These 10 pop albums are essential listening for every country music fan.
We have all done it from time to time. We have ignored music, new and old because we assume we will not like it just because it isn’t labeled country music.
Unfortunately, that can lead to missing out on some of the greatest influential albums of all time, or some of the best party music around. So, we put together a list of 10 pop albums you should listen to that are not classified as country. The following artists and their albums have been influenced by, or have helped shape country music, so start setting up your playlist now and step out of your comfort zone to explore these incredible albums.
1. The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) – Justin Timberlake
One of today’s hottest pop icons, Memphis-native Justin Timberlake has had strong ties to country music throughout his life and career. In the past, he has collaborated with several country artists, including Alabama and Reba McEntire, and cites legendary superstar Garth Brooks as one of his musical heroes. In listening to his recent album, the 20/20 Experience, you can hear his country influences, especially on the track “Drink You Away.”
2. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac’s sound is just as current today as it was in the 1970s. Vocal groups like Little Big Town use harmonies that are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s rich harmonies on Rumors, which set the band apart from other artists of the time. If you are a fan of country music, this album should be in your collection. If not, immediately get on iTunes and purchase it now. You won’t regret it.
3. Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) – The Eagles
With albums like “Hotel California”, “One of These Nights”, and “Desperado”, it’s impossible to pick which Eagle’s record is the best. Listen to all three to get the full scope and vision of the iconic country-rock group, or buy Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) for the best songs from each collection. The musical landscape has changed so much over the past 40 years, that The Eagles, much like Fleetwood Mac, are a perfect fit for any current day country music fan.
4. Blue – Joni Mitchell
Countless artists have acknowledged Joni Mitchell as a musical inspiration that helped shape their songwriting, storytelling, and dedication. Setting poetry to music in a way no other musician could, Joni stayed on a musical path all her own, avoiding any potential industry misguidance and staying true to her craft. To experience the genius of Joni Mitchell, take a listen to Blue.
5. Songs of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen
Although Leonard Cohen has released 13 albums in his long-standing career, all it takes is one listen to his very first album to see why he’s considered a visionary. Cohen pairs melodies with lyrics like no other artist. Now 46 years after the album’s release, Cohen continues to create unique and inventive music, providing on-going inspiration to artists and fans of all genres.
6. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley
Needing no formal introduction, the self-titled album Elvis Presley makes the list as a must-have pop album for everyone, no matter his or her music preference. Elvis Presley, the album, was the first release from the King of Pop, America’s first rock star, Mr. Elvis Presley. Presley pulled musical influence from blues, country, gospel and more, pushing boundaries behind the microphone, as well as on-stage with his trailblazing performances. Presley is an icon who has undoubtedly shaped music as we know it today.
7. Help! – The Beatles
The tenth album from British sensation, The Beatles, features a cover of “Act Naturally,” a song originally recorded and released by country legend Buck Owens. Owens and Ringo Starr re-recorded the song in 1989 as a duet, which made it to Number 27 on the Billboard country chart. The updated version exposed a new generation of Beatles fans to the legendary Buck Owens, one of country’s greatest pioneers.
8. True – Avicii
Well known in the Electronic Dance Music and House Music circuit, Avicii released his first album True and quickly gained fans in a rather unexpected genre – country. Avicii found a way to infuse the sounds of traditional bluegrass and blues with his heart-pumping beats, creating a unique sound that has exploded in popularity. The juxtaposition of the raw natural bluegrass vocals paired with heavy synth EDM fit so well together you’d swear they were long lost friends. Anyone looking for music to pump up the day needs to have this album on hand.
9. The Soul Sessions – Joss Stone
British soul singer/songwriter Joss Stone is one heck of a musician. At the age of 16 she shot to stardom with the single “Fell in Love with a Boy,” and has been revered as one of the freshest soul singers of our time…and she is only 27. Soul music and country music have many characteristics in common, and Stone utilizes all of them. She naturally makes a personal connection with the lyrics and emotions of the songs she sings. The powerful British voice could certainly do any country song justice.
10. Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
At the heart of any country music song is a great story, and there a few singer-songwriters better at storytelling than James Taylor. His cherished songs “Fire and Rain,” “Country Road,” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” all of have one thing in common – honesty and vulnerability. At the end of the day, the most important thing in country music is a genuine story, and James Taylor has dedicated his life to providing just that.