Special Report

The 40 Most Popular Country Music Albums of All Time

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The world of country music has not been spared the effects of the novel coronavirus that is disrupting lives throughout the world. Many events have been canceled and many artists, including Willie Nelson and Margo Price, have delayed the release of their new records.

Yet all hope is not lost for lovers of country music. The genre has a rich history that has left us with thousands of beautiful albums, most of which have stood the test of time. So while fans may have to wait to hear new music from their favorite artists, it’s a great time to revisit some old favorites and remember what drew us to the style of music in the first place.

To aid in this exercise, 24/7 Tempo has identified the 40 most popular country albums of all time, based on album sales and performance on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.

As anyone who has tuned into country radio recently knows, pop country is extremely popular. Artists who appeal not only to country fans but also to the average listener of pop music are much more in demand than more traditional country artists. The success of crossover artists such as Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, and Sam Hunt is a testament to this. These are the best selling country albums of the last 10 years.

This is not to say that musicians who perform more traditional country in this day and age cannot be exceptionally successful as well. Artists including George Strait, Clint Black, and Dolly Parton have all sold millions of albums and dominated both the Country Albums chart and the singles list at times. In fact, the artists with the most hits are generally those who would be considered performers of “classic” country. These are the country musicians with the most hits.

Click here to see the most popular country albums of all time

To determine the most popular country albums of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on weeks spent in the No. 1 position on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and lifetime U.S. album sales. Both components of the index were given equal weight.

An artist’s total U.S. album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA certifies album sales released in the U.S. market with at least 500,000 units sold. For an album to be considered for our ranking, it must have had at least 1,000,000 certified sales — or certified “platinum” — so far.

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40. Wichita Lineman
> Artist: Glen Campbell
> Year: 1968
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 20
> Copies sold: 2 million

Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” includes the chart-topping title track that would later be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Other tracks include a cover of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” and “Words,” which was written by the Bee Gees’ Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb. The album stayed at No. 1 on the country albums chart for 20 weeks.

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

39. Breathe
> Artist: Faith Hill
> Year: 1999
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 6
> Copies sold: 8 million

Country-pop diva Faith Hill’s 1999 album “Breathe” features two massive singles — “Breathe” and “The Way You Love Me” — both of which were No. 1 hits on the country singles chart and Top 10 hits on the Hot 100 list. The album “Breathe” is Hill’s domestic best seller, with 8 million copies sold as of 2003.

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38. Greatest Hits Volume II (And Some Other Stuff)
> Artist: Alan Jackson
> Year: 2003
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 11
> Copies sold: 6 million

This greatest hits compilation from Alan Jackson primarily covers material from the second half of the 1990s. The 18-track album features two previously unreleased songs — “Remember When” and Jimmy Buffett duet “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” — both of which hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

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37. The Ultimate Hits
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 2007
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 2
> Copies sold: 10 million

Garth Brooks’ double-disc greatest hits collection “The Ultimate Hits” includes all of the singles found on his 1994 album “The Hits” with 12 additional hits and four previously unreleased songs, including a cover of “Workin’ for a Livin’,” previously performed by Huey Lewis & the News. The album was certified diamond — meaning it sold at least 10 million copies — by the RIAA in 2016.

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36. In Pieces
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1993
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 7
> Copies sold: 9 million

“In Pieces” is a higher-energy effort than Garth Brooks’s preceding effort “The Chase.” “In Pieces” gave long-time Garth fans what they wanted — a collection of rock-influenced honky tonk tunes and ballads. It was the musician’s third album in a row to debut at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top Country Albums charts. Among the album’s tracklist are such popular songs as “Standing Outside The Fire” and “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”

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35. Johnny Cash at San Quentin
> Artist: Johnny Cash
> Year: 1969
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 20
> Copies sold: 3 million

“Johnny Cash at San Quentin” was the Man in Black’s second live prison album after 1968’s “At Folsom Prison.” The live recording is considered by many to benefit from Cash’s wild energy — a result of his tempestuous life at the time. The album spent 55 weeks on the Top Country Albums chart, 20 of which at No. 1.

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34. Speak Now
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Year: 2010
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 13
> Copies sold: 6 million

International superstar Taylor Swift was still producing catchy country-pop in 2010 when she released her third studio album “Speak Now.” In addition to spending 13 weeks in the top spot on the country albums chart, “Speak Now” features two No. 1 country singles — “Sparks Fly” and “Ours.”

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Source: Photo by Clayton Call / Redferns / Getty Images

33. Greatest Hits
> Artist: Waylon Jennings
> Year: 1979
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 16
> Copies sold: 5 million

Waylon Jennings released this nine-track greatest hits compilation at the end of what many consider to be his most artistically accomplished decade — the 1970s. The album focuses on his outlaw years, featuring songs such as “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),” “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys,” and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.”

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32. Red
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Year: 2012
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 16
> Copies sold: 7 million

“Red” was the final album from Taylor Swift to appear on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. It remained on the chart for an exceptional 225 weeks. Though Swift’s transitioning out of the genre is apparent on the album, it was nominated for Best Country Album at the Grammy Awards as well as Album of the Year at the 2013 CMA Awards.

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31. The Closer You Get…
> Artist: Alabama
> Year: 1983
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 21
> Copies sold: 4 million

“The Closer You Get…” — one of 11 Alabama albums that led the country charts — has been certified 4x platinum. The venerable country music band had two No. 1 hits from the LP: “The Closer You Get” and “Lady Down on Love.”

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30. Behind Closed Doors
> Artist: Charlie Rich
> Year: 1973
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 22
> Copies sold: 4 million

Charlie Rich released numerous hit songs throughout the 1960s, but his 1973 album “Behind Closed Doors” was his most commercially successful. The album worked as a blueprint for Nashville’s countrypolitan sound, with lush orchestration and pop hooks. The album spent a total of 100 weeks on the country albums chart, 22 of which in the No. 1 spot.

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29. Always on My Mind
> Artist: Willie Nelson
> Year: 1982
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 22
> Copies sold: 4 million

“Always on My Mind” has a stronger pop edge than many of Willie Nelson’s albums. It was a massive hit with fans and ended up spending 253 weeks on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. The album also won Album of the Year at the CMA Awards in 1982.

Source: David Redfern / Getty Images

28. Kenny
> Artist: Kenny Rogers
> Year: 1979
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 25
> Copies sold: 3 million

Kenny Rogers was at the height of his popularity when he released “Kenny” in 1979. The album, which mixes adult contemporary with country, produced the No. 1 singles “You Decorated My Life” and “Coward of the County.”

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27. Up!
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Year: 2002
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 6
> Copies sold: 11 million

Shania Twain’s album “Up!” was originally released in three different versions — a “Red” pop mix, a “Green” country mix, and a “Blue” international mix. It was another major hit for the Canadian diva, becoming her third-most popular album in the U.S. after selling 11 million copies.

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26. Home
> Artist: Dixie Chicks
> Year: 2002
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 19
> Copies sold: 6 million

The Dixie Chicks’ follow-up to 1999’s “Fly” is decidedly country and features an assortment of acoustic instruments. “Home” spent 91 weeks on the Top Country Albums chart, 19 of which at the top of the chart.

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25. Traveller
> Artist: Chris Stapleton
> Year: 2015
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 29
> Copies sold: 4 million

Chris Stapleton spent years writing songs for popular country acts, including Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, and Lee Ann Womack, before releasing his debut album “Traveller.” The album’s bluesy southern rock sound earned it the Grammy Award for Best Country Album in 2015.

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24. The Gambler
> Artist: Kenny Rogers
> Year: 1978
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 23
> Copies sold: 5 million

“The Gambler” is Kenny Rogers’ best selling non-compilation album, with 5 million copies sold in the U.S. The conceptual album — which eventually spurred its own made-for-TV film series — includes the signature, chart-topping title track, which was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2018.

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23. Wide Open Spaces
> Artist: Dixie Chicks
> Year: 1998
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 7
> Copies sold: 13 million

The first album from the Dixie Chicks to feature lead singer Natalie Maines proved a huge success, selling 12 million copies in the U.S. The album blends many musical styles, including bluegrass, in which sisters Martie Seidel and Emily Robison had a strong background.

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

22. Feels So Right
> Artist: Alabama
> Year: 1981
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 27
> Copies sold: 4 million

“Feels So Right” was the first of Alabama’s 11 country chart-topping albums, going 4x platinum. Three singles from the album reached No. 1, including the title track, “Old Flame,” and “Love in the First Degree.” The singles “Feels So Right” and “Love in the First Degree” became crossover hits for the band.

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21. Sevens
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1997
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 13
> Copies sold: 10 million

Garth Brooks’ eighth studio album, “Sevens,” walked back the country superstar’s arena rock tendencies in favor of a more traditional country sound. The record debuted at the top of both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts with sales totaling nearly 897,000 units during its first week. The singles “Longneck Bottle” and “Two Pina Coladas” both shot to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

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20. The Chase
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1992
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 16
> Copies sold: 10 million

Garth Brooks’ “The Chase” was certified diamond by the RIAA in January 2020, meaning it has sold 10 million copies in the U.S. Upon its release, Capitol Records shipped 5 million copies to sellers — the largest initial album shipment at that time. “The Chase” spent 97 weeks on the country albums chart, 16 of which at No. 1.

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Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

19. Killin’ Time
> Artist: Clint Black
> Year: 1989
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 31
> Copies sold: 3 million

Clint Black’s 1989 debut album includes some of his biggest hits: “Better Man,” “Killin’ Time,” and “Walkin’ Away,” all of which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Black co-wrote or wrote every track on the album.

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18. Mountain Music
> Artist: Alabama
> Year: 1982
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 28
> Copies sold: 5 million

“Mountain Music” was Alabama’s most successful studio album, spending 28 weeks atop the Billboard country album chart and certified 5x platinum by the RIAA. It is one of 11 Alabama LPs to top the country album charts. All three singles from the LP — “Mountain Music,” “Take Me Down,” and “Close Enough to Perfect” — topped the country charts. The album also reached No. 14 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

17. Greatest Hits
> Artist: Kenny Rogers
> Year: 1980
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 11
> Copies sold: 12 million

Kenny Rogers 1980 “Greatest Hits” album primarily focuses on material from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Among the album’s 12 hits are “The Gambler,” “Coward of the County,” and “Lucille.” Also included are re-recorded versions of “Reuben James” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”

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16. The Hits
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1994
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 16
> Copies sold: 10 million

Garth Brooks is one of country music’s biggest hit makers, having released 36 Top 10 hits and 19 No. 1 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart throughout his career. Fourteen of these chart-toppers appear on this 18 song compilation, which Brooks eventually had discontinued and buried the master recording under his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Source: Dwight McCann / Wikimedia Commons

15. Taylor Swift
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Year: 2006
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 24
> Copies sold: 7 million

Recorded at the age of 16, Taylor Swift’s debut album ultimately sold 7 million copies in the U.S. Swift wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, including country chart-toppers “Our Song” and “Should’ve Said No,” establishing herself as a talent to watch.

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14. Blue
> Artist: LeAnn Rimes
> Year: 1996
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 28
> Copies sold: 6 million

LeAnn Rimes’ twangy debut album was released when the singer was merely 13 years old. “Blue” spent 28 weeks at No. 1, and its title track earned the young singer a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

13. Not a Moment Too Soon
> Artist: Tim McGraw
> Year: 1994
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 29
> Copies sold: 6 million

“Not a Moment Too Soon” was Tim McGraw’s second studio album and a blockbuster. It topped the country and Billboard 200 charts, the first of four times that McGraw would accomplish the feat. The album went 6x platinum. Much of the LP’s success has been attributed to the controversy around his novelty song, “Indian Outlaw,” that some found offensive to Native Americans. The album produced the first two of McGraw’s 26 No. 1 singles, “Don’t Take the Girl” and “Not a Moment Too Soon.”

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12. Need You Now
> Artist: Lady A
> Year: 2010
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 31
> Copies sold: 9 million

The follow-up to country trio Lady A’s self-titled debut album spent 31 weeks at No. 1 out of a total of 94 weeks on the country albums chart. It also debuted at No. 1 on the multi-genre Billboard 200 albums chart after selling 481,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It won Best Country Album at that year’s Grammy Awards, and its title track won the awards for Record of the Year and Best Country Performance by a Group With Vocals.

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11. Some Hearts
> Artist: Carrie Underwood
> Year: 2005
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 27
> Copies sold: 8 million

“Some Hearts” is Carrie Underwood’s debut album, released after the now-superstar won “American Idol” TV talent contest. The album is loaded with hits, including country chart-topping singles “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” and “Wasted.”

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10. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
> Artist: Soundtrack
> Year: 2000
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 35
> Copies sold: 8 million

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” a prison movie set during the Great Depression, starred George Clooney, John Turturro, and Holly Hunter and was directed by the Coen brothers. The soundtrack to the movie was the handiwork of noted record producer T-Bone Burnett, who researched and recreated the country, bluegrass, and blues sounds of the period. Among the talent showcased on the album are Ralph Stanley, the Whites, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss, and Emmylou Harris.

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9. Always & Forever
> Artist: Randy Travis
> Year: 1987
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 43
> Copies sold: 5 million

“Always & Forever” was the second studio album for Randy Travis, who helped launch the new traditionalist movement in country music. The LP was the second No. 1 for the North Carolina native, producing chart-topping singles “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “I Won’t Need You Anymore (Always and Forever),” and “Too Gone Too Long.” “Always & Forever,” a 5x platinum album, was on the Billboard Top Country Album chart for 208 weeks. Travis won the first of his seven Grammys, Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, for “Always & Forever.”

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8. Some Gave All
> Artist: Billy Ray Cyrus
> Year: 1992
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 34
> Copies sold: 9 million

“Some Gave All,” the debut LP for Billy Ray Cyrus, was the first of his two country chart-topping albums. It was No. 1 for 34 weeks, and the record went 9x platinum in 1996. It also was Cyrus’ lone Billboard 200 chart-topper. The album is remembered for the country No. 1 single “Achy Breaky Heart,” which also crossed over to reach No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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7. The Woman in Me
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Year: 1995
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 29
> Copies sold: 12 million

Shania Twain’s “The Woman in Me” occupied the country album chart top spot for 29 weeks and garnered the Canadian vocalist a Grammy for Best Country Album. Eight singles were released from the LP, which went 12x platinum. The songs “Any Man of Mine,” “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” “You Win My Love,” and “No One Needs to Know” were all country No. 1 hits.

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6. Double Live
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1998
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 8
> Copies sold: 21 million

Garth Brooks’ “Double Live” album was a monster hit, going 21x platinum. The record was one of the Oklahoma native’s 17 country chart-toppers, and it also led the Billboard 200. “Double Live ” was Brooks’ first live album and contained three previously unreleased songs: “It’s Your Song,” “Wild as the Wind” (duet with he Trisha Yearwood), and “Tearin’ It Up (And Burnin’ It Down).”

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

5. Fearless
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Year: 2008
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 35
> Copies sold: 10 million

Pennsylvania native Taylor Swift who has successfully blended pop and country genres notched her second country No. 1 and her first chart-topper on the Billboard 200 with “Fearless,” which would go on to win Grammys for Best Country Album and Album of the Year. Swift also won Grammys for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song for “White Horse,” which was on “Fearless.” The album went 10x platinum in 2017. The singles “You Belong to Me” and “Love Story” led the country charts.

Source: David Brown / Wikimedia Commons

4. Fly
> Artist: Dixie Chicks
> Year: 1999
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 36
> Copies sold: 11 million

Riding the popularity of their album “Wide Open Spaces,” Dallas-based Dixie Chicks released in 1999 their megahit, “Fly,” which topped the country and Billboard 200 album charts and was certified diamond by the RIAA. Eight singles were released from the album, including the No. 1 songs “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Without You.”

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3. Ropin’ the Wind
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1991
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 33
> Copies sold: 14 million

No artist dominated country music more than Garth Brooks in the 1990s. During that period, he released 10 albums that topped the country chart, and seven of those LPs went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200. “Ropin’ the Wind” was one of his biggest albums. It was certified 14x platinum in 1998 and was No. 1 for 33 weeks. Three singles from the album summited the country charts: “Shameless,” “What’s She Doing Now,” and “The River.”

Source: David Redfern / Getty Images

2. No Fences
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Year: 1990
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 41
> Copies sold: 18 million

Garth Brooks combined neo-traditional country with irresistible pop hooks on his second album, 1990’s “No Fences.” The album has sold 18 million copies in the U.S., thanks in large part to the singles “Friends in Low Places,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “Unanswered Prayers,” and “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House,” all of which reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

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1. Come On Over
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Year: 1997
> Weeks spent at No. 1: 50
> Copies sold: 20 million

Shania Twain established herself as the queen of country-pop with her massively successful third studio album, “Come On Over.” It spent an astounding 50 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and is tied with Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” as the 11th best-selling album of all time in the United States, with 20 million copies sold. Seven of the record’s songs topped the singles chart, and the songs “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” “Come On Over,” “You’re Still The One” all earned Twain separate Grammy awards.

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