“Ranking Every ___” Series
Ranking Every Kacey Musgraves Song
Saddle up for another edition of “ranking everything, of something.” Today we’re gonna be ranking every single song by another one of my favorite artists right now; Kacey Musgraves.
Kacey Musgraves has a very versatile discography, so it was pretty difficult to rank these all on the same scale, but I gave it my best shot. It’s also worth noting that everything off Golden Hour would be top 13 if I was considering them in the context of the album they’re on. I am not however; I am ranking them all in the context of singular pieces, by themselves.
I love Kacey, and none of these songs are really all that bad, it’s just a matter of which songs are better than others, in my opinion.
As I said with the Luke Combs edition from last week; I am only including official songs that are on easily accessible platforms and albums. This means none of Kacey’s earlier stuff, like her self titled album. This also means no cover songs (well, one exception to that), and I’ll be excluding her Christmas songs because there’s a ton of them, and they’re just too niche to consider an “official” song.
With that being said; let’s hop in!
55. “There Is A Light”
Starting off our list is “There Is A Light.” This deeper cut from Kacey’s most recent album; Star-Crossed, is a solid song, despite being all the way at 55. I love the opening riff, but past that I just feel like there’s nothing too special about this one.
54. “I Miss You”
Again here, we have a solid song, and I really enjoy the chorus, but overall I feel like this song kinda goes a bit longer than it needs to. The verses aren’t my favorites either.
53. “Easier Said”
I’m realizing these bottom songs are very indicative of Kacey Musgraves’ talent as a singer/songwriter. All these songs would be top tier for most pop/country singers, but they just come off as average when compared to the rest of Kacey’s discography. This one is more of the same, just not super special, doesn’t stand out, relative to her other work.
52. “Late To The Party”
This is just a simple, cute, love song based on being late to things with your significant other. It’s a pretty unique concept, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as some of her other love songs.
51. “If This Was A Movie”
I will admit I’m a bit biased against some songs from Star-Crossed; not because they’re mostly pop, but because I feel like towards the back half of that album there were a lot of less-interesting filler tracks. “If This Was A Movie” is one of those tracks to me. The lyrics are pretty good, but I don’t love the melody on this one.
50. “Keep It To Yourself”
This song kinda has the opposite feeling of “I Miss You,” in that I enjoy the verses of this one, and not so much the chorus. I will say though, from here on out I start to really like every single song quite a bit.
49. “What Doesn't Kill Me”
I like the lyrics on this one, and I love Kacey’s delicate delivery of each line, but the production isn’t my favorite. I love that hook though; “what doesn’t kill me, better run.”
This is a very descriptive song on what it’s like to be away from someone you love. I think the lyrics and delivery are very pretty, but similarly to the last song, the production is just “fine.” I do love the steel though.
47. “Hookup Scene”
“Hookup Scene” is a bummer of a song about exactly that. In the song, a downtrodden Musgraves urges the listener to try their best at sticking out their problems in a relationship, because having someone to love is much better than the “hookup scene.” It’s super simple, and to the point.
46. “Keep Lookin’ Up”
This is lyrically very similar to something I would’ve expected from Pageant Material, but sonically holds that sleek, pop feel of Star-Crossed, which makes it a bit odd, but I kinda like it anyway. It also delivers a good message about staying positive.
45. “Wonder Woman”
We’ve finally reached our first song from Golden Hour. I don’t really know why this is my least favorite from that album, it’s very good, it’s just kind of bland melodically I think.
This such a beautiful, powerful song, in such a short amount of time. I adore everything about it, but just felt like I couldn’t put it too high because of how short it is. At just over a minute, it describes the age old feeling, of simply missing your momma.
43. “Lonely Weekend”
This song has a very punchy, upbeat, backing track that makes you want to dance. The lyrics start out a bit depressing, talking about how it’s going to be a “lonely weekend,” but then you get a nice shift to being alright with that and looking forward to some alone time.
This song never really stuck with me during my various listens to Same Trailer Different Park, but in the making of this list, it’s grown on me a lot. The verses are a bit lacking to me, but the chorus, and melody, and production, are all stellar.
41. “The Trailer Song”
This is one of those “mind your own business” songs that Kacey Musgraves is so good at. I love it, but I don’t think it stacks up to most of her other life advice songs, because it’s probably her biggest strength in my opinion. My favorite line in this one; “You say that you’re watchin’ the birds out your window, well I got a bird you can watch.”
40. “Cup Of Tea”
Another one of those classic, cute, Kacey Musgraves life advice songs. This one is about just being yourself, and not caring what others think, because you’ll never be everyone’s “cup of tea.” I love the line; “we’ve all got the right to be wrong.” The only thing holding this one back is just the production, it’s a bit too basic comparatively.
39. “My House”
Here’s another one that grew on me immensely during the making of this list, and I decided to throw in the live performance, to showcase Musgraves playing the harmonica. This song is a cute little ditty, but the reason it’s so high is solely for this line: “any K.O.A. is A-OK, as long as I’m with you.” My god, I love that line so much.
38. “Are You Sure”
This gorgeous, lush duet with Willie Nelson comes in at 38. I love the smooth sound on this, and it delivers a great message. Willie Nelson’s feature on this really is what makes it this high on the list though. You can even tell, just by the sound, that the guitar being played is his iconic guitar; Trigger.
37. “Blowin’ Smoke”
This was the second song I heard by Kacey. It was a hit on radio back when it came out, and I never really put two and two together that it was her until a few years later when I really got into Golden Hour and explored her music further. It’s a clever double meaning song about shootin’ the shit with your co-workers during your smoke break. The woozy production, and Kacey’s nonchalant delivery give the song some attitude.
36. “High Time”
Speaking of smoking; here’s another double meaning song (at least I’m pretty sure it is intended to be) about it being “high time” to relax. The production is extremely pretty, and the melody is great.
35. “Oh, What A World”
“Oh, What A World” is a song that just shows an awestruck appreciation for the crazy stuff we have here on earth. The songs sounds as magical and peaceful as it’s lyrics would suggest. This is just a pretty ode to our planet.
34. “Die Fun”
This is a gorgeous, elegant way of saying YOLO. The reason this one is so far up here, is because it seems inspired by “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young” by Faron Young, which is one of my favorite songs of all time by a legendary figure in country music.
33. “Velvet Elvis”
This is such a trippy song about such a vague piece of art, and I love it. I don’t know how the hell she thought to compare a loved one to a velvet Elvis, but it works so well. I didn’t like this song much on my first listen to it, but as many do, it’s grown on me a ton since then.
32. “Dime Store Cowgirl”
The verses of this song are so unbelievably unique. The chorus is good too, but the verses are so cool. “Slept in a room with the ghost of Gram Parsons,” is one of my favorite lines because it’s so specific and bizarre. The message is about staying true to your roots, and knowing where you came from.
It’s been a while since the last song from Star-Crossed and I’d say with this one, we’re out of the filler I mentioned earlier. This is a very elegant song with such great production choices. The clap of thunder works so well where it was placed, and the Spanish influenced guitar is gorgeous.
30. “Camera Roll”
“Camera Roll” was a favorite on many on Star-Crossed. It talks about that struggle of needing to delete photos from your past relationships off your phone, but just having trouble letting go of them. It’s not often an artist writes about a first world problem and does it tastefully, and well, but Kacey did it here.
29. “Pageant Material”
“Pageant Material” is a great ode to the girls who just aren’t cut out for the prim and proper (and often sexist) pageant life. It’s another song encouraging you to be yourself. “I’d rather lose for what I am, than win for what I ain’t.”
This is kind of just a really great pop song to me. There’s nothing in particular that really jumps out at me about this song. It’s just such a strong overall song in general. The lyrics aren’t super profound or anything, but they’re so catchy, and work so well with the melody.
27. “Simple Times”
“Simple Times” is a great song about the struggles of growing up, and the annoyance of time never slowing down. It sounds very J-Pop inspired like a couple of the other songs off of Star-Crossed, and I love me some J-Pop.
26. “Step Off”
This is such a quaint innocent sounding song, and then you get to the hook — “just keep climbing that mountain of dirty tricks, and when you finally get to the top — step off.” The second verse keeps up that maliciousness disguised as a plucky little banjo tune. It works so well, and I’ve loved that contrast since first listen.
25. “Space Cowboy”
When I first saw this funky name, I assumed I was going to be in for a weird groovy, almost satirical song, like “Velvet Elvis,” but boy I was wrong. Instead, this is a lush, melancholy song about reluctantly giving someone their space, and letting them “ride away” even though you still have feelings.
I feel like everyone knows one of those people who is just never happy. You give them your pity, and you try to help them, but they just won’t be helped, and it’s almost as if they get their lifeblood from just being negative all the time. You hate to tell these people that they’re abysmal to be around, because you do kind of feel bad for them, but there reaches a point where it’s starting to bring you down as well, and you just have to stop dealing with it. This is a song about that exact type of person, and I absolutely adore it.
23. “Family Is Family”
“Family Is Family” is such a relatable song about the pros and cons of having a crazy family, but no matter what, at the end of the day, you still love ’em. I feel like Kacey Musgraves went to my family reunion and then wrote this song. I love the cleverness in the lyrics, and I love the unique melody as well.
22. “Slow Burn”
This is another one of those, where I can’t really pick one specific thing that stands out, it’s just an all-around stellar song. “Born in a hurry, always late, haven’t been early since ‘88” is the most creative way I think you could possibly say; “I was born prematurely and I am frequently late to events.” The production is so airy as well, it really lets Kacey’s voice shine.
21. “Merry Go ‘Round”
I mentioned “Blowin’ Smoke” was the second song I heard by Kacey — this was the first. This was Kacey’s first real radio success, and for good reason. The song is so, so clever in the way it compares different “Marys” and I remember loving it when it came out. I still never did put it totally together that it was Kacey though until later. It does a great job at covering the monotony, and potential repetitiveness of living in a small town.
We have reached the top 20! “Stupid” is pretty much a diss track on love itself. It’s got a super rowdy and frustrated feel, and does a great job conveying the anger love can make you feel when it goes sour. It’s a lighthearted anthem for the constantly heartbroken.
On the complete flip-side of “Stupid” is another one-word song in “Butterflies,” but this one is viewing love in a much more positive light. It’s such a beautiful way of writing the old childhood saying that someone gives you butterflies. It has that same light, dreamy sound that so many songs from Golden Hour do, and it works beautifully.
18. “Somebody To Love”
“Somebody To Love” is a unity song, about the commonalities of everyone, and all the experiences we share. It’s a checklist song, but everything on the checklist is very creative and new. I really enjoy the dragging of the bow across the fiddle that occurs in the early stages of this one, along with the rest of the instrumental.
17. “Cherry Blossom”
I mentioned “Simple Times” being inspired by J-Pop — this is J-Pop, and it works so, unexpectedly well. I cannot imagine this song being done in any other way. This was one of my absolute favorite end-of-summer songs in 2021. Normally I’m a lyrics-first type of guy, but this song is just so catchy, and sounds so good, that I don’t care what she’s saying, I will endlessly jam to this.
16. “Gracias A La Vida”
This is the exception to the “no covers” rule I mentioned. This original song is by Violetta Para, and is about appreciating all the small things life gives you. I wouldn’t have included it, but it’s just way too pretty of a cover to not include. The way it progressively changes sounds from past media forms to present/future, is absolutely surreal.
15. “High Horse”
“Everyone knows someone, who kills the buzz, every time they open up their mouth.” That’s the theme of this song, and it’s so true. This is such a bop to listen to, and just think about that person who acts like they’re hot stuff, and are better than everyone else.
14. “Silver Lining”
Life-coach Kacey is back again. “Silver Lining” is telling you that everything will be okay. Sometimes you have to endure some struggle to get the best out of life. “If you’re ever gonna find a silver lining, it’s gotta be a cloudy day.” I find this to be true, as some of my favorite times in life have come right after some of my least favorite.
13. “Good Ol’ Boys Club”
I think sonically, “Good Ol’ Boys Club” is the most country song in Kacey’s studio discography. It opens with a gorgeous steel riff straight from the 50s or 60s. The lyrics are some of my favorites, if you know anything about me, you know I’m pretty heavily anti-establishment, and I hate the way jobs and businesses work among the big-wigs. This song hits that note perfectly.
12. “Good Wife”
As soon as I heard this song for the first time, I texted my friend, and said “I think Kacey put crack in this chorus.” The verses are very pretty and all, but my god — when that slide on the bass hits, and the instrumental breaks out for that chorus, it is ethereal. I am addicted to it.
11. “It Is What It Is”
I am a big fan of when there are lines that you think will be yelled out, but then they’re delivered super softly. That’s what the chorus on this song does for me. The closer the verse gets to the chorus you can feel a crescendo coming, and then it is quelled by a softer, more desperate sounding croon. The backing track here matches that delicate feel so well, with the dreamy steel, and light banjo plucking.
10. “Love Is A Wild Thing”
This is a sweet song about how love is just natural, and “is a wild thing.” I love the sentiment of this song, and the softness of it. It’s very relaxing to listen to on a drive!
“Star-Crossed” gives me chills every time I listen to it. The production on this song is some of the best pop production I’ve ever heard. The angelic opening vocals lead into a Spanish-influenced guitar riff, and then Kacey “sets the scene.” Every single production choice on this song was the correct one. I love the instrumental swelling slowly behind Musgraves’ heavenly voice. I love the electric guitar, the synths, the backing vocals, EVERYTHING IS PERFECT. Also whatever cult I can join from this live performance; I’m in.
“Breadwinner” was easily my favorite song from Star-Crossed. It’s such a power move of a song. I think a big reason that I love it is because I know someone in a relationship exactly like the one described, and I wish I could just blast this song in the face of the person who seems oblivious. We all know those people who just want to leech off everyone around them, and then when they start to feel less superior they switch up and act like they’re better than everyone else.
7. “Golden Hour”
Let me just say; as a photographer I give this song extra love. “You’re my golden hour,” is such a cute, creative way to say you love someone. As with everything from the album, Golden Hour, the production is dreamy and light, which matches the sentiment well. I really enjoy the guitar on this song, especially during the bridge.
6. “Happy And Sad”
I resonated with this song super heavily when I heard it on my first listen to Golden Hour. I think for a lot of us, it’s a fairly relatable feeling to be scared of the ensuing come-down when you’re really, really happy at any given moment. It’s hard sometimes to handle being happy when you fear the times when you aren’t.
5. “This Town”
I feel like “This Town” has a very similar feel and attitude to “Blowin’ Smoke.” I love the intro with the lady telling a story about a crackhead biting someone at the hospital, I don’t know why it works, but it does. The production reminds me of “Ode To Billie Joe” which gives it massive bonus points. I also live in a town exactly like the one described, and it’s all so true.
4. “Back On The Map”
I absolutely fell in love with this random deep cut from Same Trailer Different Park. It’s so earnest, and soft, and lovely. The banjo riff that repeats in the background is beautiful as well. I really can’t put my finger on exactly why I love this song so much, but I really, really do.
3. “Follow Your Arrow”
We’ve arrived at the top three! I think it was obvious “Follow Your Arrow” would be pretty close to the top. It’s one of her most recognized songs, and carries a beautiful message. It just tells us to be ourselves, no matter what. Similarly to “Cup Of Tea” it carries the message that no matter what you do, someone will not like it, so you might as well do what you want.
If you’ve seen my list of songs that define me you might be surprised this one isn’t number one. It was a tough choice between this one and number one. I like to say that this song is my life motto. I adore the lyrics, I adore the banjo, I adore the clapping and singing along during the chorus. It’s just such a great song. Only 2nd place by a very small margin.
Don’t be surprised if you see some errors in the description on this one, as I’m probably typing through tears. “Rainbow” is a song that I often go long periods of time without listening to. I save it for times when I need to hear it, and I cry every single time I listen to it, without fail. It is a gorgeous piano ballad about self-love, and learning to see that everything isn’t all bad. Maybe I’m just mentally-ill, but this song has such a motherly feel. It’s so delicate in the delivery of it’s message, and feels so warm, and loving. Kacey sounds like she genuinely cares. It’s so sympathetic, and has pulled me from so many depressive spells. It has an impact on everyone who hears it, and I highly recommend checking out the YouTube comments on it. They’re full of people talking about how much this song means to them.
So, there you have it! Every Kacey Musgraves song, ranked!
I’d be very interested to hear from ya’ll, especially Terry Barr, because I know he’s a big Kacey fan, like myself. What did you think? Was there anything you thought was super over-rated or under-rated? Let me know in the comments!
If you liked this format, be sure to check out my other one from last week:
Thanks for reading!