Specializing in country-pop so smooth it could also seem at home on adult contemporary radio, Dan + Shay never managed an actual crossover smash when they began racking up hits in 2013. Nevertheless, their inherent sweetness served as a counterpoint to the swaggering bro country that dominated mainstream country during the mid-2010s. Audiences responded, sending "Nothin' Like You," "From the Ground Up," and "How Not To" to the number one slot on Billboard's country charts during the course of 2015 and 2016, helping to establish the duo as the heirs to Rascal Flatts' brand of cheerful, melodic country-pop. In 2019, "Tequila," a multi-platinum, chart-topping single from their third set, Dan + Shay, won a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney hailed from different corners of the United States -- Smyers came from Wexford, Pennsylvania, Mooney from Natural Dam, Arkansas -- but they met in Nashville in December 2012. Prior to that, each of the musicians spent his adolescence playing music, learning how to write his own songs along the way. They didn't limit themselves to country music. Smyers played in a few pop-punk bands, including Transition and Bonaventure, while Mooney had a deal with T-Pain's label, Nappy Boy.
The pair teamed up after a chance meeting in Nashville and almost immediately began collaborating. Quickly, their songs circulated around the Music City, gaining the attention of Rascal Flatts and, in turn, several publishing houses. Soon, the duo signed with Warner Chappell, with a record deal with Warner Nashville following soon afterward.
"19 You + Me," the first single by the duo now christened Dan + Shay, appeared in October of 2013, climbing its way to number 11 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart. The full-length debut Where It All Began followed in April 2014. "Show You Off," the album's second single, didn't go further than 21 on the Country Airplay chart, but "Nothin' Like You" reached the number one position in December 2015. Its success provided the platform to launch Obsessed, Dan + Shay's second album. Arriving in June 2016, the record debuted at eight on the Billboard charts thanks to the number one Country Airplay single "From the Ground Up," which was quickly followed by a second chart-topper, "How Not To." "Road Trippin'," a single released to radio in July 2017 (it peaked at 42), kept the duo on the charts while they prepared their third album.
"Tequila," the first single from that third album, was released in January 2018, peaking at number one on the Country Airplay chart and peaking just outside the Top 20 on the Billboard 200. A second number one single, "Speechless," was issued prior to the June release of Dan + Shay. The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and topped the country chart. Early the following year, they took home a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Tequila." 2019 saw the release of various acoustic renditions and remixes of "Speechless" and "Tequila," followed in October by "10,000 Hours," a collaboration with Justin Bieber. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine