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Least Popular Country Music Artists According to Millennials: Ranked

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With Beyonce’s viral hit, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and everyone and their grandmother doing the equally viral two-step dance craze on TikTok, country music seems to be back on the map again as a popular music genre. What’s equally surprising is the amount of streaming that country music has experienced, driven by both Gen Z and Millennials. At first glance, it almost seems like an unlikely pair to be listening to country music, but the data certainly makes this clear. According to data by Luminate, music audio streaming is the most popular way for both Gen Z and Millennials to listen to country music, a trend that has been growing since 2022.

But of course, as with any demographic group in existence, Millennials have their opinions about their favorite country music artists and ones that they would simply rather not listen to. We count down those country music artists below, based on data gathered from the YouGov.com website, from the most popular to the least popular country music artists according to Millennials.

14. Johnny Cash

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American singer and songwriter, Johnny Cash was known as the “Man in Black.”

Bio Brief

  • Born: February 26, 1932
  • Birthplace: Kingsland, Arkansas
  • Greatest Hits: “I Walk The Line,” “Ring of Fire,” “A Boy Named Sue”

The enduring popularity of Johnny Cash stems from the fact that he did not conform to traditional country music norms. Known for his deep, baritone voice, Cash tackled complex social issues that the music industry did not typically address, such as the plight of incarcerated Americans. He also sang about moral issues, as evidenced in his popular hit, “I Walk The Line.” His sound also incorporated a variety of music genres such as gospel, folk, blues, and rockabilly elements. He was inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

13. Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton is a country music singer, actress, and philanthropist that has been in the music business for over 50 years.

Bio Brief

  • Born: January 19, 1946
  • Birthplace: Locust Ridge, Tennessee
  • Greatest Hits: “Coat of Many Colors”, “9 to 5,” “Jolene”

From her humble beginnings in the Great Smoky Mountains to her global superstardom, Dolly Parton is one of the most recognized and venerated female country music artists of all time. As a prolific songwriter, Parton has penned over 3,000 songs. Parton also does not limit herself when it comes to experimenting with various musical genres. Her music spans across a wide ranging variety, including bluegrass and pop music. Parton has also graced the big screen, including “Steel Magnolias” and “9 to 5”. She has released 49 studio albums.

12. Shania Twain

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Canadian singer and songwriter, Shania Twain, has sold over 100 million records.

Bio Brief

  • Born: August 28, 1965.
  • Birthplace: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • Greatest Hits: “You’re Still The One,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”

Canadian Shania Twain is another female country music star that has dominated both the country and pop genre seamlessly, releasing her second album “The Woman in Me,” in 1995 and selling 20 million copies worldwide. Her third studio album, “Come on Over,” garnered the Guinness World Records’ distinction as the “Biggest-Selling Studio Album by a Female Solo Artist.”

11. Carrie Underwood

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Carrie Underwood won the fourth season of American Idol back in 2005.

Bio Brief

  • Born: March 10, 1983
  • Birthplace: Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • Greatest Hits: “Jesus Take the Wheel,” “All-American Girl,” “Before He Cheats”

Carrie Underwood exploded unto the music scene after she won the fourth season of American Idol. In 2005, she released her first album, “Some Hearts” which went multi-platinum. Her song, “Jesus Take the Wheel,” won both an Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association award. She also went on to win Grammys for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best New Artist. Underwood was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.

10. Tim McGraw

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Tim McGraw is an American country music singer, songwriter, actor, and has released 16 studio albums.

Bio Brief

  • Born: May 1, 1967
  • Birthplace: Delhi, Louisiana
  • Greatest Hits: “Indian Outlaw,” “She Never Lets It Go,” “Just To See You Smile”

American country singer, Tim McGraw, is a singer, songwriter, record producer, as well as an actor. He has released a total of 16 studio albums, of which 10 have reached number one on the Top Country Albums chart. McGraw has also won three Grammy Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, and 14 Academy of Country Music Awards. He is married to fellow country music superstar, Faith Hill.

9. Reba McEntire

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Dubbed as the “Queen of Country,” Reba McEntire has sold 75 million records worldwide.

Bio Brief

  • Born: March 28, 1955
  • Birthplace: McAlester, Oklahoma
  • Greatest Hits: “Just a Little Love,” “Only in My Mind,” “How Blue”

Reba McEntire has been considered one of the most popular female country music artist for over 40 years.  McEntire’s music influences can be attributed to Merle Haggard, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, and Patsy Cline. Known as the “Queen of Country,” or just “Reba,” she has won a total of 85 awards, including Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, CMT Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, and American Country Awards.

8. Faith Hill

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Faith Hill is an American country music singer that has sold nearly 50 million albums worldwide.

Bio Brief

  • Born: September 21, 1967
  • Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi
  • Greatest Hits: “Breathe,” “The Way You Love Me,” “This Kiss”

Faith Hill is a Grammy-award winning country music artist that has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. Aside from her five Grammy Awards, Hill has also won six American Music Awards, and 15 Academy of Country Music Awards. Hill has been married to fellow country music superstar Tim McGraw since 1996.

7. Willie Nelson

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Country singer, guitarist, and activist Willie Nelson has had a lengthy career, with hits such as, “On the Road Again.”

Bio Brief

  • Born: April 29, 1933
  • Birthplace: Abbott, Texas
  • Greatest Hits: “On The Road Again,”

Known as an American country music icon, Willie Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and he also received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. For his work with Farm Aid, he was inducted to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2011.  Nelson has won numerous awards including, 12 Grammy Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, and six Academy of Country Music Awards. In 1993, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

6. Brad Paisley

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Brad Paisley has won two American Music Awards, three Grammy Awards, and has sold over 11 million albums.

Bio Brief

  • Born: October 28, 1972
  • Birthplace: Glen Dale, West Virginia
  • Greatest Hits: “Whiskey Lullaby,” “Mud on the Tires,” “Waitin’ on a Woman”

Brad Paisley is an American country music singer, songwriter, as well as a guitarist that has released a total of 12 studio albums. Selling over 11 million albums, Paisley has also won numerous awards, including two American Music Awards, three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, and 14 Country Music Association Awards. He was also inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry on February 17, 2001.

5. Keith Urban

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Australian-born country music singer Keith Urban has won 15 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Bio Brief

  • Born: October 26, 1967
  • Birthplace:  Whangārei, New Zealand
  • Greatest Hits: “Stupid Boy,” “Somebody Like You,” “Days Go By”

With a career spanning more than 30 years, Australian country singer, songwriter, and guitarist Keith Urban has released 11 studio albums. He also earned numerous awards, including four Grammy Awards, 13 Country Music Association Awards, and 15 Academy of Country Music Awards. In 2006 he married fellow Australian, actress Nicole Kidman.

4. Garth Brooks

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Country music artist Garth Brooks is the only music artist in history to have nine albums certified “Diamond,” by The Recording Association of America.

Bio Brief

  • Born: February 7, 1962
  • Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Greatest Hits: “The Thunder Rolls,” “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” “Friends in Low Places”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Garth Brooks is one of the highest selling country music artist, with 157 million units sold in the U.S. Garth’s music can be described as blurring the lines between country and pop music. His concerts are also known for incorporating pyrotechnics and light shows. Brooks has earned an impressive amount of awards, including two Grammys, 11 Country Music Association Awards, 17 American Music Awards, 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, and 36 Billboard Music Awards, just to name a few.

3. Martina McBride

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With 14 studio albums to date, Martina McBride is a country music singer that has sold over 14 million albums in the U.S. alone.

Bio Brief

  • Born: July 29, 1966
  • Birthplace: Sharon, Kansas
  • Greatest Hits: “Independence Day,” “This One’s For the Girls,” “Concrete Angel”

Martina McBride is a country music singer and songwriter known for her soprano voice range. Her music evolved into cross-over music, similar to Shania Twain and Faith Hill. She has sold 14 million albums in the U.S.  She has also has won the Country Music Association Award for Female Vocalist of the Year award four times. McBride has also been nominated for a Grammy Award 14 times.

2. John Denver

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Described by AllMusic as the, “most beloved entertainers of his era,” John Denver was considered one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970s.

Bio Brief

  • Born: December 31, 1943
  • Birthplace: Roswell, New Mexico
  • Greatest Hits: “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Leaving, On a Jet Plane,” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”

One of the most beloved performers, John Denver was known as a singer, songwriter, actor, humanitarian, and an environmentalist.  His music has been described as sentimental and wholesome, praising the beauty of nature and the pleasures of simple living.  Some of his accolades include winning three American Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards, an Emmy Award, a People’s Choice Award, two Grammy’s, and in 1996 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

1. Toby Keith

 

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Toby Keith released 19 studio albums, including his chart topping debut single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.”

Bio Brief

  • Born: July 8, 1961
  • Birthplace: Clinton, Oklahoma
  • Greatest Hits: “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “How Do You Like Me Now?”, “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action”

Country music singer, songwriter, producer, and actor, Toby Keith, broke into the music scene with his chart-topping single, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” released in 1993. With 19 studio albums, five compilation albums, and two Christmas albums, Keith has sold 40 million albums worldwide. Keith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on February 5, 2024, just a few hours before he passed away from stomach cancer.

To read more about which country music artists are most popular with the Baby Boomers demographic, read here.

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