We’ve reached the top of our list. These are the top five most important albums of the 2000s.
Top Country Albums 2000-2009 Part 5
5) American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash (2002)
I was sitting in the living room at my parents house one morning when a video came on CMT. It caught me off guard. There was the image of an old man and he was singing with this sorrow and sad emotion. It captivated my attention and it was all I could think about for the entire day.
Who was this?
It turned out the artist was the legendary Johnny Cash and the song was his version of Hurt. The video and the song were so powerful. As the song continued its run on the charts it gained widespread popularity and proved to be a bit of a resurgence for Johnny Cash.
Johnny had started his American Recordings collection back in the mid-90s, but it was the fourth set – American IV: The Man Comes Around – that propelled him back in the mainstream. The album sold over a million copies in the US. The songs were full of heartache and pain. They were full of life lessons Johnny had learned.
A few years after the album’s release the biopicture Walk the Line (Widescreen Edition) was released. The film documented the life of Johnny Cash and June Carter. It was a tremendous hit and further spurred interest in the legendary country singer.
Looking back on the decade it would be hard to pass up American IV on the list of the most important and influential albums of the 2000s.
4) No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems – Kenny Chesney (2002)
I’ll just come out and say it – Kenny Chesney was the biggest country star of the ’00s.
All of Kenny’s albums during the decade sold millions. Kenny went out on the biggest headlining tours even achieving the rare stadium status. He actually continues the stadium shows even today well into his run at the top of the music world.
Looking back on where things all started for this level of Kenny’s career you have to look at the No Shoes No Shirt No Problemsalbum from backin 2002. That was the year Kenny went from a supporting touring star with a Greatest Hits collection of good songs to a superstar.
The songs on No Shoeschanged the perception of Kenny. He became the modern day Jimmy Buffett in country music even though Buffett was still as big as ever. Kenny had his own love for the islands and he brought the laid back party to the country audience…and it worked like a charm.
For a career that was huge in the ’00s and remains huge, No Shoeswas the album to get it all started and it’s definitely one of the most important records of the decade.
3) Me and My Gang – Rascal Flatts – (2006)
If there is one country act that best defines the 2000s in country music it would be Rascal Flatts.
The trio of guys seem to come right out of the pop world. They brought their unique melodies and harmonies to country in the early 2000s with their first record. As the hits came the guys found themselves soon headlining their own tours and selling more records than any other country act. Some resented their pop sounding brand of country, but even more loved them for making great music.
By the time 2006 came around Rascal Flatts was one of the biggest acts in country music and perhaps all of music. The year brought the release of the album Me & My Gang. The first single from the set was truly a remarkable track. What Hurts The Most became an international hit reaching the top of the charts on multiple genres in multiple countries. The song was one that had been recorded by other artists, but it was Rascal Flatts’ version that captured the attention of music fans.
More singles were released from the album and all were hugely successful. Me & My Gang became perhaps the best selling album for the group and marked one of the peaks of their career. It was a milestone album and an album that has the sound that could define country music in the 2000s.
2) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Miranda Lambert (2007)
The first single wasn’t a huge hit, but as the hits and awards piled up it became apparent just how good Miranda Lambert’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend album was.
The title track was released as a kind of first single in late 2006. It only charted at the top 50 on the charts. It turned out to be more of a sneak peek single to give fans a taste of the evolution of Miranda Lambert. Up until this point most people knew Miranda as the talented singer and songwriter from the country singing show Nashville Star. On her first album, Miranda had shown her charm along with a little taste of her attitude.
By the time Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was released it was apparent just how much attitude Miranda had. The third single Gunpowder & Lead became her first top ten single and it propelled the record to elite status.
The album won Album of the Year award at the ACMs. It was a huge achievement for the girl from Texas. People were recognizing her talents and loving what she had to share with them.
With the album Miranda showed women they too can be strong and even have a little country attitude. It was an important album from one of country’s biggest stars.
1) Fearless – Taylor Swift (2008)
In 2006 a young, really young, voice slowly came on the country scene. Taylor Swift was only 16 when her self-titled debut album was starting to climb the charts. As the singles from that album continued climbing the charts something crazy happened – Taylor became a country star.
Soon the momentum behind Taylor had built so high and so fast she seemed to be the biggest thing in country music. By 2008 everybody in the country world was discussing Taylor and what her next move would be. She had sold millions of records the first time out. Her first few singles were all major hits. Everybody was wondering how she’d fair on her second album.
Taylor’s sophomore release – Fearless – was released in November of 2008. The collection sold over a half million copies in the first week alone. The singles on the album reached the top spots on the country charts and even climbed to the highest reaches of the pop charts. Taylor became perhaps the most successful country artist of the latter half of the decade while also gaining a large general audience.
Her second album proved to be one of the highlights of the decade for the music business. The hard working teenager took over the country world showing seasoned vets how to bring an energy and authenticity to a record and live show.
It was hard choosing the most important album of the 2000s in country music, but I had to go with Fearless from Taylor Swift. The album was so big and the way everybody was discussing the songs, discussing Taylor, and discussing the album made me realize Fearless was the most important album of the decade.