The lead single from Thomas Rhett's sophomore album, this heartbreak tune was written by Jesse Frasure and Chris Stapleton (the latter also provided background vocals). "The first time I heard this song, I immediately loved the paradox of how happy it sounds, even though the lyrics are about a guy who loses out in love," said Rhett. "It's also definitely one of the most vocally challenging songs I've ever recorded. But for the new album, I really wanted to try new things, to stretch myself and explore that side of my sound."
To crash and burn is an American idiom meaning to fail spectacularly. In an romantic sense it signifies a relationship that went down in flames. Here are some more songs about crashing and burning:
"4 Letter Word" by David Cook ("You know if we never say. We'll never crash and burn, 'Cause love is a four letter word.")
"Learn to Live" by Darius Rucker ("You gotta crash and burn. You gotta make some stances. And take some chances. You gotta live and love.")
"Must Be Something I Missed" by Kenny Chesney ("I should be happy but yes indeed. There must be something I need. Yeah, we live and learn, crash and burn 'Til it's our turn again.")
"When You Come Back Down" by Nickel Creek ("My greatest fear will be that you will crash and burn. And I won't feel your fire. I'll be the other hand that always holds the line.")
"Sober" by Kelly Clarkson ("I could crash and burn but maybe. At the end of this road I might catch a glimpse of me. So I won't worry about my timing I wanna get it right.")
Rhett recalled to Radio.com the first time he heard this song's demo. "I remember being in my truck, and my business manager, who also business-managed Chris, came out and said, 'You've got to hear this new Stapleton song,'" he said. "And all I'd ever heard Stapleton sing were sad, old country songs. And so when this came on my stereo, I was like, 'This is Chris?'"
Having married Lauren Gregory in 2012, Rhett is in a good place and this is the first time he's released a song about heartache. He said: "I didn't even have a heartbreak song on my whole first record. So even though my heart's not broken, it's fun to sing songs like that."
Chris Stapleton told Taste of Country the story of the song in an April 2015 interview. "I have a good friend from Detroit named Jesse Frasure. We're kind of a musical odd couple," he explained. "He's a DJ and makes tracks. Stick us side by side, it's kind of a funny-looking pairing. But we're dear friends, and we've know each other a long time. He's a wonderful guy, and a wonderful talent."
"Maybe two years I had some of these ideas for these kind of pop songs," Stapleton continued. "He and I just started moonlighting — he's a publisher in town, and he's a popular songwriter now. He and I would get together at night, almost in secret, to make these tracks, these pop things with no real agenda. 'Crash and Burn' was one of the earlier efforts at that. He has kind of a modern Motown thing that he does, and mix that with a little bit of hillbilly that I do, and the result is songs like 'Crash and Burn.'"
The song's music video was directed by TK McKamy and shot in downtown Nashville. It shows Rhett trying to win his girl back by blaring a boom box outside her window: the same method that John Cusack's character Lloyd Dobler used in the 1989 movie Say Anything. "It was cool to shoot this video at some of my old stomping grounds from college," Rhett told People. "I think any guy can relate to the scenes in this video…we've all been in this guy's shoes trying to do whatever it takes to win back a girl!"