Nostalgic, Country, and Unapologetically Herself: Kacey Musgrave’s Greatest Songs
Now and then, an artist comes along who manages to redefine an entire genre, cultivating an entire fanbase surrounding their unique body of work. Enter Kacey Musgraves, the 2019 Grammys Album Of The Year winner. Musgraves reignited an interest in country music for a mainstream audience, becoming a force to be reckoned with through her clever and catchy lyrics. While her entire discography is worth a complete listen, if you’re just getting on the Kacey train, here are my top five Kacey Musgraves songs to get you started.
“Follow Your Arrow”
Putting Musgraves on the map as an LGBTQ+ icon, “Follow Your Arrow” is unapologetically itself. While country music has certainly grown since the time of the song’s release, the song broke boundaries within its genre, promoting queerness and originality with the lyrics “So, make lots of noise // Kiss lots of boys // Or kiss lots of girls // If that’s something you’re into // When the straight and narrow // Gets a little too straight // Roll up a joint, or don’t // Just follow your arrow // Wherever it points, yeah.” The song is an anthem for being yourself and blocking out the judgment because let’s be honest, we’d all be better off if we just followed our arrow.
“Dime Store Cowgirl”
Whether you’re from Musgrave’s home state of Texas or not, this song has the unique ability to make you miss home. Throughout the song, Musgraves details the places she’s been and the experiences she’s had, but at the end of the day she sings “‘Cause I’m still the girl from Golden // Had to get away so I could grow // But it don’t matter where I’m goin’ // I’ll still call my hometown home.” The song is fun, catchy, upbeat, and nostalgic. Stuffed with mini life lessons and optimism, this song never fails to cheer me up.
The title track of Musgrave’s second studio album, “Pageant Material” has that quintessential country sound, but with some not-so-quintessential country lyrics. Musgraves sings about growing up in the south and the beauty pageants she was subjected to as a child. But instead of singing their praises, Musgraves sings “I ain’t pageant material // I’m always higher than my hair // And it ain’t that I don’t care about world peace // But I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage.” Something that makes Musgraves such a unique artist is that she’s completely unapologetic, standing her ground and sharing her opinions while recognizing that it’s ok to disagree. This song is quirky, out of the box, and downright hilarious. Paired with its twangy accompaniment, “Pageant Material” is everything Musgraves represents with her music and more.
“Happy & Sad”
Off her Grammy award-winning album, Golden Hour, “Happy & Sad” is one of those rare songs that perfectly explains a feeling you have never been able to put into words. Musgraves sings about being so ecstatic about something that the fear of it ending keeps you from being truly happy, singing “Is there a word for the way that I’m feeling tonight? // Happy and sad at the same time // You got me smiling with tears in my eyes // I never felt so high // No, I’ve never been this far off of the ground // And they say everything that goes up must come down // But I don’t wanna come down.” My personal favorite moment of the track is the bridge, where Musgraves lets her beautiful and effortless vocals shine.
A standout track from her latest album, “Slow Burn” is one of those songs that has the unique ability to soothe you instantly, with the message of sometimes it’s ok to stop and smell the roses. Musgraves sings “I’m alright with a slow burn // Taking my time, let the world turn // I’m gonna do it my way, it’ll be alright // If we burn it down and it takes all night // It’s a slow burn, yeah.” Be warned, as listening to the track almost guarantees a whirlpool of emotions.
Sarah Stukalin is a writer and singer from Houston, TX. She is currently a junior at Bucknell University where she is studying Vocal Performance and English while contributing to on-campus publications and a classical opera ensemble. She loves learning about new artists and discovering new music. Some of her favorite artists include Mac Miller, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, Megan Thee Stallion, and many more.