No music genre has evolved more than country music. From its bluegrass origins, country music has been sliced and diced into country pop, the Nashville sound, outlaw country, cowpunk, bro-country, red dirt, alternative country, and something called gothabilly, among other interpretations.
Whatever the iteration, at its heart, country music is about life’s journeys, whether the songs celebrate love and marriage, a performer’s religious beliefs, or the struggles and adversity of substance abuse, a chaotic childhood, or a lost love.
In recognition of this singular American music genre, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the 100 most popular country music stars, who have sung their way to the top. We reviewed sources such as Billboard and the website for the Grammy Awards to help create our list.
Country music is more than a regional phenomenon. No doubt, according to a Country Music Association report, 60% of the population in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi listen to country music. Its appeal, however, is almost as strong in western states such as Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado, where 58% of people surveyed are country music fans.
Known as Music City, the hub of country music is Nashville, Tennessee. Hopeful musicians and songwriters come from all over the country (and in singer Keith Urban’s case, from New Zealand) to perform at cafes and bars in the city to get noticed and land a record deal. Here are the most popular country songs of all time.
The latest example of the evolution of country is the unexpected success of the song “Old Town Road.” The song paired Atlanta-based rapper Lil Nas X with country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 19 weeks, the longest period in the chart’s 60-year history. The quirky collaboration was keeping with tradition of outside-the-box musical pairings. Here are 25 bizarre musical collaborations.