Next Girl

Album: 29 (2020)
Charted: 86
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Songfacts®:

  • Carly Pearce penned "Next Girl" at a time when she was adjusting to a new season in her life. Stuck at home on her own after filing for divorce from Michael Ray, she was also without her longtime collaborator Busbee, who'd died from brain cancer in 2019. Unsure how to follow up her hit duet with Lee Brice, "I Hope You're Happy Now," Pearce turned to her record collection. As she listened to music by female country singers of the '80s and '90s, the songstress realized she needed to make real country music – the sort of lyrics centered around a powerful female perspective that Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Patty Loveless delivered.

    The song she came up with was "Next Girl," a hushed warning to a younger woman being swept off her feet by a ladies' man.
  • He knows how to say all the right things
    Knows how to get you outta that dress
    Knows how to make you think you're the best thing
    But I know what happens next, girl


    Pearce delivers her lines conversationally with concern, having been through the same experience herself. "You know we've all been both of these girls," she told American Songwriter. "You're young, you think it's magic. You're grown and you know better."

    "How many times have you gone to a club and watched this happen? It's so predictable, just look around," Pearce added. "But for all the looking, how many times have you ever said anything?"

    "So, this is my way of being the big sister, or the sassy girlfriend to all the other girls out there in the dating jungle," she concluded. "Maybe if we all looked out for each other, we'd end up with a little less heartbreak and a lot more laughter."
  • Thinking about which co-writers would understand her desire to return to traditional material, Pearce turned to Shane McAnally, with whom she'd collaborated with on "Love Has No Heart" and "Woman Down," and his frequent writing partner, Josh Osborne.

    "Shane and Josh as big country fans, they remember those sassy, sexy songs," she recalled. "And when we got in the studio, Shane really leaned into the track. To see them digging into a real country song was so much fun, because they knew how to really get aggressive with the track, where to pull the instruments out, how to support me singing the lyric, where to drop everything out and let my voice do the work."
  • Josh Osborne also supplied background vocals. The musicians are:

    Rob McNelley electric guitar
    Ilya Toshinsky acoustic guitar
    Craig Young bass guitar
    Josh Matheny dobro
    Dave Cohen synthesizer
    Fred Eltringham drums and percussion.
  • When Pearce met up with Osborne and McAnally for the songwriting session that produced "Next Girl," she already had the title. Pearce recalled to Billboard that she'd planned to open it with the salutation, "Dear next girl."

    "I heard it more in the way that I probably write heartbreak ballads," she said. "I heard it as a letter to the next girl.

    Osborne and McAnally convinced her to change it to "Hey, next girl."

    "They were like, 'Wait a minute, we should do this more like one of those anthems that Patty Loveless did so well," Pearce explained. "Or Martina [McBride] did so well.' And they just completely helped me kind of spin it into this empowering moment for girls."
  • Seth Kupersmith directed the lighthearted, empowering video, which shows Pearce dodging the lame come-ons from an assortment of dudes. "I feel like most of us have either been on the receiving end of these ridiculous advances or have witnessed them," said the singer. "While I truly hope the lyrics help the 'next girl' know that a jerk's actions are not her fault, I also wanted to mix some of the often-experienced pick-up techniques with a little humor. Come on, do these really work?!"
  • When Carly Pearce was writing the song, Shane McAnally suggested "Blame It on Your Heart" by the singer's fellow Kentuckian Patty Loveless as a reference point.
  • After writing the song, Pearce took it to Big Machine head Scott Borchetta, who told her it could be improved. "He said, 'I think this song is a game-changer for you, but I don't think you've nailed the chorus yet,'" she revealed to ABC Audio. "And of course, as a songwriter, I was super offended. But he said, 'I think you should just go in and explore it a little more.'"

    "And he was totally right," Pearce added. "That little breakdown section at the end, we didn't really have that nailed down. And Scott knew what he was talking about."
  • Pearce performed "Next Girl" for the first time for a full house at the Grand Ole Opry on May 22, 2021, after the country music institution removed COVID-19 capacity limits earlier in the month.

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