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Best Country Songs Since 2000

Most of the 21st century’s best country songs were released by superstars you still find on the radio today. But very few of the 31 hits chosen for this list of the Top Country Songs of the Century are from artists from the last century.

In fact, just six songs on this list come from artists with hits on the radio prior to 2000. Some, like Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson, are obvious, but most are not. If you’re hoping for songs from legends like Garth Brooks or Shania Twain, well, you’ll need to make your case. Both ’90s hitmakers are shut out — a sign of both how strong this list is and how much country music has changed in the years since Y2K.

Thousands of songs were whittled down to a list of 100 hits from the year 2000 until now. A team of country music experts and casual listeners gathered one night to choose which were worthy and which just don’t stack up. Sales figures, chart ranking and, in many cases, opinions of the artists themselves were considered to shape this list. At the end of the day a song’s overall impact carried the most weight. Did the song make a difference or change the course of country music? Few found here did not.

Our choice for No. 1 was nearly unanimous and supported by one of the format’s top songwriters, plus several of the era’s biggest artists. The debate for the remainder of the Top 10, and the 21 that follow, was … robust (to put it mildly). There will surely be 21st century songs you’re expecting that just didn’t make our Top 31, and we encourage a healthy debate.

The Top Songs of the Century were chosen by the editorial teams of both Taste of Country and the Boot, with input from more casual country fans and artists that you’ll meet along the way. Previous Taste of Country “Best of” lists limited each artist to just one song. That’s not the case with this Top Songs of the 21st Century list — Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson are three artists with multiple songs.

One song will be rolled out each day through August. The No. 1 song of the 21st century will be announced on August 31, 2016.

Listen to the Top Country Songs of the 21st Century

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Next: Get Started With Song No. 31

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