Toby Keith tops country charts

Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood among others who made their mark on the decades list

By (Reuters)

Published: Sun 27 Dec 2009, 8:15 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:22 PM

Consistent with the genre’s commercial history, country music over the past decade largely revolved around male artists, led by Toby Keith, who finishes the 2000s as Billboard’s top country artist and ranks as the genre’s top songwriter of the past 10 years.

Keith is also No. 1 on the Top Country Albums Artists tally and is the runner-up on the Hot Country Songs Artists list (both viewable at He has three songs inside the top 20 of the Country Songs roundup and three titles on the Top Country Albums tally.

Keith Urban registers the decade’s top song with Somebody Like You, which ruled Hot Country Songs for six weeks in 2002. Kenny Chesney finishes as the Top Country Songs Artist, with 46 charting titles in the past 10 years.

Although female artists gained a tremendous amount of ground on country radio during the ‘90s, the women didn’t sustain that presence during the ‘00s. Had it not been for the influence of American Idol victor Carrie Underwood, female artists (and female groups) on Billboard’s decade-end lists would mostly be confined to the nine female sets that populate the top 20 on Top Country Albums, where Underwood’s Some Hearts leads.

And within the top 20 of the Hot Country Songs recap, Underwood’s Before He Cheats (No. 14) is the only track by a female artist. But by 2007, the arrival of Taylor Swift significantly elevated the female category on the country charts, where she places two titles inside the top 20.

The Country Albums scorecard for the 10-year period underlines the artist turnover during the decade. The top 10 of the Top Country Albums list is dominated by acts that are currently inactive on the weekly Country Songs chart, including the Dixie Chicks, who were the target of a country radio boycott early in the decade after lead singer Natalie Maines publicly criticised President George W. Bush.

Country radio also had a well-documented struggle with attempts to harness the runaway popularity of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which finishes at No. 2 on the Top Country Albums list. Country radio programmers hesitantly took 25 weeks to drag the bluegrass/gospel/country album’s radio single, I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow, to a No. 35 peak on Hot Country Songs. Yet during its 104 weeks on Top Country Albums, the soundtrack moved more than 6 million copies and has amassed total sales exceeding 7.5 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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