Ever wonder where the stars of country music started? Here is a list of the lead singles for 10 of the biggest names in country music!
The first artist on the list is Luke Bryan. Whether you love him or hate him, he’s undoubtedly made a name for himself as a country music superstar. Proving his stardom, he was crowned ACM Entertainer of the Year in 2013, 2015, and is this year’s reigning EOTY. He also won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 2014 and 2015. Luke Bryan’s debut single was All My Friends Say, which is an upbeat, fun song about waking up after a night out on the town. When speaking about the song, Luke said, “It's one of those songs that people just seem to relate to when they hear it. It's about waking up in a rocking chair somewhere and wondering what in the heck went on the night before. It's about seeing your ex in a bar with someone new... We've all been there and had those kinds of experiences.” All My Friends Say was his first single off of his debut album, I’ll Stay Me in 2007. Prior to that, though, his first single that he wrote was recorded by another artist. Billy Currington released Good Directions in 2006. All My Friends Say peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Chart and was certified Gold.
Thomas Rhett is a little newer to the “Country Superstar” list, but he’s had a huge career so far, winning ACM Male Vocalist of the year 3 times and ACM EOTY in 2020. His debut single was Something to Do with My Hands. I remember when this song came out and I’ve loved TR’s music ever since! Something to Do with My Hands is a fun song! I’d say it is a little less mature and sweet than his other songs, especially those influenced by his wife, Lauren, but it’s still a fun song to listen to! This song was released in 2012 on his debut album It Goes Like This. Thomas Rhett wrote the song with Lee Thomas Miller and Chris Stapleton. It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot Country Chart. If you haven’t heard it before, be sure to check it out!
Can we just go ahead and crown Carrie Underwood as the queen of country music?! I’ve loved her since her American Idol days and she still seems like the sweetest soul and without a doubt has one of the most powerful voices in country music. It’s no wonder she won American Idol all those years ago! Since then, she’s won ACM EOTY 3 times, and ACM and CMA Female Vocalist awards 8 times! As we probably all know, her debut single was Jesus, Take the Wheel off of her album Some Hearts. This album was the best selling album in all genres in 2006. What an amazing accomplishment for her debut album! I recently watched Sadie Robertson Huff (from Duck Dynasty)’s instagram stories talking about how she tried to sing along with Jesus, Take the Wheel and was just amazed at Carrie’s voice. She related herself to sounding like a screaming goat! Haha! I totally get it. Carrie can belt it out like no other and this song was a perfect debut for her career! The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart, but also had success on the Adult Contemporary, Christian, and even Hot 100 charts.
Jason Aldean is another artist that has risen to superstardom over the past 2 decades. He has won ACM EOTY and Male Vocalist awards 3 times each and received 4 Grammy nominations. 22 of his 35 singles over his career have gone to number 1! His first single is not one of them to hit #1, but it did peak at #10 on the Billboard Hot Country chart. Off his self-titled debut album in 2005, the first single was Hicktown, which is an up-tempo song celebrating life in small, rural towns across America. The song was written by Big & Rich and Vicky McGehee. Even though it isn’t one of his number one hits, it is still a song that Aldean plays in his shows to this day!
Eric Church may not be the most decorated artist in country music awards, earning a single CMA Entertainer of the Year award, but he is still one of the most respected and admired artists in the industry. He has 10 number 1 singles and 7 albums (9 if you include the 3 parts of Heart & Soul.) His debut single off of his 2006 album Sinners Like Me was How ‘Bout You, a song where he sings about the things he does and the way he lives his life, asking the listeners if they feel the same way. It’s a song that I’ve heard him perform a few times in concert and love every time. Eric Church is such a great performer and songwriter and his entire first album is a great listen (along with the rest of his albums if we’re being honest)!
Miranda Lambert got her start in country music when she placed third on a country music singing competition show, “Nashville Star” back in 2003. She went on to form an amazing career in country music, taking home CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year awards SIXTEEN times! Her debut album Kerosene was released in 2005, but the song by the same name was not the first single she released. The debut was her song Me and Charlie Talking, a song about a childhood love and friendship. In the song, she and Charlie talk about falling in love and getting married, but they’re only kids so they have to wait. The song continues into their adult life, after Charlie has moved away, but Miranda sings about wishing to go back to the simpler times of childhood love. The song peaked at number 27.
I know Taylor Swift has long departed from the country music world, but that doesn’t change the fact that her debut album (and the 3 following albums) were country. Also, Jess and I are big time Swifties, so she will probably be showing up in the blog often :) We’ll keep it to her country days though! Taylor Swift is without a doubt one of the most successful artists of all time. She won ACM and CMA EOTY awards four times and won an Album of the Year Grammy for her country album Fearless. But before that, in 2006, she entered the music scene as a 16 year old girl with her self-titled debut album and the song Tim McGraw. I have been a TSwift fan since that song came out. I was 14 and instantly loved her songwriting and haven’t stopped obsessing in the 15 years since! She wrote the song as a freshman in high school about her impending breakup with her boyfriend as he was going off to college in the fall. The song is all about the things that will make him remember her when he’s gone, including her favorite artist, Tim McGraw. The song peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the Billboard Hot Country chart. It is also certified 2x Platinum.
Blake Shelton is CMA EOTY winner and won the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year award for five consecutive years from 2010-2014! Shelton began his career with a self-titled debut album in 2001 and led with his first single, Austin. This song is about a man whose girlfriend left and moved to Austin, TX, but then when she tries to reach him months later, she is greeted by his answering machine. The message explains all the places he could be, but always ends with P.S. If this is Austin, I still love you. The girl is floored and touched by his love for her and leaves her own message. The song hit number 1 and stayed there for 5 weeks and is also certified Platinum! Surprisingly this is not the song that Shelton had planned to release first. His first single was supposed to be I Wanna Talk About Me, but his label decided that it wasn’t a great lead single, so the song went to Toby Keith instead!
Formerly known as Lady Antebellum, this group has been around for 15 years and has won 11 Grammy awards! Their debut single from their self-titled album was Love Don’t Live Here, a song about moving on from a breakup. Charles Kelly and Hillary Scott sing about an old lover coming back into town trying to make things right, but she’s moved on and isn’t having it! The song was one of the first songs written by the trio and it came after an actual breakup Scott had gone through. Charles Kelly said, “Let’s write a song about it,” and that’s just what they did! The song went on to chart at #3 on the Billboard Hot Country chart.
Luke Combs is the freshest face on my list of country music superstars, but he has surely made a name for himself over the past few years. He’s already won CMA and ACM Male Vocalist of the Year awards three times! Since it’s only been 5 years, you’ll probably remember his debut song. Hurricane comes off of his 2016 album This One’s For You. This song is about the aftermath of a breakup. He sings about finally going out with friends and starting to get over her and back to normal, but then she shows up out of nowhere and before he knows it he’s headed back to her house. The song peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot Country list, but was #1 for Country Airplay. It has been certified 4x Platinum!
Even these country music superstars had to start somewhere and this list of debut singles is a pretty great playlist if you ask me! Any surprises or songs you’d forgotten about? Let us know what you think!