The new millennium also brought a new sound to country music by the end of the decade. Sounds of more pop and rock beats, as well as more hip-hop music were added to the mix of country. The sounds of the artists of the 1960s and 1970s were becoming a thing of the past and sounding more traditional through the years. The sound relied more on the new beats in country music and grew from the 1980s and 1990s. The use of social media sites to increase listeners and viewers of videos also increased during this decade.
MIranda Lambert - Lambert was first noticed on the television competition show "Nashville Star", although she did not win, she released her first album Kerosene in 2004. The platinum selling album comprised of twelve songs, Lambert either wrote or co-wrote eleven of the tunes. Music Row took notice of the young singer and she hit the road to open for George Strait, Keith Urban, Toby Keith and Dierks Bentley. As the decade came to a close, Lambert had released her third album, Revolution, to much critical acclaim. She would continue into 2010 to make even a bigger mark in country music.
Brad Paisley - Paisley may have added some rocking guitars to his music, but he was one of the artists of the 2000s that kept some of his music based on traditional sounds. The only artist during the decade to have eleven consecutive number one hit singles and release six albums during that time. He set a new record in 2009 when ten of his singles consecutively reached the top spot on the country music chart. Since the release of his first album in 1999, Paisley was winning awards as best new artist in 2000 and a member of the Grand Ole Opry by 2001. Adding fun to his music videos, with guests like William Shatner, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jason Alexander and Jerry Springer, he was picking awards for those videos. He also brought fans into stadiums with his tours and opening acts, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift. He began co-hosting the Country Music Association Awards with Carrie Underwood in 2008, which has continued in the current year.
Dierks Bentley - Bentley launched his career by researching old video footage for The Nashville Network, but by 2003, he had released his first album and Number One hit single "What Was I Thinkin". His second album garnered some of the same results with hit dingles in 2005, "Settle for a Slowdown" and "Come a Little Closer". That same year, he joined the Grand Ole Opry and had won the Bet New Artist award. He had ongoing hit singles from his albums, that by 2008 he had released his first Greatest Hits album. By the end of the decade, Bentley had already had seven singles reach the top of the charts. He would begin the current decade with his bluegrass album, Up on the Ridge.
Rascal Flatts - This trio came together in 1999 and included Gary LeVox and his cousin Jay DeMarcus with Joe Don Rooney. From 2000 to 2010, they recorded for Lyric Street Records and released seven platinum albums. The group made its debut with the single "Prayin' for Daylight", in 2000 and released their self-titled debut album. The album would include the additional top ten singles, 2002 ACM Awards' Song of the Year "I'm Moving On". They would release their second album, Melt, in 2002 and follow it up with the 2004 album release of Feels Like Today. Their next album, Me and My Gang, would include their crossover single, "What Hurts the Most", which would reach Number One on both the country and adult contemporary charts. The album's success led the band to take the spot of top-selling artist for all genres of music, which had not been accomplished in fifteen years by a country group. In 2006, they had recorded the Tom Cochrane song, "Life is a Highway", for the Pixar film Cars. A few versions of a Greatest Hits Compilation were released in 2008 and 2009.
Gretchen Wilson - The self-proclaimed Redneck Woman had a string of hits as she broke the mold of the country singer. Wilson showed that there was a fighting side of this young singer and not the perfect mold of the previous view of the female country singer. She made her mark in a pair of jeans and riding a four-wheeler through the mud in her video for her debut single "Redneck Woman". She gave a voice to a demographic of women that were not what people may have expected a country singer would look like or sound like. She continued to have hits with party themed bar-hopping songs like "All Jacked Up" and "Here for the Party". She also had a way of delivering emotion filled songs like "When I Think About Cheating" and "Come to Bed", a duet with country singer John Rich from Big and Rich. She took a break from the spotlight to focus on her daughter and open her own record label, Redneck Records.
Keith Urban - One of the greatest guitar players in country music, Urban brought his rock edge to his country beats. Urban made his debut on the country music scene in 1999 and soon became a popular artist with guitar riffs and great songs. With Grammy winning tunes, like "You'll Think of Me" and "Stupid Boy", Urban was making an impact in country music. His second album, Golden Road, produced a few Number One hit singles. He released his first greatest hits collection Greatest Hits: 18 Kids in Nov. 2007 and embarked on a tour with Carrie Underwood in Jan. 2008. As the new decade began, Urban was mentoring and judging singing competition shows and bringing his music to a whole new audience.
Toby Keith - Breaking records in ticket sales and selling over thirty million albums, Keith opened his own record label and hitting the top of the charts. Keith emerged in the mid-1990s, but it was his move to DreamWorks records in 1999 in which he exploded into the hit making territory. With the release of his first single with his new label, "How Do You Like Me Now?" , which became the top country song of 2000, according to Billboard. He continued his streak of hits with three more Number One hits in 2001 and all the singles released from his 2003 album would reach Number One, including "Whiskey Girl" and "American Soldier". BY 2005, Keith had started his own label, Show Dog Record, and was signing artists to his roster for development, including Trailer Choir and Carter's Chord. Keith has continued to release chart topping songs and also worked on some acting projects to finish out that decade.
Carrie Underwood - She stepped off the stage of 2005's American Idol as a winner and then took over country music. With the release of her first single, "Inside Your Heaven", she showed she was going to stay true to her country roots. Her next single, "Jesus, Take the Wheel", Underwood showed she had an appeal that country fans were looking for during the 2000s. The song would remain at the top of the charts for six consecutive weeks. Her album, Some Hearts has since become the fastest-selling debut country album by a female artist, according to SoundScan. She continued with hit singles during 2005 with "Before He Cheats" and "Wasted". Her second album, Carnival Ride, showed she was not just a singing competition winner but a true artist. The new album had her more involved in the songwriting process; including the first single from the album "So Small". Underwood would win countless awards during the decade and end it with the 2009 release of her third album, Play On.
Taylor Swift - Swift made a major impact on country music, when she released her first single "Tim McGraw" to radio at the age of 16 in June 2006. The youngest artist to be signed to the Big Machine Label Group and Swift released her self-titled first album. Four more singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". "Our Song", made Swift the youngest person to personally write and perform a Number One song on the Country charts. Swift would continue to grow in country and pop music in the upcoming decade as she would continue her crossover success.
Kenny Chesney - Having some hits in the 1990s, Chesney started out the 2000s by releasing a Greatest Hits album. After years of his traditional country sound, Chesney released his 2002 album, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, that featured more of an island Jimmy Buffett-style sound. The album still featured some traditional country songs, including "The Good Stuff", which would receive the ACM award for Single Record of the Year. Chesney has found a combination of sounds that has set him apart from other country artists, from heartfelt ballads to good-time fun and carefree island life. He draws large numbers in ticket sales while on tour, selling out large stadiums like Gillette Stadium, Home of the New England Patriots, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. His album, When the Sun Goes Down was honored with the 2004 CMA award for Album of the Year while he walked away as the Entertainer of the Year. By 2007, Chesney was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year for the third time in four years. He finished the decade by releasing his second Greatest Hits album in 2009.
The 2000s brought a new look and sound to country music and the genre is continuing to evolve in the current decade as the new "bro-country" sound has become popular with artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. With a few years left, artists are already emerging as the top during this decade.