Elle King was 24 when she first started writing “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home).” The year was 2013, and the rockstar was riding high off the release of her self-titled debut EP, earning her slots on the Late Show with David Letterman and VH1 Big Morning Buzz. It was a time when she was “much drunker,” she remembers. “I was really living that life, too.”
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Written with Martin Johnson, “Drunk” was one of two songs written over two days— another being “America’s Sweetheart,” which she eventually recorded for her 2015 debut LP Love Stuff. “I always knew that the chorus of ‘Drunk’ was a banger chorus. It was a big chorus,” King explains on The Ty Bentli Show. “I always felt like I had that in my back pocket, but I didn’t like the original verses.”
Six years later, Johnson reached out to King about singing on an entirely different project. “I was like, ‘This is perfect because this is my segue into rewriting the verses.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do you a favor,’” she recalls. In exchange, the singer-songwriter took the opportunity to propose revisiting “Drunk” and re-writing the verses. At the time, she was on her way back to her home in Nashville, amidst an ongoing tour with Miranda Lambert, and the two linked up again for songwriting sessions.
“I was working with Martin and we were writing songs,” King recalls. “We were rewriting ‘Drunk,’ and then it was done by the end of the tour. I was like, ‘Okay, this is good.”’We were just going to put it out, and then this idea came, Miranda and I, we were becoming friends and everything. We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be crazy, but wouldn’t it be fun if Miranda sang on this?’ She thinks so, too.”
I got some money in my pocket, got some trouble on my tail / I can hear the doors are knocking, guess I’m heading off the rails, sings King, feeling the first effects of alcohol tingle through her bones. Even knowing the consequences, as she admits on the pre-chorus (oh, gonna feel this in the morning / oh, ’cause I’m going hard tonight), King and Lambert fully own and embrace the high and the eventually bottoming out.
The pair intertwine their voices, in unison, with the gloriously anthemic, tongue-buzzing chorus. So bartender, take my keys / What do you want from me? they belt, the production burst at the seams. Baby, I’m drunk and I don’t wanna go home / Not staying in to fight / I’m staying out all night.
In an interview with Audacy’s Katie & Company, King revealed she asked Lambert over text about collaborating. “I was really nervous to ask because she had already done so much for me and [invited] me on this tour,” King shared. “I didn’t want it to seem like I was taking advantage or anything, but it just seemed like a good idea一so I just held my breath and texted her and she said she liked the song.”
“Not one ounce of it with her has felt like work,” she added. “It has been a complete joy from recording it, to the music video, to getting to do any press about it. She’s just this really bright light of a person. I love to be around her.”
Lambert expressed a similar sentiment. “We are new friends but it really feels like we are old friends and I felt like that immediately when I met her at one of her shows,” she previously shared. “Since then, we’ve toured together and sang on stage together, hung out and partied together, recorded together, and so much more. This song just feels like the natural transition to the after party.”
With the accompanying music video, co-directed by Alexa Kinigopoulos and Stephen Kinigopoulos, King sought to alleviate some of the pressure and suggested the duo playing fictional characters. “When it came down to the video, I was like, ‘How can we make this really fun, so that it’s one day of her life that she enjoys and that if we had to sing it together, she’s going to be happy about it,’” King tells radio host Ty Bentil. “I was like, ‘Why don’t we play characters and take the pressure off of Elle King and Miranda Lambert.’ Honestly, that music video day, was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had working because it was just me and Miranda in these ridiculous costumes and we laughed the whole time.”