Charting the Top Country Songs of 2021
Country is one of the most popular genres in all of music – and with good reason. The genre has provided some of the most iconic tracks and artists of just about any era and has been around for as long as most music fans care to remember. Often associated with wild America and with very distinctive tones and melodies, country music fans are extremely passionate about their songs and follow their favorite artists with staunch loyalty. Join us as we check out some of the best country music playlists and festivals and list our own top country songs 2021.
What is Country Music?
For most people familiar with music, country music is probably one of the most well-known genres within the industry. Though it may not be to everyone’s taste, the genre is extremely established and has been for over 100 years right back to the very early days. So, exactly what is country music? And more importantly, why has it proved to be so popular with audiences all over the world? We would probably have to go all the way back to the 1920s to see why.
Country music (or country and western music as it was referred to back in its emergence) really has its origins in the folk music of the United States. These origins, in turn, traced back to the Irish, Scottish, and English immigrants who made the southern states of America their home. These roots into Blues and South American folk have strong links to all the different types of country music that evolved from these humble beginnings.
Although long since established, the true popularity of country music started in the early part of the 20th Century when recordings of Atlanta artists became available commercially and brought sounds to the ears of adoring fans all over the world. They were hooked and country music has only grown and grown in popularity ever since.
Indeed, the early country music way back in the 1920s was dismissed as a little hillbilly and undesirable by audiences who heard it. It was quite left of fields to the uplifting sounds of Chaplin and others that graced early screens. However, country music helped many through The Great Depression and onwards and helped launch the career of legendary artists such as Hank William who made it possible for modern day country singers to thrive to the 2020s hits we know and love today.
Top Country Songs 2021
2021 was another memorable year for country music as the genre seemingly goes from strength to strength. Legendary country artists such as Luke Combs were predictably on the top of their game and 2021 also saw the return of some much-loved favorites like Taylor Swift to the country music fold. It all made for a truly iconic year in country music that produced some of the best tracks in a 12-month period we have ever seen.
That said, choosing our favorites was no easy task, but we’ve picked some of the best below. Whether you agree with us, or you’re scratching your head and still looking for your own personal favorite amongst the list, be sure to check out our top country songs 2021.
"Forever After All," - Luke Combs
Where else could we start than with the current King of Country Music? Luke Combs is a one-man hit factory, and "Forever After All" is just further proof. The track predictably hit number 1 in June 2021, propelled in large part by the enormously popular music video it lends itself to, which features footage from Combs's own wedding. Everything Combs touches, it seems, turns to gold.
"In His Arms," - Miranda Lambert
This track, appearing on Lambert's renowned album entitled "The Marfa Tapes," burst onto the scene in early 2021. The song "In His Arms" is a wonderful display of Miranda Lambert's voice and country tones. The song made headlines after being snubbed by country radio, but it retains its place as one of the top country songs 2021.
"Buy Dirt," - Jordan Davis with Luke Bryan
This is without doubt one of the top country songs 2021. This track brings together rising star Jordan Davis and country juggernaut Luke Bryan in what is a wonderful collaboration and celebration of country music. Indeed, "Buy Dirt" was one of the year's biggest duets and ensured the popularity of these two rising artists continued to grow.
"Drunk and I Don't Wanna Go Home," - Elle King with Miranda Lambert
We couldn't leave this one out. Here we have folk-rock star Elle King and Miranda Lambert who make for a phenomenal duo on "Drunk And I Don't Wanna Go Home," which is a true party anthem hybrid of the country music genre. It was also a successful crossover hit, appearing on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Songs, and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts after its release in February, proving to be a truly versatile song that propelled Lambert and King even more into country music iconic status.
"Til You Can't,"- Cody Johnson
Cody Johnson has supplied numerous hits in the last few years and 2021 proved no different. The Texan continued to inspire here with this song about love and resilience - and it felt especially appropriate for coming out of COVID-19. The song speaks about taking chances and not taking life for granted and was a truly reflective song for the time.
"Chasing After You," - Maren Morris with Ryan Hurd
One for the lovebirds here in our list of top country songs 2021. Country music has always been about the 'L' word and in pairing up the hottest couple in country music, "Chasing After You" is a showcase of the smoldering chemistry between the amazing duo that is Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd. The love between this pair shines through in the song and proved to be a classic hit with fans.
"If I Didn't Love You," - Jason Aldean with Carrie Underwood
As always, when two of country music's biggest stars pair up, you know it's going to be pretty amazing. "If I Didn't Love You," which brings together Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood, was an instant hit in both the United States and Canada and even made its way across the Atlantic to critical acclaim. It thoroughly deserves its spot on the list of the top country songs 2021.
"Famous Friends," - Chris Young with Kane Brown
2021 was a comeback year for music and brought a ton of great duets to mainstream country songs. Here, the fantastic and catchy track "Famous Friends" is no exception. It's fun and memorable, and totally relatable for anyone that is, or knows, a bunch of small-town heroes who deserve to be recognized. This is a song that will really stick in your head.
"What Are You Gonna Tell Her," - Mickey Guyton
Tackling systemic racism and sexism in the world of country music, Mickey Guyton's "What Are You Gonna Tell Her" is a powerful, poignant statement. It's also a demand for the industry to do better by its female artists, something the establishment needs to hear a whole lot more of.
"Wilder Days," - Morgan Wade
With her hit debut album "Reckless," Morgan Wade recalls '90s country queens like Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Martina McBride. That's especially true on "Wilder Days," a nostalgia-fueled tune that scored Wade major country airplay in 2021 and fueled her growing popularity.
"29," - Carly Pearce
On her acclaimed album "29," Carly Pearce digs deep into her own post-divorce heartbreak. The album's title track is arguably its most compelling, a seriously emotional ballad that had to have played a key role in Pearce's Album of the Year award nod at the 2021 CMA Awards.
"If I Was A Cowboy," - Miranda Lambert
It's safe to say that Miranda Lambert is doing some of her best work right now, and beautifully written tunes like "If I Was A Cowboy" are proof. It's got a simple melody and catchy lyrics, and plenty of that down-home Lambert charm that makes her one of country's most prolific hitmakers.
"All Too Well," - Taylor Swift
2021 saw a triumphant return to the country charts for Taylor Swift as she recorded her own versions of previously recorded songs that are now owned by her former record label. The most successful of these, at least in a country sense, is "All Too Well," a favorite among the legions of Swift fans and further proof that this versatile artist is really one of a kind.
"Fancy Like," - Walker Hayes
Whether you love it or hate it, there's no denying that "Fancy Like" is the biggest country song of 2021. Officially released in August, the song was a crossover hit for Hayes, notching top-ten positions on charts in the United States and beyond.
"Things a Man Oughta Know," - Lainey Wilson
Here we have yet another bright breakout star in 2021 as the raw, emotive lyrics in Lainey Wilson's "Things A Man Oughta Know" really resonated with audiences and provided him with a well-deserved hit across America.
"The Good Ones," - Gabby Barrett
Rising star Gabby Barrett notched a massive hit with "The Good Ones." Even though it was technically released in 2020, the song stayed on the charts in 2021 thanks to TikTok trends and widespread country radio airplay.
"To Be Loved By You," - Parker McCollum
Parker McCollum kicked off the New Year with a bang, releasing his hit single "To Be Loved By You" on January 1. Since then, the song's racked up nearly 19 million listens on Spotify.
"Country Again," - Thomas Rhett
Finishing our list, this is a song that is devoted to getting back to your rural roots. "Country Again" is the kind of song that will resonate with anyone who's left their hometown for the bright lights of the big city and ensured that Rhett delighted country music fans yet again in 2021.
2021 Country Singers to Look Out For
The great thing about country music is the ever-changing, emerging and exciting talent that this genre always spawns. 2021 was another fantastic year for emerging country music singers who look set to make an even bigger impression in the future. Check out our list of 2021 country singers to look out for - and afterwards, why not Google them or listen to one of their songs on YouTube to show support to some of the best up and coming country singers around.
Trenton Fletcher is definitely a name that country music fans should keep in mind and comfortably made it on to our list of 2021 country singers to look out for. Originally from the state of Oklahoma, Fletcher is quickly climbing the ranks and becoming a household name across the nation. He performs regularly in Stillwater, OK, and has grown a steady fanbase in his home state. Like anything, though, news of musical talent soon spreads and Fletcher is now expanding beyond just OK where he has made his name.
If you want to check out some of his tracks, Fletcher has quite a bit of music available online, with songs like “Bitter” and “Don’t Drink the Whiskey” readily available on YouTube. In 2020 and 2021, Trenton played at the famous Stillwater Weedstock Music Festival, and is scheduled to play at festivals across the home state of country music (Texas) this summer as this exciting talent really takes off.
In the modern digital age, getting your music out there has never been easier for an artist and this is just one example of a tremendous young talent who has utilized social media for extra exposure of her musical gifts. After going viral on social media platform TikTok with “Pretty Things”, Kat Hasty is quickly becoming a known name on the country music scene.
Originally a native of Texas, Hasty boasts that typical country folk swagger to her chords that you simply cannot teach. Hasty is just 23 and will only improve and she has definitely earned her place on our list of 2021 country singers to look out for.
We cheated a little bit here - Austin Meade is not exactly what you could call an 'unknown talent' - however, he is about to break through to a whole new level and become much more mainstream. Meade is extremely diverse with his music and style; a quick listen to one of his tracks and comparing to another will tell you that straight away.
Austin and his band have already toured and played with big names like Read Southall and Koe Wetzel, and his talent means that it will surely not be long until he is headlining main events himself. 'Black Sheep,' Austin’s most recent album which was released in 2021, was a huge success and has gained him even more fans than he previously had - so much so that there is talk of a tour for the band across the United States.
Another amazing country talent from Texas (Houston), Triston Marez is an old soul in a young body that gives off delightful traditional vibes. Marez's voice is warm and is reminiscent of a lot of old country greats, giving off that ‘90s country vibe that is a throwback to a golden era. Marez is that rare talent that is all too rare on the country music scene today and is truly unique and doesn't copy any other artist.
The genre needs more artists like him in the mainstream, and hopefully what’s to come in 2021 will put him there. With fantastic tunes such as “Forgot About You”, “Darlin’”, and “Until I Found You” that are readily available on YouTube, his popularity is sure to grow.
You may have heard of this one already. Zach Bryan - another Oklahoma native - has already entered the consciousness of diehard country music fans in the United States, but he’s sure to get bigger in the next 12 months. Bryan found his passion for country music while he was in the Navy and released his debut in 2019 which helped solidify his fan base. His musical style is truly unique and he even writes his own songs that stick in your mind such as “Heading South” and “Oklahoma City". This country singer is clearly proud of his roots but, given his talent, looks set to go international pretty soon.
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