Country Music's 10 Biggest Pop Crossover Successes

Categories: Columns

Shania_horse.jpg
Courtesy the artist
Sorry T-Swift, but Shania Twain wrote the book on country crossovers
The line that designates what is and is not country music is muddier than most of us are willing to admit. What is abundantly clear, though, is that country music appeals to more people than just rednecks and sappy beer drinkers. Taylor Swift may think she's reinventing the wheel in her journey from plucking a banjo to the top of the pops, but country crossover artists have made moves into the mainstream for decades, arguably more so than artists in any other genre.

Before Taylor Swift, country crossover stars sold millions of records to people who would have never considered themselves fans of the genre. Whatever you think about "poppy" country, there's no denying the massive appeal of these ten artists who got their start in Nashville.


Faith Hill
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Faith Hill reigned over the music industry almost without challenge. In what would become her first crossover success and eventually Hill's most notable track, "Breathe" was the most popular single of the year on both the pop and country charts in 1999. Hill would later go on to produce both pop and country recordings, sometimes alongside husband and similarly successful artist Tim McGraw, proving that this Mississippi girl is perfectly at home in either genre.


Taylor Swift
Forget about Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Taylor Swift is largely responsible for country music's resurgence in mainstream pop culture. Well before the release of Red, the first album that Swift released to both pop and country stations, her infectious energy and self-written lyrics had attracted hordes of pop fans, from soccer moms to tweenagers. She may have ditched the banjo and carefully cultivated small-town twang for a boom box and twerking dancers in her latest album, but time will tell whether or not Swift ultimately belongs in Nashville or New York.


Darius Rucker
Darius Rucker's first taste of fame as lead singer of one-hit (or two?) wonder Hootie and the Blowfish may have ended well before the release of his first country album, but he's proven that he can top the charts no matter what he records. As a country artist, Rucker has recorded three commercially and critically successful albums. His better-than-original cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" also earned him a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance.


Glen Campbell
He will always be known as the Rhinestone Cowboy, but that doesn't mean that Glen Campbell was only fawned over by country fans. Before starring in John Wayne movies and hosting his own wildly popular television show, Campbell made history by being the first person to win Grammy awards in both the pop and country categories, most notably for his smash-hit "Gentle On My Mind" -- and, of course, the aforementioned "Rhinestone Cowboy."


Shania Twain
Shania Twain may have actually written the book on country-pop crossovers. With producer and ex-husband Mutt Lange, Twain recorded some of the best-selling records of all time, in any genre. After toiling away at the top of the country charts, Twain launched into international superstardom with "You're Still the One," a love ballad that helped her sophomore effort sell more than 12 million copies. After staying out of the spotlight for close to a decade, Twain took an exclusive residency at Caesar's Palace last year and announced plans for a new album in the not-too-distant future.



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7 comments
JustSaying
JustSaying

There are only 2 "crossover" artists that really matter. They are Garth and Shania. If you listen to country prior to those two it sounds completely different than the country that has come out since their first few hits.


In short, Garth and Shania killed country.

kmf1137
kmf1137

Glen Campbell is WAYYYY More than just The Rhinestone Cowboy. Looong before he had records of his own Glen was a member of The Champs (Of "Tequila" fame), he was a member of The Beach Boys, He played on most Beach Boys records, Most Monkees Records, Jan and Dean records, Sonny and Cher records, Ricky Nelson records, The Association, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra,The Righteous Brothers, The Everly Brothers and played on hundreds of Rock and Roll records throughout the 60's. Worked along side of Sonny and Cher, Ricky Nelson, Seals and Crofts just to name a few. Had a couple of television variety series shows involving folks from all musical genre's! Glen Campbell is one of musics greatest assets in its history! And this Man belongs in The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame!

MattL11
MattL11

For the life of me I can't tell you what drove me to look this up, but shockingly the great Hootie & the Blowfish had six top-40 songs. The more you know... 

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

Great examples, but the real trailblazer for female country singers was Skeeter Davis.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

@JustSaying  yeah, that's about the time my late father stopped tuning in to country music radio stations.

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