In this year’s round of Whiskey Riff Madness, we started out by putting 64 of the best albums from 2010 to today, from all across the spectrum of country music, up against each other. And then we let you the readers vote to see which one would come out on top.
Now, we’re down to just four.
More votes were cast in the Elite Eight than in ANY of the previous rounds – and it was also the closest round we’ve had so far.
First up was the Mainstream region, which featured Eric Church’s Chief against Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album. And Dangerous was an early favorite to win the whole tournament after the monster year it’s had: Hell, just this week it broke the record for the longest run in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart by a country album. It spent a staggering 10 weeks at #1 on the albums chart, was the best-selling album of 2021 in any genre, and has broken pretty much every streaming record there is.
Oh, and it also just won the ACM Award for Album of the Year.
So yeah, Dangerous was an early contender to win the whole tournament this year.
But that’s not going to happen, because Eric Church’s 2011 album Chief just sent Morgan Wallen packing. It was a close race, with Chief getting just 55% of the vote, and the margin of victory kept narrowing. And Dangerous came surprisingly close to getting knocked out earlier in the tournament too. But ultimately, its run will come to an end as Chief gets the first spot in the Final Four.
Then we go to the Whiskey Myers’ Firewater vs. Cody Jinks’ Adobe Sessions for the champion of the Texas region. This started out as the closest matchup of the round – but thanks to all the hardcore Whiskey Myers fans out there, Firewater managed to pull off the win with the largest margin of victory in this round of the tournament, racking up 68% of the vote to earn its place in the next round.
Next we have what was probably the hardest matchup for me personally coming from the Appalachia region with Tyler Childers’ Purgatory going up against Chris Stapleton’s Traveller. When it comes to the best of the best in Appalachia, this matchup put the two best head to head. And both albums had pretty much sailed through all of their earlier matchups in the tournament, so you knew it was going to be close.
Well sure enough this one didn’t disappoint, with the lead flipping back and forth right up to the finish – until Tyler Childers and Purgatory came out on top and sent one of the biggest albums of the decade packing.
And finally we have the “Indie” region, with Zach Bryan’s DeAnn and Colter Wall’s self-titled album facing off for the final spot in the next round. In another insanely close matchup, separated by a handful of votes, DeAnn pulled off the win to round out our Final Four.
Not bad for an album recorded in an AirBnB.
So there you have it: Your Final Four, battling it out for a spot in the championship round. We have the best in the Mainstream region taking on the best in Texas, and on the other side of the bracket we have two of the best independent artists going head to head with their debut albums.
Who will face off for the title of Whiskey Riff Madness 2022 champion? Well that’s for you to decide, and voting is open until 11:59 pm central time on Thursday, March 31.
As always, you can vote as many times as you like – and make sure you’re following us on Instagram, because we’ll be throwing some of the close matchups on our stories to give you a chance to vote there too.