We’ve reached the top ten.
Check out the albums and share your memories of the artists and songs.
Top Country Albums 2000-2009 Part 4
10) I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack (2000)
By 2000 Lee Ann Womack was already a country success. She had a platinum and gold album and her singles were regularly making the top ten if not the top five on the country singles charts.
Things went to a whole new level, though, in 2000.
Lee Ann released her biggest success of an album with I Hope You Dance that year. The title track of the song took on its own life. Women everywhere couldn’t hear the song enough. It was about having hope for your kids to succeed. Women and even men loved it. The song was the perfect way to capture the emotions parents feel for their kids. And the beautiful arrangement and vocals of the song made it probably one of the best country songs of all time.
The album featured four big hit singles and eventually sold over three million copies in the US. I knew the entire album was a big hit when my mom purchased it for herself. She has a long commute each day to work and she would play this album over and over every day as she drove back and forth.
It takes something special to hold someone’s attention for long car rides and that’s just what I Hope You Dance was able to do.
Lee Ann Womack is still one of my favorite artists and including her biggest album on the list was a no brainer.
9) Twice The Speed of Life – Sugarland (2004)
The year 2004 was a good one for country music. As I look at this list I realize the number of huge albums released during this year.
One of those albums was the debut – Twice the Speed of Life– from a little band you might recognize – Sugarland. I remember when Baby Girl first came on the radio. It was this catchy song about coming of age and understanding life as a young adult. The lead singer had this incredible, unique voice. There was really nothing like this song on the radio at the time.
Soon the band – then a trio – was releasing hit after hit. They racked up four four big hits from their debut album with three of the songs reaching gold status. The songs were catchy, infectious and the entire country world seemed to be paying attention to everything Sugarland was doing.
Looking back on Sugarland’s career now it’s hard to believe how far they’ve come. It’s difficult to break out in the music business. Every year there are tons of new artists just looking for that first hit single and big hit album. Most never find their breakthrough yet for some reason a quirky band like Sugarland was able to find their own success while making music they seem to really love.
After releasing some great albums I still look back on their first release and think it was just a collection of great pop-country tunes. It has all the melodies and all the energy of a major release. It’s one of the best of the decade.
8) Drive – Alan Jackson (2002)
The album was released in early 2002 just as the title track was making its way up the charts. The title song is about Alan and how his father would let him drive around the lakes and the backroads as a kid. Eventually Alan talks about how he loves doing the same with his young daughters. There is something about the feeling of driving that gets people, especially young people, excited about life. There is a freedom, an independence that comes from driving.
Drive included two more top three singles and the album went on to sell over 4 million copies in the US – one of Alan’s best studio sets. It was a great success for the established country singer. The album was actually kind of a revival for Alan. He had seemed to stumble as things turned more pop-oriented at the turn of the century in country music. Drive seemed to be Alan’s way of getting people’s attention once again and showing them it was still cool to be traditional in the pop world.
Alan is one of my favorite artists and it’s always great when he releases new music. I remember having Drive in my truck CD player. It was a great album during its release and it’s still enjoyable today.
7) The Foundation – Zac Brown Band (2008)
In late 2008 a song was making its way up the country charts. It was getting people’s attention for being this ultra-catchy tune about chicken or something.
The song turned out to be Chicken Fried and the band behind the infectious tune was the Zac Brown Band. Soon the song was getting so much play at radio it was in the top ten…and then the top five…and soon it had become the number one country song in the world even reaching the top 20 on the all encompassing Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The album – The Foundation – was released soon after and the Zac Brown Band became household names. The guys followed up their debut smash hit single with a number two hit followed by three more number ones. It’s really an incredible feat for a relatively new artist to shoot off 4 number one hits from their debut album. I’m actually not sure if it’s ever been done before in country music. And to even say you had an additional number two hit single from the release is even more incredible.
It’s hard to think there was a time when Zac Brown and his band were not part of country music. The guys are so talented with their instruments, their vocals, their live show, and at songwriting it seems like they would have been famous from an early age.
However Zac Brown came about there is no denying their impact in country music over the past few years. They changed the face of country a bit with their brand of music and it was a change for the better.
6) 50 Number Ones – George Strait (2004)
I went back and forth trying to decide if I should include greatest hits collections on this list. I finally broke down for 50 Number Ones from George Strait. Let’s be honest – 50 Number Ones! The man has so many number one hits it’d be enough for 10 country artists.
I’m not the kind of guy to request anything for birthdays, but when I was pressed in 2004 I mentioned this album and I’m still listening to it all the time seven years later. The set was the perfect look back on the career of George Strait. At the time of this album release George had been providing hits for radio fans for over two decades. In that time he’d been probably the most successful artist of all time.
For the casual George Strait fan you’ll probably be surprised how many songs you rediscover on this album. Songs like Easy Come, Easy Go or even The Chill Of An Early Fall. They were all number ones for George Strait over his career and they’re all found on this two-disc set.
George didn’t slow down after this album came out. In fact, there were fan favorites left off this set – because they didn’t reach the number one spot – and George had to release a collection of his non-number ones.
I think today George has added about 8 or so more number ones to his collection. I’m not sure how he does it when it comes to choosing songs for his shows. He could change things up every night and still put on a great show.
George is the best and I feel this is the perfect album of George Strait songs.