There is a little bit of controversy, a big surprise, and some familiar names on the middle part of the countdown. Check it out and see if you agree.
Top Country Albums 2000-2009 Part 3
15) Shock’n Y’all – Toby Keith (2003)
In the 2000s Toby Keith experienced a second coming. His career had gotten off to a fast start in the ’90s. He was selling millions of records. Seemingly all of his singles were hits. After about a five year grind on various labels under the same umbrella Toby got tired.
By the time the ’00s hit he was back in the groove on a new label. Toby was releasing songs that were becoming the biggest hits of his career and he was taking on the superstar status he had worked so hard to attain.
Toby’s career seemed to come to the biggest fruition with 2003’s Shock’n Y’all. Toby was coming off an album that included the war-revenge song Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue. People love that song or hate that song. For Toby it was just an expression of an emotion he was feeling at the time. It was a little tip of his hat to his own dad. The song seemed to take on a life of its own, however, and people made it into multiple interpretations. His previous album also featured the multi-week number one Beer For My Horses.
Toby didn’t slow down when the new album came out. He released the multi-week number one lead off single I Love This Bar. The song was another monster smash hit for an artist that seemed to release huge songs every time out.
The album featured two other number one hits with all three singles reaching gold status. Shock’n Y’all went on to sell over four million copies in the US alone. It was a huge time for Toby as his fanbase was growing with each passing day.
For an artist that helped define the decade in country music this was perhaps Toby Keith’s biggest album.
14) O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Various Artists (2000)
I’ll never forgot the time I realized O Brother, Where Art Thou? was a huge album. I was working at this country club in the bag room. I cleaned members clubs and kind of payed valet for the golfers that stored their clubs there.
One day this middle aged guy pulled up in his SUV. He was blasting the soundtrack and he looked over at a few other guys and told them how cool the album was. I had heard a few of the songs including the big hit I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow before, but I hadn’t realized just how far the album had reached.
Here was a guy I would have never guessed was a bluegrass fan blasting the album in the parking lot of a country club. It was crazy to me, but it was at that point I realized it was possible to expand the audience of country and bluegrass.
The soundtrack had been part of a fairly popular movie, but the soundtrack is really what people remember. Various bluegrass artists contributed to the set and they all made it a smash hit. The album sold over 7 million copies in the US. How does a bluegrass album even come close to those numbers?
It was crazy, but this album is constantly ranked as one of the most important albums of any genre for the decade.
13) Golden Road – Keith Urban (2002)
By mid-2002 most people in the country world knew who Keith Urban was. He was the Aussie guy with a few hits from his first major label country debut. He had a number one hit under his belt and it had only been a few months since his last single had reached the country top three.
Things reached a new level of success for Keith Urban, though, in 2002 when the single Somebody Like You reached the top of the country charts and stayed there for six weeks there. It was a crazy successful song. The melody was ultra catchy. Keith ripped through the guitar and ganjo (guitar-banjo) parts. It was basically a simple love song with simple lyrics, but the song snowballed through the country world and made huge gains in the pop world as well.
The album Golden Road soon followed with three more hit singles including two more number one hits. There was also an album cut on the record Keith fans remember from later on in his career – You Look Good In My Shirt. The song wasn’t released as a single off Golden Road, but was later released as a re-recorded single on Keith’s Greatest Hits records.
Golden Road was huge. It took Keith from a pretty successful country artist to a multi-genre superstar. He kept the momentum going on subsequent albums and remains one of the biggest stars in country music today.
12) Here For The Party – Gretchen Wilson (2004)
Every country fan remembers the image. You have this country chick riding an ATV through the mud not far from the trailer park in the video. The chick was Gretchen Wilson and the video was for her debut song Redneck Woman. Gretchen and the song changed things in country music during the ’00s.
With the help of her buddies John Rich and Big Kenny, Gretchen wrote a collection of songs that would become her first album – Here for the Party. The debut single and subsequent singles were all major hits for Gretchen. Party would go on to sell over 5 million records in the US.
It was the unofficial Redneck Era in country music and Gretchen was the leader for the women. The song glorified the life of all the amazing country and redneck women in the world. Gretchen let everyone know it was ok to wear your Walmart clothes around and still look sexy. She let everyone know it was alright to love your babies and still have time for a little mudding and shooting.
The song and the album caught everyone off guard in 2004. They made country fans rethink what country was all about. Gretchen provided a voice for millions of country fans out there that had been ignored for a few years. It was a moment in country music that shouldn’t be forgotten brought about by one of the most talented singers and writers country has ever seen.
11) Some Hearts – Carrie Underwood (2005)
Carrie is kind of opposite of Gretchen Wilson…at least on the surface. Both women have attitude and drive, but their styles come off as a bit different.
Shortly after winning American Idol Carrie took to the studio to record her debut. She made sure to keep things true to her country roots. The album featured three number one hits and a fourth single that reached number two. The collection was heavy leaning on the country with a few pop tracks for the fans Carrie had gained on the popular music competition.
Carrie’s debut Some Hearts is one of the best selling debut albums for a country artist ever. It may in fact be the best selling debut for a female artist…ever. That includes some pretty good competition too. The album could have been just another debut had it not been for the third country single, Before He Cheats.
Some Hearts had been selling well up to that point, but it was Before He Cheats that really shot this record into the stratosphere. The song was huge. Women everywhere were requesting this track about cheating men. The song had attitude. The song had grit. It was an anthem for women as it gave them power to stand up to their wrongdoing men.
Carrie hasn’t looked back from her debut. She continues climbing to the top of the country music world with each release. She’ll be around for a good long while.