2010: ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay’
photo: broken bow records
Featured on Jason Aldean’s 2010 album My Kinda Party, his country-pop duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” featuring Kelly Clarkson not only topped Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart but crossed genres to take the 31st spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
The romantic ballad opened the doors for Aldean to create more than just his classic barstool anthems.
The pair reunited to sing the certified double-platinum track at the 2019 ACM Awards, where Aldean was presented with the ACM Artist of the Decade honour.
2010: ‘Need You Now’
photo: capitol nashville
There’s no doubt “Need You Now” changed the lives of Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, turning them into an international success.
The breakthrough hit was recognized for its crossover success, earning them five Grammys in 2011, including the all-genre Record of the Year and Song of the Year, an exceptional achievement for a country act.
“Need You Now” has remained a staple in the trio’s live set throughout the past decade and will continue through the next, we're sure.
2011: ‘Over You’
Over the past decade, Miranda Lambert has set the bar high for female country artists with her essential hits and impressive win streak as the CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year.
Inspired by Blake Shelton’s late brother Richie, who died in a car accident in 1990, the former couple combined their songwriting talents on the emotional track “Over You”. Shelton couldn’t record it due to the personal pain of the song but Lambert’s vocals did not disappoint on the heart-wrenching ballad.
“Over You” was featured on Lambert’s appropriately titled fourth studio album Four the Record, and won her and Shelton Song of the Year at both the CMA and ACM Awards.
2011: ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me)’
photo: capitol records
Luke Bryan may have had a few hits under his belt already but after releasing “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” in 2011, his career was taken to the next level. Even though the song never made it to No. 1 on the charts, it remained a party anthem for years to come and is one of Bryan’s bestselling singles.
The success of “Country Girl” may have something to do with his sexy “shake” that makes all the girls go crazy while he performs the hit.
Co-written by Bryan and Dallas Davidson ("Kick the Dust Up", "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day"), the multi-platinum single was featured on Bryan’s third studio album Tailgates & Tanlines .
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Back in 2012, “Cruise” put Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line on the map and turned them into superstars in less than a year while also opening the door for more hip-hop-inspired country songs. The catchy track was a game changer and one of the most influential songs in country music this past decade. It logged 24 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the longest-running chart-topper at that time. And let’s not forget: Back when “Cruise” was released, the duo were not yet signed to a label nor had they even released a full-length album.
“Cruise” became the first country song to reach diamond-certified status in Billboard history.
2013: ‘Follow Your Arrow'
Featured on Kacey Musgraves’ first major-label album Same Trailer Different Park, “Follow Your Arrow” was one of her first songs to challenge the Nashville country-music stereotypes, while encouraging the celebration of individuality and accepting same-sex relationships – themes that aren’t typically brought up in country songs.
Co-penned by Musgraves and openly gay songwriters Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, the hit instigated Musgraves’ mainstream acceptance and made way for a new era of country music. Country radio definitely missed the mark on not giving this song a ton of airplay.
2013: ‘Wagon Wheel’
photo: capitol records
Co-written by Bob Dylan and originally cut by Old Crow Medicine Show, Darius Rucker’s re-envisioned take on "Wagon Wheel" remains a huge hit. The catchy singalong reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and earned him a Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance.
The anthem, which features Lady Antebellum, has become one of Rucker’s staples, telling CMT, “No matter where I am, all over the world, when you play 'Wagon Wheel', people lose their minds.”
2014: ‘Girl Crush’
photo: capitol nashville
Released as the second single off Little Big Town’s sixth studio album Pain Killer, “Girl Crush” is no doubt one of the band’s biggest hits. The ballad, written about a woman who’s jealous of her ex’s new lover, remains their highest-charting single on Billboard's all-genre Hot 100 chart. “Girl Crush” also earned the group five awards, including Best Country Song at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
Although Little Big Town are not known for being controversial, the song was pulled from several country radio stations across the U.S. for being deemed too scandalous and for “promoting the gay agenda.”
Several stars have covered the track in concert, and most recently, the quartet invited country music’s next generation of female artists to join them in performing the song at the 2019 CMA Awards.
2015: ‘Die A Happy Man’
With four studio albums under his belt, Thomas Rhett has skyrocketed to being one of country music’s biggest names, and he can thank his 2015 single “Die A Happy Man” for changing his career forever.
Featured on Rhett’s second studio album Tangled Up, the romantic ballad is arguably the top country love song of the decade. “Die A Happy Man” topped Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for 17 weeks and earned him Song of the Year and Single of the Year at the 2017 ACM Awards.
Not only was the song a massive success in country music but it made him known across all genres.
Rhett can thank his wife Lauren for being the inspiration behind the megahit.
2015: ‘Tennessee Whiskey’
photo: youtube/chris stapleton
Although “Tennessee Whiskey” was first released in the early ‘80s by David Allan Coe and later became a hit for George Jones in 1983, Chris Stapleton skyrocketed to fame after his performance of the track with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards.
Stapleton released a more soulful, grittier rendition of the hit on his 2015 debut solo album Traveller, becoming his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Although he never officially released it as a single, “Tennessee Whiskey” remains one of Stapleton’s most beloved and well-known songs.
2012: ‘Blown Away’
Almost 15 years after winning “American Idol”, Carrie Underwood is still delivering some of country music’s biggest hits. She has had unparalleled success, making history to become the first female country artist to have four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart.
Written about a girl with an abusive and alcoholic father, the lead single off her fourth studio album Blown Away steered the singer in a new direction, with more pop-infused elements.
"Blown Away" became Underwood’s 13th No. 1 single on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart, and earned her several honours, including two Grammy Awards in 2013.
2016: ‘My Church’
photo: getty images
Since the 2016 release of her debut single “My Church”, Maren Morris has quickly become a crossover success.
Only a few years ago the singer was a songwriter for other artists in Nashville, but she later put herself out there as an artist and fans couldn’t get enough of her relatable lyrics and soulful voice. Her vulnerable breakout hit was written alongside late writer-producer Busbee and would take home a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance.
The song was featured on her major-label debut album Hero, which 'Rolling Stone' called one of the best albums of 2016.
From winning New Artist of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards to picking up a Grammy just three months later, the 29-year-old Texas native is one of the fastest-rising country stars we’ve seen in a long time.
2017: ‘Body Like A Back Road’
It’s been five years since Sam Hunt quickly rose to fame with his debut album Montevello, which had four No. 1 platinum-certified singles, and earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album.
In 2017, Hunt came back from a much-needed break with his mega-hit “Body Like a Back Road”, which ultimately became the country song of the year. With its country-pop sound, the track represented another shift in country music culture and surpassed Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”, becoming the longest-running No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for a total of 34 weeks.
“Body Like a Back Road” was not only recognized in country music but claimed a spot in the top three most-downloaded songs of any genre in the year of its release.
2017: ‘Beautiful Crazy’
Luke Combs has quickly taken the country music world by storm, breaking record after record since his debut single “Hurricane” in 2017.
But only a few years after the release of “Beautiful Crazy”, the ballad has arguably become one of the best country love songs of the decade.
Not only did the singer take home Song of the Year at the CMA Awards, the hit made Combs the first artist in history whose first five singles have reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart.
Among other accolades, Combs just earned his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with his latest LP What You See Is What You Get, which had the biggest streaming week for a country album ever.
photo: warner music
Released as the lead single off Dan + Shay’s self-titled third studio album, “Tequila” was a breakout moment for Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. Fans across all genres obsessed over the irresistible single with its romantic lyrics and catchy beat.
The song's success came as a surprise to Smyers, revealing to Billboard, “Sometimes a piano ballad is a little risky to put out as a radio single, but we put ['Tequila'] out, and immediately we could feel the reaction was, like, so elevated.”
“Tequila” earned them several awards, including a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.