Top 10 Country Songs of the ’00s
A great country song can inspire you, make you laugh or make you cry. It may even enliven you to do crazy things like jump out of an airplane, dance like no one is watching … or do a little damage to a cheater’s beloved truck.
The 2000s saw all of the above as the genre has flourished, opening its doors to a more eclectic sound while keeping its tradition of thought-provoking lyrics. Below, The Boot counts down the Top 10 Country Songs of the ’00s. But these aren’t just the tunes that got the most radio play or won the most awards — these were the country music news-makers.
The same ‘American Idol’ winner who let Jesus take the wheel showed her sassier side in ‘Before He Cheats’ by taking a bat to a pair of taillights. And they weren’t just any taillights: They belonged to a special someone who turned out to be not-so-special after some infidelity. This crossover hit from 2006 has wandering eyes seeing straight with its clever tale of a jilted girlfriend who gets sweet revenge.
Only Sugarland can make you root for the “other woman.” This CMA-, ACM- and Grammy-winning song gets live audiences cheering when its lonely heroine who aches for a married man finally throws him to the curb in the last verse. It was their first song to be certified platinum and was inspired by another big hit — Reba McEntire‘s 1986 single ‘Whoever’s in New England.’
Not since Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash has a country singer been nicknamed the title of one of their songs. Wilson shot to superstardom with this unapologetic tune released in 2004 as the lead single from her ‘Here for the Party’ album. This tune embraces the eccentricities of being a “redneck,” from walking around barefoot to keeping Christmas lights up “all year long.”
The events of 9/11, combined with his and his late father’s unwavering patriotism, led Keith to pen this song, which he originally never planned to release and only performed live during his many concerts entertaining American troops. Promising terrorists that the U.S. will “put a boot up your ass,” the tune proved both motivational and controversial. It was released in 2002 as the lead single from ‘Unleashed.’
This talented trio swept the 2007 Grammy Awards, winning all five categories in which they were nominated, on the strength of this defiant, wildly personal song. Airing their frustrations over what was perhaps the biggest backlash in country music history, the Chicks refuse in this track to apologize for denouncing then-president George W. Bush, even if it means losing fans and even fielding death threats. ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’ remains their most successful single to date.
This poignant ballad celebrates lost love that ultimately leads down the path to true love. The song stayed at No. 1 on the country charts for five straight weeks and will stay on wedding playlists for years to come. The trio won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 2005 for the platinum-certified ballad.
This tear-jerking tune, co-written by country legends Jon Randall and “Whisperin'” Bill Anderson, tells the devastating tale of a man who goes to war and comes back to find his wife with another man. Stricken with grief, he drinks himself to death. Stricken with guilt, she does the same. It is, in every sense of the title, a whiskey lullaby.
McGraw dedicated this inspiring song to his late father, baseball great Tug McGraw, who passed away a year before its release after a battle with brain cancer. With their message of living life to the fullest, the lyrics include several adventures that might be on one’s “bucket list,” like skydiving and bull riding, as well as a call to live like “tomorrow was a gift.” After each listen, fans can walk away vowing to love more deeply and speak more sweetly.
This uplifting, crossover smash is about way more than just cutting a rug — it’s about “taking chances,” giving “faith a fighting chance” and never losing “your sense of wonder.” In short, Womack’s career-defining song defines what country music is all about. ‘I Hope You Dance’ was the title track to her debut record with MCA Nashville.
The event that devastated the decade inspired our No. 1 pick for Top 10 Country Songs of the ’00s. The “singer of simple songs” wrote it just a few weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, voicing the fears of a grief-stricken nation and giving an anything-but-simple message of hope and love in a time of devastation.