Blake Shelton remains one of the best song interpreters in modern country music. Like his peers Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, and even ex-wife Miranda Lambert, Shelton's sound and image bridge the narrow gap between the pop-friendly "hat acts" of the 1990s and our current situation, making his songs appeal to different generations of country music fans. He's also incredibly fun to watch as a coach on The Voice or during his hilarious appearances on talk shows.
Despite all of this, Shelton gets dismissed by some as being "too pop." However, with the right material, he becomes the sort of emotive storyteller that's long captured country fans' imaginations. In fact, with a rougher image and a more consistent "Kiss My Country Ass" attitude, he might be as well-received as Eric Church and others revered by traditionalists.
Consider the following 12-song playlist, whether you're a diehard member of Team Blake or someone who needs to be sold on his catalog's depth.
12. "Boys 'Round Here" (Feat. Pistol Annies and Friends)
Written by Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Craig Wiseman, "Boys 'Round Here" is a prime example of Shelton's sense of humor. The Pistol Annies collaboration is playful on purpose, with jokes about Southwestern lifestyles. Shelton was drawn to the song immediately since many folks he knows back home don't, as the song states, listen to The Beatles.
11. "Some Beach"
Fans of modern country love the beach. Blame it on Jimmy Buffett if you must, but this topic has done wonders for the careers of more than just Kenny Chesney. Shelton furthers tropical escapism for weekend warriors wanting more than a backyard barbecue.
10. "Hillbilly Bone" (Feat. Trace Adkins)
With the help of true talent and proud patriot Trace Adkins, Shelton captured some of the bravado and excitement of Montgomery Gentry with the infectiously fun title track of his 2010 album.
9. "Goodbye Time"
As a song interpreter, Shelton added his own vocal touch to this song, originally recorded by his pop-accessible country forefather, Conway Twitty. It serves as a reminder that Shelton does indeed honor Nashville legends.
8. "God Gave Me You"
So many great country music talents, from Red Foley to Carrie Underwood, injected statements of faith into some of their best material. Shelton's presumed testimony adds credibility and fire to this and another spiritual tune, "Savior's Shadow." It was written and first recorded by Christian artist Dave Barnes.
7. "Lonely Tonight" (Feat. Ashley Monroe)
Shelton and Pistol Annies member Ashley Monroe retell the old story of a debatable yet irresistible one-night-stand. Both talented vocalists bring out each others' best with a duet that's pop enough for Shelton's fans and traditional enough for Monroe's. It's from 2014 album, Bringing Back The Sunshine, which also included "Neon Light" and "Sangria."
6. "Happy Anywhere" (Feat. Gwen Stefani)
Shelton's romance with fellow The Voice star Gwen Stefani has inspired such honorable mention songs as "I'll Name the Dogs" and "A Guy With a Girl." They've made beautiful music together as duet partners, as well, from "A Guy With a Girl" to this highlight of 2021 album Body Language.
5. "The Baby"
This gut-wrenching song about losing a loved one would be adored by Shelton's harshest detractors if Vince Gill had recorded it years prior. That said, Shelton might be the only one other than Gill in contemporary country who could do this heartbreaking song justice.
4. "Ol' Red"
Sometimes, a good song needs the right singer. Shelton deserves a little old school cred for making a prison and dog-centric hit out of something the great George Jones and Kenny Rogers could only turn into album filler. It became the namesake of Shelton's Ole Red chain of bars.
3. "God's Country"
One of Shelton's most recent hits can best be described as a country-rock anthem at its finest.
As soon as Shelton heard songwriters Devin Dawson, Jordan Schmidt and Hardy's co-write, he stopped in his tracks and knew he had to record it. Everything about the song from its message to its tempo is perfect for Shelton's booming vocals. The country star earned a No. 1 country song as well as Single of the Year at the 2019 CMA and ACM Awards.
2. "Honey Bee"
This sweet, sentimental song exemplifies pop-friendly country in a way that continues the lineage of classic story-songs. This tune came from the 2011 album Red River Blue, which gave us "God Gave Me You" and "Drink On It." It's a Rhett Atkins and Ben Hayslip co-write.
Shelton's early years, back when he was a wide-eyed Oklahoma native navigating a changing country music landscape, gave fans this Billboard chart-topping tale of a demoralizing round of phone tag. The talk of old school answering machines and the touch-tone phone in the music video date this one a little, but it remains the singer's finest recording. This stand-out was from Shelton's debut album, which also gave us "All Over Me."
Honorable Mention Blake Shelton Songs: "Minimum Wage," "Come Back as a Country Boy," "Go Ahead and Break My Heart," "Every Time I Hear That Song," "She's Got a Way With Words," "Mine Would Be You," "Sure Be Cool If You Did," "Doin' What She Likes," "My Eyes," "Turnin' Me On," "The More I Drink," "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," "All About Tonight," "Nobody But Me," "Came Here to Forget" and "She Wouldn't Be Gone"
This story was first published in 2018.
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