Music

5 Country Hits Turning 20 in 2021

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill and AP Photo/Jeff Christensen

It's hard to separate country music in 2001 (or since) from the patriotic reactions to 9/11 we associate with Toby Keith and Alan Jackson.

Naturally, both artists made this list (though our Keith selection has nothing to do with the Statue of Liberty shaking her fist). Yet as you're about to read, there's way more to consider when looking back at the hits of 2001. One of the prior year's breakout stars, Jamie O' Neal, continued her meteoric rise with a second straight No. 1 country song. In the same 12-month stretch, Blake Shelton debuted on top, while Kenny Chesney first established that we'll never be able to tie his chart and box office success to a single decade.

Here's a quick five-song playlist of country songs turning 20 in 2021.

"Don't Happen Twice," Kenny Chesney

Chesney's mass appeal flourished at the dawn a new decade with this trip down memory lane. Few since have done a better job at summing up what's special about small town romances.

Another ageless wonder from the '90s, Tim McGraw, appears in the song's music video.

The song debuted on Chesney's Greatest Hits compilation from 2000. While it's technically old enough to drink, it didn't get released as a single until Jan. 19, 2001.

"Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)," Alan Jackson

Jackson's everyday people image made him the right country singer to sum up the fear, confusion and anger many of us felt after the 9/11 attacks.

He famously performed the song live during the 2001 CMA Awards, which aired on Nov. 7.

"I Wanna Talk About Me," Toby Keith

Though Keith's musical reactions to 9/11 became more synonymous with 2001, he also found success 20 years ago with this hilarious single, written by the great Bobby Braddock ("He Stopped Loving Her Today").

Braddock wrote the song with Blake Shelton's debut album in mind. Instead, it became an ideal follow-up to Keith's earlier, bravado-filled No. 1 country song about focusing on "number one," 1999's "How Do You Like Me Now?!"

"I Wanna Talk About Me" debuted on Keith's 2001 album Pull My Chain (DreamWorks Nashville), which also brought us the singles "I'm Just Talkin About Tonight" and "My List." The preview of country-rap to come (with or without rhymes about medical charts and moisturizer creme) topped the country charts and reached No. 28 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.

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"When I Think About Angels," Jamie O'Neal

O'Neal became an instant star with one of the best songs of 2000, "There Is No Arizona." She struck gold again in 2001 with a second straight No. 1, "When I Think About Angels."

The tale of someone who can't escape memories of a past lover made O'Neal the first woman to debut with consecutive chart-toppers since Deana Carter pulled off the same feat in 1995-'96.

"Austin," Blake Shelton

One of the top-performing debut singles of the century introduced America to future multi-media celebrity Blake Shelton.

Before scoring 27 more No. 1 hits, grabbing headlines with his love life and proving his comedic chops on The Voice, Shelton warmed our hearts with this tale of love and regret. It was produced by the before-mentioned Bobby Braddock.

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5 Country Hits Turning 20 in 2021