There’s no one quite like Miranda Lambert. Reimagining the singing cowgirl as a shit-talking, whiskey-drinking, pistol-packing, eye-rolling 21st century queen of outlaw country, she’s a tough-as-nails traditionalist and feminist icon. Who also rescues puppies and rides ponies on the side.
Revelling in all the heartbreak and happiness that a well-lived life throws at you, Lambert set the bar for a whole new generation of country singers. Her songs are a rolling, raucous rejection of all those things women have been convinced they shouldn't think, wear, feel, say or want - and a joyous celebration of what happens when they do every single one of them.
Holler dangled a bucket down into her deep well of country classics and drew up 20 of our favourites.
Miranda and her husband spent a lot of their pandemic downtime traveling around in an Airstream, and it was these travels that inspired this perky travelogue.
“It was the first song we wrote for Palomino and it set the tone for the record," Lambert explained on Instagram, alongside a series of photos and video clips from her various travels around the world.
"I’ve toured, but I haven’t really gotten to be a tourist. This is the song on the record I want to live out the most”.
Written with Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally, Miranda gets all about-last-night in this sultry country soul confessional from her break-up opus The Weight Of These Wings.
The sound of an LP run out groove crackles in the background, as a new wave synth washes around a bluesy guitar and Miranda opens up about the messiness of moving on.
You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Miranda Lambert. Throughout her career she’s trademarked her own very personal take on country vengeance.
This single from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend found her waiting behind a door with a cigarette and a shotgun for her abusive boyfriend to return, ready to show him that not all little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice.
“Dirty hands ain't made for shakin'/ ain't a rule that ain't worth breakin”, Miranda sang on the title track to her debut album.
Despite getting her break on a reality TV show, Miranda’s first album showed she wasn’t about to play by the industry’s rules, as she smuggled in some side swipes at the music biz into this stomping barn burner that comes off sounding like a countrified Oasis album cut.
Miranda has never been afraid of ruffling some feathers, sticking her neck out and taking one for the little guy; or gal. No masculine generics here, thank you very much.
She’s been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ+ community in recent years, including turning up at a 2019 Pride festival with her brother and his husband. ‘Y’all Means All’ is a clarion call for the disenfranchised and marginalised, and a cheeky plea for understanding and acceptance.
“I’ve been a rolling stone and a tumbleweed / Waiting for the right ones to come find me / But the wrong ones always set me free”, she sings on the exquisitely understated ‘In His Arms’, as she longs for a tequila drunk cowboy to ride up and rescue her from boredom and ordinariness.
Originally appearing in campfire form on the Marfa Tapes, Miranda polished it up for Palomino.
“I love my apron, but I ain't your mama”, Miranda eye rolled in this explosive feminist rockabilly stomp, as she brutally rebuffs her love interest, who seemingly only likes her for her “big sun glasses, Tony Lomas” and her “loooong blonde hair” anyway.
Either written as a response song to Tex William’s 1948 hit ‘Won’t You Ride In My Little Red Wagon’ or simply as a self-defensive throw down to anyone foolish enough to ever cross her romantically, it was Miranda at her sassiest no-fucks-given no-shit-taken finest.
Miranda was caught in two minds on this charmingly breezy cut from Wild Card, as Jay Joyce added a sweetly melancholic pop sheen to her country swagger, and Miranda was torn between being a “wild child and a homing pigeon”.
Miranda saddles up and rides off into the sunset in this fairly straightforward cowboy song that flips halfway through into an unlikely trans anthem. “Mamas, if your daughters grow up to be cowboys, so what”, she sings and, considering the country music landscape she’s singing it into, it sounds almost deafening.
Natalie Hemby and Liz Rose teamed up with Miranda to write this perfect soundtrack to all those nights you’ve stayed too late in bars and had to make hungover morning walks of shame, as Miranda messily made her way back into the post-divorce dating scene.
By the end of the noughties, it was arguably Lambert - and not the increasingly pop-leaning Taylor Swift - who was responsible for changing the direction of country music, particularly for women.
The origins of ‘Heart Like Mine’ began up in the hills around Dollywood, where she’d gone for a girly weekend with Ashley Monroe.
They ended up contemplating Miranda’s Christian upbringing, her rebellious nature and her place in the country universe, concluding that Jesus probably would have understood her, at least.
Miranda left a pan of beans boiling on the stove to drive down to her local newspaper to place a classified ad for the trailer she lived in with her husband, who it turns out she’d had just about e-bloody-nough of.
Recorded with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley for their newly-formed trio Pistol Annies, it was just one of the songs on their debut album that breathed new life into traditionalist country at a time when it looked like it might be back on its last legs again.
The lead single from Miranda’s fifth album found her “slowing down, taking a breath and remembering what it's like to live life a little more simply”.
She takes a wistfully nostalgic look back at a less complicated time of taping the country countdown, hanging her washing out on the line and her dad teaching her how to drive her '55 Chevy.
In this pinch me moment for country music fans, Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey (freaking!!) Musgraves got together to write a song for Miranda’s fourth album, Four The Record.
The result was unsurprisingly absolute solid country music gold, as Miranda ignored her mother’s advice to "run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady" and very much owned her own post break-up narrative.
Uh oh. Miranda’s “actin urrp” again!
“I got my own kind of country… kind of funky”, she teases on the swaggering glam rock opener to Palomino. Minimalist and beautifully strange - with more than a passing resemblance to David Essex’s equally bizarre 70s hit ‘Rock On’ - her dry Texan drawl bounces around and echoes back through the emptiness of the sound, stuttering and tripping up over itself as it goes.
This boozy West Texas waltz, written by with Jon Randall and Jack Ingram in the desert town of Marfa, Texas, found Miranda bemoaning the fact that none of her love interests can make her feel quite as romantically fulfilled as drinking tequila does.
Jay Joyce’s poppy original was included on Wild Card, before the stripped back campfire original - released on The Marfa Tapes - and a hi-NRG tropical house remix meant there was a version for you, your grandma, and your fitness instructor.
“It's amazing the amount of rejection that I see in my reflection”, Miranda sings on this meditation on self-doubt and objectified body consciousness.
The only song on Platinum credited solely to Miranda - written on a plane on the way to a show - she stole the night with her performance of it at the 2015 CMA awards, as she spat the bullet points of The Beauty Myth back out in a Texan country drawl.
Originally destined for Blake Shelton, Miranda stepped in and staked a claim to the song for herself, going on to provide country music with one of its finest homecoming songs.
It’s a lump-in-the-throat tearjerker that doesn’t pull any emotional punches, as Miranda returns as an adult to the house that she grew up in, and asks the current residents if she can take a look around, in the hope that she might find something that’s somehow missing from her adult life.
Another souvenir from a songwriting trip to Marfa, the opening track to the Heart half of Weight Of These Wings found Miranda singing to the mythical Tin Man character from The Wizard of Oz.
Knowing that the only thing the Tin Man ever wanted was a heart so he could feel emotion, Miranda tries to talk him out of it, explaining that maybe he’s actually better off without one.
"If you ever felt one breaking, you'd never want a heart," she sings in this profoundly sad and delicately produced ballad.
‘Bluebird’ was inspired by the Charles Bukowski poem of the same name, which begins “there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out”.
Written with Luke Dick and Natalie Hemby just three days after Miranda had married her husband Brendan McLoughlin, it’s a breezy paean to the power of hope and persistence amidst all the darkness.
Fittingly, the song found a new life for itself during the coronavirus pandemic, Miranda describing how “the bluebirds had always been there but I never saw them like I see them now. It reminds me to open my eyes to what's around me. Now, seeing a bluebird sitting on a branch means so much more to me. I see a little piece of hope there, sitting with wings, and it's a reminder".