The best country music videos of this decade defy categorization. The 2010s' country music videos run the gambit from somber to soulful to side-splittingly hilarious.
If you're looking for a list of music videos that are emotional and affecting, we've got them. If you're looking for artsy and experimental clips, we've got those, too. If you prefer dark and cinematic -- yup, they're here. And if you mostly like them utterly hysterical, you're in luck as well.
The best of the best country and Americana music videos of the 2010s are below. You'll laugh, you'll cry ... and you'll wonder how Brad Paisley got so good at drawing cartoons.
The first thing to know about this music video is that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay helped make it; the second thing to know is that it was also the first country music video to ever premiere on the website Funny or Die. So when we say this music video is hilarious, we mean it. In "Drunk on a Plane," Bentley -- who, yes, has a pilot's license in real life -- stars as the red Solo cup-raising, party-hosting Captain Bentley of Riser Air, who encourages his passengers to get more than a little wild.
The strength of Lambert’s video for “The House That Built Me” is its literalism. In the clip, for a song about the emotions of returning to your childhood home and finding it -- and yourself -- changed, Lambert actually goes back to the home she grew up in. Shots of her playing the guitar and singing are interspersed with clips of her walking through the house she grew up in and combing through the relics of her childhood (sometimes through tears). The result is simple and powerful.
The “Highway Don’t Care” music video is a powerful tearjerker with an important message, interrupted in the middle by a shocking car crash and race to the hospital. McGraw and collaborators Swift and Urban used this video as a chance to show the horror that can follow texting and driving. McGraw’s inspiration for the video came partially from the fact that he’s the father of three girls, but it’s an important and sobering watch for anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car.
The video for “Take Your Time” is an unexpectedly dark take on what, at first listen, appears to be a simple love song. The clip opens with a quick fight, and the story spools out from there, ultimately revealing a narrative about drinking, domestic abuse and how things are not always what they seem. Hunt’s video is about the darkness in families we don’t always see, and the responsibility we have to look out for each other.
The “Two Black Cadillacs” music video is a literary cinematic thriller, one that’s based on the Stephen King novel Christine, about a car possessed by supernatural forces. The dark, creepy concept was signed off on by King himself, and the result is a thrilling, deliberate descent into a delicious amount of creepiness.
Is Underwood driving the car or not? Is she even real at all? The video doesn’t give any clear answers.
If “Girl in a Country Song” is an absolute roast of “bro-country” and stereotypical depictions of women, then its music video takes the joke to an even more hilarious level. The clip pulls off an incredible role reversal, dressing the men in crop tops, pink tank tops and teeny-tiny overalls, and forcing them to perform tailgate dances for crowds of cheering women. And this time, it’s Maddie & Tae who are standing on the truck, playing their guitars. The video and song make great points, but best of all, they do it with a wink.
Prine’s video for “Summer’s End” is an aching, devastating depiction of the destructive effects of the opioid crisis. The video’s narrative is non-linear, splicing shots of a young girl, her mother and grandmother together to patch together a story about love and loss. It’s one of the most difficult videos of the decade, but also one of the most tender and beautiful, and one with effects that will linger long after the video ends.
Hats off to Paisley, who drew and animated this hilarious music video himself. The country star's cartoon creations are the Agents of Crush -- undercover weekend vigilantes who daylight as country singers. The star-packed team includes Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, the Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Eric Church, George Strait, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, each with his or her own hilarious code name (Paisley goes by Steel Moonshiner). It’s one of the funniest, most original, star-studded efforts on our list.
The 2016 winner of the CMA's Music Video of the Year award, “Fire Away” was one of those videos that people couldn’t stop talking about. The cinematic short stars actors Ben Foster and Margarita Levieva as a police offer and his fiancee, and it paints a devastating portrait of love and loss through the lens of mental illness and suicide. The unforgettable video, equal parts painful and beautiful, was made in part to raise awareness for mental health through the Campaign to Change Direction.
Few artists make country music like Simpson, and few artists make music videos like him either. The “All Around You” video follows its protagonist -- an adorable young boy dressed as a superhero -- through a magical, atmospheric dreamscape. The boy eventually discovers a heart-shaped ring, which he uses to conquer evil (which, in Simpson’s clip, is exemplified by a silhouette of someone who looks a lot like a certain country's current president). Ultimately, it’s a song -- and a video -- about love (ahem) trumping hate, and its magical, dream-like visuals are unforgettable.