3 Songs You Didn’t Know Kelsea Ballerini Wrote for Other Artists

Kelsea Ballerini is one of modern country music’s most popular stars, but she’s taken a backseat to pen songs for other artists on several occasions. Known for No. 1 hits “Peter Pan,” “Dibs,” and “Half of My Hometown,” Ballerini proves her pen is just as sharp when she’s writing for her contemporaries like Carly Pearce and Lindsay Ell. Even though she’s serving as the songwriter, it’s easy to imagine Ballerini’s voice on the three songs outlined below.

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1. “Diamondback” by Carly Pearce

This fiery track opens up Carly Pearce’s critically acclaimed 29: Written in Stone album. The searing fiddle and hand claps give this song a bluegrass spin that perfectly fits Pearce’s voice. Full of sass and confidence, “Diamondback” finds the 2021 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year gladly giving up all the other material possessions she shared with an unfaithful ex, knowing full well he’ll never get back the diamond ring he gave her. Pearce recalls that co-writer Shane McAnally is the one who pitched the idea of writing a song about a diamondback rattlesnake while in a writing session with Ballerini and Tofer Brown. But when Pearce got pulled into the song, it took on a whole new meaning in the wake of Pearce’s divorce from fellow country singer Michael Ray.

“Kelsea, Tofer Brown and Shane McAnally had started the song, almost as if Kelsea was playing a character, but the only part of the song that really stayed the same was the post-chorus,” Pearce told Lyric magazine (quote via ABC Audio).

“Honestly, Kelsea just didn’t feel like it was for her at that time and so Tofer and Shane sent it over to me. The three of us finished it very quickly and it was very easy for me to go there in that song … I picked it for the album opener because that was exactly what happened, it was a fairytale that went wrong.” Pearce also revealed in a Twitter Q&A with fans that “Diamondback” is her favorite song to perform live currently.

Keep the house, keep the truck
Go downtown, get too drunk
Kiss a one-night stand with a butterfly on her back
Take the bed where you used to lie
Keep the friends I never liked
And the happy-ever-after welcome mat
But you ain’t gonna get this diamond back
No, never ever gettin’ this diamond back
You can keep the dog and the Cadillac
But you ain’t gonna get this diamond back

2. “boy crazy.” by Nicolle Galyon

Ballerini and Galyon swapped roles on “boy crazy,” as the former went behind the scenes while hit songwriter Galyon stepped into the spotlight as an artist. Featured on Galyon’s 2022 debut album, firstborn, “boy crazy” turns double standards on their heads, stating point blank in the chorus, I hate to tell you the way of the world / By now it just doesn’t faze me / That’s just the difference in boys and in girls / They never call the boy crazy.

Throughout the song, they point out how a childless 30-year-old man or a guy who experiences mood swings never faces the threat of being labeled “crazy” as women do. Galyon, who co-wrote the track with Ballerini and Hillary Lindsey, leaves us with the stinging theory at the end: Am I crazy or is something kinda messed up with the way we / Never call the boy crazy. Ballerini shows off her sharp songwriting skills here, lifting up Galyon’s voice on a song that delivers a valid lesson.

And if he got his heart broke
Had a couple late nights
Maybe had a couple smokes
Maybe got into a fight
And if he got so drunk that he called another girl baby
You wouldn’t call a boy crazy

3. “White Noise” by Lindsay Ell

Ballerini scored a writing credit on Ell’s 2017 album, The Project, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 1 on the Independent Albums chart. Ballerini teamed up with Ross Copperman and Josh Kear to pen this track about a woman who can’t get away from the memory of a past lover.

Whether it’s a loud Friday night out on the town or a love song coming through the speakers while driving down the highway, all of it serves as white noise that can’t quite drown out the heartache. “It’s about when you’re going through a breakup—how you’re trying to get your mind off of the one thing that you don’t want to think about and everything else in your life is just white noise,” Ell explained of the song’s meaning (quote via One Country). “You’re not trying to think about this but it’s all you can think about and everything else around you is just white noise.”

“A good friend of mine, Kelsea Ballerini, pitched me some songs,” Ell recalled of putting together The Project. “The minute I heard ‘White Noise,’ I was so connected to it. I remember I heard it the last day we were recording and I just looked at [Sugarland’s] Kristian Bush, my producer, and was like, ‘We need to cut this song, there is just something about it.’” Ell and Ballerini have been longtime friends, Ell appearing at some of the “Peter Pan” singer’s past girls nights.

Another headache from a loud crowd Friday
Another lover throwing gravel in the driveway
Another love song driving down the highway
But it’s just white noise, it’s just white noise
Another wake up to the TV on sunrise
Another break-up with the echo of your goodbyes
But it’s just white noise, it’s just white noise
‘Cause I miss you, boy
So it’s just white noise

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for ABA

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