10: Sugarland - Stay
Sugarland started as a trio but after one album became a duo. I ordered their Twice The Speed Of Light album by mistake thinking it was a Keith Urban album. After the first listen I didn't regret it. I defy anyone not to watch this video and be moved by it. The song is beautifully sung by Jennifer Nettles and it gets me every time. The emotion and rawness of it is something beautiful. Click the link below and see what I mean.
9. Carrie Underwood - Temporary Home
A former Pop Idol USA winner over the past few years Carrie has established herself at the top of the Country tree. She headlined the Sunday night C2C festival at the O2 last year and is my favourite female singer in his genre. There is something very special about her voice, the way she doesn't strain to reach higher notes and the way her voice captivates you from the first time you hear it. Plus she has the best bloody legs Ive ever seen :-).
8. Kenny Rogers - Coward of the County
I listened to this when I was about 7 or 8 as it was on a Top of The Pops Album I got one year for Christmas. I loved this ever since. I think its a brilliant story told of a boy trying to do the right thing and be a man. It must be 30 odd years old but still sounds as fresh to me as the first time I heard it. Brilliant record and perhaps should have been higher.
7. Kenny Chesney - Dancing For The Groceries
I first bought his album because he was married to Rene Zellweger for a very short time. A stupid reason perhaps but I knowledge of country was very low and information was hard to get hold off. This is my favourite track as it tells of a single mother doing what she has to do to make ends meet. There is no moral high ground here, its a story told in a way that makes you understand why people do the things they do.
6. Billy Ray Cyrus - Southern Rain
He is best known here for Achy Breaky Heart is let me get this out of the way. I HATE that record and if you only think of him for that ONE record you are missing out on some fantastic tracks. This was close between the one I chose and Don't Go his duet with Miley Cyrus. Southern Rain wins because I heard it first and the first song I think of when I think of him.
5. Blake Shelton - Doing What She Likes
This is from his new album and I chose it because it was the track that persuaded my daughter to listen to country music. A 3 Time winning coach of the Voice in America and married to Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton hasn't been totally consistent with his albums. However this is the stand out track on his latest album and I sing it most of the time with my daughter. For that reason I'm grateful to him. Happy memories.
4. Keith Urban - Raining On Sundays
He was the second country artist I ever listened to and is now one of my absolute favourites. I was lucky to see him live about 6 years ago and this song was the stand out track for me. Every time I hear it I'm back at the Shepherds Bush Empire side of the stage watching him sing this to a spellbound crowd. In my opion his best ever track.
3. Brad Paisley - We Danced
God this was hard. There are so many top, top songs and I could have used any of them but this one I dream of dancing with my wife to some day and for that reason its this one. I love the humour in his songs and the way he can sing a ballad and make you feel like he knows you have been there yourself. If you haven't listened to him yet give this a go.
2. Tim McGraw - Highway Don't Care
I could have chosen all his albums and all his tracks, but I chose this for the simple reason that to me it is something we don't see enough of in other genres. Three of the biggest artists out there, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw singing all on one record. It doesn't get better than this, from Keith's guitar to Taylor's vocals and Tim holding it all together. The videos strange but hey its still a great record..
1. Garth Brooks - The Dance
This is where it all started for me. Watching the Des O'Connor show in the early 90's as this bloke with a red checked shirt and a white stetson sat on a settee talking about Country music.I half listened to what he was saying and then sat there mouth open as he sat at the piano and played this song. This was the days before sky+ and I couldn't rewind it. I had to wait until the next day to get a copy and a since then country has been my favourite genre. So thank you Mr Brooks for starting of and introducing me to a passion I cherish dearly.
If you have twitter follow these guys as they are great for all things country, New Country UK, Em-Tx who does a weekly country blog which is well worth a read, and Sony Music Nashville. There are others as well but too many to mention. I hope you enjoyed some of these if not all of them.