Even if you are a person who hates country music, you are probably familiar with Florida Georgia Line, because Florida Georgia Line is probably a big part of why you hate country music. The duo—Brian Kelley (from Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (from Georgia)—didn’t invent bro-country, the genre’s beers-trucks-and-girls offshoot, but they are very complicit in its ubiquity: Their 2012 debut, Here’s to the Good Times, is a collection of cringe-inducing hymns for the church of drinking on dirt roads with best friends, punctuated with defiant slogans to make fans envious of the life they purportedly live. “It’s just what we do,” they declare to the world in one. In another: “That’s how we do it ‘round here.”
The formula worked: Good Times went platinum twice and propelled them to country music superstardom. Its lead single, “Cruise,” was the first country song in history—one of only eight songs ever—to earn the RIAA’s Diamond designation, with over 10 million combined sales and streams. Their 2017 duet with pop singer Bebe Rexha, “Meant to Be,” spent a record 50 consecutive weeks at the top of the Hot Country Songs chart and still remains the odds-on favorite to be playing in any fro-yo shop the moment you walk in the door.
Much of Florida Georgia Line’s success stems from their strenuous efforts to portray themselves as pushers of the genre’s rigid boundaries—a strain of country that invites even those less familiar with its traditional tropes to take part. “The mixtape’s got a little Hank, a little Drake, a little something bumping, thumb-thumping on the wheel,” they begin on “This Is How We Roll,” which features fellow bro-country king Luke Bryan and brings in Jason Derulo for the remix. “Sun Daze,” off 2014’s Anything Goes, describes an ideal day-drinking playlist of hip-hop, Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger, and Bob Marley, while “May We All” includes a verse from Tim McGraw and a shoutout to 2Pac. The only thing discernibly “country” about “Meant to Be” is the twang in Kelley’s and Hubbard’s voices.