In the past decade, Luke Bryan has carved out one of the most successful careers in country music history. Many critics have labeled him as the torch-bearer of the sound of the format known as “Bro-Country.” And, to an extent, that’s true. But, in a lot of ways, the singer is simply sharing his reflections and memories of growing up in Leesburg, Ga.
At the same time, there’s a lot more to the music of Luke Bryan than Tailgates and Tanlines – the title of his 2011 disc. His successful Farm Tour albums reveal a more traditional side of the singer, and he has also recorded some very powerful love songs – as well as a few about love fading away. Here are ten Luke Bryan song performances that stand among his best.
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10. Luke Bryan – “Fast”
In this number one hit from April of this year, Bryan is in a bit more of a reflective mood than on many of his hits, lamenting how quickly time passes. The singer co-wrote the song with Rodney Clawson and Luke Laird. When the song hit number one on the Country Airplay chart, it allowed Bryan to make history — becoming the first artist to notch six number one singles from one album — Kill The Lights.
9. Luke Bryan ft. Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight”
The third of six chart-toppers from Kill The Lights, this song of a man and a woman who had been done wrong by their respective partners came to life when Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild added her touch to the song. The duo’s performance on the 2015 American Music Awards helped spur interest in the song, which became Bryan’s fifteenth song to go number one.
8. Luke Bryan – “Play It Again”
When Bryan hit number one with this tender ballad about a couple’s first meeting while a particular song was on the radio, he achieved the rare feat of following himself at the pinnacle of the airplay list. The week before in 2014, the singer held down the number one slot with “This Is How We Roll,” a collaboration with Florida Georgia Line.
7. Luke Bryan – “Do I”
There was a double shot of star power on this 2009 Luke Bryan song, as the performer co-wrote the ballad with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood. Bryan poured just the right emotional touch into the lyrics about a man who was wondering if his significant other still felt the same way as before. The 2009 release just missed the top spot on the charts, but many number one singles were on the way.
6. Luke Bryan – “Roller Coaster”
For this hit single, Bryan turned to a man who once sold merchandise on the road for him – longtime friend Cole Swindell. This song about the effect that his lover has on him was inspired by the Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City, where Bryan, Swindell, and co-writer Michael Carter had all visited while growing up.
5. Luke Bryan – “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”
Some critics called this a modern-day “For The Good Times.” While one might look at this description and scoff a bit, there definitely were some similarities between the Kristofferson classic and this composition from Shane McAnally, Jeff Stevens, and Bryan. The song spoke of a couple who knew their time was just about over, but decided to have one more special moment -for old times’ sake.
4. Luke Bryan – “I Don’t Want This Night To End”
This Luke Bryan song was co-written by the singer – along with the songwriting trio known as The Peach Pickers (Dallas Davidson, Ben Hayslip, and Rhett Akins). This track — which spent a week at the top in February 2012 — has become a staple of Bryan’s live shows ever since — and will likely always be, as the title sums up how his fan base feels about watching one of his performances.
3. Luke Bryan – “All My Friends Say”
Bryan kicked off his career with this lively 2007 hit about a man who had just experienced a break-up, and decided to try to drink the pain and the hurt away. In the lyrics of this song, he accomplished that mission, but can’t remember much about the events of that particular song. The sing-a-long chorus made many fans aware of Bryan’s talents for the first time, and served notice upon Nashville that something special was on its’ way.
2. Luke Bryan – “Someone Else Calling You Baby”
One of Bryan’s most straight-forward lyrics, this song became his second number one during the final week of February of 2011. The singer gave an impassioned performance about a man who happened to drive by his girlfriend’s place, only to see an unfamiliar automobile in her driveway, wondering just how significant that was or wasn’t.
1. Luke Bryan – “Drink A Beer”
This Luke Bryan performance from 2013 turned a lot of heads, as the singer veered away from the party vibe of some of his earlier hits for a more heartfelt approach. In this song — from the pen of Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers, the singer recalls a friend who has recently passed, though the singer could very well have been thinking about his brother Chris and sister Kelly — both of whom died young. Whatever was on his mind at the time of this recording, it resulted in perhaps his greatest performance yet.