The world of country music has not been spared the effects of the novel coronavirus that is currently disrupting lives throughout the world. Live music events have been canceled, including the Country Music Association’s 2020 CMA Fest, the biggest annual festival in country music — and many artists, including Willie Nelson and Margo Price, have delayed the release of their new records.
Yet all hope is not lost for lovers of country music. The genre has a rich history that has left us with thousands of beautiful albums, most of which have stood the test of time. So while fans may have to wait to hear new music from their favorite artists, it’s a great time to revisit some old favorites and remember what drew us to the style of music in the first place.
To aid in this exercise, 24/7 Tempo has identified the 100 most popular country albums of all time, based on album sales and performance on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.
As anyone who has tuned into country radio recently knows, pop country is extremely popular. Artists who appeal not only to country fans but also to the average listener of pop music are much more in demand than more traditional country artists. The success of crossover artists such as Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, and Sam Hunt is a testament to this. These are the best selling country albums of the last 10 years.
This is not to say that musicians who perform more traditional country in this day and age cannot be exceptionally successful as well. Artists including George Strait, Clint Black, and Dolly Parton have all sold millions of albums and dominated both the Country Albums chart and the singles list at times. In fact, the artists with the most hits are generally those who would be considered performers of “classic” country. These are the country musicians with the most hits.
To determine the most popular country albums of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on weeks spent in the No. 1 position on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and lifetime U.S. album sales. Both components of the index were given equal weight.
An artist’s total U.S. album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA certifies album sales released in the U.S. market with at least 500,000 units sold. For an album to be considered for our ranking, it must have had at least 1,000,000 certified sales — or certified “platinum” — so far.