There was no shortage of great music to come out of 2021. Whether an independent artist or a seasoned hit maker, we don’t discriminate when making a “best of” list. From newbies to country music staples, we’ve compiled a list of the top artists of 2021 based on our review readership, fan engagement and overall career potential.
No. 1 – Morgan Wade
2021 Releases: Reckless (album), “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”
Morgan Wade is the female version of Chris Stapleton. The edgy country upstart has solidified her spot in the competitive country music format this year with the release of Reckless. The album is thoughtful from start to finish and features breakout hit, “Wilder Days” and our personal favorite, “Last Cigarette.”
No. 2 – Laine Hardy
2021 Releases: “Memorize You,” “Memorize You (Acoustic),” “Authentic,” Here’s To Anyone (album).
American Idol champ Laine Hardy has an extremely loyal fanbase that will continue to catapult his career for years to come. Hardy released the upbeat bayou infused “Memorize You” this year followed by its acoustic counterpart.
The Louisiana bred artist truly caught steam though with the release of his debut album “Here’s To You” which has quickly amassed millions of streams including our favorite, “One Of Those.” If Laine Hardy doesn’t have a No. 1 song on country radio in 2022, we will be shocked.
No. 3 – Jake Hoot
2021 Releases: Love Out Of Time (EP), “Night Left,” “When Christmas Has Come And Gone” (feat. The Tenors)
It seems that The Voice churns out so many winners and most of them lose steam just as quick as they gained it. Season 17 winner of The Voice Jake Hoot has proven to be an outlier amongst his many fellow champions this year. He kicked off 2021 by releasing his debut EP equipped with a show stopping duet with his former coach and superstar, Kelly Clarkson, “I Would’ve Loved You.”
The emotional song was released shortly after the news of Clarkson’s public divorce which made the impact of the track that much greater. Hoot rode the wave from the release and appeared on The Voice semi-finals, The Kelly Clarkson Show and TODAY with Hoda & Jenna. It wasn’t until the release of “Night Left” though that we heard an undeniable country radio hit.
Most recently, Hoot released a touching Christmas song featuring Canadian group The Tenors.
Hoot’s star quality is undeniable and will surely make great strides in 2022.
No. 4 – Tarrah
2021 Releases: “What I’m Missing,” “Tabs On You”
An undiscovered gem, Tarrah entered our radar with the release of “What I’m Missing.” Her tone is so undeniably country and clear.
Tarrah wrapped the year up with the release of “Tabs On You” which is another great taste of her potential. This is just the beginning of the newbie’s bright future and we can’t wait to see how her musicianship grows.
No. 5 – Chayce Beckham
2021 Releases: “23,” “Can’t Do Without Me” (feat. Lindsay Ell)
Another American Idol winner tops our list and for good reason. Chayce Beckham’s gritty vocals and momentum led him to top the iTunes Charts with “23” for weeks. The outlaw style release quickly left a mark on the country format.
Most recently, Beckham released a duet with rising guitar virtuoso Lindsay Ell, “Can’t Do Without Me.” The pair seamlessly blend with Beckham’s rocking country flare and Ell’s edgy and undeniable musicianship. Hopefull for an EP or album from this budding star in 2022.
No. 6 – Brent Cobb
2021 Releases: Just A Closer Walk With Thee (EP)
Brent Cobb is the modern day Willie Nelson. The Grammy-nominated artist has rightfully earned a level of respect within the country music industry that is difficult to achieve. On his latest, 3-song EP Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Cobb channels his inner thoughts to create a bluesy and acoustic guitar filled sample. The poetic “When Its My Time” is a highlight for us.
No. 7 – Scotty McCreery
2021 Releases: “Why You Gotta Be Like That,” Same Truck (album)
Granted, Scotty McCreery has been successful in the country music format for years, he hasn’t released a new record since 2018… until now. McCreery teased fans earlier this year with the release of “Why You Gotta Be Like That” featuring his signature booming bass.
The title track of McCreery’s 2021 record Same Truck is a universal story about living the good life.
Our favorite of McCreey’s 2021 releases is a deep cut from the record. “The Waiter” could very well be a Randy Travis b-side, yet McCreery’s performance is wholly his own. No one else could deliver such a moving story.
No. 8 – Parker McCollum
2021 Releases: “To Be Loved By You,” “Drinkin’,” “Rest Of My Life,” “Carrying Your Love With Me,” Gold Chain Cowboy (album), Gold Chain Cowboy (Special Edition) (album)
Red dirt artist Parker McCollum seemed to catapult to the top of the country charts out of nowhere. The traditional country cowboy first made waves with “To Be Loved By You,” then proved his stardom with radio hit “Pretty Heart.”
The phenomenon that is Parker McCollum doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. We are here for it.