Nicolle Galyon is the first songwriter that we are highlighting in a new series, “Written By: The Hit Songs You Know, By The Songwriters You May Not Know.”
Over the years, country music has changed in many ways. No matter how the trends sonically differ, one thing always remains consistent: solid songwriting. Songwriters are truly the heartbeat behind the genre and the vibrant Music City. Nicolle Galyon, the insanely talented hitmaker and record label executive, is one of the most successful and truly artistic writers there is. This month, NYCS is spotlighting Nicolle Galyon’s discography – specifically, focusing on 10 of the songs that she’s written, produced, and on occasion, sung.
1. “Automatic”, Miranda Lambert (Platinum)
Galyon had a handful of cuts before this one-of-a-kind Miranda Lambert cut, but it wasn’t until this song that she became one of the most sought-after writers in country music. It’s the song that kickstarted her entire career. The song came to be after a conversation that she, Miranda, and fellow writer Natalie Hemby had in the studio. “That day… we started talking about girls moving to Nashville, and how they get frustrated after five seconds if they don’t have a record deal,” she told iHeartRadio. “We started giving our Nashville testimonies… and from there [the lyrics] sort of fell out.” “Automatic” went on to earn Nicolle her first of many #1’s, as well as her very first ACM award.
2. “I’ve Done Love”, Jana Kramer
Something particularly special about this cut is that not only did Galyon have a hand in writing it, but it’s the first song she produced. “I’m so proud of this song it hurts,” she shared in an Instagram post back in 2017. While this song never hit radio airwaves, it has over 3 million streams alone on Spotify, and it’s clear that this song means a lot to fans.
3. “It Ain’t Pretty”, Lady A (Golden) + Martina McBride (Reckless)
Prior to her breakthrough hit with Miranda Lambert, Galyon scored a cut on Lady A’s monster album Golden. While never a single, it’s one of the band’s most popular deep cuts. Getting one cut is a big deal, but she struck gold when three years later, Martina McBride recorded it for her 13th studio album, Reckless. Later that year, Nicolle released her very first EP, The Worktapes. which features the demo of “It Ain’t Pretty”.
4. “All The Pretty Girls”, Kenny Chesney (Cosmic Hallelujah)
Every songwriter has a bucket-list cut, and for Galyon, it was Kenny Chesney. “Dear Nicolle in line at Fan Fair to meet Kenny Chesney in 1997: Just wait,” she captioned an Instagram post. “You’re gonna have a Kenny Chesney single in 2017. Sincerely, Your Wildest Dreams.” The feel-good jam went on to be her third number one and one of Chesney’s most popular singles from the last decade. Galyon co-wrote the song with Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Osborne, the latter of which cut the demo and released it in honor of the 2018 AIMP Awards.
5. “Heartland”, Hailey Whitters (The Dream)
One of Nicolle Galyon’s most defining characteristics is her Heartland roots. Born and raised in Kansas, there are few things that make her feel more proud. Hailey Whitters, who also happens to be Galyon’s all-female label, Songs & Daughters, latest artist signee, released the ethereal “Heartland”, which Gaylon had a hand in writing. “I’m so glad Hailey came along and keeps letting me right straight into midwest bliss with her,” she wrote on Instagram describing the song. It’s a true testament to who Galyon is at her core.
6. “Consequences”, Camila Cabello (Camila)
Nashville is one of the rare cities where artists really do take into account outside cuts. In the pop world, they happen, but less frequently. “Consequences”, is a stunning piano ballad that Galyon wrote alongside Amy Wadge and Emily Weisband. “So glad Ed Sheeran pitched the piano-vocal to Camila on the other side of the friggin globe without our knowing it,” she wrote on Instagram. “Consequences” went on to win an iHeartRadio award and became Galyon’s first official pop hit.
7. “Boy”, Lee Brice (Lee Brice)
“They say write what you know,” Galyon captioned an Instagram post about Lee Brice’s “Boy”. Co-written with Jon Nite is an incredibly special love song from a parent to a son. “It was the last song I wrote before I had my son… that song was really honest and powerful for me personally,” she told Sounds Like Nashville in an interview. Brice released it as his first single from his self-titled album, and although it’s a song that didn’t hit #1, it will always be one of the most memorable and important songs in his catalog.
8. “homecoming queen?”, Kelsea Ballerini (kelsea + ballerini)
The lead single from Kelsea Ballerini’s third studio album, kelsea, was the evocative “homecoming queen?”, a song less about actual homecoming queens and more about how hard putting on a front for everyone around you truly is. “It’s about waking up to yourself. And making sure the outside matches the inside,” she shared on Instagram. Kelsea and Nicolle collaborate often together, and in some ways, it’s like Kelsea’s artistry is an extension of Nicolle’s writing. They did a stunning rendition of the song for YouTube Music, and it’s incredibly touching.
9. “House With No Mirrors”, Sasha Sloan (Only Child)
Another one of Galyon’s dream writes was with indie-pop artist Sasha Sloan, and the week before the world shut down due to COVID, that write happened, and “House With No Mirrors” was born. It’s a soft, yet gut-punching song about battling body and self-esteem issues and wishing you lived in a house with no mirrors so you didn’t have to see your reflection. Galyon herself has battled these issues. “When the world came to a screeching halt this year, I realized the war I started back in 2003 with my body had not yet been won,” she posted on Instagram. It’s such an important message that isn’t discussed in songs enough, and Galyon was brave enough to go there, and hopefully help other young girls down the line.
10. “Tequila”, Dan + Shay (Dan + Shay)
Perhaps the most defining moment in Galyon’s songwriting career so far was the release of Dan + Shay’s powerful smash “Tequila”. Although a fantastic song, it’s nearly impossible to have imagined that it would have the life that it does – over 300 million streams, GRAMMY & ACM nominations, radio airplay in multiple genres… the list goes on.
Since the release of “Tequila”, Galyon has continued to write some of the greatest songs of the last decade, and it’s clear she’s just getting started.
To keep up with Nicolle Galyon, you can find her on Instagram here.
To listen to some of Nicolle Galyon’s discography, you can find the playlist here.
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