Dan + Shay have become one of the most popular duos working in country music today. The duo of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney performed together the first night they met at Smyers’ house party in 2012, leading to a musical kismet.
The pair established themselves as artists in 2013 with their debut single, “19 You + Me.” Two years later, they had a No. 1 hit on their hands with “Nothin’ Like You.” Since then, they’ve scored multiple hits songs and are a mainstay on country radio. But some of their best work hasn’t appeared at the top of the charts. Here, we explore the top 10 songs by Dan + Shay.
1. “When I Pray For You”
“When I Pray For You” is among Dan + Shay’s most heartfelt songs. Appearing on the soundtrack for the film, The Shack, “Pray” proves that drawing inspiration from real life leads to compelling songs. Written from Mooney’s perspective as a father-to-be, as he and his wife were expecting their first child at the time, the song sounds like a letter of advice to his future son.
Opening with touching lyrics, “When I Pray For You” has Mooney sharing that he can’t wait to feel your heartbeat while getting to the heart of how he hopes his son lives life. The song touches on themes of forgiveness and taking one’s time in life as opposed to rushing through the journey. The poignant nature of the song demonstrated early on that Dan + Shay has the ability to craft a meaningful song, which makes it particularly special.
I pray you love like your momma
And you forgive just like she does
‘Cause when this life knocks you down
I hope you get down on your knees
‘Cause that’s what I do, that’s what I do
When I pray for you
Oh, when I pray for you
When those opening piano notes hit, you know exactly what’s coming. Dan + Shay exploded when “Tequila” met fans’ ears, turning them from rising country stars into Grammy Award-winners and arena headliners. The intoxicating number pulls you in with Mooney’s smooth voice and lyrics that you can’t resist singing along with.
The song earned them their first Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and has been certified seven times platinum for sales of a whopping seven million copies. “Tequila” isn’t just a song, it’s a moment in Dan + Shay’s career that catapulted them to the next level. It is likely to be one of their best songs ever.
When I taste tequila, baby I still see ya
Cuttin’ up the floor in a sorority t-shirt
The same one you wore when we were
Sky high in Colorado, your lips pressed against the bottle
Swearin’ on a Bible, baby, I’d never leave ya
I remember how bad I need ya, when I taste tequila (when I, when I, when I)
When I taste tequila
3. “From the Ground Up”
The duo proved they were masters of a love song with their first No. 1 single, “Nothin’ Like You,” but its successor truly solidified that title. The tear-inducing number pulls from the real-life stories of Smyers and Mooney’s grandparents and was written after Smyers’ grandfather passed away and Mooney’s was in the hospital.
From the opening lines, grandma and grandpa painted a picture / Of 65 years and one little house, it only gets more emotional from there as they sing of building a stable foundation for everlasting love. It’s the kind of love story we all hope to experience and one that the duo captures so beautifully in the lyrics.
And we’ll build this love from the ground up
For worse or for better
And I will be all you need
Beside you I’ll stand through the good and the bad
We’ll give all that we have
And we’ll build this love from the ground up
From the ground up
4. “Keeping Score” (feat. Kelly Clarkson)
Dan + Shay demonstrate a sense of maturity in “Keeping Score.” Here, they get real about not wanting to tally up the material possessions they have, instead choosing to focus on the precious, irreplaceable moments, like laying beside the person they love. They acknowledge that stature is subjective and what really matters is being with the people you love. It’s a song about being present and in the moment, with Clarkson’s presence elevating the song’s heartfelt meaning.
‘Cause I know I’m only human
Don’t know how many sunsets I got left
And I don’t wanna ruin
This moment by wondering what comes next
I just want to love you
Like it’s all I’m living for
Hold you close, enjoy you more
And spend a little less time keeping score
5. “Glad You Exist”
The title says it all. The lyrics lay out all the questionable choices the lead character has made, from drunken phone calls and secrets shared. But one that doesn’t come into question is the forgiving woman he’s going through life with. The catchy tune is centered around the fact that these two could’ve ended up with anybody else, but they choose to be together, something the narrator is endlessly grateful for. It’s safe to say we all have someone in our life we’re glad exists, and the duo captures this feeling sweetly thorough song.
There’s a couple billion people in the world (oh, yeah, yeah, yeah)
And a million other places we could be, but you’re here with me
Take a moment just to take it in (oh, yeah, yeah, yeah)
‘Cause every high and every low led to this
I’m just so glad you exist
A call back to “From the Ground Up,” the duo draw from the true love stories with their wives. Highlighting the moments in the relationship that make them “Speechless,” such as smelling the waft of her perfume and seeing their bridges in their wedding dresses for the first time. The song topped both the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts and cracked the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Starin’ at you, standin’ there, in that dress
What it’s doin’ to me, ain’t a secret
‘Cause watchin’ you is all that I can do
And I’m speechless
You already know that you’re my weakness
After all this time I’m just as nervous
Every time you walk into the room
7. “Good Things”
Though they’re more known for love songs, the duo conveys the heartache of a breakup in “Good Things,” but with an uplifting twist. The lead singer takes full responsibility for some regrettable words exchanged, but hopes that in spite of the breakup, she’ll look back fondly on the relationship.
The shining melody injects an air of positivity into a song that could’ve been forlorn. The lyrics paint vivid memories of when they shared three bottles of wine in Portland and the late-night conversations where they shared their life dreams. The duo leans into fondness rather than bitterness, making for a gem in their catalog.
So when it’s late at night and you’re still wide awake
If you’re with your friends or you’re lonely
When you hear somebody start to say my name
Oh, when you think of me, I hope you think good things
8. “10,000 Hours”
Like “Tequila,” “10,000 Hours” elevated Dan + Shay’s star power, especially with superstar Justin Bieber as a collaborator. The earworm song proves their devotion to their wives, as evidenced by the promise, if it’s 10,000 hours or the rest of my life / I’m gonna love you.
Bieber’s voice compliments Mooney’s nicely, neither singer overdoing the delivery, rather letting the words speak for themselves, especially with the desire to satisfy their curiosity of experiencing all that life has to offer with the person they’ve vowed to spend forever with. The song earned the duo another Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and gave them their first top 10 hit on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.
I’d spend ten thousand hours and ten thousand more
Oh, if that’s what it takes to learn that sweet heart of yours
And I might never get there, but I’m gonna try
If it’s ten thousand hours or the rest of my life
I’m gonna love you
9. “Steal My Love”
One can’t help but move when this upbeat song comes on. “Steal” is a straight up bop that pulls you in with the plucking of twinkling acoustic guitar and Mooney’s soft vocals. It then transitions into an island-esque melody that begs you to get into the groove.
Meanwhile, the lyrics vow that no one has the power to steal him from his true love. He proves this by singing that all of his possessions could be taken away and it still wouldn’t be enough to steal his heart. The song is a moment of levity in their extensive collection.
Ain’t no way nobody gonna steal my love, my love
No way, no how, no never
My heart is yours forever
If I couldn’t call you mine
Then, baby, you know I don’t want no one
My car, my clothes, my money
Take it all, but there ain’t nobody gonna steal my love
10. “Christmas Isn’t Christmas
It doesn’t have to be Christmas to appreciate this song. The duo decided to pen a pair of original songs to ring in the holiday in 2020, with “Christmas Isn’t Christmas” doing what they do best: capturing plaintive emotions. With a piano and a touch of orchestration, Mooney’s voice soars on the sad lyrics of silver bells turning blue and how Christmas Day would be meaningless if he couldn’t spend it with the person he loves.
Here, the duo paints an image of a lonely holiday, asserting that home wouldn’t feel like home without the person who makes their house feel complete. Despite the lingering sadness, there is a feeling of love that glimmers through, making it a humble standout in their catalog.
Christmas isn’t Christmas if it’s not with you
Red and green and silver bells would all be blue
All the presents are just boxes with no one to give them to
‘Cause Christmas isn’t Christmas if it’s not with you
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)