Kacey Musgraves has redefined the country music genre. Golden Hour (2018) is proof. The 13-track, pop-inspired country album has earned her four nominations at the upcoming 2019 Grammy Awards. It's also quickly become a universal reference before one shamelessly admits, Yes, I'm a country fan now, thank you for asking.
The 30-year-old artist has, of course, shown the world her mega talent prior to the birth of Golden Hour—creating demos in the early 2000s before releasing her first official album, Same Trailer Different Park, in 2013. Musgraves continues to break through country music taboos in her lyrics with topics on smoking weed, taking down the patriarchy, and embracing who you are. But most of all, she makes us ask important questions like, What really is country music? And Is Kacey the future of it?
Decide for yourself, below, with our definitive ranking of Musgraves' best songs of all time.
10) "Late to the Party," 2015
"Late to the Party" is a proud display of elegance from Musgrave's sophomore album, Pageant Material. The song makes you want to have a crush immediately...but, you know, without the typical bullshit you're used to.
9) "Present Without a Bow," 2016
Introducing the most underrated Christmas album to ever exist: A Very Kacey Christmas. Even more underrated? Musgraves' "Present Without a Bow"—a collaboration with king of soul, Leon Bridges. In an unprecedented move for a Christmas album, the song highlights how much of a hell hole the holidays can be, which is just another reason to love it.
8) "Follow Your Arrow," 2013
"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 the joint, or don't / Just follow your arrow / Wherever it points." Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" gave the LBGTQ community the validation they needed to truly support her art. For that sentiment alone, "Follow Your Arrow" earns its spot at number eight.
7) "Blowin' Smoke," 2013
Musgraves goes back to her roots in "Blowin' Smoke." It's a true country music banger—unapologetic, honest, real. Roll the windows down and blast it on repeat as you think about the ex who thought it was okay to ghost you after a year of dating. Spoiler: It's not.
6) "High Horse," 2018
Look up "pop-inspired country song" in the dictionary, and "High Horse" will come up as the number one result. It's hard to imagine this genre could even exist in the first place, but Musgraves makes the magic happen. What, like it's not a certified bop?
5) "Keep It to Yourself," 2013
Musgraves lets her vulnerability shine through in Same Trailer Different Park (2013), and "Keep It to Yourself" is no exception. Like most of her songs that present a gentle exterior, the lyrics have a strong message: No, I don't want to hear from you. Please leave me alone. (Me @ every man I know.)
4) "Apologize," 2012
A controversial number four, yes, considering this is a cover of Timbaland and One Republic's 2007 "Apologize." The only thing better than a Kacey Musgraves cover is a Kacey Musgraves x Pixie Lott cover. Also, for the record, it's much better than Luke Bryan's version.
3) "Merry Go 'Round," 2013
Musgraves' sound had evolved so much by 2018 that you forgot she was the same artist who released "Merry Go 'Round" in 2013. At first listen, it sounds like the traditional country music we're used to, then the lyrics prove otherwise...and that's why it's so damn great. "Mama's hooked on Mary Kay / Brother's hooked on Mary Jane / And Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down / Mary Mary quite contrary / We get bored so we get married / And just like dust we settle in this town."
2) "Space Cowboy," 2018
Five years after the release of her debut album, Musgraves still doesn't put up with anybody's bullshit. She released "Space Cowboy" as one of the first singles from her game-changing album, Golden Hour. Once you watch the music video, take a moment to just sit and feel the lyrics pierce through your soul as she beautifully highlights her independence.
"I know my place, and it ain't with you / Sunsets fade, and love does too / Yeah, we had our day in the sun / When a horse wants to run, there ain't no sense in closing the gate / You can have your space, cowboy."
1) "Slow Burn," 2018
To nobody's surprise, "Slow Burn" lands itself at number one on Musgraves' best songs of all time. It's magnetic, yet unable to pull you in just one direction. First you feel sad. Then you feel hope. Then you feel sad again. Musgraves reportedly created the song during a "'spiritual journey'—a summertime acid trip," according to The New York Times, and it set the tone for Golden Hour. She recalls, "If you hear that song and you don’t like it, you’re not going to like the rest of this record, so stop listening, basically.”
We're still listening.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.