As North Carolina native Scotty McCreery celebrates his 30th birthday (Oct. 9), he has also notched just over a dozen years in the country industry and five albums’ worth of music.
In early 2011, the North Carolina native began to make his presence known in the music world with his performances on American Idol, reflecting a talent and vocal maturity far beyond his years, starting with not only his cover songs choices on Idol, but the songs he’s chosen in the years since.
His recent songs continue to showcase the indelible influence of traditional-minded country artists including George Strait, Randy Travis and Keith Whitley on McCreery’s music. But McCreery has long shed his early-career image as simply a baby-faced singer with a basement-deep voice.
Notably, after parting ways with his former label Interscope/Mercury, McCreery released the song “Five More Minutes” independently; after the song began gaining traction on country radio, McCreery signed with Triple Tigers Records, which put its promotional weight behind the song, helping McCreery take the song to the top of Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart.
Since then, McCreery has added four more No. 1 Country Airplay hits to his arsenal. He’s also demonstrated his prowess as both vocal interpreter and skilled songcrafter — he is a co-writer on 10 of the dozen songs on his 2021 album Same Truck and is a writer on several of his Country Airplay chart-toppers.
Along the way, McCreery’s music has taken an increasingly personal turn, taking inspiration from his life with wife Gabi and most recently, the addition of their first child together, son Merrick Avery McCreery, born on Oct. 24, 2022.
Here, we look at 10 of McCreery’s best songs.
[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2017 and was updated in October 2023.]
Upon the release of McCreery’s 2013 LP See You Tonight, Billboard said of this future top ten hit: “The song has a definite contemporary sheen. It’s probably not going to win any Song of the Year prizes, but it’s just 3:19 of fun. Sometimes, that’s as it should be!” The track, written by Frank Rogers and Matthew West, still fits that description. It makes for a melodic song to roll down the windows to.
“The Trouble With Girls”
This dramatic ballad — all about the effect that the opposite gender can have on a man — definitely made an impact on the fans who had just voted him as the American Idol winner a few months earlier upon this song’s release in August 2011.
“I Love You This Big”
This song hit country radio and digital retailers one day after his Idol win in May 2011. The positive love song was one that simply made the listener feel good. If you look real closely in the video for this song, you will see an appearance by the singer’s mother. All in all, the song was a perfect way to introduce McCreery to a world beyond Idol.
“Water Tower Town”
The final Scotty McCreery single to be released from his debut album Clear As Day found the singer in fine form, talking about the appeal of small-town life. He could have been singing about his hometown of Garner, North Carolina, yet at the same time, he could also be referencing Glennville, Georgia – the hometown of a pre-stardom Cole Swindell, one of three writers listed on the song.
“See You Tonight”
The singer co-wrote this 2013 single, which wound up being the first release and title track from his sophomore album. The song might have been a little bit cliched, but the lyrics about a man who was counting down the minutes until he sees his lover definitely made for an entertaining moment — both on country radio as well as in concert, where this song has inspired countless singalong collaborations since its original release.
McCreery notched his third Country Airplay No. 1 with this song in 2020. With key lyrics including “I ain’t all holy water/ And I ain’t all Jim Beam,” McCreery details an outlook of a young man balancing responsibility with the urge for some wilder moments. McCreery wrote the song with Frank Rogers, Jessi Alexander and Jonathan Singleton.
McCreery offers a simple romantic wish to put responsibilities aside for some much overdue quality time spent with his lover. In 2021, this song became McCreery’s fourth Country Airplay No. 1 hit.
“I wrote this song with Frank [Rogers] and Aaron [Eshuis] in 2019, but it still feels brand new, McCreery told Billboard in 2021. “Now that I’m back on the road, it’s been fun to see the audience get excited and dance when we play ‘You Time.’ It gets a great reaction from the crowd every night. I appreciate country radio for playing and supporting the song, my label [Triple Tigers] and management. Most of all, my gratitude is to the fans who are always there for me. Having ‘You Time’ hit No. 1 is a great way to celebrate 10 years of making music.
“This Is It”
In 2019, McCreery’s “This Is It” spent two weeks atop Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
McCreery co-authored the song, with Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis, for his then-longtime girlfriend Gabi Dugal, before they wed in 2018. “Two weeks before I proposed, we wrote ‘This Is It’ as a love song for Gabi,” McCreery tells Billboard. “It’s our story. If the song existed solely for she and I, that would be completely fine with me. But to have our story on the radio and then reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart just makes my heart sing. Gabi is my world, she inspires me every day, and I think people can feel the realness of our love story when they listen to the song and watch the video. The fact that so many couples are now using ‘This’ in their own weddings gives me chills.”
“Five More Minutes”
This song earned McCreery his first Billboard Country Airplay No. 1 hit in 2018. The sobering composition reminds us all to savor the moment – whether it be a few extra minutes outside at play, with your significant other, in the game, or with a loved one. McCreery penned the song after losing his grandfather, and it has the potential to endure as a classic.
In 2022, McCreery’s “Damn Strait” spent three weeks entrenched at the top of the Country Airplay chart with this clever ode to George Strait. The song marked McCreery’s fifth total and consecutive No. 1 Country Airplay hit.
“My first country music concert was George Strait, and along with my love for Elvis [Presley], he inspired me to become a country music singer myself,” McCreery told Billboard when the song reached the chart pinnacle. “When I did American Idol, George called me and requested I sing his  hit ‘Check Yes or No,’ and I still sing it from time to time in concert. Now, having my fifth straight No. 1 on a song that pays tribute to George, while at the same time being a classic country heartbreaker such as he might have sung, is such a full-circle moment that means the world to me. Trent Tomlinson and Jim Collins wrote a clever song that reaches beyond name-dropping Strait hits to tell a meaningful story.”