Single Review: Maddie & Tae, “Fly”


Maddie & Tae

Written by Taylor Dye, Maddie Marlow and Aaron Scherz

Maddie & Tae made a big, bold, attention grabbing statement with their breakthrough hit “Girl in a Country Song”, which rocked and twanged all the way to number one while laying bare the problems with country music’s treatment of women under the bro-country regime. Wisely, the two women show an entirely different creative side with their second single, showing that they are not one-trick ponies.

“Fly” is an inspirational ballad, the likes of which might be easy to dismiss if it were not delivered with such conviction. There’s a sense of genuine emotional involvement as the two women blend their voices together on the song, largely opting for subtlety in lieu of McBride-style belting, but with a sense of gradually increasing urgency. It’s the first time we’ve really gotten a chance to hear what beautiful harmonies they have.

The message of fearlessly pursuing one’s dreams and goals is not a novel one, nor is it here applied to any specific character or situation, but the hook “You can learn to fly on the way down” lingers in the mind after listening – a beautiful encapsulation of the song’s central point that one should not be deterred by fear of failure.

While few would consider this to be a “traditional” country record, the arrangement interestingly demonstrates that a non-traditional arrangement can still maintain a palpable country identity. Banjo and fiddle feature prominently in the arrangement, not in a format-pandering sense, but in a way that enhances the emotional impact of the song. It’s a welcome reminder that country music can evolve without eschewing its signature sounds.

Though they’ve already become the first two-female duo in nine years to top the country singles chart, here’s hoping Maddie & Tae’s career has plenty of gas in the tank. Mainstream country music needs more strong female voices, and if their early work is any indication, it sounds like Maddie & Tae have much to give.

Grade: B+


  1. I would’ve give an A-. Maddie & Tae in my opinion are a bright spot in country music right now. Maddie & Tae should get another number 1 out of this. Anyways the girls have beautiful harmonies and I find the production to be top-notch.

    Grade: A-.

  2. I haven’t been this excited about a new act in a long time. “Girl In A Country Song” worked just right for me, and this one does, too, for all the reasons you listed. At this point in my life, I definitely needed someone telling me “we’ve come this far, don’t you be scared now”.
    This is an easy A for me.

  3. I wish they would release “Smoke”, too, but we’ll have to wait until everyone has forgotten about the A Thousand Horses single of the same name. Which shouldn’t take long…

  4. Not the most novel lyric, but it has that nice, polished early-2000s country-pop feel that used to seem tired but now is more like a breath of fresh air. I like it.

  5. …tons of star potential, two interesting voices producing quite strong harmonies. this song bores me a little overall, but they are undeniably talented and on the way up.

  6. I was waiting for their next song to be released mainly to see if they would be hypocrites and be wearing or singing about the clothes they criticized bro-country for pushing. Pleasantly surprised to see them wearing classy dresses. I can get behind this duo.

    (To be honest, if they released a song about wearing Daisy Dukes (and liking it) I doubt anyone would mention the double standards.)

  7. Maddie & Tae were visiting a radio station and Keith Urban called in and the DJs told Keith they had a group that they wanted him to judge. The girls sang the Judd’s HOW MERCY and when they finished, Keith said, Wow, great harmonies, very tight! The DJs then told Keith who they were and he said, I thought they sounded familiar. Their performance of the Judd’s song was so good! I really like this song and I think it deserves an A. Hope they do great in the country music world.

  8. But they weren’t criticizing girls for wearing Daisy Dukes, CK. They were talking about how they don’t want to wear them all the time, and how it’s ridiculous that women are never described as wearing anything else in bro-country lyrics.

  9. CountryKnight said: “To be honest, if they released a song about wearing Daisy Dukes (and liking it) I doubt anyone would mention the double standards.”

    I beg to differ. I think people would jump on that right away. In fact, other females, particularly “I Want to be the Girl in Your Truck” song, was criticized right here on this site. But more on point, Thomas is correct that their song did not criticize “girls” for wearing Daisy Dukes.

  10. Good luck to them. As you said, they got our attention with “Girl in a Country Song”. If this song had been their first release, even though it’s a good effort, it probably wouldn’t have made the top 40.

  11. I think I’d give this a B.

    Dismiss this as nit-picking all you want, but there is a point I’d like to make as far as the songwriting is concerned that can’t help but bother me somewhat.

    When you listen closely to all the lyrics on paper, there’s a notable, jarring transition from the third person in the first verse, to the second person in the second verse onward. That couldn’t help but awkwardly stick out. It’s as though they were initially aspiring to tell a story, but by the time they got one verse down, they thought: “Screw it, we’ll go for a universal appeal instead!” and sort of reverted to Martina McBride-esque “Hang In There!” motivational poster or Pinterest positive-thinking meme platitudes for the rest of the song.


    As much as the lyrics left much to be desired and I stand by my assertion the songwriting is sloppy, I have to wholeheartedly agree with Ben when he says the duo are emotionally invested in this, and the fact that they are effectively able to put their harmonies on display with a crescendo of urgency is ultimately what elevates this song to above-average territory.

    Finally, as far as the production is concerned, it’s pretty gorgeous-sounding. Although I will note the introductory digital effects sound mildly dubstep-esque to my ears somewhat. Is this a new trend developing in corporate country music: where perhaps liseners who weren’t raised on country music are set up in lieu of an EDM sound in the introduction of a track, until the track immediately unfolds from there and reveals itself as a more modern country composition much like, for instance, Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey” also does?

    That just struck me as interesting, but at any rate, the production is otherwise pretty and faithful to the format.


    So, all in all, despite some lyrical shortcomings, it’s a B to my ears.

  12. They remind me of the Dixie Chicks in the way that they can balance pop country and traditional country. I really like it.

  13. I don’t think the person transition is that big of a deal. I still can’t keep track of all the shifts in Traveling Soldier, but that’s not that bad of a song, last time I checked.

  14. Dull song, nice harmonies.

    Somewhere out there are songs that will make this pair shine, but this song isn’t it. I think they will do better with more up-tempo songs. I think I’d rather hear fiddle and steel rather than fiddle and banjo on this track


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