While country music may not please every music listener’s taste, the genre often produces songs that slip into the mainstream and become exceedingly popular. These songs may find wide appeal by straddling multiple genres — as many modern “pop country” songs do — or they may simply exhibit such excellence that the general public can’t help but sit up and listen.
24/7 Wall St. has identified the most popular country music songs of all time based on performance on the Billboard Hot 100. While there are charts that strictly rank country music alone, these are the songs that have performed the best amongst all popular music.
Having crossover appeal is one of the most efficient ways for a country song to perform well on the popular music charts. “Meant to Be,” the recent collaborative single by country duo Florida Georgia Line and pop singer Bebe Rexha, has proved this by spending 52 weeks on the Hot 100. While the song has been a huge success in the country world — it ranked No. 1 on the year-end Hot Country chart for all of 2018 — its nontraditional sound attracted millions of listeners who propelled it up the pop music charts.
Embracing a more “pop” sound is not the only way for a country artist to find mainstream success. Carrie Underwood rose to national fame after winning season 4 of “American Idol.” This recognition has boosted songs such as the 2005 single “Before He Cheats,” which spent 64 weeks on the Hot 100.
To determine the most popular country songs of all time, 24/7 Wall St. identified songs that had appeared on both Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and Hot 100 chart — which ranks popularity across all genres — at any time going back to both charts’ beginnings in 1958. We then created a points system based on these songs’ Hot 100 performance: points were awarded for each week the song spent on the chart and points were awarded also based on the rank the song reached. The more points a song received overall, the more popular it was considered.