Several of the most popular country albums are by older, more traditional country artists. These include Waylon Jennings’ “Greatest Hits,” Willie Nelson’s “Stardust,” and Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison,” which is the oldest album on the list. However, the artists who bridge the gap between country and pop make up the majority of the most popular albums.
Taylor Swift – who began playing country music in Nashville as a teenager and is now one of the world’s biggest pop stars – illustrates the commercial power of a country musician making efforts to appeal to a wider audience. Other pop country artists with albums on this list include Sam Hunt with his album “Montevallo” and Lady Antebellum with their self-titled LP.
The popularity of pop country is also reflected in the high sales of more recent releases, which skew toward the “pop” side of the genre. Over half of the most popular country albums of all time were released in 2000 or later. Not all these newer albums skew pop, however, and several are more traditional country sounding releases, such as Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller.”
The top-selling albums on the list are releases by Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks – all of whom found crossover appeal in the 1990s. Brooks also has the most albums on the list, with 10. He’s followed by Tim McGraw, who has five albums on the list.
Only 18 artists with albums on the list do not have more than one release among the 100 most popular country albums. This implies that once a musician makes it to the top of the charts, country fans continue to show their support.
To determine the most popular country albums of all time, 24/7 Wall St. generated an index based on rankings on the Billboard 200 chart and lifetime album sales. Both components of the index were given equal weight.
A band’s total certified U.S. album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA tracks album sales released in the American market with a threshold of 500,000 units sold. To be considered, an album must have at least 1,000,000 certified sales. How well an album performed on the Billboard 200 was determined by awarding points based on the number of weeks it was on the list and its rank for each week.
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