There were plenty of country artists singing love songs before Florida Georgia Line were even around, but once their 2012 megahit “Cruise” was released, there just really wasn’t a more poetic way (or, at least, a more bro-country way) to tell someone you fancy them.
“Baby you a song, you make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise,” one of modern country’s most memorable lines, is part of what launched the song to insane success: No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, as well as a peak at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 after the song got a little help from Nelly for a remix in 2013. Although the duo of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard has celebrated several No. 1s since, “Cruise” was what put Florida Georgia Line on the map (in major fashion). And now Billboard is honoring it on our 100 Greatest Choruses of the 21st Century list, with “Cruise” coming in at No. 64.
So how do you craft a classic chorus? For Kelley, it was almost innate.
“We were in the middle of a song, and I just whipped out, ‘Baby you like a song, make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise,” he explains to Billboard. “And we kind of rolled with that, wrote the chorus really quick, filled in the verses.”
But while “Cruise” came together in a jiffy, Kelley admits it was actually “kind of a process” to record: the duo waited a month or so to take it to the studio. “[Producer/co-writer] Joey Moi, me and Tyler put our heads together and really ‘built this thing up like a house,’ as Joey would say, and lifted all the layers and edited some words.”
And speaking of lift — that Chevy line (“in this brand new Chevy with a lift kit”) was one of the many gems to come out of that collaborative effort, with co-writer Jesse Rice taking inspiration from their real-life love of trucks. “I think for all of us, Chevys, Fords, trucks that are lifted and jacked up, man… we always wanted that or drove that,” Kelley adds. “But it was easy to throw that in, and it sat in there perfectly. It just felt right.”
Kelley says that he essentially sees the song as a love letter — especially because of the hook. “The chorus, I think the magic of it was that it’s a love song, but it’s almost in a poem form,” Kelley suggests. “I love poetry, and I thought it was kind of cool to bookend it — start the chorus with [‘Baby you a song…’] and end the chorus with ‘cruise.’”
Even with the hits Kelley and Hubbard have crafted since, they both admit it’s hard to beat “Cruise” as the best chorus they’ve ever written. And as their first single, it’s more than just the catchiness that makes it special to them.
“It was the song that jump-started our career and just set so many things in motion — and a lot of great memories with that song,” Hubbard says. “And I think every night we get to sing it on stage, we kind of re-live those memories and the coming-up years. That represents that for us.”