Lyrics Uncovered: Kelsea Ballerini, ‘Dibs’
Kelsea Ballerini's first No. 1 hit started with pizza. The lyrics to Ballerini's "Dibs," her second single, started with ... another song. Two of the songwriters say the catchy tune was finished quickly, especially after everyone agreed on one key lyric.
For Ballerini, it was all about the "Hey!"
“As soon as we had the ‘Hey’ part, we were like sold on the song,” she says with a smile in the video above.
"If you got a kiss on your lips that you're looking for somebody to take (Hey) / If you got a heart that ain't afraid of love ain't afraid to break (Hey) / If you've got a Friday night free and a shotgun seat / Well I'm just saying, I ain't got nowhere to be / So baby I'll take whatever it is you've got to give / I’m calling dibs.”
"Dibs" was written by Ballerini, Jason Duke, Josh Kerr and Ryan Griffin. Griffin tells Taste of Country the rising country star brought the title and the hook to the room.
“She just speaks in song,” he insists. "I think we all kind of have that person in our lives, kind of present or past, that we all kind of pulled from. It wasn’t really about on specific person."
Originally, it was just Duke, Griffin and Ballerini sitting down trying to write a song. But as they were leaving the session they bumped into Kerr, and since the four friends had nowhere better to be, they decided to see what they could come up with. It started as a fun hang, but before they knew it, Kerr was scatting out the song's signature lyrics:
"Yeah, boy, I'm calling dibs / On your lips / On your kiss / On your time / Boy, I'm calling dibs / On your hand / On your heart / All mine, yeah."
“Josh had to walk out of the room for a second and run back over to the studio to finish a mix or something," Griffin remembers, "so we started vamping on that song. I started kind of singing the outro part of it. Just kind of coming up and Kels was just throwing in the words as I was singing it, and then Josh comes in and he grabs it and puts his little Josh Kerr melody on it, which is kind of like the spoken part.”
“I had the title in my phone for a long time and it was always just a fun, flirty title,” Ballerini reveals. “I think country music is in this cool place right now where they’re kind of letting other genres bleed in a little more, so we wanted to do that.”
"Make everybody jealous / When I take you off the market / And get my lipstick on your right cheek / 'Cause boy I've got to mark it / Ooh so they can all back off / Yeah ‘cause I know what I want / And while I've got you listening / Come on and show me what I'm missing," Ballerini sings during the second chorus of "Dibs."
Is it Ballerini's next No. 1? Griffin thinks it could be.
“I remember sitting there at the end of it, saying ‘I really think this song is a lot bigger than we think it is right now.’”
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