This year we put 64 of the best albums from 2010 to today, from all across the spectrum of country music, up against each other to see which one would come out on top.
And just like in March Madness – we had some blowouts, some EXTREMELY close matchups, and some upsets in the first round. So before we get to voting, let’s take a look at some of the results.
First we’ll start with the blowouts. Eric Church, Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Jinks, Sturgill Simpson and Colter Wall all breezed through to the next round, winning over 80% of the vote in their respective matchups.
But there were a few albums that actually managed to get over NINETY percent of the vote. The biggest blowout of this round came courtesy of Tyler Childers, whose 2017 album Purgatory crushed Sundy Best’s Salvation City. Close behind for the biggest margin of victory was Chris Stapleton’s Traveller, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise since it’s still one of the top albums on the iTunes charts almost 7 years after it was released.
And finally, Morgan Wade’s incredible 2021 album Reckless came just a handful of votes shy of reaching the 90% club, easily earning a spot in the next round.
So those were the blowouts. But now let’s look at some of the closer margins of victory – and there were quite a few of them.
One matchup that surprised me was Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous vs. Ashley McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere. Not surprisingly, this contest got more votes than any of the others. But in a tighter-than-expected race for the biggest album of 2021, Dangerous ended up winning by just a handful of votes to move on to the next round. Could one of the pre-tournament favorites be in danger of an early exit?
Jon Pardi’s California Sunrise also put up a hell of a fight against Alan Jackson’s Where Have You Gone, but the legend ultimately ended up pulling out a win with just 52% of the vote. And Kip Moore and Miranda Lambert battled it out until right up until the end, but Miranda managed to squeak through to the next round in one of the tougher matchups of the tournament.
The closest race, though, came in the matchup between Jason Isbell’s Southeastern and The Highwomen’s self-titled album, a contest that Isbell managed to win with 51% of the vote.
Unfortunately that means a lot of good albums had to make an early exit (kinda like Kentucky in the real tournament) – albums like our #1 album of 2021, Charles Wesley Godwin’s How the Mighty Fall, Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer, Different Park and Koe Wetzel’s Noise Complaint (which was hanging tough until a push from Whiskey Myers on Twitter led them to a comfortable victory).
*Just to be clear: We absolutely encourage any and all campaigning by both artists and fans alike.
So with that, the first round is complete and it’s on to the round of 32.
The matchups are only going to get harder as we go, as this round features Luke Combs going up against his mentor and hero Eric Church, two legends in Alan Jackson and George Strait facing off, and some of the biggest names in Texas going up against each other to stay alive.
Oh yeah, and we also get Wheeler Walker Jr.’s Redneck Shit going up against Loretta Lynn. Find me another country site that’ll let you choose between those two.
Voting is now open for the Round of 32, and you can vote as many times as you like between now and 11:59 PM central time on Tuesday, March 22.
As always, you might wanna vote a few extra times if you’ve got an album that you really want to see advance, because the last round was pretty unpredictable and just proves that anything can happen.