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The Most Iconic Country Music Videos

June 5, 2024 4:07 pm GMT

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When you think about it, music videos are a special kind of art form. While music is already such a visceral medium, the ability to bring its stories to life visually is truly something worth commemorating.

Perhaps this is why we decided however long ago that there should be whole award shows dedicated not to the songs themselves, but solely to their accompanying videos.

Since the birth of CMT in 1983, country music has become the king of the music video. The heartbreaking, the moving, the silly and the downright odd, there are always those videos you saw that stuck with you. From decades old to just released, there are videos that make you cry, others that make you laugh and another group entirely that make you go "what the fu–?!"

Looking back at those long forgotten, as well as those fresh in our minds, we've compiled some of the best, the most endearing, the most hilarious and the most legendary music videos from across country music's history in all of their glory.

Without further ado, here's Holler's list of the Most Iconic Country Music Videos.

25
Florida Georgia Line

'May We All' - Florida Georgia Line

A blockbuster collaboration warrants a blockbuster set of visuals. Although BK and THubb’s acting skills don’t necessarily match up to Tim McGraw’s, their playful, endearing on-screen chemistry will leave you feeling nostalgic for the days when the two FGL boys were best buds.

However, tensions soon simmer after THubb cuts BK off in order to win, before Tyler is involved in a dangerous accident, forcing the duo to reassess their priorities and strengthen their bond even further.

Admittedly, the dramatic plot is pretty irrelevant to the song’s content – but it sure is fun.

- Maxim Mower

24

'Need A Favor' - Jelly Roll

Even though Jelly Roll stands to the sidelines in the powerful music video for ‘Need A Favor,’ he provides the gravitas and emotional weight that drives the visuals.

Focusing on a father whose daughter is suffering from cancer, the heartbreaking video accentuates the yearning and desperation of the lyrics, with Jelly Roll once again highlighting his ability to connect with listeners and viewers in a striking way that few other artists can.

- MM

23

'Country Boy' - Ricky Skaggs

Proving Taylor Swift isn’t the only country singer who can act, Ricky Skaggs takes on the role of country boy-turned-city slicker in this absolute masterpiece from 1985.

Following a visit to Skaggs’ fancy New York office from his Uncle Pen (played by Bill Monroe), who tells him he’s getting way above his raisin’, Skaggs grabs his guitar and sings his disappointed uncle through the streets of NYC, showing him all the sights and sounds to prove to Uncle Pen that no matter what New York has going on, Ricky is still just a "country boy at heart."

It deserves to be in any list of the best country music videos of all time simply for the scene where Monroe and Skaggs dance on a subway train.

- Jof Owen

22

'I Love This Bar' - Toby Keith

One of the modern legends of country music, Toby Keith had a number of classic music videos in his day, but few more so that 'I Love This Bar.'

Transporting you to your favorite dingy watering hole, it's just over four minutes of utter antics and ridiculousness while a posh, cardigan-wearing dude gets put in his place amongst the sea of bikers, blue collar workers, misfits, wanderers and regulars.

It's by no means life-changing, but it is Toby Keith in true form as he plays along to one of his signature tunes and celebrates the simple man's life.

- Lydia Farthing

21

'Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy' - Big & Rich

We know what you’re thinking. How could Big & Rich ever put to film a song like their laughably lewd 2004 classic 'Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)’? Well, they did and the result was… well, a result.

The video, flush with a banjo-wielding marching band, cowboy-costumed cheerleaders and a troupe of dancing businesswomen, is just as raucous as the party anthem itself.

Featuring both Big and Rich atop horses and leading this motley crew across Nashville’s Shelby Street Bridge, the footage is an endless parade of unusual pageantry, one that, in the end, caused a reported $23,000 worth of damage to the Music City locale and an immeasurable amount of impairment to all who watch.

- Alli Patton

20

'Somethin' Bad' - Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood

To say that this collaboration between country music's two leading ladies in 2014 changed lives when it came out may or may not be an understatement.

The ultimate heist. Country's darlings in lockup. Terrible fake wigs. Wheelin' around on shiny hot rods. A shady poker game. Teased hair to the nines – because, after all, the higher the hair, the closer to heaven. The most intense smokey eyes we've ever seen (thank god that trend phased out)... It's a true 2010s masterpiece.

The 2015 winner for CMT Collaborative Video of the Year, it's utterly ridiculous and a full send cinematically that checks all the boxes, and we're all better for it.

- LF

19

'Independence Day' - Martina McBride

The winner of the CMA Award for Song of the Year in 1995, the Gretchen Peters-penned track needed a video to match the weight of the composition.

Martina McBride’s video, produced by William Deaton III and George Flanigen IV, didn’t hold back when it came to retelling the tragic story of domestic abuse as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old, switching powerfully between footage of a 4th July parade with two clowns fighting and a scene of the child’s father abusing her mother at home, before the daughter returns home to find her house burned to the ground.

- JO

18

'Goodbye Earl' - The Chicks

Tennessee Ham and Strawberry Jam, bandana tops and Dennis Franz playing a Zombie - what more do you need from a music video?

This absolute classic from 2000 stars the trio alongside Jane Krakowski (later of 30 Rock) and Lauren Holly (NCIS), who together knock off an abusive husband before opening a roadside stand.

Nuanced, witty and empowering, it sums up The Chicks to a tee, capturing all the emotions while having great fun in the process.

Also, If you could find us a better moment in a music video than Natalie Maines screaming 'we'll pack a lunch!", we'll eat our hats.

- Ross Jones

17

'wait in the truck' - HARDY & Lainey Wilson

'wait in the truck' was already one of the most iconic story songs from this generation of country music, but that was underlined even further when its accompanying music video dropped.

Directed by Justin Clough, the video finds HARDY taking on the role of protector-turned-prisoner as he goes to Lainey Wilson's defense against her abuser. A moving depiction of justice served in more ways than one, it also found HARDY and Wilson with some pretty solid acting skills at play... though, perhaps, Wilson's red-haired wig was a bit outlandish.

As if you needed further proof that this video obviously struck a chord, it did a clean sweep in 2023 for Collaborative Music Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards, Music Video of the Year at the CMAs and Visual Media of the Year at the ACMs.

- LF

16

'My Name is Bocephus' - Hank Williams Jr.

With its steamy, prowling rhythm and effortlessly cool air, Hank Jr.’s 'My Name is Bocephus' was in need of the perfect music video when it was released in 1986, and that’s exactly what it got.

The unabashed “Here I Am” anthem arrived accompanied by a visual just as entertaining as the tune itself. A dive bar, a dog in sunglasses, fake beards, even Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen all make appearances in the rowdy country rock video.

Hank is, of course, the main character, but when placed against the video as a whole, he’s not the only main attraction, the footage featuring a raucous good time full of giant boots, exaggerated saxophones and well… Van Halen.

None of it really makes sense, but it didn’t have to for the video to be dubbed iconique.

- AP

15
Dierks Bentley

'Drunk On A Plane' - Dierks Bentley

If you've ever had one too many red wines on the long haul flight and thought you were getting a little Mile High Flight Attention, then my friends, this is the music video for you.

Released in 2014 and directed by country music favourite Wes Edwards, the video stars Dierks Bentley and comedian Jeff Dye as a pilot (and himself) and the lovelorn protagonist, respectively. While having a uniquely sorrowful edge to it, the video is just absolute chaos, with Bentley (the musician) saving the day by taking control of the haphazard flight full of drunken reprobates.

We're not even shitting you here, folks, Dierks Bentley is a real life pilot. We don't suggest getting on a plane with him after watching this.

- RJ

14

'Mr. Lonely' - Midland

If you can take your eyes off Markeroo's unbelievable mullet for a second, then you'll enjoy Dennis Quaid being thrown through the ringer in his local dive bar by the locals with a score to settle in the video for Midland's 2019 hit.

The sight of Quaid attempting to fight off the score of ladies that have it in for him with a stag's head, all before proceeding to be kicked in the balls and set fire to, is something you'll genuinely not be able to unsee or not find funny.

The band are in fine fettle themselves, the sight of Cam Duddy inhaling a cigarette with a cheshire cat grin across his face as Quaid is gridiron'd into his bass drum head as iconic a moment in the band's career as you'll find.

- RJ

13
Randy Travis

'Forever and Ever, Amen' - Randy Travis

If listening to Randy Travis’ 'Forever and Ever, Amen' makes you swoon, just wait til you see the music video.

Opening on a banquet hall decked out in white organza, the visual sees Travis in the role of brother of the bride, who is coaxed into singing a song at his sister’s wedding. The footage soon morphs into a sweet, sepia-toned showcase to go along with the equally endearing serenade.

It’s simple but charming as couples dance around the artist with his guitar and scenes of a beautiful wedding reception drift by.

- AP

12

'Before He Cheats' - Carrie Underwood

Released in the early 2000s – a time when every music video was seemingly being filmed in the same underground car-park – the visuals for Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’ bring her revenge tale to life.

A fiery montage of a car being smashed up is interspersed with clips of the cheater not-so-subtly making out with someone else in the middle of a busy street, with Underwood striding ominously towards him. ‘Before He Cheats’ concludes with the Oklahoma hitmaker casually dropping the car-keys in his drink, capturing the kiss-my-ass mood of this iconic anthem.

- MM

11

'Any Man of Mine' - Shania Twain

We could have argued for half of the videos in this list to be Shania videos. That’s how iconic they all are.

Filmed in Santa Ynez and directed by John Derek and Charley Randazzo, the video for ‘Any Man of Mine’ was Twain's first undeniably great music video. It stars Twain roping and riding, driving a truck round and hosing down a horse while she showed off her controversial midriff in a denim two-piece before taking a bath and getting all dolled up for an evening of dancing around the stables.

Breathtakin' and, indeed, earthquakin'.

- JO

10

'Bonfire at Tina's' - Ashley McBryde

'Bonfire at Tina’s,’ the song and its music video, feature a who’s who of country hitmakers.

Ashley McBryde, Caylee Hammack, Brandy Clark and Pillbox Patti all lend their voices to the Welcome to Lindeville track and all appear in the visual, playing the roles of “bitches that are sick of taking it.”

The video sees them all working together to get delicious revenge on some scrub with a guitar who screws over their friend. The effect is triumphant and freeing, leaving viewers feeling empowered and ready to light some shit on fire.

- AP

9

'You Belong With Me' - Taylor Swift

With 1.5 billion (yes, with a B) views on YouTube, this Taylor Swift relic may as well be one of the most important moments in pop culture history.

Co-starring Lucas Till – who was undeniably one of the hottest things in young girl's minds at the time, thanks to the basically cult classic Hannah Montana Movie (which Swift also appeared in) – it's a video that captures the plights, pitfalls and victories of teenage love.

It's iconic in every sense of the word, from the now signature attire that finds its way into every Swift concert to the many memes its spawned (no, Taylor, we're not okay). And we didn't even mention the megastar's multiple roles as nerdy girl-next-door and bitchy head cheerleader. Ugh, she truly does it all, folks!

- LF

8

'The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia' - Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire’s cover of the 1972 Vikki Lawrence tune, ‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia’, is a dramatic tale all on its own, but when the country icon committed the song to video in 1991, the murder ballad’s theatrics were only amplified.

The video follows the song’s narrative. McEntire portrays both an older woman and her younger self as scenes cut between noir-tinted flashbacks and a present-day retelling. The story song’s twist ending hits harder in the visual as more and more intricate details unfold from McEntire’s character.

- AP

7

'9 Ball' - Zach Bryan

Filmed at the iconic Sagebrush in Texas, this video stars Matthew McConaughy as a greased up gambler training his son up to become the finest pool shooter this side of the Colorado River.

Being a Zach Bryan song about the strain and weight of familial ties, the video's narrative was bound to take a turn, with McConaughy and his kid (played by Ready Player One's Tye Sheridan) bustin' out of a barroom free for all with but each other in tact.

A cinematically wonderful accompaniment to one of Bryan's most underrated songs, 'Nine Ball' is one of Bryan's most creative and mature works yet.

- RJ

6

'Whiskey Lullaby' - Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss

For being made in 2010, 'Whiskey Lullaby' should be put into the Music Video Hall of Fame. A nearly seven-minute-long tale of heartbreak, addiction, PTSD and alcoholism, it's Brad Paisley at his peak and the eerily beautiful guest vocals from Alison Krauss don't hurt either.

As a solider returns home from war, he finds that his betrothed hasn't been faithful, leading him to turn to the bottle and ultimately drink himself to death. Unable to live with the guilt, she follows his lead.

Viewers be warned, this one hits hard no matter how much time has passed or how many times you've seen it... It's country storytelling at its best and most sobering.

- LF

5

'In Your Love' - Tyler Childers

Sometimes, a relatively average song will be given a stunning music video, and equally as often, an incredible single will be accompanied by a set of visuals that fall flat. Rarely, though, is a song’s beauty mirrored by its video – as is the case with Tyler Childers’ ‘In Your Love.'

Childers' soul-baring ode to the salvation he’s found through love is given new meaning through the music video’s visceral storytelling. We follow two gay coal-miners in 1950s Appalachia, with their epic, undying love only growing stronger amidst the various hardships they face.

Despite its tragic ending, the ‘In Your Love’ video – co-created by Silas House – is an evocative, stirring vignette that is as warm and tender as it is impassioned and defiant.

- MM

4

'Next Thing You Know' - Jordan Davis

‘Next Thing You Know’ will have you reaching for a tissue based on the lyrics alone – but when coupled with the video, you’ll need the whole box.

Opening with an elderly couple walking up to their old house, the visuals flit between flashbacks and present-day clips, as we’re taken on an emotional rollercoaster through all the milestones Davis nimbly knits together.

Heartbreakingly, it appears the elderly wife now has dementia, with the trip seemingly designed to stir up her old memories – which makes the moment when the two lay back on their front lawn together, just as they did all those years ago at that first house party, all the more moving.

- MM

3
Shania Twain - Man! I Feel Like a Woman!

Shania Twain - Man! I Feel Like a Woman!

A role-reversed version of Robert Palmer’s iconic ‘Addicted to Love’ video, the video for ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ starred Twain dressed in a long coat and veiled top hat backed up by a group of himbo hotties in tight fitting tops, robotically miming and licking their lips along to the song.

“We wanted to take that idea and turn it on its head,” Twain said about parodying Robert Palmer’s original from 1985. “We wanted to make something unexpected and the role reversal was the vision… Mark Bauer got to work on the wardrobe, with that idea in mind, and dressed me in that amazing high women’s coat, the top hat, with the veil added for a touch of femininity, in what was a ‘typically’ masculine outfit.”

As the video unfolds, Twain strips out of her outfit until she’s left wearing a black corset, mini skirt and thigh high boots. Country music would never be the same again!

- JO

2

'Hurt' - Johnny Cash

Perhaps the saddest music video of all time, the video for ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash is capable of inducing more tears than a double screening of Marley and Me and Old Yeller.

Directed by One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek, he begged producer Rick Rubin to let him film something for the song for free after he heard it for the first time. Cash’s label eventually agreed to the music video, but Romanek was faced with the 71-year-old’s declining health and him not wanting to be in Tennessee during the cold winter.

Eventually filmed in Cash’s home and museum, The House of Cash, which had been closed for some time, the location stood in as a powerful metaphor for the state of country music, Cash’s career and his declining health.

Seeing the "Closed to Public" museum sign, Johnny’s hands on the closed piano lid and the cracked frames of the gold records cut together with footage of a younger Johnny, all while his wife June Carter watches on, is almost unbearably emotional.

Even more weight was added when June died three months after filming, and Johnny himself died seven months later.

- JO

1

'Chattahoochee' - Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson riding water skis in jeans and a cowboy hat. That's it. Best music video of all time.

This video not only sums up 90s country, but has supplied us with enough country memes to last us a whole lifetime. There will always be three constants in life – death, taxes and Alan Jackson's multicoloured life jacket.

Alan Jackson sat in a rocking chair on a dock in a cowboys shirt petting his dog. That's it. Best music video of all time.

- RJ

––

Written by Lydia Farthing
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