A "girl crush" is a feeling of envy one woman has for another. In this song, Karen Fairchild takes the lead, singing about her crush on the girl her ex boyfriend is now seeing. "It's written like a good old country jealousy story," she explained to Radio.com. "I think we've all felt that, where we've lost a relationship and been rejected and we look at, 'What did he want that I didn't have?' I think it's a really easy thing to relate to, and yet you've never heard it said in that way."
The title came from a hashtag. Lori McKenna
, who wrote the song with Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey, saw #girlcrush on Instagram and put it in her phone as an idea. She didn't know what it meant, but Lindsey did, and when McKenna floated the title she came up with the first four lines on the spot.
Jimi Westbrook told Taste of Country about the first time he heard the song. "It took our breath," he said. "We were like, 'Wow, I've never heard that lyric before.' And that's not easy to do these days, because you feel like everything's been done at some point or another. The first time we heard it, we were like, 'Wow, we've got to cut that.'"
LBT's Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman fell in love with the ballad immediately. "I knew as soon as I heard the hook of the first chorus that we had to have this song," Fairchild told Rolling Stone. "I'd never heard a jealousy song written like this. It's definitely one of the best songs I've ever heard and to get to sing it every night is a gift."
The song was Little Big Town's second #1 on the Country chart, following "Pontoon
." In its 11th week on top of the listing, "Girl Crush" set a new record for most weeks at the summit by a group of at least three members, overtaking "The Three Bells
" by the trio The Browns, which spent 10 weeks at peak position in 1959.
The video was directed by photographer Matthew Welch and the stylist Karla Welch. Presented in black-and-white, the clip shows the group performing the song on a bare stage.
This was one of three songs penned for the Pain Killer
album by Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, and Hillary Lindsey, the others being "Save Your Sin
" and "Tumble and Fall
This won Single of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2015 CMA Awards. It was also nominated for Music Video of the Year, but lost to "Girl in a Country Song
" by Maddie & Tae.
Little Big Town performed this at the Grammy Awards in 2016, where it won for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song. It was also nominated for Song of the Year, but lost that one to "Thinking Out Loud
" by Ed Sheeran.
Lori McKenna recalled to the Los Angeles Times how she, Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey wrote the song in their pajamas at Rose's house at 9 o'clock in the morning.
"This is what happened: Liz was making eggs, and I said, "I wanna write a song called 'Girl Crush.'" Hillary walked downstairs and poured a cup of coffee, then she picked up a guitar, which we figured out later was Chris Stapleton's old guitar, and I repeated, Let's write a song called 'Girl Crush.'" And I'm not kidding you - I swear to God - Hillary sang the first four lines of the song exactly the way they are. Then she looked up at us and said, 'You mean like that?' And Liz and I said, 'Yes! That's exactly what we mean.
But there was absolutely no discussion of what that title means. I said the title and Hillary sang it, and it was that quick. So when people say, 'Oh, they thought this through, they knew they were pressing a button,' it's so funny to the three of us, because there was no conversation about it at all."
Reflecting on this song in 2017, Fairchild saw it as a groundbreaking country ballad along the lines of classics like "He Stopped Loving Her Today
" and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
." She told Entertainment Weekly
: "I know that every artist in Nashville has a 'Girl Crush' on their record, a song they love so much that they are so passionate about. I hope the song was a stepping stone for getting back to that."