In today’s music industry, a debut album for an artist seems to be more about name recognition, radio play and sales more than anything else. For some artists, the equation works out and not only does the album produce sales and radio play, it sets up a musical legacy and a benchmark to always aim past. Other debut albums leave listeners scratching their head years later– wait, they sang that? It’s pretty amazing to look back at some debut albums and realize a lot of country music artists started the game the same way they are going to end it– on top.
8 Best Debut Albums from Country Music Artists:
(Not necessarily in order.)
1. Dixie Chicks // Wide Open Spaces, 1998
Hard to imagine an all-female trio breaking out today like the Chicks did before the Millennium. Spaces produced three No. 1 singles and two GRAMMY Awards. This album also upped a number of females’ karaoke game.
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “Let ‘Er Rip”
2. Johnny Cash // With His Hot and Blue Guitar, 1957
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle”
3. Brooks & Dunn // Brand New Man, 1991
A debut album from a duo that produced four consecutive No. 1 singles? Yes, and the Florida Georgia Line boys were barely out of diapers at the time. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn didn’t even really know each other before trying this whole thing out and well, it worked.
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “My Next Broken Heart”
4. Taylor Swift // Taylor Swift, 2006
Taylor Swift‘s self-titled debut spent 275 weeks on Billboard‘s Top 200 chart. Swift’s first No. 1 from the album, “Our Song” made her the youngest singer-songwriter to ever single-handedly write and sing a No. 1 song.
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “Should’ve Said No”
5. Garth Brooks // Garth Brooks, 1989
Garth Brooks was Garth Brooks‘ only album to not reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, it peaked at No. 2. It did produce four Top 10 singles for Brooks, including two No. 1 hits and the now legendary song, “The Dance.” Hard to believe “The Dance” was on a debut album.
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “If Tomorrow Never Comes”
6. The Judds // Why Not Me, 1984
In a female-duo and mother-daughter group all their own, The Judds came out of the gate firing on all cylinders with four No. 1 singles and two GRAMMY Awards on their debut album.
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “Love Is Alive”
7. Kacey Musgraves // Same Trailer Different Park, 2013
Kacey co-wrote all 12 tracks on the album and though its four singles received little radio airplay, the album went on to win the GRAMMY for Best Country Album.
Song you loved on the album and forgot about: “Keep It To Yourself”
8. Zac Brown Band // The Foundation, 2008
These Georgia boys stormed onto the scene with four No. 1 singles (and another that peaked at No. 2). Their debut album was so impressive it scored the band an all-genre GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist.
Other strong starts:
Lady Antebellum // Lady Antebellum, 2008
Miranda Lambert // Kerosene, 2005
Sam Hunt // Montevallo, 2014
Dwight Yoakam // Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., 1986
Darius Rucker // Learn to Live, 2008
Image Source: Sony, UMG, Sun, BMLG