Country music is an irreplaceable part of American culture, dating back generations. And while the genre has undoubtedly changed throughout the years, fans continue to seek it out for its strong melodies, musicianship, and storytelling.
Since 1967, the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards have been recognizing excellence in country music. Each year, more than 7,400 industry professionals — including executives, publicists, songwriters, and musicians — vote on the year’s best song, album, entertainer, and more. This year’s ceremony is scheduled to air live Wednesday, Nov. 13, on the ABC Television Network with Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, and Reba McEntire hosting.
While not always the case, the music that is recognized by the CMA often coincides with what fans of the genre enjoy the most. This is every Album of the Year as chosen by the CMAs since 1967.
In anticipation of this year’s ceremony, 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 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.
This is not to say that musicians who work strictly within the confines of country cannot be exceptionally successful as well. Artists including George Strait, Clint Black, and Dolly Parton have all dominated the Country Albums chart at times and sold millions of albums. These are the most popular country music stars.
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 album sales. Both components of the index were given equal weight.
An artist’s total certified U.S. album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA tracks 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 at least 1,000,000 certified sales.