Top country artists of 2019
Top country artists of 2019
There is country music and then there is top country music, with some singers shining just a little bit brighter with their lyrics and voices. While some country music and artists age better with time, youngbloods continue to come onto the scene with chart-topping songs. Stacker compiled Billboard data on the Top Country Artists of 2019 to find those considered the best of the year.
Billboard uses a hybrid formula made up of Nielsen Music data from sales, radio, and streaming to rank the artists. The following 50 country singers are at the top of their game. Add in all of the Country Music Association (CMA) and Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM) accolades so many of these artists have received and it’s clear why they’re so popular.
Country music’s common themes of Christianity, broken hearts, and heavy drinking run through many of the noted song titles. Another commonality among many of the top country artists of 2019 is that they call Nashville—the birthplace of the music genre—home. While some artists, including Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood, have numerous hits, newcomers like Cody Johnson and Mitchell Tenpenny made the list with only one Billboard chart-topper.
Notably absent from the 2019 list are Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, who topped the country charts briefly at the beginning of the year with the crossover hit “Old Town Road,” before the song was removed by Billboard. The song broke the record for most weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
Read on to find out the top country artists of 2019.
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#50. Brantley Gilbert
Exactly one decade from his first single release, Georgia native Brantley Gilbert was nominated for the CMA’s Collaborative Video of the Year for “What Happens in a Small Town,” a hit duet with Lindsay Ell that peaked at #53 in November. Though the song was Ell’s first #1 hit, it was Gilbert’s fifth since his 2009 debut. The country singer followed the single with his Dec. 2 release of “Fire’t Up.” Two other chart-topping songs, including “Not Like Us,” and “Man That Hung the Moon” off the 2019 album “Fire & Brimstone” also got Gilbert noticed again.
#49. Chris Janson
Chris Janson continued to top country music charts with his 2019 song “Good Vibes,” which peaked at #48 on Billboard in October, and “Done,” which was a turning point in his career, according to the Missouri native, who calls the tune “a mid-90s down-the-middle-of-the-road hit.” “Done,” which Janson wrote at his house with no schedule, followed his 2017 top songs “Drunk Girl,” and “Fix a Drink,” and his 2015 hit “Buy Me a Boat.”
#48. Lady Antebellum
Troup Lady Antebellum made a comeback with the country trio’s 2019 album “Ocean,” which according to the guitar player and lead singer Charles Kelley, came about during a “band mid-life crisis.” Members Hilary Scott and Dave Haywood formed the group with Kelley in 2006, breaking out as the guest vocalists on Jim Brickman’s #14 Billboard hit “Never Alone” by 2007. Twelve years later, the trio pulled from real-life experiences, including Kelley’s drinking problem and marital issues, depicted in “Be Patient With My Love.”
#47. Jake Owen
Florida-born Jake Owen's August 2018 hit "I Was Jack (You Were Diane)," a tribute to John Cougar Mellencamp, kept the singer on the top country artists of 2019 chart. His most recent single "Homemade," that details his grandparent's 70-year love affair is also a 14-minute short film. Owen's first solo hit on the Billboard chart was "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" in 2011, which followed 2008’s "Life in a Northern Town," which was a Sugarland hit featuring Owen and Little Big Town.
#46. Eli Young Band
Nominated for the 2019 CMT’s Group Video of the Year for its hit “Love Ain’t,” which peaked in May at #50, the Eli Young Band has continued to find success since its 2002 start. The four-person band, whose members met as University of North Texas students at the turn of the century, saw their first hit Billboard song in 2009 with “Always the Love Songs.” Other Eli Young Band Billboard hits include the 2011 hit “Crazy Girl” that peaked at #30, the 2012 song “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” that peaked at #29,” and the 2013 tune “Drunk Last Night,” that climbed to #41.
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#45. Dustin Lynch
Dustin Lynch’s “Good Girl” put him back on the Billboard chart in 2019 since listing him at #36 in September 2017 for “Small Town Boy.” In January, Lynch peaked at #44 for “Good Girl,” which along with “Small Town Boy” got the Tennessee native inducted into country music’s Grand Ole Opry by Reba McEntire. Lynch was so moved by McEntire’s induction speech that he kept the tissue she handed him when he started to cry.
#44. Brett Eldredge
Though Brett Eldredge’s last Billboard hit “Wanna Be That Song” peaked at #46 in January 2017, the singer was still considered one of the top 2019 artists as he began his 10-city Glow Live Christmas tour based off his album “Glow” released three years ago. The hit song off the album, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” with pop star Meghan Trainor, gives the Illinois native extra radio airtime each holiday season.
#43. Chris Young
Featured in CMT's December 2019 “Crossroads” series alongside Gavin DeGraw, Chris Young gives a standing-room-only performance a decade after he first graced the Billboard Hot 100 with 2009’s “Gettin’ You Home.” Young, who peaked at #33 on the Billboard charts in Dec. 2015 for “I’m Comin Over,” has had a lot of airtime in 2019 with his hit song “Raised on Country.” The Tennessee native was discovered on USA Network’s fourth season of Nashville Star.
#42. Riley Green
Riley Green joined the top country artists of 2019 based on his Billboard hit and first single, “There Was This Girl,” which peaked at #70 in May. He followed up with his first album “Different ’Round Here” in September, but controversy surrounded the song, “Bury Me in Dixie,” which he pulled from streaming in October. The lyrics “I wish Robert E. Lee could come and take a bow” offended some listeners.
#41. Justin Moore
The recent hit “The Ones That Didn’t Make it Back Home,” made Justin Moore just a bit more famous in his own house. The Arkansas-born singer’s connection to the song about fallen soldiers is through both grandfathers who served in the military. Even the singer said he is surprised that the tune, that peaked at #46 in August, has remained so popular a year after its release, noting, “the song has been such a blessing in my career, and I think it always will be.”
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#40. Rascal Flatts
Veteran group Rascal Flatts, which has sold more than 11 million concert tickets, doesn’t have to have a recent single to be considered a top country artist of 2019. With 36 Billboard Hot 100 hits beginning with “This Everyday Love” in 2001, the trio continued to make headlines in 2019 when member Jay DeMarcus started his own Christian label, Red Street Records, with the full support of his peers.
#39. Sam Hunt
Though the Georgia native is famous for Billboard hits including "Body Like a Back Road," which peaked at #6 in 2017, it's not that particular reference to the road that had Sam Hunt in 2019 headlines. Rather, it was his November DUI arrest with an open container. Hunt's apology on Twitter that confessed his "poor and selfish decision" saw more than 85,000 likes and 3,000 retweets. Before the recent notoriety, Hunt made headlines for his Billboard charts in the past three years with hits including "Break Up in a Small Town" and "Take Your Time."
#38. Keith Urban
New Zealand-Australian singer Keith Urban remains a top country artist year after year for many reasons. He has more than a few Billboard hits, he is the husband of actress Nicole Kidman, he has been a judge on “The Voice” and “American Idol,” and he’s known as an all-around nice guy. His 2019 CMA solo acoustic performance revealed an emotional Urban, who was nominated for Best Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year.
#37. Matt Stell
With his newest release, “Prayed for You,” artist Matt Stell and his Arkansas swagger have helped him become noticed among the finest country music singers. In April, Rolling Stone magazine named the melody among the 10 best country and Americana songs, noting lyrics like “I kept my faith like that old King James said I’m supposed to,” balance Christian and country themes. In addition, the singer’s “Everywhere But On” hit has kept his name front and center since he released the album “Last of the Best” in 2018.
The 2019 hit “Burn Out,” which peaked at #63 in March, has ironically kept Midland on fire since its 2017 Billboard hit “Drinkin Problem,” which peaked at #45 that September. The three-person band that formed in Texas in 2016 was nominated for a CMA by 2018 and debased Little Big Town before the 2019 awards when both bands were vying for Vocal Group of the Year. Both groups lost to Old Dominion.
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#35. Cole Swindell
With nine Billboard Hot 100 hits, from “Chillin It” in 2014 to “Love You Too Late” in November 2019, singer-songwriter Cole Swindell continues to inspire swooning. The chart-topping Nashville native, who used to sell Luke Bryan merchandise before becoming the 2015 ACM New Artist of the Year, told Wide Open Country he still learns from Bryan, whose life experience and lyrical writing have inspired him.
#34. Jimmie Allen
Some say even bad press is good press for stars, which may be true for Jimmie Allen, who turned being named one of USA Today’s Worst Dressed singers at the 2018 CMAs into one of Hollywood Reporter’s 9 Most Memorable Looks at the 2019 CMA Awards. This year’s hit “Make Me Want To,” follows last year’s “Best Shot,” which got Allen nominated for the 2019 CMT Breakthrough Video of the Year.
#33. Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney has peaked on Billboard charts since 2002, beginning with “The Good Stuff” and then “Get Along” 16 years later. “Get Along” has had more than just airtime, with the song becoming a PassItOn.org public service announcement that saw “500 million Nielsen Media Research monitored views across ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox, NBC, various cable networks and social media platforms by early 2019.” Add in Chesney’s nine CMA Awards, including winning Entertainer of the Year four times, and it’s clear why he’s one of country music’s main men.
#32. Scotty McCreery
Directly after winning "American Idol’s" season 10 in 2011, Scott McCreery peaked on Billboard at #11 for “I Love You This Big,” beginning a solid country music career. In February, “This Is It,” based on his romance with his wife Gabi, peaked at #42, making the "American Idol" alum one of country music’s youngest stars at age 26. The North Carolina native made news recently for heading back to the studio to record a new album.
#31. Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn have been around for a while, peaking with a #36 hit in December 1998 for “Husbands and Wives.” They recently extended their Las Vegas residency with Reba McEntire until December 2020. As the longest-running country music show in Sin City, according to Rolling Stone, “Brooks & Dunn have been experiencing a career resurgence since releasing their album Reboot in April.”
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#30. Russell Dickerson
With three Billboard hits in the past two years, Tennessee-born Russell Dickerson has made a name for himself in country music quickly. The hits off the album “Yours,” include the song of the same name, which peaked at #49 in January 2018; “Blue Tacoma” that peaked at #52 in October 2018; and “Every Little Thing,” which peaked at #50 in November 2019. Dickerson told Country Music Television in April that Florida Georgia Line is every bit responsible for his recent success.
#29. Chase Rice
Chase Rice rose up the charts in May when he hit #38 for “Eyes On You.” Since his first Billboard hit “Ready Set Roll,” which peaked at #54 in October 2014, Rice has consistently ranked with “Gonna Wanna” that reached #57 in October 2015, and “Whisper” that peaked at #94 in February. The Florida native first gained fame in 2010 as a “Survivor: Nicaragua” cast member and recently had a cameo on “The Bachelor.”
#28. Mitchell Tenpenny
One Billboard hit “Drunk Me,” which peaked at #39 in January, was all it took to land singer-songwriter Mitchell Tenpenny among country's best artists of 2019. The Nashville native, who helped pen lyrics to his 2018 album “Telling All My Secrets,” can attribute much of his success to his grandmother, whose musical influence and connections helped him get his start at age 13. Along with co-writing his own lyrics, Tenpenny helped write “If the Boot Fits,” for Granger Smith.
#27. Cody Johnson
Cody Johnson may have only one Billboard hit, but it was big enough to rank him among the top country artists of 2019. Since “On My Way to You” peaked at #78 in May, the Texas singer-songwriter was nominated for the 2019 CMA New Artist of the Year. He lost to Ashley McBryde.
#26. Chris Lane
Chris Lane has landed Billboard hits for four consecutive years since 2016, with his latest “I Don’t Know About You” peaking at #39 in October. But his biggest video to date, which is clips from his October wedding, is for his song “Big, Big Plans” that details his marriage to Lauren Bushnell. Lane was nominated for the 2017 ACM New Vocalist of the Year Award but lost to Jon Pardi.
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#25. Tim McGraw
With 57 songs in the Billboard Top 100, Tim McGraw, who has been married to singer Faith Hill for since 1996, is not only a top country music star, he is an accomplished author. He released his autobiography “Grit & Grace” in November. The Louisiana-born singer’s acting career, including his 2009 role in “The Blind Side,” 2017 role in “The Shack,” and many television stints, make McGraw one of only a few country stars to make it on the big screen as well as on the music stage.
#24. Jordan Davis
Nominated for CMT’s Breakthrough Video of the Year in 2019 after only two Billboard hits in the past two years proves Jordan Davis has what it takes to make it in country music. First, the Louisiana native banged out hit “Singles You Up,” which peaked at #50 in April 2018, and then he did it again with “Take It From Me” that peaked at #46 this past March. Davis made news in November when he and his wife Kristen welcomed their first child.
#23. Blanco Brown
Famous for fusing country and rap music, Blanco Brown said he grew up loving Johnny Cash and Outkast, according to Time magazine. Similar to record-breaking country rap hit “Old Town Road,” Brown’s debut single “The Git Up” offered the songwriter and producer the opportunity to debut at the iconic Grand Ole Opry in November, an experience the artist said felt unreal.
#22. Dierks Bentley
Phoenix-born Dierks Bentley added a pair of songs to his list of Billboard Hot 100 hits, with “Living” reaching #51 in September, and “Burning Man” peaking at #46 in January. While “Living” became Bentley’s 17th song to reach #1 on the Country Airplay charts, “Burning Man” won Bentley the 2019 CMA Award for Vocal Event. Both songs are off his ninth album, 2018’s “The Mountain,” which peaked at #1 on the Top Country Albums in June 2018.
#21. Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini returned to the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019 with “Miss Me More,” which peaked at #47 in June off the 2017 album “Unapologetically.” She followed with “Homecoming Queen?” reaching #82 in September, and gave an emotional performance at the 2019 CMA Awards in November. “Miss Me More” hitting #1 on the Country Airplay chart marked the first time since Carrie Underwood in 2007 that a female artist had her first single off her first two albums reach # 1.
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#20. Kacey Musgraves
Led by Billboard Hot 100 hits “Rainbow,” “Butterflies,” and “Space Cowboy,” Texas-born Kacey Musgraves picked up four wins at the 2019 Grammy Awards. “Golden Hour” became the first country album since 2010 to win Album of the Year, and Musgraves also took top honors for Female Vocalist of the Year and Best Video for “Rainbow” at the 2019 CMA Awards. “The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show” premiered on Amazon Prime in late November, following the success of her 2016 album, “A Very Kacey Christmas.”
#19. Lee Brice
Lee Brice notched his biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit in 2019, with “Rumor” reaching #25 in June, two years after it was released on the album “Lee Brice.” A noted songwriter, Brice has penned hits for a who’s who in country music, including Blake Shelton and Tim McGraw. Brice found fame in 2007 after writing the Garth Brooks hit “More Than a Memory,” about an old flame.
#18. Eric Church
Eric Church scored his biggest hit since 2015, as “Some of It” reached #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July. The song came off the album “Desperate Man” in 2018, which became Church’s third to reach #1 on the Top Country Albums chart, joining “The Outsiders” and “Chief,” from 2014 and 2011, respectively. “Some of It” and “Desperate Man” are nominated for Grammys for Best Country Song and Album in 2020.
#17. Old Dominion
The five-man group Old Dominion had its biggest hit in 2019, as the single “One Man Band” reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group’s third album, “Old Dominion,” was released in October and was its second straight album to reach #1 on the Country Albums chart, following “Happy Endings” in 2017. The group took home the 2019 CMA Award for Vocal Group of the Year, also for the second straight time.
#16. George Strait
While George Strait hasn’t had a song in the Billboard Hot 100 since 2014, the country music legend’s 2019 album “Honky Tonk Time Machine” peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200. The album was the 30th studio album, and the first since 2015 from Strait, who began his career in 1971. During his nearly 50 years in country music, Strait has had 44 songs reach #1 on the Billboard Country Music chart, beginning with “Fool Hearted Memory” in 1982 up to 2009’s “River of Love.”
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#15. Zac Brown Band
The Zac Brown Band hasn’t had a single in the Billboard Top 100 since 2017, but the band’s 2019 album “The Owl” became its fifth to reach #1 on the Billboard Country Album chart. The Atlanta-based band sparked controversy in June when Brown delivered a profane acceptance speech upon winning Group Video of the Year at the CMT Awards for “Someone I Used to Know.” One week after the release of “The Owl,” Zac Brown released a surprise pop solo album, ironically called “The Controversy,” featuring some of the same artists the band collaborated with on the album.
#14. Jon Pardi
It has been a pretty good year for California’s Jon Pardi, who had two songs reach the Billboard Hot 100, led by “Night Shift,” which peaked at #56 in May. “Heartache Medication” was the second single to chart off the album of the same name, which has drawn rave reviews since its September release. To celebrate, Pardi proposed to girlfriend Summer Duncan in October during a sold-out show in Nashville to kick off his tour.
#13. Carrie Underwood
Since debuting at #1 on the Hot 100 in 2005 with “Inside Your Heaven,” Carrie Underwood has posted 36 songs on the Billboard chart, including 2019’s “Southbound,” and “Love Wins.” Her 2018 album “Cry Pretty” was her first album to reach #1 since 2012’s “Blown Away.” Underwood, who rose to fame after winning “American Idol” in 2005, hosted the 2019 Country Music Awards with legends Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton.
#12. Brett Young
California’s Brett Young peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2019 with “Here Tonight,” the first single off his 2018 sophomore album, “Ticket to L.A.” Young released “Acoustic Sessions” in September, which included four acoustic songs from “Ticket to L.A.,” as well as the previously unreleased title track.
#11. Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan scored his biggest hit since 2015 when “Knockin’ Boots” reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 2019 as the first single off his upcoming album. His second single, “What She Wants Tonight” peaked at #93, his 31st single to reach the Hot 100. Bryan, who has been a judge on “American Idol” since 2017, won Album of the Decade at the 2019 ACM Awards for 2013’s “Crash My Party.”
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#10. Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton scored his 26th #1 hit on the Billboard Country Airplay charts with “God’s Country,” which spent seven weeks at the top beginning in May. The song, which won the 2019 CMA Award for Single of the Year, was the first off Shelton’s album “Fully Loaded: God’s Country,” set to be released in mid-December. Shelton, who has been dating Gwen Stefani since 2015, has been a judge on “The Voice” since it premiered in 2011.
#9. Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean was recognized as Dick Clark Artist of the Decade at the 2019 ACM Awards for a long career that has sold 18 million albums and had nine #1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country charts. Georgia-born Aldean had Hot 100 hits throughout 2019, with “Girl Like You” peaking at #46 in January, “Rearview Town” at #40 in August, and “We Back” climbing to #78 on the most recent Billboard charts. Aldean played in Las Vegas in 2019 for the first time in two years, closing his December show with “When She Says Baby.” His performance of that song in 2017 at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival was interrupted by a mass shooting.
#8. Maren Morris
Maren Morris had quite an impact on country music in 2019, winning the award for Best Album at the 2019 CMAs for “Girl,” which reached #4 on the Billboard 200 in March. Seven months later, Morris teamed with Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires to form The Highwomen, with their self-titled album debuting at #1 on the Billboard Country charts. Morris announced in October that she and husband Ryan Hurd, a fellow musician, were expecting their first child in early 2020.
#7. Morgan Wallen
Morgan Wallen had his first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in 2019 with “Whiskey Glasses,” which also reached #17 on the Hot 100 in June. The song hit the charts a year after his first single “Up Down,” a collaboration with Florida Georgia Line that reached #49 on the Hot 100, spurring his 2018 debut album “If I Know Me” to #35 on the Billboard 200 in July. Wallen, who gained recognition as a contestant on “The Voice” in 2014, was nominated for New Artist of the Year at the CMAs in 2019 but lost to Ashley McBryde.
#6. Chris Stapleton
Even though Chris Stapleton hasn’t released an album since 2017, the song “Millionaire” reached #47 on the Hot 100 in March 2019. A noted songwriter, who has written #1 songs for Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, and George Strait, Stapleton teamed with Pink for the song “Love Me Anyway,” followed by one with Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars for “BLOW.” Stapleton has won five Grammy Awards, and 17 combined CMA and ACM awards, although he was shut out in 2019.
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#5. Florida Georgia Line
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley had a banner year in 2019, as their fourth album, “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country” reached #1 on Billboard’s Top Country albums chart in March. While no single off the album reached higher than #57 on the Hot 100, the duo was recognized in September with three new ACM Awards including Single of the Decade, Music Event of the Decade, and Breakout Artist of the Decade. Florida Georgia Line started recording their fifth album in November.
#4. Thomas Rhett
Georgia local Thomas Rhett captured Male Artist of the Year for the second time at the 2019 ACM Awards, bolstered by the release of his fourth album, “Center Point Road,” in May. The lead single off the album, “Look What God Gave Her,” reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100, and made it to #3 on the country charts in June. Rhett, who announced that he and his wife were expecting their third child in early 2020, has seen his last two albums reach #1 on the Billboard 200.
#3. Kane Brown
Kane Brown became a father in October, two weeks before reaching #36 on the Hot 100 with “One Right Thing” in collaboration with Marshmello. “One Right Thing” marked the third straight year Brown reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country songs, following 2017s “What Ifs” featuring Lauren Alaina, and “Lose It” in 2018. Additionally, “Saturday Nights,” a collaboration off Khalid’s 2019 album “Free Spirit,” reached #57 in January.
#2. Dan + Shay
The 2019 CMA Duo of the Year, Dan + Shay topped at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October with the song “10,000 Hours.” Written and performed in collaboration with pop superstar Justin Bieber, the song made headlines in September when the duo performed it live for the first time at Bieber’s wedding to Hailey Baldwin. Their 2018 self-titled album helped the pair join Blake Shelton as the only country artists with a #1 album and song on the airplay charts at the same time.
#1. Luke Combs
Charlotte, North Carolina-born Luke Combs brought home Billboard’s Top Country Artist Award in December, thanks to five songs that reached the Billboard Hot 100, led by “Even Though I’m Leaving” at #11 a few days before Thanksgiving. That song, as well as “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” which peaked at #21 in August 2019, comes from Combs’ sophomore album, “What You See Is What You Get,” which broke streaming records for a country album upon its release in November. His 2019 success was aided by the 2018 re-release of the album “This One’s For You,” including the song “Beautiful Crazy,” which reached #21 on the Hot 100.
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