Hey, let's talk country music because, well, why not? With roots in folk music and blues, country music originated in the southern portion of the United States, but nowadays, it's popular all over the nation—and, indeed, all over the world. Over the years, the genre has evolved to include elements of rock and roll, pop, heck, even rap, and all the while, it's been shaped and molded by the hands of talented artists, all leaving their own unique mark behind.
Now, listen here, partner, we got a proposition for everyone to ponder. Crank up the radio, grab a tall glass of iced tea and sit a spell with us as we all take a moment to pick or pass on these here popular country music singers. Once that's done, we'll take a gander at all'a'y'all's scores, do some 'cipherin', see if we can't figure out what'ch'ya'all's star signs are, how does that sound, cowpoke? Oh, alright, enough with the country jargon. Sorry if we took it too far, but it's fun to talk like a cowboy for a little while, and our coworkers get mad when we break out the country voice on them. We have to get our kicks where we can.
Kenny Chesney rocketed to fame in the 90's with his debut album, In My Wildest Dreams, and he's since recorded an impressive 20 albums in total. He's best known for hits like "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems" and "Save It for a Rainy Day". So, is Kenny Chesney your idea of a good country music?
Born in Longview, Texas in 1983, Miranda Lambert made her musical debut with her album Kerosene, which came out way, way back in 2003—and knowing that makes us feel super old. Anyway, this talented country star is best known for her hits like "Gunpowder & Lead" and "Fastest Girl in Town".
Often referred to as the "Queen of Country", you would be hard pressed to find a person who would dare to dispute that title. Alright, so maybe Reba McEntire's own brand of country music isn't for everybody, we can respect that. But with hits like "One Promise Too Late" and "I'm a Survivor", she's one country singer that can't be beat.
Reba is the "Queen of Country", and George Strait is the "King of Country"—and, yet again, we really don't think anybody is going to be disputing that claim any time soon. George Strait made it big in the 80's when his single, "Unwound", became a hit. He's recorded a whopping 29 albums, which is nothing short of wow.
Born in Checotah, Oklahoma in 1983, Carrie Underwood soared to fame when she became the winner of the fourth season of American Idol. With hit singles like "Inside Your Heaven", "Jesus, Take The Wheel" and "Cry Pretty", Carrie Underwood has displayed tremendous songwriting talent and has remains a country music favorite to this day.
Born Troyal Garth Brooks in 1962, Garth Brooks hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is best known for his distinct style, which introduced elements of rock and roll to the entire genre of country music—which some would argue was for the better, but others would adamantly disagree. Garth's hits include "Friends in Low Places", "The River" and "Ask Me How I Know".
Born Dolly Rebecca Parton in 1946 in Pittman Center, Tennessee, Miss Dolly Parton is known the world over for her distinct timbre and stellar songwriting skills. The number of hit songs Dolly Parton has contributed is almost criminally impressive: "Jolene", "I Will Always Love You" and "9 to 5" are just a few of her many beloved singles.
Tim McGraw is a busy guy. When he's not playing his guitar and writing amazing hit songs like "I Like It, I Love It", "My Little Girl" and "Just to See You Smile", he enjoys acting, taking on roles in films like The Blind Side, The Shack and Flicka. Bonus fact: Tim McGraw is married to fellow country singer, Faith Hill.
Shania Twain (born Eilleen Regina Edwards) has sold over 100 million records, which makes her the best-selling female country artist in history—and if you're not impressed by that, then we don't even know what to tell you. Shania's hits like "You're Still the One", "Any Man of Mine" and "Today is Your Day", she's got a huge collection of songs for country music fans to enjoy.
Originally from New Zealand, Keith Urban made it big in Australia with his self-titled debut album before he moved to the U.S. in 1999. He's got 11 studio albums to boast, has made guest appearances on shows like The Voice, and is married to actress Nicole Kidman, just in case you've been living under a rock for the past ten years and didn't know that.
With hits like "Boys 'Round Here", "Came Here to Forget" and "She's Got a Way With Words", Blake Shelton is well known these days not just because of his repertoire of stellar country hits, but also because he's a judge on the reality TV show, The Voice. Also, his middle name is Tollison, and we find that interesting.
As a teen, Jason Aldean performed at local fairs and talent contests, playing gigs in bars and clubs. One thing led to another, and at 21, Aldean moved to Nashville and recorded his debut self-titled album. To date, Jason Aldean has eight albums, and loads of lovable singles, like "Hicktown" and "Big Green Tractor".
Also an actor and an activist, Willie Nelson has definitely left his mark on the world of country music, with his distinctive voice, his poetic songwriting and his overall bohemian vibe. To date, Nelson has—are you ready for this?—68 studio albums! Holy moly, does he sleep? The man's a song making machine!
Christened Audrey Faith Perry by her adoptive parents, and even though now she's technically Audrey Faith McGraw, most people still know her as Faith Hill, Hill being the last name of her first husband, Daniel. Anyway, some hit singles from this very talented country singer include "Mississippi Girl" and "Like We Never Loved At All".
Ah, Alan Jackson. To quote one of his own songs, "Red on a Rose", we love him like "all little children love pennies". Jackson's own brand of country music is a delightful commingling of traditional country music with a healthy dose of honky ton thrown in there for good measure. Is Alan Jackson your idea of good country music, or no?
The second of eight children, Loretta Lynn was born in 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. She started her own band called Loretta and the Trailblazers, and hit it big on the country music scene in the 60's. Lynn's best-selling novel, Coal Miner's Daughter (also the title of one of her hit singles) was turned into an Academy Award-winning film in 1980.
Oh, man! When it comes to country songs that even non-country fans know, which ones DIDN'T Toby Keith write? From "Should've Been a Cowboy" to "Red Solo Cup" to "Beer For My Horses" (featuring Willie Nelson), it seems every song Keith pens is an instant success. But, everybody's different! Do you—er, sorry, do *y'all* like Toby Keith, or nah?
Hitting the music scene in 2006 with his first album, Sinners Like Me, Eric Church's personal take on country music has been well received by fans of the genre. With hits like "Homeboy" and "Give Me Back My Hometown", Eric Church worked with fellow country music artists Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean to produce the track "The Only Way I Know" for Aldean's album, Night Train.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist and fiddler, Merle Haggard was a big cheese in the country music world, and for good reason. Haggard had a rough past. He was incarcerated several times in his youth after the passing of his father, but he got his life together (well, mostly) when he turned to music, making beloved songs like "Working Man Blues", "The Fightin' Side of Me" and "Okie from Muskogee".
Co-lead vocalist to the beloved country music band Sugarland (alongside Kristian Bush), Jennifer Nettles also fronted a couple of other bands, one called Soul Miner's Daughter and another simply called Jennifer Nettles Band. Nettles has a distinct voice (which, yeah, we guess they all do, but whatever), and is best known for songs like "Stuck Like Glue" and "Settlin'".
The son of country music singer Rhett Akins Sr., Thomas Rhett Akins Jr. has released three studio albums since 2013, and is quickly gaining ground with country music fans everywhere. With hit singles like "Unforgettable" and "Make Me Wanna", Thomas Rhett has proven he's a talented lyricist, even penning hits for fellow country music sensations Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line.
Fairly new to the country and western music scene, Maren Morris rose to popularity in 2015 with her self--title debut album, and has been a fan favorite ever since. Her debut single, "My Church", was in the top five on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart, which is impressive for such a newbie.
A music legend in a number of genres, from folk to gospel to rock and roll to, you guessed it, country, Johnny Cash was a musical genius with a soulful voice whose impact can be felt even today. The "Man in Black", as he was nicknamed for his trademark all black wardrobe, sang beloved hits like "Ring of Fire", "I Walk the Line" and "A Boy Named Sue".
With quite the diverse collection of influences, including Britney Spears, NSYNC, The Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban and Sugarland, Kelsea Ballerini's musical stylings aren't quite country, they're more country pop. Traditional country purists may not like Ballerini's originality, but to those who count themselves among her fanbase, her hits like "Love Me Like You Mean It" and "Legends" are just the kick to the pants modern country music needs.
Like "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)"? Well, then chances are, Dierks Bentely is a country music songwriter and vocalist who is right up your alley. Bentley's nine studio albums have contributed 16 number-one hit singles, including great songs like "Every Mile a Memory", "Feel That Fire" and "Am I The Only One".
A talented songwriter, Chris Stapleton has penned more than 170 songs, co-writing number-one country songs like George Strait's "Love's Gonna Make It Alright" and Kenny Chesney's "Never Wanted Nothing More", just to name a couple. Stapleton has been front man for two bands, including The SteelDrivers, before going solo with his debut album, Traveller.
Since 2012, Kacey Musgraves has been bewitching hardcore country music fans with her gritty, modern approach to the more classic music within the genre. To date, Kacey Musgraves has three studio albums, as well as a Christmas album for some fun yuletide yee haw. You might recognize her singles "High Horse" and "Slow Burn".
A major player in the "neotraditional country music" movement within the genre, which is something that we didn't even know existed until just now, Randy Travis has been penning hits since the late 70's, and even though he saw a slight decline in the 90's, he's since bounced back. Bonus fact: Randy Travis makes a cameo appearance in the second National Treasure movie.
Darius Rucker initially rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the Hootie & the Blowfish. It was only in the early 2000's when he began exploring R&B with his solo album did he really enter the world of country music. With hits like "It Won't Be Like This for Long" and "History in the Making", Darius Rucker may be something of a newbie compared to his country music contemporaries, but is he also a good one? You decide.
Born Margaret LeAnn Rimes in Jackson, Missouri, Rimes became the youngest country music star since Tanya Tuckerr in 1972, when, at just 13-years-old, she released her version of Bill Mack's "Blue". Most at home in the country music realm, Rimes has dabbled in pop, too, over the years. How do you feel about LeAnn Rimes's unique sound?
With 12 studio albums, Brad Paisley has a bucket load of hits (and we know it's exactly a bucket load because we measured), including songs like "Whiskey Lullaby", "I'm Gonna Miss Her" and "When I Get Where I'm Going", this guy has been on fire since he hit the country music seen in the late 90's, early 2000's, and he's shown no signs of stopping anytime soon.
After the loss of her father to cancer when she was just 13, Ashley Monroe turned to songwriting as a means of coping. Some of the songs she wrote during that difficult time made it onto her latest album, Sparrow. Ashley Monroe has five albums, and has collaborated with Blake Shelton, Trent Dabbs and Train.
Born in Long Branch, New Jersey, but raised in Katy, Texas, Clint Patrick Black showed an interest in music at a young age, teaching himself to play the harmonica by 13 and the guitar by 15. Now at 56, Clint Black has a total of 12 albums, as well as four compilation albums, to date.
Straight from Nashville, Tennessee—which seems like a great place to be from if you want to be a country music songwriter/singer—Dustin Lynch is a star on the rise with three albums to boast to date. With singles "Cowboys and Angels" and "Small Town Boy", he's definitely one to watch.
Kellie Pickler rose to fame in the fifth season of American Idol, the year after Carrie Underwood won the game show. Even though Kellie did not win, her appearance was enough to endear her in the hearts of her fans. Kellie has four albums under her belt (not literally, of course, that'd just be weird), and she's even appeared on Dancing with the Stars.