By Kyle Anderson
Updated August 06, 2014 at 09:28 PM EDT
Kevin White

Maddie and Tae

  • Music

Ever notice how every country song on the radio kind of sounds the same? So did Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye, a teenage country duo who are currently storming up the charts with the single “Girl in a Country Song.” Built around the same drum-loop-kissed, honky-tonk hop that dominates the country airwaves, Maddie and Tae stick it to all the clichés that drive the problematic subset of the mainstream Nashville sound dubbed “bro country.”

“We were going into a songwriting session one day, and we had just been in the car listening to country radio like we do every single day, because we love these songs and we love these guys,” explains the 18-year-old Tae. “We were laughing, because all these lyrics were very similar, and there were a lot of clichés in them. So what we did was we made this checklist, and on the checklist it had bare feet, cutoffs, tanlines, tan legs, but the most important one is the girl.”

“And this smoking-hot girl is typically in cutoff jeans with long tan legs dancing on a tailgate shaking her money-maker,” adds Maddie, 19. “Tae and I were like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t think we can live up to those expectations.’ We thought it would be kind of fun to give this girl in these songs a voice.”

Though they didn’t have a record deal yet, the finished version of “Girl in a Country Song” caught the ear of Big Machine head honcho Scott Borchetta, who immediately signed them and declared they had to put the track out as their debut single. “We wrote it for fun. We never would have thought this song would be our first single,” marvels Maddie. “It’s just funny how things happen, and it’s just proof that nobody knows nothin’!”

The song got an extra boost once the music video premiered. Directed by TK McKamy, it finds the girls giving the demanding dudes in country videos the old switcheroo. “There really weren’t particular videos we wanted to make fun of,” says Tae. “When we went in to make the video, we wanted to show that if guys were in our position, we don’t think they’d be able to live up to wearing cutoffs, dancing on the tailgate, always being tan, and looking a certain way.”

“Obviously as you can see in the video that the guys can not keep up with what the guys want us to look like,” says Maddie. “Filming that video was easily one of the most fun things we’ve done so far. The guys were such good sports, and so good. They were almost too good at what they were doing.”

Maddie and Tae are currently in the midst of a long promotional tour for “Girl in a Country Song,” and their debut album is coming together. Though “Girl in a Country Song” is a send-up, the rest of their work comes from a much different place. “Our sound leans more toward the acoustic and the organic—fiddle, steel guitar, that type of stuff,” says Maddie, who notes that their heroes are the acoustic storytellers of the ’90s, including Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks, and Jo Dee Messina. “We love pop radio too,” she adds. “It’s a big melting pot.”

They haven’t let early success spoil them, either. “There was one show, and there were fans in the audience singing along the words to ‘Girl in a Country Song,’ and Tae and I had a really hard time trying to keep it together and not cry,” Maddie admits. “It was so cool.” They’re not falling into the pitfalls of early stardom, either. “We play card games like grandmas,” Maddie says of the pair’s down-time activities. “We like crafting—we fill up little boxes and take them to radio stations to let them get to know us. And deer season starts in November, so hopefully I can get at least two or three days to go down in Texas and go hunting, because that’s one of my favorite things to do. I got my first buck last year, and I hope to get another this year.”

Episode Recaps

The way “Girl in a Country Song” is taking off, that will be the first of many trophies these girls bag.

Maddie and Tae

  • Music