Popularity of country music is generally confined within the USA. But music, regardless of classification, will break borders if ultimately worthy. Here are 15 country tracks that proved genres are nothing but arbitrary distinctions.
If I Die Young by The Band Perry
There is no room for misinterpretation in country music. Most lyrics clearly lay out its meaning and little is left to the imagination. The Band Perry’s dying wishes got everyone thinking and relating and hooked to their music.
Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood
If Carrie Underwood never competed in American Idol, would this single have taken off? She’s definitely left a legacy with this track. The title has been a common phrase for people who just let fate take its course and hope it falls within their favor.
Not Ready to Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks
The controversy surrounding the opposition of The Dixie Chicks to the Bush administration’s war in Iraq helped catapult this song to mainstream consciousness. Even the Grammy Awards rewarded them heavily for a courageous statement of not backing down despite threats to their lives and country radio stations pulling the plug. One cannot help but admire their willingness to make a stance and sacrifice commercial reception in the process.
There You’ll Be by Faith Hill
For a time, it seemed like Faith Hill would follow in Shania’s footsteps and be questioned if she is too pop for country radio. After all, she helmed one of the most epic soundtrack singles for Pearl Harbor. This was the female version of Armageddon’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.
Cruise (Remix) by Florida Georgia Line Featuring Nelly
Nelly is no stranger to country sound being infused with hip-hop. His single Over and Over with Tim McGraw remains one of his masterpieces. Cruise has done much for both – Florida Georgia Line getting introduced to audiences outside of country, and interest in Nelly making a resurgence.
Wanted by Hunter Hayes
Ballads tend to crossover from country to pop as we all are shitty hopeless romantics. The tender take and delicate tone of Hunter Hayes made him a popular choice among young girls. Wanted was simple and made us feel more than what we rejects normally feel like.
Don’t You Wanna Stay by Jason Aldean Featuring Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson has numerous ties to country music. But nothing is more evident than her collaboration with Jason Aldean. It stands as one of the best romantic ballads by a duo to date – country or not.
Picture by Kid Rock Featuring Sheryl Crow
Even though Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow didn’t start out in country music, they hardly faced rejection when their collaboration dominated the airwaves. They were even nominated for Vocal Event of the Year at the 2003 Country Music Association Awards. It’s definitely less angry and not as criticized than Nickelback’s Picture.
Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
Need You Now is the perfect drunk call song. Alcohol in your system and the numerous, stupid temptations it brings is universal. That is not to take away the vulnerability and hopelessness that cuts through upon hearing the song.
How Do I Live by LeAnn Rimes
Trisha Yearwood was asked to release a version of this track as LeAnn Rimes was deemed too young to have gone through the lyrics of the song. LeAnn’s age hardly mattered as her version was known for its longevity in the charts. This was a benefit of both its amazing production and its crossover appeal.
Girl Crush by Little Big Town
Country genre has been known to be traditional and conservative. And even a girl crush managed to raise eyebrows and draw attention. It’s not the sound that made it crossover, but the subject matter that got people talking.
Amazed by Lonestar
It’s one of the only few country songs to ever top the US Hot 100, although a remixed version of it. And when you find out it was initially offered to Boyz II Men, it would make sense why it fared so well. After all, they were the resident crooners that made you feel loved and cherished.
What Hurts the Most by Rascal Flatts
Ironically, it is a song about falling short that introduced Rascal Flatts to a wider fan base. What Hurts the Most puts into words the pain many of the heartbroken experience. Unfortunately, coming close doesn’t take away any pain and even aggravates it.
You’re Still the One by Shania Twain
The narration at the beginning of the track is a classic characteristic the 90s will be remembered for. And if any artist first tested the waters of crossing over, it had to be Shania Twain. No artist can match the impact she has made to country and pop music at the same time during her prime.
You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift
Before Taylor Swift fully embraced moving to pop, she was a country darling that often blurred the lines. You Belong with Me has the storytelling country music is known for, but the beat that pop music excelled at. This and Love Story began her tug-of-war with her identity and if classifications permit, both remain her biggest country hits.