Few conversations about authentic country music are had without mention of Luke Combs.
The singer-songwriter has a signature rasp and deep tenor that, when paired together, give country music fans that grit they’ve grown to love.
While Combs' voice has a signature, unmistakable sound, his discography boasts a roller coaster ride of break-ups, make-ups, falling in love and partying in between.
Combs’ signature style has been used to build a discography that can already be described as no less than legendary. Here is Holler's pick of the best Luke Combs songs.
An in-love Luke is a favorite version of the singer for many a fan.
'Nothing Like You' proves his songwriting prowess is not reserved only for break-ups and heartache, as he describes what it’s like loving someone from far away while he's out in the world chasing his dreams.
If there were ever a roadmap to how men survive break-ups, 'Cold As You' is it.
Though he starts out the song heading home from a hard day’s work, he quickly finds his way to the best place to nurse a broken heart - on an old barstool with a cold beer.
It should be compulsory for every country artist to have at least one sun-soaked, Jimmy Buffett-esque track - and Luke Combs ticks this box with ‘On The Other Line’.
It follows in the same playful footsteps as Brad Paisley’s ‘I’m Gonna Miss Her’, as Luke apologetically informs his wife they’ll have to resume their argument another time.
Right now, he just has bigger fish to fry - quite literally - as he underlines in the song’s hilarious punchline, “Sorry honey, but I got to click over / I got a six pound largemouth on the other line”.
On Combs’ latest single, he asks what his life would look like if he weren’t the country superstar we know him as today.
The answer, unsurprisingly, is that it wouldn’t look much different. The stages and paychecks may be a little smaller, but the music would be just as good, and the drinks just as strong.
Even a cursory listen to Combs’ discography is proof that he was made for music, and on our playlists is exactly where he’s meant to be.
So far in his career, every single time Luke Combs has stepped up to the plate to write a love song, he’s struck it out of the park. ‘Beautiful Crazy’, ‘Better Together’ and ‘Forever After All’ have been unanimously championed as his trio of romantic ballads, with Luke even releasing a special three-song vinyl dedicated to them.
On ‘Love You Anyway’, Luke makes a strong case for extending this into a quartet. Accompanied by an irresistibly sinuous fiddle, Luke touchingly pledges his heart to his wife, regardless of what the future might hold (“If it took one look to turn my days to night / At least I'd have the stars, the sparkle in your eyes”).
Most of Luke Combs’ fans had already learnt all the words to ‘Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Old’ long before he finally made the song available in early 2023. The demo version was a stripped-back, delicate ballad examining a man’s attempts to come to terms with his quickly evolving identity.
The studio rendition, however, dials up the ferocity, both vocally and instrumentally, and transforms this into a rousing, defiant anthem that brushes off any hint of concern or anxiety about growing older.
Often, country artists’ celebrations of a life lived out in the sticks and away from the hustle and bustle of the city comes in the form of fierce, middle-finger battle-cries. On ‘Middle of Somewhere’, Luke Combs adopts a refreshingly tender approach, as he pleads with the listener to appreciate just how much those one-stoplight towns mean to the people that live in them.
'Honky Tonk Highway' finds Combs “living that neon dream” as he hits the road and stops only for the party.
The song is a behind-the-scenes look at what touring is like; from the stage right through to the good time that awaits afterwards.
Combs covers all his bases - even giving a shout-out to his lady back home - before finishing it off with a killer guitar solo.
‘Tomorrow Me’ finds Luke reprising the role of the hopeless romantic that we first met on ‘She Got the Best of Me’ and ‘One Number Away’.
In many ways, ‘Tomorrow Me’ feels like the sobering morning after the late-night relapse of ‘All Over Again’, as Luke realises that going back to his ex will only hurt him in the long run (“Maybe we should let yesterday be / 'Cause I gotta live with tomorrow me”).
'Moon over Mexico' proves that Combs can make a memory sound like magic.
The 2019 hit finds him regaling us with his recollection of a vacation fling that he wishes would have developed into something more, or at least lasted a little longer.
Luke Combs’ Gettin’ Old is full of subtle juxtapositions and clever contrasts, with the transition between ‘A Song Was Born’ and ‘My Song Will Never Die’ epitomising this. Similarly, ‘The Part’ serves as the gloomy shadow that follows the bright lights and euphoria of ‘5 Leaf Clover’.
‘The Part’ finds Combs movingly tipping his Columbia cap to George Strait's ‘A Showman’s Life’, as he laments the often lonely reality that awaits him and his family when he steps off the stage (“She feels like she comes in second place / To plaques on walls and long highways”).
Going back to an ex is a theme that Combs seems to always come back to.
Here, he’s falling right back into old routines; finding himself yet again somewhere he swore he wouldn't return to.
It could be considered redundant, except for the fact that each time he goes back to an ex - at least for the purpose of a song - it sounds so different and so good.
We know Luke Combs can turn up the intensity and storm through tracks like ‘Beer Never Broke My Heart’ and ‘Cold As You’. But on ‘Fox in the Henhouse’, which appears on Gettin’ Old, his raspy vocals crackle with lightning as the thunderous song reaches its crescendo.
He dramatically slows down the tempo, which allows him to introduce an added weight and gravitas to each fiery lyric (“I hide in the shadows / Til the red rooster crows / Let that old 12-gauge hammer come down”).
‘Fox in the Henhouse’ will serve as an electrifying inclusion into his 2023 setlist.
Many of Combs break up anthems are about coping and moving on, but on 'She Got the Best of Me', he sits in the hurt a little bit, explaining what it’s like being in the midst of the pain.
“Every night a different town, she follows me around. So you get what’s left of me, cause got the best of me,” Combs sings of being haunted by a love that didn’t quite work out, as he tries to go on about his life.
This sultry ballad explores new territory, as Combs slips off his trademark trucker cap and beloved fishing gear, and instead steps into the shoes of a slick, tuxedo-donning ladies’ man.
Across a racy, guitar-driven instrumental, Luke seductively serenades his partner with enough charisma and sincerity to carry the song, without losing the light-hearted twinkle that always glints in his eye.
As Luke Combs details this holiday-romance-gone-wrong, a gently distorted guitar evokes a serene, beachside atmosphere. It brings to mind the smooth margarita flavour of ‘Moon Over Mexico’, but with an added heartbroken kick, as Luke has to return from paradise with a painfully permanent reminder of his lost love.
“The hum and the buzz and the sting of that needle / It’s faded away, but I guess some people never do / Losing you is the only thing worse than / A tattoo on a sunburn”.
‘Going, Going, Gone’ flips the classic story of a cowboy growing restless and breaking his partner’s heart. In this tale, Combs has to watch his lover ride off into the sunset (“Like a left field home-run ball / Like a whiskey shot at last call / It's like she was made for moving on / That girl is going, going, gone”).
Of course, the ever-affable Combs is too nice a guy to be bitter, and he instead accepts that she was never really his to start with. Along with a sumptuous hook, ‘Going, Going, Gone’ introduces vibrant, visceral imagery and sees Luke Combs taking his lyrical dexterity to a whole new level.
Here, Combs gives fans the vocal power on a moody tune - perfect for those nights where bad decisions seem like a good idea.
Reminding listeners that all it takes is one phone call to throw themselves back into the chaos of a messy relationship, Combs blames it on the whiskey and the weather, but the bottom line is that he’s once again heading back to an old flame.
Behind all the honky tonk hits and beer anthems there is a softer side to Combs, something that shines through on this wedding favourite.
Though not quite slow enough to be a ballad, the song is steeped in the kind of love only found with a soul mate. Even the lonely will find themselves singing along to this one.
'Lovin On You' is a hit that is so clearly a timeless classic even without the time gone by to prove it.
The boot-stompin' honky tonk tune sounds like something straight out of a Brooks and Dunn album, reminding listeners of all there is to love about country music.
It sure is hard to keep still with this one blarin' from the jukebox.
Already one of the highlights of Luke Combs’ latest album, Gettin’ Old, ‘Joe’ stays true to the album’s theme of maturity, and explores the darker side of country music’s perpetual toast to alcohol. The song’s lead character speaks directly to the listener, as he details how far he’s come since being in the grips of addiction.
It’s a beautifully sensitive track made all the more touching when it sits next to the likes of ‘Beer Never Broke My Heart’, ‘Beer Can’ and ‘1, 2 Many’ in Luke’s discography. ‘Joe’ is arguably one of the best songs the North Carolina native has dropped since his 2020 victory-lap of chart-topping singles.
This star-studded duet narrowly missed out on the lustre of a 2023 Grammy, but that doesn’t take the shine off Luke and Miranda’s modern classic. The two compare notes as to how the break-up has tainted all their favourite spots around town, with the shadows of one another lurking wherever they look.
But rather than actually admitting they’re still madly in love with one another, like any good old Western outlaw, they just keep on running.
Hearing the heavily hirsute, beer-chugging, Mossy Oak-wearing Luke Combs step into the shoes of a frightened little boy in the opening verse is a uniquely touching moment. He begs his dad to stay with him before the monsters escape from under the bed, before Luke launches into the heart-warming hook (“Just 'cause I'm leavin' / It don't mean that / I won't be right by your side”).
As is perhaps to be expected from the title, the song ends on a tear-jerking moment where the son has to say goodbye to his father for good. Many know Luke for his arena-filling anthems, but ‘Even Though I’m Leaving’ is a reminder of the magic he creates when he showcases his sensitive side.
Combs proves he can put together a stunning ballad as good as an upbeat hit with 'Better Together'.
The stripped-down love song gets the tears flowing as Combs pours his heart out. He proves he’s ready to take his love all the way to the altar as he sings “if I’m being honest, your first and my last name would just sound better together”.
When Luke Combs initially shared an acoustic video of ‘See Me Now’ to his socials, it was a vulnerable, drawn-in ballad - but for the studio version, he transforms it into a surprisingly joyful earworm.
It’s a touching tribute to a lost father, with Luke wondering what he would think of all the things he’s achieved since he passed away.
“We’d be trashing the price of gas and politicians / Put a hurting on an old Gibson / And I could tell you about all the life that I’ve been living / I’d like to think you’d be the proudest guy in town / If I could see you see me now”.
Gettin’ Old contains a number of references to previous releases, and ‘See Me Now’ definitely feels like a sequel of sorts to ‘Even Though I’m Leaving’.
It’s always a good idea to have friends that can be counted on during rough times. Problem is, it’s hard to know when those that can usually be turned to will end up letting you down.
Combs seems to have cracked the code to this dilemma - noting that while fish may break the line and pretty girls tend to turn away, “a long neck ice-cold beer never broke my heart”.
A song fans had been waiting for ever since Luke Combs first teased it in 2021, ‘5 Leaf Clover’ is a gratitude-filled celebration of all the good fortune he’s experienced since starting out on his country music journey. It’s Combs at his heartwarming and endearing best, and follows in a similar vein to ‘Without You’.
Although the other singles released in the lead-up to Gettin’ Old were well-received, it felt like ‘5 Leaf Clover’ was the moment that reminded everyone why Luke Combs remains one of the genre’s biggest stars.
'Hurricane' is an ode to bad decisions that - not like the weather - could have easily been avoided.
Though Combs may not have been able to stop his storm of an ex from coming into that bar, skipping the whiskey on ice and heading to another bar was always an option.
It's bad news for Luke but it's good news for us - we’ve all been there and now we’ve got a soundtrack for the exact moment we let that ex back into our lives when we know we shouldn’t.
'When It Rains It Pours' puts a twist on the age-old cliche about Murphy’s law, having not one thing go wrong - but everything.
It starts out on a bit of a sour note, with Combs losing his lover, but things quickly take a turn for the better as he scores the phone number of a waitress and wins enough on a scratch-off ticket for a case of beer.
The best part? That pesky ex future mother-in-law is a thing of the past.
One of Luke’s most iconic songs to date, ‘Beautiful Crazy’ embodies his ability to draw it all in and bare his heart, while still conveying his message with his relatable, everyman lyricism.
Written for his wife when they’d only just met, Luke picks up on the amusing and endearing quirks that make her all the more special to him. “She makes plans for the weekend / Can't wait to go out / ‘Til she changes her mind / And says, ‘Let's stay on the couch and watch TV’ / And she falls asleep”.
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Words by Holly G & Maxim Mower