dunn turned in one of his most effective performances, and the result was yet another number one hit.

12. Brooks and Dunn - "You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone"

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 It was an age-old concept, but this ballad about a man who was getting tired of the respect he wasn’t given became the duo’s biggest hit to feature Brooks on lead vocals, dominating the country airwaves in the summer of 1995. The laid-back pace of the song was a contrast to the energetic up-tempo songs that had become their trademark sound.

11. Brooks and Dunn - "Indian Summer"

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One of the duo’s final hits, this story song about the relationship between a high school quarterback and a cheerleader gave Dunn a chance to shine with his expressive delivery. The video, filmed in Chowchilla, California, was as much as a visual treat as the song.

10. Brooks and Dunn - "The Long Goodbye"

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The duo made vocal magic with this emotionally-charged hit from the pen of Irish singer-songwriters Paul Brady and Roman Keating. Reportedly, Dunn--a singer’s singer--was intimidated by Brady’s demo recording, but true to form, the singer made it his own - hitting number one with it in March of 2002.

9. Brooks and Dunn - "Boot Scootin’ Boogie" 

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Some might be shocked that this signature number is only ranked number nine. Keep in mind that the columns are called “Best Songs.” Lyrically, this Dunn-penned honky-tonker was nothing special, but combine the track with his lead vocals, Brooks’ untamed energy and spirit, and you have one of the most unforgettable moments of the Brooks and Dunn song catalog. The song--originally recorded by Asleep At The Wheel--was so big during the summer of 1992 that it even inspired a dance craze around it.

8. Brooks and Dunn - "Play Something Country"

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Again, just like with Song # 9 on this list, this songwriting collaboration with Terry McBride wasn’t going to be in the running for Song of the Year. But, in Dunn’s hands, what the song might have lacked in depth, it more than made up with the fire that the duo evoked in this 2005 number one hit from Hillbilly Deluxe that resulted in their first Gold single.

7. Brooks and Dunn - "She Used To Be Mine"

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Nobody--and we mean nobody--handles the whiskey-drenched ballad of regret any better (since the glory days of Merle Haggard) than Ronnie Dunn. This haunting ballad performance brought the duo their fifth number one song, and remains one of their more lyrically potent hits.

6. Brooks and Dunn - "Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You" 

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Admittedly, the duo was in somewhat of a slow period, having not topped the singles chart for close to three years when this ambitious production hit the charts in the winter of 2001. Kix and Ronnie needed somewhat of a new sound, and working with Mark Wright was just what the doctor ordered. Not only was this aggressively-charged hit a number one hit, but the song stayed there for six weeks - and was the biggest hit of 2001. All in all, not bad for a ‘comeback,’ don’t you think?

5. Brooks and Dunn - "Red Dirt Road"

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The duo collaborated in writing this nod to their pre-stardom roots, which became one of their most critically acclaimed hits in the late spring of 2003. The song also became one of two Brooks and Dunn songs to hit No. 25 on the Hot 100, their highest ranking on the chart to date.

4. Brooks and Dunn - "Neon Moon"

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 The song was lyrically a descendant of such country classics as Haggard’s “Misery and Gin,” but what this song of anguish and loss different was the mid-tempo. Yes, it was a heartbreak song--for sure, but one that you could very much get out on the dance floor and at least revel in your misery. This showcase performance became their third straight number one hit in May 1992.

3. Brooks and Dunn - "She’s Not The Cheatin’ Kind" 

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This 1994 single didn’t do anything to derail their career process, becoming their seventh chart-topper. The duo poured themselves into the lyrics about a woman who is about to take the first step of independence from a philandering lover. The harmonies on this record--the first single from Waitin’ On Sundown - were particularly pristine, as well.

2. Brooks and Dunn - "My Maria" 

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Sometimes, you’ve got to keep people guessing a bit. For the first five years of their career, the guys only recorded original material--more often from their own pen. But, for the first single from Borderline, their 1996 album, they reached back into the time tunnel for a 1973 B.W. Stevenson hit that proved to be the perfect showcase for a Dunn vocal that still amazes--even after two decades! The unorthodox single selection hit the top for three week in the spring of 1996, and netted the duo a Grammy Award, as well.

1. Brooks and Dunn - "Believe"

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Before music, one of Ronnie Dunn’s career goals was to pursue the ministry. While he did serve as a music and youth minister at a Church in Texas, perhaps the most effective that he was in this manner came with this 2005 writing collaboration with Craig Wiseman about a man coming to terms with his own faith after the loss of a loved one. The sparse instrumental track - mostly a guitar and an organ - seemed to add a sense of urgency and wonder to the track that might not have worked with a full production behind it. The Brooks and Dunn song stood tall at the 2006 CMA Awards, taking home trophies for Single, Song, and Video of the Year.